President's Message - December 2021

A Leap of Faith

Mary McKelvey

WLALA President 2021-2022

I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane from approximately thirteen thousand feet above the earth a couple of weeks ago. This was voluntary on my part. A dear friend and mentor had a transformative experience with his first jump a couple years ago and his enthusiasm after several more jumps was both infectious and inspiring. Thus, I was persuaded to my “yes.” We boarded a small plane and sat on a hard bench with ten or so others. As the plane ascended, I watched the surface of the earth get smaller and more distant through the open door of the plane. When the plane reached 12,500 feet we began edging towards the open door. Terror was one of the many emotions flooding my system at that moment. Crouched on the edge of the plane with nothing between me and the wide-open sky, my instructor and I jumped!

The first minute or so hurtling through the sky at 120 miles an hour was exhilarating – all senses on high alert! I spread my arms out wide after a few seconds and, for a while, I was as close as I will likely ever be to actual flying. After a minute or so, the whoosh of the chute opening, a jerk on my harness as my speed rapidly declined, and then … a quiet peace that was in stark contrast to the loud, windy, and electrifying freefall. My instructor and I floated, twirled, and glided for the next five minutes or so as we sky danced our way to the ground.

My approach to life is that, just as working out my physical muscles is necessary to strengthen them, so must I work my emotional, psychological, and spiritual muscles if I want them to be strong. Life invites so many leaps of faith: letting go of a secure job to pursue a dream, walking away from a relationship that no longer works, accepting an invitation to a role we know will stretch us beyond our current skill level. There comes a moment when – after the requisite evaluation, preparation, and planning has been completed – we must step out of our comfort zone, trust something, and then act.

Right now the world is calling for courage and creative solutions to address some significant challenges. I see it as a time of opportunity. We are each called to respond in one way or another. I don’t yet know exactly what I am called to do in response to some of these troubling issues (intensifying social divisiveness, escalating violence and an increased awareness and tension around our Country’s history of racism, to name a few) but I do want to be ready when the answer to that question becomes clear. Every day gives us opportunities for little leaps – speaking up in a group, voicing an opinion that may not be popular, challenging a formidable expert at trial… Like any good athlete, strengthening of all muscles, large and small, is required to enable one to stay strong and prepared. If I’ve exercised the muscles of courage and risk taking, I’m far more prepared to allow the challenges and opportunities of life to invite me into a better version of myself. My invitation to you is to practice the leap of faith in whatever your calling.

Respectfully Yours,
Mary McKelvey
President, Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles