Sky Priority

As Thanksgiving comes and goes this year, I can’t help but express my gratitude towards my ability to travel so often.  The people I meet, the places I get to explore, and the experiences I have are priceless, and I definitely do not take it for granted!

Traveling during Thanksgiving is a whole different ballgame. Believe it or not, it is the busiest time of year to travel- even busier than Christmas. For my family and me, this means flying anywhere in the U.S. is pretty much impossible because the flights are oversold. But internationally….

What many Americans forget is that Thanksgiving is strictly celebrated in the U.S. This means that most people in the world treat this day as any other, and flying internationally in the middle of the week is an easy task for a Stand-By passenger. So, about 6 years ago my family started a new tradition: traveling to a new European destination every year during Thanksgiving holiday. We would go for three nights and four days, a short trip in the eyes of most travelers. But when you fly for free, the flight costs aren’t a factor, and when you plan a vacation down to the bone like us Wilsons, you can see everything you need to see in one city within 3 days’ time.

Traveling during this time of year is truly a great time to go- the weather isn’t too cold yet, the Christmas decorations are already up, tourists are scarce, and the icing on the cake is that my entire family of five would fly first class for 8+ hours overseas. (Another thing I’m thankful for- expensive airline seats that are not bought by revenue passengers because they can’t afford it).

Our first destination was London, England (now my favorite city in the world). I remember walking around Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden looking at all of the beautiful Christmas decorations. We visited some Harry Potter sites, and even made it out to Abbey Road where we took our infamous family Christmas Card picture- The Wilsons posing as if we were walking down Abbey Road, mimicking the famous Beatles album cover. Thanksgiving dinner was held in an English pub, and I remember posting a Facebook status saying, “Eating bangers and mash for dinner. Happy Thanksgiving!”

The next year we traveled to Munich, Germany, staying in the town square and driving all around the country every day to visit sites. We spent time at Neuschwanstein and Rabenstein castle, and even drove across the border to Salzburg, Austria and took the Sound of Music Tour. We came back to our flat in Munich every night, stopping in at Hofbrauhaus for a pint and a pretzel. (Us Wilsons love our pubs).

Four years ago, we escaped to Brugge, Belgium, a quaint town about 30 minutes outside of Brussels. We walked around the Christmas markets, went to an ice sculpture festival, climbed a clock tower, saw some windmills, went to a brewery, and just explored the cute little town. We all fell in love with Belgium- the scenery was beautiful and the food was fantastic (fun fact: the French Fry originated in Belgium!)

Our next stop was Amsterdam, The Netherlands. We could have taken a flight non-stop from Atlanta, however my parents saw it was likely we wouldn’t be getting first class seats. Instead, we decided to fly first class to Brussels and would take a train from there to Amsterdam. Instead, upon landing in Belgium we found out that there happened to be a train strike going on, and there were no trains leaving or entering Belgium that day. We ended up having to drive a stick-shift from Belgium to Amsterdam- about a 2-hour drive. It was definitely an unexpected adventure added to our trip! Amsterdam ended up being one of our favorite destinations to date- we ate Dutch pancakes, toured the Anne Frank House, went to the Van Gogh museum, and had a blast looking at all of the beautiful architecture and dipping through the alleyways. There was something new on every corner!

Unfortunately, as we grew up, it became harder and harder for us to continue our tradition. As my brother and sister started working, it was harder for them to get the time off. Not to mention, they no longer have the flight benefits that I do, so when they travel with us as a family they are at a lower priority than my parents and me. That means it’s more likely for us to get split up trying to get to our destination, and with such short trips like we were taking, it would really hinder and take too much time away from our vacation.

The next year after Amsterdam, I was in a professional musical in Downtown Atlanta, and we had rehearsal during Thanksgiving break, inhibiting my family from going anywhere. Last year, my brother started a new job and couldn’t get the time off we needed to be able to travel.

This year, we were going to revive the tradition with a twist- we had plans to go to St. Martin and spend a couple days on the beaches of the British Virgin Islands. However, in September Hurricane Harvey completely decimated the island so we had to call off the trip. It was too close to Thanksgiving to try to plan another trip, so we decided to stay home and have a small Thanksgiving with our family of five.

As we got closer to the day of Thanksgiving, we realized that all of our extended family on my dad’s side was going to be in Destin, Florida for the holiday, and didn’t want to miss out. We were going to fly down on Thanksgiving, however as per typical during this time of year the flights became crunched. So… the Wilsons took a road trip. We went from flying first class to Europe a couple years prior to driving through the cotton fields of Alabama in a pick-up truck. Definitely a different style of traveling for sure.

*

At the end of the day, being together with family is what truly makes the difference during the holidays. Yes, we had fun escaping the cooking and socializing to explore a new country every year, but now that we are all getting older and our extended family is getting bigger, family time is precious. My cousin came in from South East Asia with her three little girls, my other cousin just had a new baby, my grandpa just turned 87, and this was the first time all of us had been together in a decade. We had a wonderful mini vacation to Florida- maybe it wasn’t as glamorous, but it was definitely just as memorable.

I am so thankful for my family and the time spent with them. As I get older I have learned to love traveling and exploring new places, but I have also learned that staying home and spending time with loved ones is something that should be the highest priority.

And sometimes when being with family means traveling with them, traveling to them, or just traveling in general like it does with my family, that means traveling and family become two priorities in one:

Sky Priority

-The Fly Girl

 

 

 

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On The Move

“I’m moving across the country.”

Doesn’t that sentence already sound pretty hefty with stress and craziness in it of itself?

Try moving across the country twice in the same year using only suitcases and a trunk.

In fact, I’ve now done this move 3 times. The first time was probably the most stressful and required a lot of planning, including shipping my car out to California packed with some bigger items that can’t be stuffed in a suitcase. I had nothing out in LA beforehand, so when we arrived we truly started from scratch and bought furniture to accompany my clothes and personal items that we had taken on the plane.

The second time was on April Fool’s Day of 2016. I decided to move out of my house in Burbank, California, and move to New York City for the summer. In the meantime, I signed a lease starting in May with three other girls for an apartment in Sherman Oaks. I would move in in August after finishing up my Summer in the City.

My mom flew out to LA to help me pack up my room, but we didn’t really realize just how long that would take. She flew out the day before we were slated to leave, but not only had I not packed a single item before she came, we had to go shopping for a dress for the premiere of my movie, The Case For Christ. I also had to make trips back and forth to my storage space which was an hour away from my house.

Somehow, we got everything done. It was an incredibly exhausting day and I remember we were finishing the job literally 10 minutes before we had to call our uber to go to the airport. We made sure all of our ducks were in a row and that I left nothing behind, and once we were positive we made it onto a 5 pm flight that landed in Atlanta around midnight. We were exhausted, and relieved to finally have made it back. On the drive home all of a sudden my mom stopped talking to me and exclaims, “Kelly! We forgot your coat!!” And she was right. I had left my designer coat, one of my most prized posessions, in the coat closet of the first class cabin of the airplane (to read more details, check out my blog post titled “) After we were already spent from the past 24 hours, we had to deal with a missing coat.

Let me tell you, as an OCD person its frightening to have all of your personal belongings scattered across the country. When I moved to Atlanta before heading to New York this summer, I took 3/4ths of my wardrobe, but left behind winter clothes and major pieces of furniture, along with room essentials and accessories.

