Live Something More Part 2

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I decided to follow a long time dream. I got in my car and drove to the Austin Academy of Aviation located at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport and signed up for flying lessons! I wanted to fly airplanes! My kids were in school for 8 hours a day, and it was time to focus on myself! 

Cheryl Duncan

I’ve lways wanted to learn to fly, inspired by dozens of amazing movie pilots that I’d worked with over the years, hanging off of various helicopters, and being a passenger in various airplanes stunt doubling actresses (Goldie Hawn, Kathleen Turner, Sharon Stone, to name a few). I’d flown with movie pilots over volcanoes and lava fields on the big island of Hawaii, landed on 2,000 feet high desert pinnacles in Moab, Utah, dangled over downtown New York and Los Angeles while cabled to the undercarriage of helicopters, flown under bridges (really scary and no margin for error), and been a party to some of the most amazing stunt aerobatics ever in death defying chases between planes and helicopters, helicopters and helicopters, etc. In 1992 I was doubling Sharon Stone on “Sliver” in a helicopter sequence flying over the crater of the Kilauea Volcano on the big Island of Hawaii. The pilot and I were flying with no doors on the helicopter, only seatbelts holding us secure. During the sequence, the camera helicopter flying right behind us lost power and crash landed into the mouth of the volcano. The injured pilot and crew members survived the ordeal, but barely. But for the grace of God, that could have been our helicopter. Although this particular aviation accident brought me up short, it didn’t dampen my love of flying, it only made me respect it more. I’d been enamored and in awe of flying for years and realized that despite the close call, I was smitten forever.

In taking up flying, I decided I had to make some life changes on a personal level and NO ONE was going to do it for me. I had to be the one to implement the change. I needed to be inspired and I needed to be challenged, and I needed to do something for me and me alone. I needed to feed that deepest part of me that was so neglected of late. Learning to fly was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’d ever done! It was a very serious undertaking and I had to apply myself fully and with total concentration! There was so much to learn and it had been a long time since I had attended school studying anything – especially a subject as critical and unforgiving as flying airplanes! If you make a mistake flying, there are rarely second chances! My brain went into overload as I studied the basic principles of flying, mechanics of the airplane, how flying affects the human body, wind, weather patterns, weather theory, weather hazards, ground operations, using the radio, interacting with ATC (air traffic control), flying in different classes of air space, rules and regulations, safety, emergency procedures, charts, navigation, forecasting, fuel usage, weight, load and balance, and the list goes on. My brain was pushed to its limits and in the midst of it all, I realized that the intellectual challenge was awesome and just what I needed!

At 48, I soloed and earned my wing – my private pilot’s license, and in doing so, I realized that we are never too old to learn, grow and challenge ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually. I truly love to fly planes. I love the focus, freedom and challenge of flying. There is a dangerous edge to flying that awakens all of my senses and puts me in almost a Zen state. Time passes so quickly up in the sky. I love to look down on the birds and clouds and the earth. The world looks so peaceful and perfect and clean from up high. I feel free and untroubled and I love the solitude. I feel closer to God at high altitudes. I feel complete with wings.

I encourage everyone to look at the things they most want to accomplish in life, and to go for it, no matter what their age or circumstances. Don’t wait-we aren’t getting any younger! The key to youth and vitality and longevity is to keep moving, keep growing, keep challenging ourselves, and staying open and excited about the wonders of the world before us. The day that we don’t have something new to learn is the day that we can label ourselves old! Until then – well, age is just a number in my opinion!

Lastly, and a key personal factor in bringing happiness to my life as well as good health and longevity! I believe in the magic and the wonders of the world around us. I believe in a positive attitude. I believe in nurturing and supporting our inner child, that innocent, wide-eyed youngster residing in all of us who is full of kindness, compassion, excitement, anticipation and love of life. I always try and wake up in the morning with an open heart and a belief that the world and the people in it are innately good and that life is an adventure and that we are all connected in one way or another. I’m a realist, but I try not to dwell on bad news. I always try and do at least one selfless good deed or one positive action that will help another. Affecting a stranger’s life positively is especially rewarding. Our perception is our reality and we can truly choose how we want to live our life. I choose to be happy, to be adventurous, to be strong, to be young at heart and to live as youthfully as I can, in body, mind and soul. I’m not perfect at it and never will be! I am content and happy to be a work in progress!

by Cheryl Wheeler Duncan

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.transferofhealth.com/images/contributors/cheryl-wheeler-duncan-profile.jpg[/author_image] [author_info] Cheryl shares her lifestyle and the nutrition secrets that are the bedrock of the vibrant life she shares with Dr. Lindsey and their daughters. World champion kick-boxer, professional stuntwoman, certified nutritionist, private pilot, wife, mother – all of these adjectives describe Cheryl Wheeler Duncan. Though her days of kick-boxing competition are long over, she is still stunting part-time, staying in great physical shape in order to double the beautiful and svelte actresses on the big screen. The article above is a portion of the published article featured in April 2010 Issue of Healthy Living with Cheryl on the cover [/author_info] [/author]

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