Hard to believe that summer is over. That means something completely different than it did last year at this time when I was in Chicago preparing for winter. Here in the South we’re still experiencing 80+ degrees during the day, but the mornings and evenings are becoming cooler and the humidity isn’t nearly as high (my hair is thrilled with that).
Though the skydiving season is still in full swing for me, I like to take time to reflect every now and again on the lessons that I’ve learned – both in the world of skydiving and in the community at large. Life has presented me with a lot of great information I’m sure others would benefit from hearing, if they haven’t received the message from the universe yet themselves.
- Surround yourself with good people and you’ll continue to experience good in the world. - It’s amazing how true this is. In all my moves I’ve been blessed to find good people and they’ve introduced me to other good people, and at the end of the day when I find myself surrounded by people who truly care, I couldn’t be happier. The lesson here is this: choosing not to welcome negative people into your life, or even removing someone from your life who doesn’t bring positive vibes, doesn’t make you a bad person – it opens the door for so much more than you might imagine.
- Prioritize. – This goes with everything in life, but I’m specifically referring to skydiving here. If you’ve been around these parts long you’re aware that sticking with a discipline isn’t my forte. But once I finally committed to freeflying and threw myself into the tunnel to be beat up rotation after rotation and spent all my time and money traveling for coaching or even just to jump with some bad ass freeflyers, I knew this is where I was meant to be in the sport. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got my fair share of frustrations with my flying, but that’s just the nature of the beast. More time, more money. I’ll get there, and one day I’ll be that bad ass freeflyer that people are chasing.
- Skydivers protect each other. – This partially goes without saying as we’re all a bit responsible for the safety of our fellow jumpers. See someone’s chest strap routed wrong, you’re telling them. We all do pin checks for each other on the ground and in the plane…it’s just what we do. But what surprised me more than that was the personal protection you receive when you’re among fellow jumpers. The dropzone is a safe space for skydivers. We all come from different walks of life but at the end of the day you can truly be who you are without condemnation in this community, and we’re all there for each other when times get tough. Some of my closest friends are skydivers, not just because of the shared interest, but because they are good people who appreciate me for me and who I trust have my back. I know that when I go to the dropzone on the weekends I’ve got people watching out for me and take great comfort in that fact.
- Don’t be afraid of the word ‘no.’ – I learned this long ago when it came to my career, but it never really dawned on me that I could apply it to my personal life too. If there’s something you want, ask. What’s the worst that could happen? You hear the word ‘no’ and you’re in the exact same position as if you’d never asked.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ – This is one I’m still working on. Personally, I’m a people pleaser and if saying no might disappoint someone I’m likely to say yes, often begrudgingly. But all that’s going to do is make me bitter when my time could be much better spent doing something that benefits me as well.
- Live within your means – Still a struggle of mine, of course, but I’ve found there’s so much less stress when you live within a budget – sorta. I was so good at this at the beginning of the summer, but with travel, new gear and tunnel it’s become a challenge again. Living within your means doesn’t have to mean that you can’t have any fun – just reallocate money to what’s most important. If you’re traveling all the time, live in a modest place….stop shopping at Nordstrom during the week so you can fund that tunnel trip. There’s ways to cut corners to get what you want – you just have to figure out what’s most important in your life. I found that selling gear I wasn’t using helps. I wanted a new helmet, so I sold mine. I ordered a new tunnel suit, so I sold my old wingsuit. Selling a pair of freefly pants and an old jumpsuit I wasn’t wearing anymore helped fund my Viso2 purchase. Hoarding gear was not productive for me, selling it was.
- I’ve got amazing friends. This brings us back to the beginning of the list. Sure, I choose to surround myself with good people these days, but they also choose to stick around. They say that it’s the hard times in life that let you know who your true friends are, but truth be told, I’ve been in a great place for quite some time and I continue to be awed at how wonderful, protective and caring my friends are.
Life is too short not to try as hard as you can every day to be living the way that’s going to make you happiest – acknowledging the lessons will help you get there faster. The road might not be filled with unicorns shitting rainbows but at the end of the day, if you can look yourself in the mirror and be happy with what’s looking back at you then you’re doing pretty well.
Love and Blue Skies!