To add to the stress, we were still flying Stand-By. So imagine having 3 checked bags and a giant trunk holding your entire life, but you may end up getting separated from them. Because as a Non-Rev, if you don’t get on the flight, your bags still go without you. If the flights crunched or a mechanical shift happened, I could potentially lose all of my personal belongings.

And the packing itself has to be so methodical! Each checked bag can not exceed 50 pounds or else the airline charges a $100 fee. To avoid that, my mom and I discovered that the heaviest items are shoes and pants, and we spread those articles out over all of the bags, primarily placing them in our carry-on suitcases since there is no weight limit for those bags.

And checking a trunk? That is no easy task. My trunk was a Christmas gift in 2015- I had been asking for a trunk for years and my parents never thought I was serious, and finally in 2015 I expressed my desire as being real, true, and perfect for my new adventures in LA (I was slated to go to LA for Pilot Season that January of 2016). I ended up saving the trunk move for my official West Coast move in August, however it’s a hassle to get a very nice trunk prepped for air travel. I didn’t want it to get bent or damaged from the rough handling that can occur in baggage, so my mom came up with a system where we wrap the trunk in cellophane about 10 times over. It takes one whole roll and lots of tape, and the trunk is packed to its fullest to moving it around to get every angle is not fun.

*

My summer did not pan out the way I had expected. As I mentioned, my intended plan was to move to NYC. My mom and I would fly all of my belongings from LA to Atlanta, then move them AGAIN up the East Coast to New York a couple weeks later. In the meantime, I had a screening in Nashville to attend and a premiere in Chicago to go too. Well after those trips, I was needed back in LA for a couple auditions. And then I was needed in Atlanta for a couple more. And then back in LA. By the time April came to an end, I was packing for a trip to Paris and hadn’t even spent one night in my New York apartment. “May will be different” I thought. I was wrong. I spent 7 nights there total in May, because I kept getting called to go back to LA. Ironic, I know, since I had just moved  from there. My personal belongings were pretty much all still in Atlanta, save my dance clothes and a carry-on full of specific travel clothes for my trips to LA and NYC. For the most part, Atlanta still held most of my things. Long story short, I ended up leaving my New York apartment in June and commuting from Atlanta to LA about 3 times a week. Towards the end of June and pusuing into July I had more vacation plans, so it just didn’t make sense to move everything back to LA yet.

When July rolled around and my family vacation was over, it was time to spend 3 weeks in New York City working at Broadway Artists Alliance, a summer program that trains students for Broadway and their professional career. I ended up staying with my uncle for that time period and was slated to move back to LA immediately upon returning from the program.

Then my roommate started having health problems while she was overseas, and needed someone to sublet her room in our apartment while she was away. I wasn’t quite ready to go back to LA yet, so I decided to pay her rent, take my things out of storage, and store them in her room, while my subletter was living in mine. I wasn’t moved yet, but it was a start. I continued to commute for the entire month of August, and was slated to move back into my room after Labor Day Weekend.

Then, I booked a movie filming in Atlanta for a month. So the decision was made for me- I would stay in Atlanta until filming wrapped.

And finally, 5 months after signing a lease on a new apartment and 6 months after having last lived in LA, I am finally making the move back as I write this post.

I am sitting in Economy Comfort about to land at LAX to hurry to baggage claim and retrieve my 4 giant checked bags, including my handy-dandy trunk.

The packing process was not as stressful this time- this wasn’t my mom and my first rodeo. I had also taken some of my belonging back with me in August on each commuting trip, so that made the load a little lighter. Nevertheless, each bag weighed in at 45-exactly 50 pounds. How have I accumulated so much stuff over the summer??

My mom even came up with a new system for protecting the trunk- she got crafty and cut up trashbags when we realized at 10 pm last night that we had no more Saran-wrap. It worked! Or at least I hope so… fingers crossed.

*

I am excited to be back in LA and I am honestly very grateful for the time I had away from the city. This summer I really grew up and figured out who I am as a woman and what I believe in. I am excited to come back to La La Land as a more confident version of myself, and I know I will have a much different experience than what I’ve been through there in the past.

Do I see myself settling in LA for long? No. I know LA is not my true home and I don’t truly fit in there. And I am fine with that now- I am actually thankful for the separation in knowing that I am different from a lot of the people and culture in LA.

What does this mean? That I may be moving across the country by plane again sooner than you think. But for now, I am psyched to set up my room in Sherman Oaks (complete with a walk in closet!)

What will my next move be? I don’t know. But I  do know that I am always On The Move.

-The Fly Girl

 

Gone With The Wind

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: I’ve been filming a movie in Atlanta for the past month. But the real kicker? I’ve been trying to leave Atlanta for the past 3 months. I had to fly back to the South East so many times this late summer/early fall it made my head spin. Every time I would try to go back to LA, another opportunity kept me here in the Peach State.

Since the beginning of August, I’ve known deep down that Atlanta would be my playing field for a little while. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I just felt this energy keep drawing me back. And for a while, I wanted it too. I wanted to stay a little while longer, oh no, a little bit longer please, ok actually one more day?….

My wish was granted. I booked the biggest role I’ve had so far in my career in an indie movie that has been filming right here in Atlanta for the past month. It has been such a rewarding experience, and I’ve gotten to stay in my childhood home and commute into the city daily to go on set, take dance classes, meet friends, and just experience Atlanta for all that it has to offer.

That being said, it’s been a minute since I’ve been on an airplane. I think my last plane ride was September 15th, about three weeks ago now- a crazy long amount of time in my book.

Production is nearing its end as we head into our final week of filming, and I was slated to finish filming tonight. Upon wrapping I would get a haircut, pack up my belongings, and head back out West to FINALLY settle down for a little while. A plane ride in my near future!

Of course, I made these plans, told my manager, set up a meeting in LA for next week, and attempted to get things back in order.

But as I should have expected, I was pulled back to Atlanta yet again.

Production called last night and informed me that my last scene to film has been moved to next week, during one of the last days of filming.

I canceled my hair appointment yet again, because I can’t change anything for continuity’s sake. I texted my roommates and informed them that I will be pushing my return dates back yet again. I had to reschedule my meeting in LA. I stopped packing my things to go back.

I’m not complaining at all; I LOVE what I do and I am actually very happy to draw out my experience on set a little longer (plus I was slated to fly back to Atlanta for the wrap party, which would have been another back and forth trip. Now I’ll just stay!)

It’s just ironic to me that I keep getting called back to the place I thought I had to leave in order to pursue my dreams. It never occurred to me in high school that Atlanta could potentially be a city worth living in for my career; it was always New York or Los Angeles. I was gone. I would dip back for holidays every once in a while, but off I go, Georgia! Sayonara!

Now I’ve come back so often it feels like I live here and not in LA. And every time I try to go back to La La Land, Atlanta just laughs at me.

*

I was talking to my mom about all of this the other day, how I feel bad sometimes because I can never really make plans with people, for fear that I won’t even be in the same city as they are by the time that date comes. I am bouncing around so much, all the while prepping for settlement that never comes. In my free time I go to Target to shop for pillows, hit up Michael’s for craft supplies and art décor, and stop at HomeGoods for new blankets and room accessories- all for an apartment room in LA that I haven’t been able to decorate yet, haven’t been able to settle in to yet… and it’s been 5 months now. Literally.

My plans change on a dime. I go through ebbs and flows of even wanting to go back to the West Coast- being on the East Coast has made me more grounded in reality, more appreciative of my closeness to my family, more confident in who I am as a person.

But I finally wrapped my brain around the idea of officially going back to LA after this movie. I was excited to go back this Tuesday and begin my settled LA life (with a little travel here and there.)

Of course the wind changed course yet again.

But you know what? That’s ok. Because as my mom reminded me the other day, this is what I signed up for. This career plucks you from your settled life and says, “go film this movie in New Zealand for 3 months”.

And that idea is thrilling to me. I’ve never even been someone who likes to stay in one place for long anyway! I’ve truly always had a hard time imagining myself “settled”. My life already differentiates heavily from “normal”, so why not embrace my own definition of “settled” as well?

Settled: Having a home base you can go to and be surrounded my friends and family, and create a daily routine. But at a moment’s notice, you leave and know that home will always be there, that specific routine always waiting for you upon your return. Off you go on another adventure, but that’s settlement to you. Because settlement isn’t based on a place- it’s based on knowing yourself and being settled in who you are.

I’m in one place today, and I may be there tomorrow as well. Or, I could be

Gone With The Wind

-The Fly Girl

There She Goes

Traveling is something that I have the privilege to enjoy at this stage of my life- I am so grateful that I can/do travel as often as I do. After years of spending a hefty amount of time in the sky and in beds other than my own, I have come to realize just how important it is to travel.

I believe that everyone needs to travel as often as their piggy banks and Father Time allows them. Why? Because traveling makes you more grounded as a human being. It shifts your perspective, widening your scope of vision and also giving you a nice dose of thankfulness. You begin to appreciate the beauty of the world, the beauty of your destination you’re exploring, and even the beauty of your personal home. You cross paths with people that you would never have met otherwise, and you cultivate your directional and adaptability skills.

My sister, Lauren, is hands-down my biggest inspiration when it comes to travel. Like me, Lauren grew up with flight benefits and lived the Non-Rev lifestyle with my parents, brother and I. However, being the oldest sibling, she was the first to graduate college and lose her pass privileges, now 4 years ago.

But she didn’t stop traveling when it no longer was free. Instead, she actually began to travel more. As she stepped into the corporate world, she began to save her money strategically for weekend getaways, wanting to rid herself of the rigid 9am-6pm office lifestyle.

Lauren never liked the idea of working as a “rat in the cage”, but she knew that this would end up being her fate. However, it only drove her to be even more adventurous and enjoy life to the fullest. She didn’t want to become one of those 20-somethings who works all week -long and then just wants to sleep on the weekends and hang out locally. That just simply wouldn’t fly for this adventurous go-getter.

When she landed her first corporate job, she was located in Jacksonville, Florida, and wasn’t making enough money to travel as often as she’d like. But she took advantage of her situation, hopping all around the state of Florida on the weekends to visit friends and have new adventures, and driving to nearby states for others. She was then hired at a bigger company and received a little more pay, allowing her to save up for bigger trips like back-packing through Europe with her roommate and backpack-hiking in Alaska with her boyfriend.

And then one day, she called my parents and told them that she wanted to move to California. She had always loved the California beaches and wanted to explore the coast more while she was young and could do it. She didn’t have anything tying her down to Florida besides her job and her boyfriend, but she was willing to take the risk to move and seek adventure. She knew she could find a new job in LA if she put her mind to it, and knew that if it was meant to be with her boyfriend, he would move to LA as well (a dream he had also had for years).

So she moved across the country, found a new job, and her boyfriend came out 6 months later. It was a whole different coast to explore, a new city to discover, and new weekend getaways to endure. And Even though the cost of living in California is almost double than Florida, she didn’t let that stop her from going out in the world.

Now, Lauren is one of those people who has almost every weekend scheduled for a new adventure. She is constantly scouting for deals on travel websites, looking at cheap flights to who-knows-where and finding the perfect Air Bnb’s. She follows travel blogs, reads up on exotic destinations, and plans her trips to the fullest. With her love for travel and her knack for planning, she has been able to continue to maintain relationships with her college roommates and friends from the East Coast, inviting them on fun trips and meeting them in exciting destinations.

In the course of a month, Lauren traveled to The Florida Keys with my family for the 4th of July/ her Birthday celebration, explored Alberta, Canada with two of her sorority sisters, and went to Red Rocks Ammpitheatre in Denver, Colorado to see one of her favorite bands, all while working a 9-5 job in the corporate advertising world in LA. She continues to cross destinations off of her bucket list, and makes sure that she is seeing all of the world that she can while she’s in this stage of her life.

I beam when I talk about her to my friends. She truly is one of the coolest people that I know, but not because she tries. Her Instagram page looks incredible, a collage of picutres from all of her weekend trips. But again, she doesn’t try. She doesn’t travel to look good, or look like she’s having a good time. She travels because she loves it, because she understands how important it is to have experiences and gain perspective on life, because she wants to enjoy life to the fullest.

I can only hope that when I lose my flight benefits, I will still travel  like my sister does. It will no longer be as easy, but traveling isn’t supposed to be a breeze in my opinion. It’s supposed to challenge you, to build your character and test your abilities.  There are endless amounts of places to explore, and I want to explore them all.

*

My parents are astonished at how much their kids travel. My brother, Sean, is also out and about frequently, spending only one weekend a month at his apartment in Tampa, Florida. The rest of the time he travels to different music festivals, concerts, and party spots.

And of course I travel most often out of the three of us. I am constantly on the go, pretty much always on an airplane going to LA, New York, or Atlanta.

But my sister takes the prize for the most adventurous Wilson. She’s the one who got bit the hardest by the travel bug. The one who won’t let anything stop her from going on an adventure- not finances, not fear, not unfamiliarity, not even a crazy work schedule. She makes it happen.

It’s incredible for me to see the confidence that traveling has given my sister. Lauren truly is an inspiration to me, and I hope to take a special sister-trip together someday. I want to be like her, the girl who whenever she picks up her laptop and books another flight, another house, another trip, her friends and family look at in wonder and think:

There She Goes, there she goes again, taking the world by storm.

-The Fly Girl

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Willing And Able?

This past month, I’ve actually spent quality time in each destination I’ve traveled to. I was in The Florida Keys with my family and friends for a week and a half, my hometown in Georgia for a week, and I ended the month in New York City for the past 2 and a half weeks.

These week-long stays are different for me. This year I’ve been so used to jet-setting at the last second, hopping across the country for 24 hours and then heading back to my origin. It’s been an adventure to say the least, but I also became exhausted from the travel. To be able to stay put and spend time maintaining my relationships and simply enjoy life has been the best blessing this month.

But of course, there had to be at least one typical “Fly Girl” move in a 31 day span.

I was scheduled to be in New York City for two weeks working at Broadway Artists Alliance. At the end of my second week, I was offered to stay for the next session, a longer and more demanding program. I accepted, but realized I needed some extra items from back home to make everything work. I decided to fly home for one night, do laundry, unpack and repack, and then head back to The City the next day. 24 hours sounds like enough time, right?

Except I gave myself 12 hours. I had been fighting a cold at the end of the previous session, and decided that on my off day, Saturday, I needed to sleep in rather than wake up at the crack of dawn to get back to ATL sooner. I slept until 9 am, and then packed up my belongings to head to the airport.

