Onward Podcast
Onward Podcast
Jan 4, 2021
From Plain to Plane - A Journey from Mennonite Childhood to the U.S. Air Force with Patty Bear
Play • 1 hr 15 min

Onward Podcast guest Patty Bear grew up among the Plain People (Amish and Mennonites) of Pennsylvania. Furthermore, she was expected to follow in her ancestor's footsteps and become a Reformed Mennonite. Instead her world was upended at young age by an excommunication and shunning that made national news. 

Consequently, this trauma catapulted her out of an insular world where women were commanded to obey their husbands, where television, wearing jewelry, voting, or serving in the military were all forbidden. Yet she followed the call of her wild soul which led her led her to apply to the U.S. Air Force Academy and later become an airline pilot.

Patty spent decades dedicated to the study of defying gravity: escaping conditioning, walking the transformational journey, and the practice of following the call of the wild soul. Her second book entitled Plain to Plane My Mennonite Childhood, a National Scandal and an Unconventional Soar to Freedom is set to publish in Feb 2021

In this interview, host Emily Harman and her guest, Patty, talk about the journeys that transformed their lives. Every transformational journey in life is about something within you blooming. It’s about you becoming more of who you really are. The Hero's Journey travels through four distinct stages that represent a quest. And Patty shares these stages in this interview. 

Finally, your transformational journey always benefits someone else, even though you may never be aware of your impact.


Episode Highlights:
  • Emily and Patty talk about their time at a service academy. 
  • Patty graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1986 and Emily graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985.
  • Then Patty shares her story and how she ended up attending the U.S. Air Force Academy.  
  • Patty grew up with the Plain People (Amish and Mennonites) of Pennsylvania. 
  • Her father was excommunicated and shunned. 
  • Consequently, he turned on his family and took his story to the press. 
  • Patty explains "shunning" - an organized form of ostracism.
  • Her father wrongly promoted a story that his family was shunning him.
  • Patty started seeing the world differently
  • Next, Patty shares a story of her mother making little bread loaves to sell at the farmers market. 
  • At that point, Patty decided she would be financially independent and set a new goal for herself.
  • Cross Country track brought Patty into a new environment and exposed her to new possibilities.
  • Also, she decided she would attend college although this was completely against her culture.
  • Her brother advised Patty to take hard math and science classes.
  • And, when Patty was in 10th grade her brother talked her into taking flying lessons.
  • When she was a junior in high school, she realized she didn't have the talent to get an athletic scholarship. 
  • She had no money for college and didn't know what she was going to do.
  • Then she met with a Cadet from the Air Force Academy and that decision changed her life.
  • What did Patty's mom say when she told her she was thinking about attending the Air Force Academy?
  • Emily and Patty talk about their decision to attend a Service Academy and the impact it had on their mothers. 
  • Next Patty shares that she became a pilot upon graduating from the Air Force Academy.
  • Patty couldn't fly combat aircraft but she did fly in the combat zone during the first Gulf War.
  • Then, Patty became an airline pilot for United once she left the Air Force.
  • She took an early retirement due to COVID.  
  • Next, Patty talks why she wrote her about her upcoming book. 
  • She wanted to explain how one can follow a transformational path despite challenges and seemingly hopelessness.
  • Also, when everything is destroyed something comes out of it.
  • Next Patty talks about the turning points and synchronicities in her life and how she moved forward and trusted that doors would open.
  • Emily and Patty talk about the importance of taking advantage of opportunities and creating opportunities for more to happen in your life.
  • Emily asks Patty about when to listen to your inner critic.
  • Emily explains a time when she was faced with a tough decision - job she didn't want because it required leaving her comfort zone. 
  • By taking this job, Emily didn’t listen to her inner critic.  
  • Next Emily and Patty discuss the difference between a coach and counselor and why it’s important to have a coach along transformational journey.
  • After that, Patty explains how working with her coach was life changing. 
  • Also, for a long time Patty thought someone else needed to change. 
  • However, eventually she took responsibility for her life.
  • Her coach was exceptionally kind and helped her out of that dark place.
  • Then Emily talks about how retirement courses never helped her with figuring out who she really was.
  • After that Patty says so often coaching separates the personal from the professional and they cant be separated. 
  • Emily describes what living an authentic life means to her.
  • Patty explains the moment she decided she needed a coach.  
  • Also, Patty’s book is an illustration of what her transformational journey has been like.
  • Patty shares why it's important to tell her story.
  • Next Patty describes the Hero's Journey and the metamorphosis we go through many times in life.  
  • Also, she explains what to expect at each stage.
  • We have to own our story and the roles we play in our lives. 
  • And when we accept responsibility - that's a key to transformation.
  • We reclaim our sense of power.
  • Emily and Patty talk about "tests" they've encountered along their hero’s journey
  • Then Patty and Emily talk about their life's purpose - their Dharma - and how they're walking their path.
  • Next they talk about how they started paying attention to their intuition and inner wisdom.
  • Patty's friend told her guidance always comes in advance of need and she gives an example.
  • Ask yourself “What is change asking of me?”
  • Finally, your transformational journey always benefits someone else, even though you may never be aware of your impact.


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