Wow, it’s been a while. I do apologize for the absence without warning. But to be quite honest, I had to keep a number of things in my life out of the public eye for a while so I didn’t have much to discuss.
So, let’s start with the big news. I moved.
This is probably not a huge surprise to anyone who has been following along, I’m no stranger to picking up and moving. But this one was big.
I moved to New York City.
The last few weeks have been spent selling as much of my stuff as possible while packing up the few remaining things to send with my dog while she visited her grandparents in Michigan until I found a place and got settled. Thankfully I managed to sneak away from all the packing for one last weekend with my friends at Skydive Tuskegee (and for a trip to San Fran, but that’s a story for another day). I’m saddened that I won’t be able to watch that dropzone grow into it’s own amazing community as the season progresses, but sometimes life just takes you on a different path than you imagine.
That brings me to why I moved across the country, again.
As some of you know, I’d accepted a new job after leaving the software company I was with in Atlanta, and it turned out to be a bit of a bait and switch situation. Needless to say I reached out to my network, opened my search worldwide and found that the best opportunity was to head to New York to work in advertising. Since I was 16 advertising always seemed appealing. Getting to spend my days brainstorming, working side-by-side with the creatives and having a solid team of brilliant strategists is proving, even in my first week, to be everything I’d hoped.
So I know we’re all thinking it, what about skydiving? Well, it’s cold and rainy here at the moment so that’s not exactly the hottest item on my priority list (as much as I’d like it to be), but I have a few options that I plan to check out once the season is in full swing – I’ll be sure to keep you posted on those adventures.
For the time being, it’s back to work for me, but I promise to not be quite so absent – at least, for a while. Stay tuned to hear more about my San Francisco trip.
Well, it’s been a while. A lot has been happening in my life – lots of travel, exciting new adventures – I’ll fill you in some other time.
But, this weekend I was able to take advantage of the beautiful weather by getting my ass back in the air.
I’d planned to conserve funds and limit myself to one day, three jumps. I stuck to the one day part, but ended up making a few more than intended. I got sucked into doing some wingsuit rodeos, which are interesting out of a porter I must admit, and before I knew it the numbers were climbing.
What an amazing weekend. I got to spend time with some of my dearest friends that I hadn’t seen in over a month and make some new ones while I was at it Freeflying was fun and I continued to progress in some sitfly skills that I wanted to hone, while breaking it up by jumping on a wingsuiters back and going for a ride. Nothing quite like soaring through the sky on a warm January day in the South. Good stuff.
And for anyone who is interested, I’m still trying to sell my Sabre2 120. I’m going to lower the price on it a bit for anyone who writes me and mentions the blog, you can have it for $1500. It’s in amazing condition , still crispy- like new without the hassled of packing a brand new canopy. Yes, I know, I just got this one to the point where it wasn’t a bitch to pack and now I’m selling it. Your welcome, to whoever buys it. Lines are still bright white. It’s only got 200 jumps on it. No rips, holes or patches. Zero cutaways. Always packed indoors on carpet. Picture below. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or someone you know is interested.
On that note, back to the craziness of life. I promise to do my best to update more often. After all, I’ve got another upcoming tunnel trip I’ll have to tell you all about.
Believe it or not, I don’t have a lot to talk about these days. There’s a lot of really amazing things happening in my life at the moment, some of which I’m not at liberty to talk about and the rest is shit you probably don’t want to hear about anyway.
That said, I’m lacking in blog content. My brand new Crossfire2 109 came the other day courtesy of my amazing sponsors over at NZ Aerosports and is getting all prepped and ready for me to jump thanks to my friends at ChutingStar (new location in Marietta is amazing, btw. Laura gave me the grand tour when I dropped off my rig the other day and I have to say I was impressed with the space. Not only that, I was mildly thrilled to see Big Steve in the loft…I love fun surprises).
Saturday I’ll finally get to jump her! It should be a sin to have skydiving equipment delivered on a Monday – it’s complete torture!
On top of that I’m making my plans for the holidays – starting with the Christmas party at Skydive Tuskegee and ending with the Invasion at Skydive Sebastian. So much fun to be had at these events. You should totally try to make it out if these dropzones are not on your radar.
That’s my blog update for the time being. So I’m turning to my loyal readers for ideas – what do you want to read about? Anything I haven’t talked about in a while, or ever, that you want me to discuss? I’m open to ideas. This is just as much your community as it is mine…I’m all ears.
Love and Blue Skies!
On two separate occasions yesterday I was asked what it is that I like about living in Atlanta – once by a friend who has only visited the city a handful of times and once by a fellow transplant.
Having lived in a lot of cities in the past half decade, I find that after I’ve been in a place for 9 months I start to get the itch to pick up and find a new home. This is something I haven’t yet felt as a resident of Atlanta, but until yesterday, I never really thought about why that is – here’s what I’ve come up with:
When I moved here everyone told me that people who live in Atlanta are not actually from Atlanta. It’s amazing how true I’ve found this to be. Regardless, I have some of the best friends a girl could ask for, and most of them I’ve met or become closer to in the last 9 months. I’m amazed every day that I’m surrounded by people who enrich my life and continue to show me how great each day can be if you simply let it.
As skydivers, we tend to obsess about the weather – checking forecasts, planning trips to warmer climates when it starts to get too cold – and since moving to the ATL I’ve been thoroughly pleased with how nice the weather plays for us. Storms tend to come and go rather quickly, unlike the midwest where it’s not unusual to not see the sun for days or even weeks at a time. And of course it’s warmer year-round so we’re not busting out the Under Armour until very late in the year.
Since I started skydiving I have lived in places that didn’t always have the best skydiving options. Living in Northern Ohio I had to travel to Pennsylvania to find a turbine. Most of the dropzones were really small operations that focused on tandems, so it wasn’t unusual to get bumped off loads for hours at a time. Moving to Chicago I was amazed with what Skydive Chicago had to offer, but that was it, SDC. Apparently CSC’s (Chicagoland Skydiving Center) new facilities are amazing and the fun jumper crowd is expanding – I’ll have to make it up there in the near future. But here in the South there are so many options it can be overwhelming.
I find myself chasing specific jumpers or groups of freeflyers to different dropzones every weekend. There’s really not such a thing as a home dropzone for me here – I’ll go anywhere from The Farm to Skydive Atlanta to Skydive Carolina to Skydive Alabama or even to the Florida dropzones depending on where the best jumping is going to take place. It’s worth it to me to make a long drive or even a quick flight to spend quality time with my friends in the sky.
Cost of Living
After living in Cleveland and Chicago, moving back to the South was a huge relief on my wallet. I’m able to live in a house so my dog has a back yard. Gas is cheaper. Drinks are cheaper. All areas where I can save money to use for my skydiving habit.
This is 50/50, good to bad. The good part is that my commute is 20 minutes door-to-door every morning and every evening. It’s a quick drive and unless there’s an accident on the interstate, it’s relatively light traffic. The bad part is that everyone drives like complete idiots. Assuming the weather is decent, 50% of the people are driving like a bat out of hell and have road rage to match, 45% are driving so slow they’re on the verge of causing an accident and the other 5% are driving okay but they’re texting so you never know when they might end up in your lane. If it’s raining, forget about it, everyone drives as if they’ve never seen rain before.
And don’t even get me started on the pedestrians in this city. I’ve seen too many people walk straight out into oncoming traffic with their hand out indicating that the cars should stop for them, just because. Oh, and I’ve even seen a woman get hit by someone who was in fact texting and not paying attention.
But at the end of the day, I don’t have a 1.5 hour commute like I did in Chicago, so I’m happy.
As I talked about with my fellow ATL transplant last night, the one thing that keeps me loving it here is the people – hands down. I haven’t found a city yet with people who are so happy, so welcoming and who appreciate others in their life like those I’ve surrounded myself with here in Atlanta. Who knows how long I’ll stay, but for now, I’m thoroughly pleased.
Love and Blue Skies!
When it comes to skydiving, I’ve found that the most positive experiences in the sky – the one’s where you come down and, whether the jump was a complete success or not, you learned valuable skills that will come in handy on future skydives.
During the Fly Like A Girl boogie at Skydive Carolina this weekend, I had the pleasure of doing a 4-way freefly with three of the load organizers. After shaking off the intimidation factor – after all it was clear I was by far the least experienced on that jump – I took it as an amazing time to learn from three badass chicks.
Our dive plan went something like this: flower grip to head down round, to open accordion (still head down), back to HD round then flip to sit and play monkey see monkey do with Sharon, docks if proximity allows and back track away at 5K.
Sounds easy enough, but knowing my head down skills I was a little nervous. On the entire caravan ride to altitude (which equated to about 20 minutes – man I’ve been spoiled with a King Air at SDA…) I sat with my eyes closed, visualizing the exit over and over, reminding myself of the importance of being strong with my legs and deliberate in my actions. When the door opened at 14K butterflies invaded my stomach, but I knew this jump was my chance to learn something and I had to get it together.