However, the flights began to crunch and then the plane I chose was delayed for an hour and a half. I ended up touching down in Atlanta around 7pm on Saturday.

My mom made me a healthy dinner and we caught up on our favorite half-hour comedy show, a friend came over to catch up for a little bit, I did all of my laundry, settled some discussions and decisions I needed to face for my Fall semester, and got about 6 hours of sleep.

My flight the next morning was scheduled for 8:30 am. I needed to get back to The City around noon for a brunch date for my friend’s birthday, so I chose a flight that would get me to New York in time, the latest one possible so that I could sleep as much as I could.

As I fell asleep around 12:45 am, I decided to set my alarm for 10 minutes before my departure time from my house. I told my mom that we should aim to be at the airport at 7:45 am, the last possible second  to check in before the flight. (In order to get your boarding pass, you must check in at least 45 minutes prior to departure time).

I arrived at the airport right on the dot, but forgot that I would need to check my bag. Upon going to SkyCap, the bag handler told me I was too late, that I was right on the nose but the system wouldn’t let him check me in. Normally, I would panic. And I had maybe a millisecond of worry- I flagged my mom down, telling her I would have to try upstairs instead.

When I got upstairs, the line for baggage drop was crazy long and time was ticking. But I breathed, and attempted to check in at the kiosk. I selected “Check Bag”, but the kiosk relayed that it was too late to check in. I would have to switch to the next flight and miss my brunch.

But somehow a wave of peace crashed over me. I decided not to panic, that there were so many people suffering in the world that my situation was hardly worth any negativity. I calmly went back downstairs and outside to the curbside check-in. I stood in the Sky Priority line this time, waiting to talk to an agent and simultaneously trying to put myself on the next flight to LaGuardia. But my phone lost service, and the agent called me up to the stand. I breathed in and decided to act like everything was normal. It was now 7:55 am, 35 minutes until my plane was scheduled to depart.

I smiled at Claudia, showing her my ID and telling her I was on the 8:30 am flight to LaGuardia. She exclaimed that she loved my middle name, and we talked about how it was French. “Keep it light, Kel”, I thought. “You are ok”.

She looked at her computer screen, saying, “Hmm it may be too late to check this bag…”

I smiled and said, “Oh! I have TSA Pre-Check though, maybe that will help?” Dimples fully flashed.

And somehow, thank the Lord, the next thing I knew I was through security within 5 minutes (TSA Pre-Check is SO worth it) arriving my gate at 8:05 for my 8:30 am flight. I boarded right away, sitting in the window seat of an Exit Row, with lots of leg room and a perfect seat for the fly-over view of New York City upon our descent to LaGuardia. The best part? I got the whole row to myself.

*

These past three weeks in New York have taught me to look at the positive in every situation.  I am truly privileged to be waking up every morning, going to work in the greatest city in the world alongside my truest friends.

There are numerous things in life that are worth your brain space, and countless other things that are not worth your time or energy. I’m sure I sound rote by saying this, but we are blessed to wake up each day, and little travel woes are nothing compared to the big picture of life.

Life can be overwhelming sometimes, but the best way to get through any situation is by breathing and smiling. You will immediately gain energy, even in the most dire circumstances. And many times, being slow to speak and quick and stay positive will get you farther along than you would think. If you let the situation ride out for a minute, you may even get the result you were hoping for.

But it’s not about the give and take. It’s not about the possibility of maybe getting your way only if you stay positive. It’s about truly trusting that everything is going to be ok. If I miss this flight, I can hop on the next one. If I don’t get enough sleep tonight, I can go to bed early tomorrow. You will be taken care of if you let yourself relax and thank God for the day you’re living. Because God is taking care of you. He has you in the palm of His hand, and wants you to enjoy each day he brings you. Whether it’s the best or worst day of your life, it’s a blessing to be able to enjoy it.

Are you willing and able to breathe and truly enjoy each day? By being alive, the latter half of that answer is already “yes”. It’s up to you to make it a double.

-The Fly Girl

 

 

In Flight Entertainment

In Flight Entertainment

After being on a total of 60 flights in less than 6 months, you could say I’ve logged a good number of hours on airplanes this year so far. In fact that may be the understatement of the century. So what do I do with my time in the sky?

Well, during the school year I do homework. Honestly, I save most of my schoolwork for the plane because I can get so much done. Most of my treks are back and forth from LA to Atlanta, a flight time of around 4 hours and 30 minutes heading East and 3 hours and 40 minutes heading West. That gives me lots of time to read textbooks, type essays, and write discussion posts.

Think about it- on the plane, there’s nothing to distract you. No friends to talk to, no cell service, no WiFi (unless you pay for it which I don’t); just you and yourself for however long the flight lasts. I am so focused on my work that I actually do a better job of it when I am flying versus when I’m sitting in my room in LA. Doing it at home is so last year, I may as well change the phrase to “planework”.

But I don’t just save this time for little assignments- I have done major projects, papers, and even exams on the airplane before (for this one I did indeed buy WiFi). One of my best stories is when I wrote a 10-page final essay from the business class cabin of an airplane heading to Paris. It was my final and biggest grade for the semester, a paper that I had yet to do so I saved it for the 8-hour plane ride. After finishing it about 3 hours into the flight, I bought WiFi for 30 minutes and turned that puppy in from 30,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.

So folks, the lesson here is: don’t ever give any excuses for late work, cause where there’s a will there’s a way.

Actually that’s not the point I was going for… really what I wanted to say was that you would be surprised how much you can accomplish from 30,000 feet if you put your mind to it.

*

Now that spring semester is over and summer break has begun, I can truly enjoy all of the entertainment that airplanes have to offer. There are a plethora of movie selections that rotate in, with new releases coming in at the first of every new month.

I have always felt guilty about using my time to watch TV or movies because it doesn’t feel productive to me. So in the summertime, I always try to watch classic movies on the airplane, movies that everyone and their mother has seen except me and it’s about darn time I do. This year I finally got to watching Titanic, Gone With The Wind, Citizen Kane, To Kill A Mockingbird, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, and The Usual Suspects- all thanks to the in-flight entertainment systems.

You know you fly a lot when you look through a page of 100 movie selections and can’t find a single one that you want to watch because you’ve seen most of them, have no desire to see the others, and about ¼ are foreign films. Whenever a new month comes along, I get extremely excited because I will finally be able to watch a movie that I actually have a desire in seeing and never had the chance to see in theatres. June is known as the month of weddings, so this month the planes have a slew of Rom-Coms about weddings: Bride Wars, Something Borrowed, 27 Dresses, and a new movie called Table 19 are just some of the options. It’s been hard to pace myself, let me tell you.

But alas, as we are now more than halfway through the month, I have watched about every new selection that appeals to me. I’ve watched Collateral Beauty, Before I Fall, Pretty in Pink, It’s Complicated, and La La Land.

What do you do when you have no desire to engage in a mindless activity but have about 2 hours left on the plane? You read.

I absolutely love reading. Yes, for enjoyment. I am so thankful that my mom raised me as a reader. Getting lost in a good book is one of the best feelings ever! Sadly, I don’t get to read for fun as often anymore because I am so busy with school and acting, but whenever I have free time, I’m so in.

I recently read Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed from cover to cover in less than 24 hours. I started the book whilst laying out on the beach, and then I read it non-stop on a 5 am flight from LAX to ATL, finishing the book as soon as I got home. It was glorious.

