What would you do if your heart felt like all the love had been squeezed out and your dreams of the future suddenly went blank?
Back in late June 2019 I ended a nine year relationship to save my sanity and my self worth. I was in the middle of my #50for50 year of adventures and the whole project suddenly seemed trivial.
Why bother trying to conquer your comfort zone when you already had tapped out of the biggest fight of your life?
Except I knew deep down that the strength to stop being the anchor that was also drowning had come from starting my #50for50. I had already been strong enough to learn to swim again, brave enough to pole dance, belly dance and do aerial yoga. I had already challenged myself to hike Mt. LeConte in snow and float in darkness of the sensory deprivation tank. I had faced the quiet of my own heart in a silent weekend, found my balance in stand up paddling and hung on for dear life riding a mechanical bull.
I had even done stand up comedy.
Why keep going when I was hurting and scared? Because it was the pain of not being where I wanted in life and the fear of falling short that had inspired me to start my #50for50 to begin with.
If you are thinking of giving up it always helps to remember why you started.
I kept going and just a few weekends after the break up I headed to Maiden, NC for one of my very biggest #50for50 adventures: tandem skydiving.
Joyce Creech had given me the inspiration to add it to the list and even gave me the name of Skydive Central Carolina that she had used when she did her jump. I researched them as well and am convinced if I want to do it they are the safest, well run and yet very affordable.
Plus its a family owned business with a long history in skydiving. Read about it on their website, because its a fantastic story. My instructor was Andy, who is not one of the family but according to their webpage they call everyone on staff family.
All I know is Andy made me feel very safe about our jump together. He took a lot of time and care to get me harnessed properly and then we literally went through the whole jump from door open to ground. All the while still at the airport. He told me exactly what words he’d be saying and when to expect and how I should respond.
He had me practice the landing, including how high I needed to lift my knees and feet
I even got to watch a video of what a jump should look like. It looked amazing and I was starting to finally really get excited. I think up until that point I hadn’t let myself really feel any certain way. In part because I was apprehensive if I thought too much about it I might get anxious.
Also because my feelings were in general still a bit numb overall.
Andy was determined however to get me pumped up. Before the flight he asked me how I was and I think I must not have seemed elated enough so from then on he worked hard to encourage me to get adrenaline pumping.
At that point it was time to board the plane. We sat in the floor, only the pilot had a seat and just the three of us on the way up to 10000 feet.
It felt like it took forever. I was too short to look out from the floor so I amused myself looking at the duct taped up cabin walls. What was it that people had said to me about how they would never jump out of a perfectly good airplane? Define perfectly good when the little plane was older than me and certainly well used.
I also watched the pilot since I was sitting to his right hand. It was fascinating to see a real pilot flying from that angle. I knew my daddy had been a trained pilot back in the day and looking at Chris, who had been flying for 40 years, I could almost imagine daddy flying the plane.
Speaking of fathers I don’t usually bring this stuff up in my blog but I most certainly prayed to my heavenly father that day before the flight. All in all I was feeling frivolously happy. I couldn’t believe I was actually getting ready to jump out of a plane.
Then it was time for Andy to strap me to him. I moved into a kneeling position, felt him connect me so I was basically in his lap. Then he opened the door.
According to what I have read since that day it is not unusual for winds to be very strong at that altitude. All I knew at that moment is I put one foot out the door and if Andy hadn’t almost immediately rocked us out of the plane I might have stayed frozen there forever.
It was the moment I think my brain fully realized I could see all the landmarks below looking exactly as they do when I look out from my preferred window seat on flights. However there was no plane between me and the ground.
Panic that had suddenly clutched me hard started ebbing away almost as quickly replaced with a joy so pure I fought back tears. If I started crying I was worried I’d miss seeing every beautiful, unbelievably, breathtaking sight to behold.
Ironically a second later we entered a cloud and I couldn’t see anything for a minute anyway. It felt like the thickest cool mists I’ve ever experienced. I think I almost giggled. Fortunately I had no idea that clouds are not opportune for skydiving since my instructor was also temporarily blinded and he definitely wanted to keep his eye on our surroundings for safety.
As soon as we dropped out of the cloud seconds later he pulled the cord and I was jerked as he’d said I would be. The gift that came with seeing the parachute open and jolt us however was being more confident now that we’d make it to the ground alive.
Andy and I discussed seeing Charlotte’s skyline and the mountains in the distance. If you watch the whole video you also get to hear me ask the silliest questions ever at less than 2000 feet from the ground.
VIDEO on YouTube about 8 minutes and 29 minutes of watching me go from nervous to stupid happy.
Yes, I literally asked him how long he’d been doing this. Who in their right mind asks that kind of question after they have already been strapped to another human and trusted that person to get them to the ground safely?
That person would be me. Stepping out of that plane was the leap of faith I needed to keep going with my #50for50. It was the sense of accomplishment and bravery that I gained to got me through the rest of 2019. Feel free to watch the video if you want to see the end of my jump but rest assured it wasn’t the landing that had the most impact on my life thus far.
The impact came from making that leap.