The exit went off and I felt instability on the hill so I did what I needed to do and took a cheater grip on Amy to save it. Suceess – and lesson 1. Whew! We didn’t get the accordion but we flipped to sit and campfired till 5K, back tracked away and landed without a hitch. On the ground I got some of the best tips and coaching of my freeflying career – tidbits that helped every jump there after and will continue to be skills I employ on freefly jumps to come. It’s jumps like these, humbing as they may be, that make me love this sport so much!
There’s always something new to learn in skydiving, and there’s always room for improvement. As I see it, you never stop being a student – that is, unless you start believing you’re too good to learn something new.
The thing about improving in skydiving, as with anything in life, is that you have to be open to it. You need to be willing to learn and grow with every experience in this community – which often requires you to set your ego aside and put yourself into humbling situations. Being able to accept that you make mistakes is the only way to learn and grow from them. As long as you’re not putting yourself or others in danger, find ways to get out of your comfort zone. Jump with people who are badass and willing to help. They are out there. Events like Fly Like a Girl are designed to pair beginner and intermediate jumpers with those who have the skills to teach. Travel to boogies because of the organizers – they are there to ensure you get put on a dive that will only serve to grow your skills.
Regardless of your plan for learning, whether it’s traveling to events, flying in the tunnel or building a team of like-minded flyers willing to dedicate so much time and/or so many jumps to simply becoming a better flyer, do yourself a favor and be open to the possibilities. Learn from all those you jump with – don’t let that skydiver ego get in the way of your progression.
Love and Blue Skies!
That’s pretty much what my weekend consisted of…jump, pack, repeat. Every time I find myself at Skydive Atlanta I’m turning loads. Thankfully, I usually have a plan when I head in that direction and multiple friends to jump with – by the time I’m packed up after I jump someone’s usually got a jump ticket in their hand for me.
Saturday was spent doing freefly after freefly with my buddy Evan and we were lucky enough to connect with Raymond Adams who it turns out is not only a phenomenal photographer but a pretty great skydiver as well. We walked away with some amazing shots.
Speaking of amazing shots, there was a jump planned for The Chive where two of us are wearing our shirts to submit to the website. Our plan wasn’t fully baked, we knew what we wanted to accomplish, but as of Saturday afternoon hadn’t exactly figured out how to make it work. He’s not much of a freeflyer and I’m not much of a belly flyer and we pretty much had one shot to make it happen. Thankfully, as we were talking it out, Ray came by and was willing to go with us, helped us figure out a plan and got some amazing photos of our exit and of our hybrid flying.
Check him out at the link above. He also does hair and makeup in the ATL area – I’ll be testing out his skills there soon. Ladies, I’ll be sure to report back.
Saturday finished out with the hardest opening I’ve experienced on my Sabre2 yet – feet flung over my head and almost instant headache. I’m still feeling it down my back today. Guess that’s what I get for starting my pack job on a 10 minute call. Thankfully I wasn’t manifested for the sunset load given that a) it was a big-way belly thing and b) it filled up by 3:00 in the afternoon. So instead Mikey and I set out to work getting the beer ready for swoop ‘n chug. Four of us hung out in the swoop lanes, beer in hand to pass off to those competing. There’s a great shot of the first snag of the evening, right out of my hand, it’s coming I swear…
I made a last minute decision to board my dog just in case I decided to jump both Saturday and Sunday – and thankfully I did. We jumped till sunset and everyone went to dinner where a large margarita is essentially a fishbowl of tequila. I had assistance with it, but there was no way this girl was driving anywhere after that. So, drinking more around the bonfire sounded like a fabulous idea. I haven’t stayed out at a dropzone and drank like that (aside from Summerfest) in quite some time. It was nice to be immersed in the community again.
At 7:30am I was regretting the decision to jump on the first load big-way, but given that I haven’t done a belly jump like that in oh, two years or so, I figured it couldn’t hurt to test out my skills. Let’s just say they’re rusty and leave it at that. I need to make it a point to do more of those to get those skills up to par.
I managed to make the next two loads before the winds picked up and my hangover set in. Guys tried to drag me into a cross-country from 12 miles out, but I was in no mood to fight with crappy winds – my wind pussy status lives on. I really have no complaints about my weekend aside from a bit of soreness which only serves to remind me of the amazing time that was had in the sky with my friends.
p.s. Random after thought…I didn’t set out to write a post purely about my weekend, but then again I haven’t had many photos/videos to share lately so I thought y’all might enjoy seeing me jump for a change. I’ll be back to random ramblings later this week.
I’m caught in it – help me! That spot between being a beginner freeflyer and actually being able to hang with the big boys. The awkward place where you’re capable and confident head up, but when it comes to putting your head toward the Earth you’re hit or miss.
It’s called being an intermediate freeflyer, and some days it just sucks.