But if you aren’t a book person, magazines are great too! I love flipping through Vogue or People Style Watch. Just a warning though, magazine prices soar in airports. Last month I bought the June issue of Vogue at JFK for $6.50. Now that’s just robbery.

Another way to pass the time is simply to sleep it all away. However, for most people that’s actually not very simple at all because “sleeping on planes is so hard”. Not for this Fly Girl! (Check out my blog post titled “Let Me Sleep Among The Clouds” for more details)

But if you still don’t know how to pass your time in the sky, talk to the person next to you. Journal your thoughts. Go through old photos on your phone (and maybe even delete some to gain storage space!). Listen to music, maybe even go through your old playlists and gawk at how much your music taste has changed. Make friendship bracelets (that’s what my sister and I used to do when we were little. Imagine a 12 year old and a 7 year old taping threads of string to the tray table and braiding ankle bracelets together- so cute). Make a point to learn something new while you’re sitting there. Heck I learned how to tie my shoe on an airplane when I was in Kindergarten!

Whatever you decide to do, make the most of your time. Because you have a couple hours to let somebody else be the Pilot for a while. You can sit back and do anything you want! Maybe that’s simply getting a couple of hours for yourself to relax and enjoy a movie for once. Or to catch up on your sleep. Or to make a bucket list. Whatever it is, use your time wisely. Because not only are there many people in the world who would kill to have some spare time, but there’s a lot of people who have never even flown on a plane before.

Make the most of your time.

Enjoy the In Flight Entertainment.

-The Fly Girl

 

A New York Day

New York City is the concrete jungle where dreams are made, the greatest city in the world, the city that never sleeps. It’s a city full of dreamers who hustle and make their opportunities happen with hard work and passion.

I love New York. I’ve always felt like I can be my complete, full self in the City. The fashion, the independence, the community; there are countless aspects of the New York City lifestyle that I feel best fit my overall personality and aesthetic.

However, so many times when I travel there I’m on a tight schedule, heading to an audition or to Ripley Grier Studios to work. I love what I do, and I love the community of people I have found, but there haven’t been many days where I get to enjoy the City for all that it has to offer.

But there are rare occasions, and those are the best days. New York City truly is a magical place, and every once in a while the stars align to reveal its true power.

On my most recent escapade in Manhattan, I met up with an old friend from Atlanta, a fellow actor who moved to NYC about two years ago.

Sitting in Union Square Park with a box of Ben’s Cookies (the absolute best cookies you will ever put in your mouth), we swapped stories of our favorite days we’ve had in The City. Jeremy labels such days as “New York Days” and can be described as follows:

You wake up on a normal day, hitting the “Stop” button on your iPhone’s alarm even though you’re so tempted to snooze instead. But you gotta go to work (or dance class, an audition… insert whatever you want here), so you get up and continue with your morning routine.

You have no plans for the day ahead of you after your scheduled obligation, so you figure it will be a relaxing day of rest.

But then, something happens. A friend texts you with free tickets to a concert. You get invited to attend a premiere at the last minute. You turn a street corner and discover your new favorite spot. You run into an old friend and spend the rest of the day with them.

You barely look at your phone the rest of the night. Because you’re truly so happy and enthralled with The City. An ordinary day turns out to be one of the best ones of your life. Because NYC pulled through for you when you least expected it to.

For Jeremy, it was a day when he met a couple of dancers in a coffee shop he worked in. After they all discovered their common interests and mutual friends, the girls revealed they were back-up dancers for a well known electronica band and were performing that night at one of the biggest music festivals in New York City- and they gave Jeremy a free VIP pass.

Earlier that day Jeremy headed into work with no plans ahead of him, little known to him that he would end up heading to a music festival full of his favorite bands wearing an Artist’s Pass entry wristband. Free music, free food, free booze, and celebrity treatment? New York City definitely pulled through.

*

This past Friday, I didn’t have many plans for my day ahead. I was tentatively going to meet with a photographer friend in Brooklyn- we connected over Instagram and were going to meet for the first time in person and just get to know each other, maybe even shoot a little.

The plan had been to meet at 1 pm, a time that wouldn’t allow me to do much with my morning since Brooklyn is an hour away from my apartment and I needed to sleep in late.

But my phone vibrated and Sam changed the time to 5pm. A better time… but what was I to do beforehand?

I went online and noticed that my favorite dance studio, Broadway Dance Center, had a 12pm Street Jazz/Hip-Hop class. I love taking dance classes- it’s the perfect workout and a chance for me to train in my craft. The only problem with this particular class was that it was 11 am when I found out it was scheduled. I needed to pack up a small backpack for the rest of my day, get ready for the class, and be in Midtown within an hour- a task that seemed near to impossible.

But somehow I made it to class on time, even though I missed the first Downtown train at my stop. I hopped on the next and caught the express at 96th Street in perfect time; like it was waiting for me. Smoothing out my trip and shaving off lots of time, I briskly walked to the studio, and breathed heavily to the woman at the front desk while trying to tell her I wanted to sign up for the class. I made it with a minute to spare.

Afterwards I felt incredible, powerful, confident, and overall happy. It was gonna be a good day, I could feel it.

And just on cue, my roommate texted me and invited me to come to the rooftop pool at an incredible apartment building on the cusp of The West Village and Chelsea. She is a nanny for a sweet family in the building, and was to take the kids swimming for a couple hours.

It was a perfect post-workout dip, with spectacular views right on the Hudson River and good company. I was able to spend my spare time eating pizza, swimming in the nicest, private rooftop pool, and getting ready for the photoshoot.

I then headed to Brooklyn for the first time. In all of my travels to the City, I had never ventured there. And boy had I been missing out.

I met up with Sam and we shot for about in hour in front of graffiti walls and vintage cars. We then wandered to a park on the bank of the Hudson, sitting and gawking at the view of Manhattan.

Exploring a new part of New York was magic in it of itself. We walked all over Williamsburg, ate some great food, and watched the sunset as lights twinkled on across the skyline.

And then my brother messaged me exclaiming that there was a surprise DJ set at a club in Brooklyn that night- and the DJ happened to be the front man of our favorite band, Tame Impala.

I had to go. I needed to go. But advanced tickets were sold out and the venue was likely to sell out at the door.

Except they didn’t, or at least not until after I got there, miraculously. I contacted an old family friend and she and I, along with her roommate danced the night away in a club in Brooklyn. It was an incredible show, and one of the best nights of my 20’s so far. We managed to push our way to the front, and there I was, dancing 5 feet away from one of my favorite artists Dj-ing it up in a random Brooklyn club. It was unreal. The energy of the crowd was electric and I truly felt the magic of what its like to be young and single in New York City.

As I hopped into bed at 5am, I couldn’t help but laugh at the crazy day I had ended up experiencing. I never thought my ordinary Friday would turn into a day like it had. I took a dance class, enjoyed a sweet rooftop pool, had a photo shoot, explored Brooklyn with a new friend, and danced the night away to my favorite music with more. New York had pulled through.

A New York Day indeed.

-The Fly Girl

 

Where The Wind Takes Me

One major topic of conversation on this blog has been about flexibility and spontaneous traveling. And yes, my travels are still very much spontaneous and about being flexible.

