Stuck in An Airport! - Kimberly Thompson

     For months I have been anticipating teaching in Fielding Graduate University’s Winter Session 2017 in sunny Santa Barbara, CA (aka, Paradise). I arrived at the airport this morning only to discover that my entire itinerary, return trip included, had been cancelled out. I had not received any notices that this had happened (or that I had been rescheduled on a flight that left hours before I even arrived at the airport). Arrggh!

     Fortunately I live in Lubbock, TX, where people are helpful and polite … the airline employee working the check-in desk got me on the next available flight and reconstructed my itinerary.

     I’m going to miss teaching my afternoon seminar in and disappoint the students that were expecting to take it.  I’m not happy about it, but I’m calm and coping with it.  This is in marked contrast to an earlier period in my life when setbacks like this triggered anxiety, frustration, and tense irritability.  I’m sitting here in the airport musing on what has changed.

     1) First, I accept that there is nothing I can do but wait. Being keyed-up and on high alert will not change the basic facts of the matter. There is no appropriate flight out of this airport until much later today.

     2) I accept that sometimes circumstances are beyond my control.  This situation is not my fault, and I am doing all I can to remedy it. That is enough.

     3) I believe that I can tolerate the discomfort of spending hours in an airport. I can tolerate the discomfort of arriving late. I truly can handle it when things go wrong.

     I learned these very important lessons back in 2007 — during my very first trip to a Fielding Winter Session. An ice storm hit the Midwest the day I was supposed to leave, cancelling all air traffic in and out of Denver and stranding thousands of people. I was living in Abilene (TX) at the time, trying to get to Dallas.  Our early-morning flight couldn’t leave Abilene because the plane had to be de-iced, and they couldn’t find a de-icer. I’m not sure where they finally got one – maybe Harry’s Party Rental? At any rate, it took so long that that the other passengers and I were almost ready to volunteer the portable blow-dryers in our luggage to get ‘er done.  So finally around 4 p.m. we made the short flight from Abilene to Dallas.

     Dallas-Ft. Worth was horribly backed up, and the flight I had booked was first delayed and then cancelled around 10:00 p.m.. I ended up snagging the last seat on the last plane that night bound for LAX.  Arriving in Los Angeles at about 3:00 a.m., I realized that if I waited for the next plane to Santa Barbara, I would miss another morning’s worth of seminars. So I rented a car and headed out onto the streets of LA in the middle of the night.  I had lived in a rural area for many years, and felt like a country rube in one of the largest cities in America. I was scared and insecure. I felt so alone.

     I was not accustomed to using GPS at that time, and had never listened to satellite radio, but since the car was equipped with both, I turned them on.  With the use of the GPS I finally stumbled onto the route to Santa Barbara. The satellite radio was turned to traffic reports, but I kept it on mainly for the comfort of a human voice. Then I noticed something odd — the traffic reports kept using words like “The Katy Freeway” and “Loop 610.”  It was a Houston traffic report. As that realization sank in, something shifted inside of me.  I’m not a country rube, I’m a city girl from Houston. (Born and raised there). I’ve got this.

     Although disheveled and still waiting on my luggage, I made it to my morning seminar. My friends helped me get the car safely to the Santa Barbara airport that evening. Everything turned out just fine.

     It’s the inconveniences, frustrations, and obstacles of life that teach us what we are made of. Nobody expects you to enjoy them while you’re going through them — but discovering that you are tougher, smarter, more resourceful than you ever imagined can bring immense enjoyment in the long run.


     I am Dr. Kimberly Thompson, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Lubbock, Texas. I work with mothers and their children to help them heal, grow, and live their most vibrant lives. My particular expertise is pregnant and postpartum women, and moms of “littles.” My book, Perfect Mothers Get Depressed, is available on Amazon and from Praeclarus Press. If you live within driving distance of Lubbock, you can work with me face-to-face; if you live anywhere else in the state of Texas, you can work with me via online therapy. Send me a message if you need more information, or call my office at (806) 224-0200 if you’re ready to book an appointment.