For 200+ jumps I loved being a beginner freeflyer – I got to fly with people who knew what they were doing, who could teach me a thing or two, but weren’t so amazing that they were only on their heads. As a member of the skydiving community at Skydive Chicago last year, I got to enter the world of intermediate freeflying by showing others some tricks on how to hold a sit and not backslide, while doing some organized dives with the better jumpers. It was a great time to be caught in the middle.
Moving to The South has been a challenge in that area, as most people who are freeflying around me are either super newbies who want my help in their sit progression, or super good and have their own agenda (like VFS practice). So I tend to spend a lot of time helping others and not as much time practicing and improving my own skills. (Don’t get me wrong here, I loving giving back to the community that helped me get to where I am today, but I also love being a sponge and soaking in new knowledge and experiences from those better than me…)
Lucky for me, I was able to catch the name of another “caught in the middle” jumper who was looking to do some serious practice: head down exits, sit docking, transitions, all those things that take jump after jump to lock down.
That’s the thing with freeflying – it takes a lot of practice and a lot of currency in the discipline. It’s been difficult finding people as dedicated to learning as I am, so when I find them, I claim them.
This past weekend I headed down to Skydive Atlanta to do some two-way practice with Jon. I received his name from a friend out at The Farm and I’m glad I did. A full day of turning loads and we were pretty thrilled with our progression. Check out a video of one of our best jumps of the day below. So fun. We’re planning to do it again soon, too, along with a couple others I’ve found who want to spend some serious learning time in the sky.
Until then, I’m hoping to enjoy more time in the sky and on the ground, giving and receiving tips on freefly, traveling, and making a tunnel trip or two to keep this learning curve on the upswing.
Well, the cat’s officially out of the bag as of Thursday in my exclusive interview with Adam from Skydive Addiction. He asked me to discuss Jump for Diabetes with him a few weeks back and I was more than happy to share the success we had this year and the overwhelming support and generosity of the skydiving community.
That said, all good things must come to an end and that’s precisely what is happening with Jump for Diabetes. We’ve had an amazing four years – raising and donating more than $25,000 to support diabetes research. The first two years we donated to the American Diabetes Association and the final two years we partnered with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. All funds were earmarked for research in hopes of finding a cure. I certainly hope our efforts helped.
Once the final donations are sent in to the JDRF we will be closing up shop and dissolving Jump for Diabetes.
This is a very bittersweet announcement to make – and it was an incredibly difficult decision – given all the good this community has done for such a worthy cause. As a company, we were getting to a point where the events ran themselves (well, sorta) and each year it got easier to coordinate. Of course, being so emotionally invested, I was always adding new components to our plan, finding new ways to generate buzz, get people excited and spread the cause on a global basis. It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort. I got to meet and work with so many amazing companies and individuals along the way, all the while knowing that at the end we were going to be writing a big check to benefit diabetes research. We saw interest from premium sponsors like Performance Designs and Deepseed – we couldn’t have done it without these guys and their incredible support – as well as from dropzones around the country wanting to host their own version of the Jump for Diabetes event.
All factors that made it so difficult to hang up something I’ve worked so hard to build to the incredible cause it is. It’s that last factor – the ongoing interests of dropzones and individuals to host events – that has led me to my next adventure.
At the beginning of next season (read: January) I’ll be launching a new fundraiser consulting arm of SkydiveChick.com. I’m so proud to have been a part of Jump for Diabetes and everything it stands for in the community, and I want to continue providing value as I chase my passion in the sky. I plan to take the knowledge I’ve gained from planning three incredibly successful events in the skydiving community and consult with those who want to do good in a similar way. Regardless of the cause, I want to help – and there’s no reason why everything I’ve learned and mastered along the way (both from the JFD experiences and my marketing/PR/event planning background) should go to waste.
So, if you’re looking to do a fundraising event next year at your dropzone and aren’t sure where to begin, I just might be your girl! Or, if you want to do a fundraiser and incorporate skydiving into the mix (want to do a tandem to raise money for a cause, show some kids with cancer/diabetes/etc a good time at the dropzone, etc) hit me up. I just might be able to assist.
If diabetes is still a cause you’re interested in supporting – I’m more than willing to help there too and have some great connections with the organizations who would love to receive donations from your event.
Enough with the promotions, you’ll get to hear all about that when my consulting program is fully baked and launched (fair warning). What’s most important for me to say now is thank you. Thank you to our sponsors, the manufacturers, the dropzones who hosted us, the skydiving community, the families and friends for supporting us and listening to the incessant talking about a cause that was so close to my heart. Thank you for the generosity, the time, the resources y’all put in to make us so successful. NONE of this could have been possible without each and every person involved. I’m eternally grateful for that.