But if you’re like me, sometimes you like to know what’s coming up ahead. And that’s even an understatement- you always want to know what’s coming up ahead.

I am at a point in my life right now where I don’t have any immediate plans. I don’t know what tomorrow has in store. Or next week. Like I literally don’t have plans. And that freaks me out.

But it seems like every time I make plans something steps in and deters me from going somewhere.

Prime example: I have been paying rent in a New York apartment since April 1st. It is currently the end of May and I have only spent 6 nights total in that apartment.

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to be there. Or that I had previously made many plans that conflicted with being at the apartment. Literally every time I was supposed to be at that apartment, something came up at the last second that took me away from going. An audition, a meeting, etc.

And get this:

It’s getting closer to my last few weeks in my apartment in New York City. I decide to fly up to finally stay an extended period of time; to dive into the City life and take dance classes, meet with friends, and do things I don’t normally have the time for.

I hop on a morning flight to LaGuardia with my bags packed for 2 weeks. From NYC I plan to head to LA for a few days and then hit Florida for Memorial Day Weekend. It was a 3 hour packing job that I meticulously designed for my long trip away from home base.

My parents were to drive to Florida with our dog the morning that I left home. This meant that there would be no cars available for me to use since my personal car is stored in LA and my parents’ cars were on the way to Florida.

But that’s ok, right? Because I had a two-week plan laid out and I wouldn’t need to return home for anything.

I sit in the Exit Row of my 737 plane with a good book, dozing off in between chapters, my head rolling on my neck like a tetherball.

The flight attendant announces over the intercom: “Ladies and gentleman, we are now starting our initial descent into LaGuardia airport. Current local time is 10:15 am, weather coming in at 75 degrees. Welcome to New York”.

A hot summer’s day in The City. I can go meet friends for coffee; people that I never have the chance to see because I always just pop in at such short notice. I could take some dance classes at Broadway Dance Center, go out for dinner afterwards, stop by my favorite cookie shop afterwards… the possibilities are endless.

Upon deplaning, I head to baggage claim and refill my MetroCard, this time making sure I buy an unlimited week-long pass since I will FINALLY be spending at least half of a full week in New York City!

The M60 Bus comes (a cheap way to get into the City: read my post, “It’s Been Waiting For You” for more info!)

I plan on taking it all the way to 125th and Broadway, then transferring from there to the 1 train and taking it Uptown to my apartment.

I settle into the seat that I snagged on the bus- a single seat with lots of room to put my bags at my feet- and pop my headphones in to begin my “Bus Life” soundtrack for the 1 hour ride.

And now is the perfect time to check social media, since the plane didn’t have Wi-Fi. I head to my email first: a habit that has formed from wanting to hear some good news, check for new opportunities, and just try to advance my career. It all happens over email.

I see in bold letters: CMAIL NOTIFCATION.

A “Cmail” is a portal message on a website profile for actors. When you get an agent, you sign up for this service so that your team can submit you for auditions and projects. Once you get an audition, it pops up in the form of an email, otherwise known as a “cmail”.

Which means I had an audition.

I open the email immediately and see that it’s for a taped audition. Which means I must go to a service that I trust and know well in order to get the best result.

I search for the due date, looking to see how much time I’ll have before the audition has to be in to the casting directors. Maybe it will time out perfectly for when I head to LA, and I can tape it there with my trusted coach?

Friday, May 19, 2017.

It was Wednesday, May 17, 2017. I had two days, and I had just hopped on a bus in New York City.

You would think I would have a trusted taping service there for problems such as these, but I don’t. Well, I used to, but the service went out of business. My second resort is to ask a friend to tape me with one of their nice cameras and buy them lunch. But this idea would not suffice for this particular audition because…

It’s a big one. A Guest Star role for a TV show on a major network. And the audition came from my Atlanta agent; getting a role of that size out of Atlanta is hard to come by. So I knew I had to do this right.

I felt a pang in my gut tell me, “Kelly you know what you have to do. You have to go back to Atlanta. Right now.”

And my gut was right, of course.

I was on a moving bus to Manhattan, the heart of New York City, where I was to finally settle in for a couple days and live my fullest City Life… and something dragged me back to Atlanta.

I got off at the next bus stop, walked across the street to the stop going the opposite direction, and hopped on a bus back to the airport. A total of about 20 minutes in New York, and I never even made it to Manhattan. I just brushed the edges of Queens.

I listed on the next flight out of LaGuardia to Atlanta, and made it to the airport in time. Easy right?

Well I got to security and they decided to do a bomb test on my bag, meaning they open it up and dig to the bottom and scrape a plastic tester all around the edges. I was a little miffed because little did they know I had literally JUST come from the airport and I breezed through security in Atlanta. But of course I kept my mouth shut.

But the worst part? The TSA agent ruined my masterpiece, my 3 hours of meticulous packing. When the test cleared through my bag looked like a garbage can that was ransack by a hungry raccoon.

Just a little stumble in the process, no worries.

But then I get to the gate and realize that I have no ride when I get back to Atlanta. My parents are gone. I have no car to access. How am I going to get to my house, then to my audition and back to the airport the next day?!

My best friend. Kaley. She was home from college and agreed to be my Uber ride for the next 48 hours. Shoutout to Kaley for being the savior of the day!

*

I was back in the Peach State by 3 pm, less than 12 hours before I had previously been there. Essentially, I flew to New York to hop on a bus for 20 minutes and come right back to Atlanta. Fun, right?

But it was an adventure. And it all worked out- the audition went incredible well, I had lunch and got to spend time with my best friend, and was back up in New York sleeping at my apartment the next night.

It’s just funny how life works sometimes. You feel like you have an idea of where you want to go and what you want to do and then God comes right back and says, “Nope!” He redirects your path in an instant and takes you on a different adventure, usually a better one.

Because I wouldn’t have this blog post to write if my travel plans had gone my way!

I am a paper airplane, crafted by God and thrown into the world with elegance and ease. Because He knows where I am going. I don’t, but that’s ok. Because I am guided. And I am going

Where the Wind Takes Me.

-The Fly Girl

 

 

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

Most of my air travel is spent over the US, crossing back and forth over the expanse of the country heading to LA or New York. But every so often, I switch it up and head overseas to explore.

This spring, my overseas extravaganza happened to be in Paris, France. And it just so happened that my dad had a layover there. He was to fly a plane from New York to Paris, enjoying a day or so in the city before flying that plane back to the US. The wonderful part? He invited me to come along.

Paris was the first European destination I ever visited. I was 10 years old when my family and I went over Spring Break in April of 2007. A decade later I was back roaming the streets, this time experiencing even more of the culture and eloquence that Paris has to offer.

I used to always tell myself that I only want to travel to places I’ve never been. It seemed pointless to go to a city that I’ve already explored for a couple days. But that’s just it- when I do travel I never stay in one place for more than a week. How is it fair that I assume I experience all one city has to offer in the course of a couple of days? It’s not.

When I was in Paris 10 years ago, my family and I toured the well-known sites. We gawked at Notre Dame, climbed (more like rode an elevator) to the top of the Eiffel Tower, walked through Montmartre, and looked out at the whole city while at Sacre Cour. We drove by the Arc De Triumph and even hit The Louvre to say hello to Mona Lisa. What more is there to do in Paris? Eat crepes, check. Buy a beret, check. Done.

Except these bucket list items are merely a fraction of what that city has to offer. As I came back a decade later, I honestly had no plans for the trip because I did not know what else there was to do. But when I arrived in Paris, I quickly realized I had been totally wrong.

*

Have you ever allowed yourself to get lost in a city? To put away your handheld map, your cellphone, and all sense of direction and just wander? I’m sure you probably haven’t. Cause getting lost has such a negative connotation. We all have a schedule to adhere to. Our days are filled up by the second. And on vacation? Forget about it. There is an itinerary to follow and if not, the whole trip will crumble to ruins. Right?

Wrong. And trust me, I used to think this way. I’m a type A personality born to an Air Force graduate –turned- Pilot father. If you think our family vacations are any sort of “relaxing”, you’re wrong again.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to appreciate walking through a city. Merely walking with no agenda, just gazing at the views and architecture. It’s probably my favorite thing to do- designate one day of the trip to getting lost without a worry in the world.

I’ve done this twice now- once on my second trip to London, and most recently on my second trip to Paris. The key factor? “Second trip” However I wish I had not been so caught up in “getting all of the sites in” the first go round so I could realize that I was missing out on so much more.

When you wander through a city, you never know what you’re going to find. Mind you, you should choose a city that is safe and easily accessible to a walking person. And always be aware! (Ok, I’ll stop acting like your mom now)

My first day in Paris as a 20 year-old, my mom and I picked one spot on the map to subway to and then decided to just walk and not look back from there. Our main destination was a store, and then we figured we’d just follow the quaint streets from there.

And that’s exactly what we did. European cities have tiny side streets that branch out from the main roads, usually paved in cobblestone and strung with twinkling lights. Exploring these cute little treasures is my mom’s favorite pastime, and has become mine as well.

We shopped. We explored the streets. We sat down at a café to enjoy a happy hour beverage (or two…). We bought a mini pizza topped with brie from a little bakery. Peeked into a flower shop. Split a dinner for two and picked up some fresh croissants for the next morning. It was such a lovely day.

Those are the days when you immerse into the culture. I’m not saying that we are now completely cultured French women; by all means I still have a lot more time to spend in Paris before that ever happens. But it’s a start. There were no tourists for miles. No historic sights to see. Just incredible architecture and eloquent storefronts.

Our second day in Paris, my dad joined my mom and I and we explored even more of the city that we had yet to see. We strolled through Luxembourg Gardens, visited Sainte Chappelle and marveled at the stain glass windows, stopped by Notre Dame for a quick photo opp, and took a bike tour all across Paris. We enjoyed fabulous meals and a nighttime boat cruise capped off the day.

*

And I thought I had done it all. That my little 10-year-old self would take in the city for what it’s worth and appreciate that architecture, the history, and the worth. Who was I kidding?

After being back in Paris, I can’t wait to go again. To stop by the opera house that The Phantom of the Opera is based on. To shop for treasures at the weekend flea market in Montmartre. To visit Museum D’orsey and the original Lauderee Macaroon store. The list goes on and on.

But I also want to take another day to walk through the city without a care in the world. To get to know her on a more personal level. I want to return to other cities I’ve previously visited- Barcelona, Amsterdam, Salzburg, Munich, Rome, Brussels- and wander through them as well.

Because last week I discovered that I love Paris in the spring.

And I also discovered that,

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

-The Fly Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In All Kinds of Weather

Severe weather is out of the airline’s control. If you ever have a flight that is delayed or cancelled to due weather, don’t blame the airline. Blame the air traffic controllers or Mother Nature, but trust me when I say that the airline isn’t out to get you. In fact, they have your best interest at heart, even though it seems like they are trying to ruin your day.

Want to guarantee yourself a crazy travel day? Try to travel during severe weather circumstances. Want to add a cherry on top? Try to travel in severe weather as a Non-Rev.

Picture this: airport terminals filling up with passengers as more flights are cancelled. Passengers running from gate to gate trying to jump on an earlier flight because theirs is delayed. Luggage everywhere. People sleeping on the ground. Disheartened spirits.

If you’ve ever attempted to fly in extreme weather, you know that it’s absolute mayhem. If you’ve ever attempted to fly in extreme weather as a Stand-By, you know it’s 99% useless.

But that 1% chance of getting on a plane is still there, flickering it’s little light. So you go for it, because miracles happen, right?

Right, if you know how to play the game.

Thankfully, I do (and so does my mom).

In all of my years of flying, I’ve pretty much flown in all of the weather circumstances you can think of. I’ve been on a small connection flight during a severe thunderstorm- the flight attendant literally announced that she thought they were going to crash on the previous flight due to the lightening (this wasn’t my normal airline, mind you). I’ve been on the last flight able to land in New York during a snowstorm- the plane slid on the runway upon landing and almost hit the fence lining The Hudson River. I’ve flown in extreme wind scenarios, where the turbulence was constant and the plane felt like a rollercoaster- I remember spilling my Coke on the man sitting next to me on the way to Phoenix, Arizona when I was 7. Whoops.

But this past week I checked off another extreme weather flight- I flew from Atlanta to Chicago during a tornado. Not only was it a miracle that the plane left Atlanta, but it was a miracle that I was on it.

*

Let me give you the backstory:

It was already a crazy travel week to begin with for this Fly Girl. Moving across the country, a screening of a movie, and a premiere all in one week.

On Saturday, I had moved out of my house in LA across the country to Atlanta, all of my belongings on the airplane. (Blog post about moving across the country using only carry-ons and checked bags to follow) My mom had flown into LA to help me, and we landed in Atlanta with 5 suitcases and a trunk at 1:30 in the morning on Sunday. On our way home, us tired little pups that we were after working, my mom exclaims “OH MY GOSH” as I was drifting off to sleep in the passenger seat.

“ WE FORGOT YOUR COAT IN THE COAT CLOSET” she yells.

My prized possession. The pink designer coat that I purchased in December using the Christmas money my parents gave me. A coat that is so dear to me, I refuse to pack it because I don’t want it to get messed up. But I also refuse to wear it onboard, for fear of it getting dirty. The solution? Bring it in a hanging bag and ask the flight attendant to hang it in the coat closet.

But then you have to remember to go get the coat.

In my defense, we landed so late and we had been running around like crazy all day… but really it was my fault.

We get off the interstate at the first exit we see and speed back around to the airport. Game plan: go to the lost and found and give them details about the coat: size, color, detailing, color of the hanging bag, name and phone number on the bag…

Except I had no form of identification labeled on the bag. Nothing, nada, zippo. Just a gray bag that says “Club Monaco”. A target for a cleaning crew member to easily be able to snatch up and never look back.

The only thing I had going for me was that we were the last flight of the night- that airplane was done for the day and was to stay at that gate until the new leg the next morning.

I gave all of my information to the lost and found women. Filled out another form online. My mom even found a Facebook group for Atlanta travel and asked if anyone had seen it. We got back a response from a gate agent who worked the gate we flew into it. She said she went down to the plane and the coat closet was empty.

It was hopeless. The cleaning crew had sold my coat on eBay by now.

Sunday afternoon my dad flew in from Florida and decided to stop by Lost and Found to check it out.

And there was my coat in its Gray Club Monaco hanging bag. A miracle.

What does this have to do with tornadoes? Nothing. This event just occurred in the craziest travel week of my life, so I’d thought I’d include it for effect.