I look forward to continuing my philanthropic efforts in the skydiving community and working with new and old partners and meeting new friends while we make some great things happen.
Love and Blue Skies!
“You look tired today…” – the first sign that it was one hell of a Summerfest.
Actually, aside from a really messed up sleep schedule, I walked away from Summerfest feeling great. As you might recall, last year I didn’t stick around the dropzone much after hours given my wingsuit training and all that jazz. But this year, I wanted to make it a point to enjoy Summerfest to the fullest extent, knowing that I had no obligations other than to myself.
I’m going to keep this recap tidy and touch on the main highlights of the weekend before showing you some of the images that made this Summerfest pretty damn amazing.
- 138-way head down world record. No I wasn’t on it, but it was fun to watch from the ground.
- Seeing so many faces I hadn’t seen since last year and getting to catch up with friends I just don’t get to see enough.
- Sit fly. Foot docks. A little bit of head down work. Fun under canopy on a long spot.
- Utilizing long calls during record attempts wisely with some hating. Pink shorts anyone?
- Tiki time!
- Film fest.
- Wasting time and not feeling bad about it.
- UFO jumps, fireworks, watching them blow shit up and drive a car through it! All while having front row seats.
- Letting go, completely, for an entire weekend!
As you might be able to tell from the title, this post is going to be a bit sappy / cheesy / whatever word you want to use for someone expressing how grateful they are for the people in their life. So, if you’re not feeling it, you may want to step away now. You have been warned.
I am completely amazed and humbled by the people I have in my life. Since making the move back to the South, I continue to be surprised by the generosity and love that surrounds me.
In most of the moves I’ve made, it’s been for my career, and often I find myself in cities where I know very few people, if anyone at all. Moving to Atlanta no was different, though I did know plenty of people at my work, and thankfully I have some pretty badass co-workers. But again, I found myself having to navigate a new city, a new dropzone and it was all a bit intimidating.
Thankfully, those who I considered good friends upon my arrival here have proved to be that, and so much more. A close friend and her husband have practically adopted me into their family. We take trips to the dog park (even our dogs are friends) and spend time at their house just shooting the shit. They have gone out of their way to help me get adjusted and I’m eternally grateful to have such generous friends who live right down the street from me.
I truly am blessed to be surrounded by good people day in and day out. I have a handful of amazing friends (which, if you know anything about me, you know that’s all I need to live a happy life, just a handful of people I can count on…it beats having 100 acquaintances that you’re not entirely sure would lend you had hand or an ear in a time of need) who continue to impress me with their love and support. Every week I see my bocce team which is a hodgepodge of different personalities, all of whom have stolen my heart in one way or the other and I not only look forward to our Wednesday games, but often crave the post-game team bonding over drinks and dinner.
And as for skydiving, I continue to be impressed with the community here in the South. So far I’ve only visited two local dropzones, but I’ve been more than welcomed at both and I get to take part in my first Sisters in Skydiving event this weekend at The Farm, which I know will be nothing shy of incredible.
That doesn’t change the fact that Skydive Chicago still holds a VERY special place in my heart. I am so grateful for the experiences I’ve had there – and the ones I will continue to have. Without Skydive Chicago and the amazing individuals I’ve made connections with, I’m not sure I’d have come back to the sport in full force after my hip injury. The community there lifted me up, showed me the way and reminded me of the pure passion I have for the sport. It really is my home DZ in my heart…I am counting down the days till I return for Summerfest!
After Summerfest I get to come back to the South and spend time with a dear friend that I feel so lucky to have known for the last year who will be moving hundreds of miles away to go back to school – but before that we will share some QT in her home town and I’ll get to soak up some of her amazingly positive energy before saying goodbye.
Lately I’ve been hearing from a lot of old friends, some I haven’t conversed with (aside from the occasional Facebook comment) in years, and it’s as if we picked up right where we left off. You know you’ve got true friends when so much time can pass and all you need is a simple phone call to spark the excitement that’s always surrounded the relationship. There are still some friends that I’m trying to wrangle a phone or Skype convo out of – ahem, Brandye, if you’re reading this, we must make this happen – but that’s been the unfortunate story of our post-college friendship that somehow works for us and we too are able to pick up right where we left off, usually with a 2 hour conversation to catch up!
Regardless of where in the world these people in my network reside, I feel the love on a daily basis and am beyond grateful. I often wonder what I did to deserve such wonderful individuals in my life – though I’m not going to spend too much time questioning it. I’d much rather spend that time enjoying their company, smiling and laughing along the way.
Love and blue skies!