OK so moving on- Tuesday rolls around and I am invited to attend a screening of a movie I am in, Rounding Third, in Nashville. It was a plus one invitation, so I invited my mom to come with me. She went back to LA on Monday with my dad to visit my sister, so on Tuesday she would fly straight from LA to Nashville.

Tuesday morning I was packing up for the airport, and the flight loads suddenly worsened. There were thunderstorms in the Atlanta area, so many flights were getting delayed and things were a little bumpy at the airport. I knew I had to be in Nashville by 6pm, and I didn’t want to risk it, so I hopped in the car and drove. Thankfully Nashville is close enough to Georgia that the drive is doable- it took me 4 hours. This was my first road trip ever as the driver (again, thank you flight benefits), and honestly it was a beautiful drive. My mom made it to Nashville as well, we were on time to the screening, and I watched myself on a giant silver screen for the first time. It was such a cool experience.

That night in our hotel room, my mom and I made our plans for the return drive to Atlanta. We wanted to leave on the earlier side because we had some errands to run before leaving on Thursday for Chicago. We were headed to the premiere of another movie I am in, The Case For Christ, but since we had been so busy prior we needed to use Wednesday to shop for jewelry, get our nails done, etc.

As we were falling asleep in Nashville, my mom checked the weather for the next day. “TORNADO WARNING” flashed across her computer screen- EFFECTIVE WEDNESDAY 10A.M.- 3 P.M.

Great. Looks like we needed to leave even earlier.

That next morning we hopped out of bed at 7 a.m. and jumped in the car. We were going to beat this thing. We began the drive back to Atlanta, and my dad calls us saying the tornado warning started earlier and he was currently in the basement taking cover.

We knew we had to get back, but now we had to be extremely careful.

Thankfully for the first 2 hours we were in Tennessee and North GA, where the tornadoes weren’t present. But once we hit the middle of Georgia, the drive became difficult. Pounding rain, flash floods, fog, oh my! My mom, the trooper that she is, drove the whole way. We made it back to our house in one piece, just a little wet.

After four hours of driving in scary circumstances, to say we were tired and hungry was an understatement. We enjoyed a nice lunch with my dad, and soon after my mom brought over her laptop. “Let’s check the loads for tomorrow,” she said, “I just want to know what’s been going on at the airport due to these tornadoes”.

She opened her laptop. Signed into the portal. Looked at all the flights from Atlanta to Chicago for Wednesday to see what had been going on so far. And every flight had been delayed, some cancelled. The Non-Rev lists were never ending; so many passengers were trying to jump onto earlier flights since theirs was delayed.

It didn’t look good. With cancelled flights, that means hundreds of passengers would have to be rebooked for the next day, Thursday, meaning they would take any empty seat that was available for us to take as a non-rev.

Which means it would be impossible for my mom and I to get to Chicago on Thursday for the premiere.

We hadn’t even been home for more than 45 minutes. Our suitcases were still in the foyer, chilling out waiting to be unpacked. And my mom exclaims, “We have to go to the airport ASAP.”

She was right.

I ran upstairs, unpacked, repacked for Chicago, ran a mile, and took a shower all within an hour.

We hopped in the car and sped towards the airport, in hopes of making it on one of the only On Time flights to Chicago that day.

After sprinting through the airport to make it on time, we arrived at the gate to find out that our flight had actually been delayed. This meant that passengers from other delayed flights would now try to hop on ours because it would still leave sooner than their delayed one. And for some reason, our names weren’t listed on the screen? We were not on the Stand-By list. We went up to the gate agent and she assured us that they had us on their list, but the screens were just glitching.

But that made us nervous. Sometimes we rely too much on technology and not enough on other people.

We wanted a Plan B. There was another delayed flight that was going to end up leaving around the same time as ours, and it had a couple seats on it. It was a tight one though- and the gate was in a whole different terminal than ours.

I was sweaty. I was tired. I was worried. I wanted to jump ship and try for the other, more promising flight. But my mom said, let’s just stick around here for 15 more minutes. We are finally boarding.

They began the boarding process. At least 40 paying passengers from other flights came up to our gate and tried to hop on our flight. I gave my mom a knowing look, communicating that we were probably not going to get on. Everyone had boarded and the gate agents looked frantic. The screen showed 10 seats, but our names were still not there and no other names had appeared. They kept announcing to the gatehouse that all Stand-Bys needed to be present at the gate. But they weren’t boarding any of us. It seemed like a trick.

Time was running out and they still had not cleared any revenue or non-revenue standby. But you know the rules by now- paying stand-by passengers would get a seat before any non-revenue passenger. That’s the first rule in the book.

Except suddenly the gate agent calls our names. We run up, and she gives us boarding passes. She has to manually enter us into the system, which we thought was odd. But we were on. And we got on that plane, somehow.

When we got onboard there were still 6 seats empty. We assumed they would clear more people, obviously, since there were empty seats and many people who wanted to occupy them. But 5 minutes later the boarding door closed. Which was weird, because nobody else had come on board after my mom and I.

Our plane took off in the calm of the storm. The ride to Chicago was definitely not calm though- the turbulence was heavy and I almost threw up from motion sickness. But we landed safely, dodging the tornadoes and making it to Chicago a day in advance.

We didn’t even have a place to stay. My mom had made that decision so fast that we didn’t even have time to book a hotel, so right after we deplaned we took a seat in the gatehouse, logged on to the Midway International Airport free Wi-Fi, and booked a hotel through Hotels.com

We also decided to take a look at the Atlanta to Chicago loads, just to see what ended up happening.

And what we found was astounding. We were the only flight that took off to Chicago that day. All other flights that had been delayed eventually cancelled. We also found out that the computer systems began to crash, and that is why no other Stand-By passengers got on our flight. That’s also how two non-revs got on- because the gate agents literally were not able to enter those 40 other paying passengers onto the Stand-By list.

If we had jumped ship to the other flight like I had wanted, we would not have gotten on the plane. If we had waited until Thursday morning to go to Chicago, we also would not have gotten on the plane. I would have missed my first red carpet and my first premiere.

But we made it. It was truly a miracle. Since we had an extra night in Chicago, my mom and I were able to run all of our pre-premiere errands in The Windy City. I arrived to the red carpet with freshly painted nails, new jewelry gifted to me by Kendra Scott, and my hair blown out by Dry Bar. The premiere was everything I had dreamed of and more, and I am so thankful I was able to be there to be apart of it.

*

Sometimes you are meant to be somewhere, and God will get you there no matter what. Sometimes we follow his path but then get scared and want to jump ship at the last minute. But He knows what’s best for us and He will get you where you need to go.

The peace I felt was overwhelming- I knew that God was looking out for me. That He wanted me at that premiere so He orchestrated a miracle for me to get there.

But it also takes teamwork and flexibility. Fast decisions on the fly. I am so thankful that my mom had been intuitive enough to check those flights when we got back from Nashville. She was on top of her game the entire travel experience, and I am so grateful for her.

*

There’s camaraderie within the Non-Revenue world. When I meet other Stand-By passengers, there’s this knowing smile that I always crack at them. Because they get it. We understand what we go through. The crazy stories we have to tell. Like I mentioned earlier, there’s even a Facebook group for Non-Revs, and everyone on that page is so willing to help each other out. It truly is a community. And communities stick together.

In All Kinds of Weather, we all stick together.

-The Fly Girl