Note: I’ve been meaning to write this blog post all week but time has continued to slip away from me. That said, I find myself with time to actually do so on a morning where I’m suffering the effects of one too many glasses of wine, so if this isn’t up to snuff, now you know why.
I have to admit, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to travel around the country and visit different dropzones. It gives me a chance to experience the mini jump communities within the world of skydiving. Each dropzone has it’s own culture and it’s fun to meet and jump with so many different people.
This weekend I visited Skydive Long Island for the first time. I’ve only jumped in the state of New York once before moving here and it was a weekend spent at The Ranch a couple years back, so I was eager to try out a new dropzone. My buddy is one of the videographers/AFF instructors out at Long Island so I decided to give it a shot.
Driving out of the city was liberating. I didn’t realize how much I missed being on the road, away from the insanity that is New York City and spending some time in a slower paced atmosphere.
Now, given the amount of dropzones I’ve flavored in the past 5 years, I should know better than to assume I know what I’m walking into, but I have to admit that I did expect a typical New York experience at SDLI – that couldn’t have been a worse assumption.
Walking into the hanger I was greeted by incredibly friendly staff at manifest, was introduced to a couple instructors who took time to show me the facilites and was even taken on a golf cart ride of the LZ – which, is necessary because it’s absolutely huge (and as someone who came from the South, I was immediately impressed by the time and effort that each person put into making my stay there enjoyable).
I met up with my friend and he introduced me to some freeflyers who I spent the remainder of the day jumping with. Throughout my time there people continued to approach me, recognizing that I was the new girl, and introducing themselves. It was refreshing to say the least.
What I noticed, and it really got me to thinking about some of the similarities of dropzones I’ve frequented in the past, is that accents on the dropzone are incredibly true to region. When I jumped at Skydive Chicago some of my friends had the thickest Chicago accents I’ve ever heard. In the South, there were a handful of people at the dropzone who I actually had a hard time understanding because of their Southern drawl. That remained true here in New York as I met some people who clearly grew up on Long Island.
As someone who doesn’t live in the state where she grew up, and hasn’t lived there for almost a decade, it’s fun for me to spend time around people who are living within mere miles of where they were born and raised. They know so much about the area, have all the advice in the world to give about where you should visit, how you should get around, etc. Thanks to my new friends for recommending the vineyards and taking the LIRR out instead of driving.
So, my suggestion is, always visit the local dropzones when you travel. They’ll give you a taste of what the real community is like.
Love and Blue Skies!
You may recall from my last post that I made a list of all the things that make me, me. Well, I was trying to figure out how to incorporate “how I define myself” into that post, but the truth is, a top 5 list isn’t going to cut it here.
I’m at a place in my life where I’m incredibly comfortable with who I am. It took me nearly 30 years to get to this place, but knowing that some people never achieve this level of comfort with themselves, I feel pretty good about that.
As someone who participates in handful of activities that others like to judge (read: skydiving, tattoos, EDM raves, etc) I’ve found that it’s actually easier to feel good about the things you do when you find yourself in situations that require you to defend you actions.
Now, that said, you also quickly learn that it’s completely unnecessary to defend the things that make you happy to others. People love to hate. They LOOOOVE it. So don’t let people who say shit like “why would you want to do that?” about anything, make you think for even a second that maybe you shouldn’t. They’re just projecting. They’re scared, or some other shit, and because they can’t bring themselves to do it they think you shouldn’t either. Walk away. Those people don’t support you – there are plenty of people out there who will, even if they don’t have tattoos, skydive, go to raves, etc.
Having the ability to embrace and own the parts of yourself that define who you are is great. But having the ability to recognize the imperfections and realizing that those things don’t define you is pretty incredible.
That said, I wanted to visit a few of those things that really do define who I am every single day:
My life has been focused on my career for as long as I can remember. Even in high school all I wanted to was to be successful. I’ve moved from Michigan to Texas to Ohio to Illinois to Georgia to New York and to multiple cities within these states chasing the next best career opportunity. I can’t imagine my life any other way. Personal success is critical to my happiness and I have to say I’m pretty proud of where I’ve been able to go in the last 8 years. Can’t wait to see where this path takes me in the next 8 years.
I got my first tattoo when I was 20 years old. It’s two interlocking hearts on my foot. I had a needle on my skin for all of 2 minutes to accomplish this. I got another one to symbolize my love for music. Then I waited years to get another. I thought I was done. Tattoos didn’t define who I was at the time, it was just a “phase,” or so I thought. In recent years I’ve gone from a chick who has tattoos to a tattooed chick. My tattoos tell a story of my life. When I look at them I have great memories and great stories to tell. Each comes from a time in my life where I felt strongly about something – something that defines me. My tattoos are my way of visually expressing the parts of me that make me who I am. Sometimes I get disapproving looks, stares and friends and family members who shake their head. I’ve even been told that I don’t look like a chick who would have tattoos. Other times I have people stop me on the street or in my office and want to see them closer, want to know more. Those are the moments I thrive. My tattoos are for me. But, like them or not, they’re certainly not going anywhere – and there are more to come, you can count on that.
Having lived in numerous cities across the country, and visited dozens of others on business, I have gained an added appreciation for travel. I take any opportunity I can to visit places I’ve never been. I like to take opportunities and turn them into travel experiences. For instance, when I go to Tomorrowland (in Belgium) this summer, I’ll also be visiting Amsterdam and Germany – turning a 3-day festival into an exploration of Europe. This is just scratching the surface and I definitely need to go back, but at least I get to see more than I will in Boom, Belgium. I’ve also been known to extend business trips over weekends in order to visit friends or explore new places.
As a girl you grow up thinking of fairy tales and princesses and having this perfect life with a perfect partner. With experience I’ve realized that life is about personal success and if you can have people in your life that you can share those experiences with, life becomes even more amazing. Relationships, whether friends, family or significant others, are mutually beneficial – or at least they should be. You have each others backs, you love each other to the extent that being there for them is not a burden but a role you’re happy to fill. I take a lot of pride in my ability to love others to this extent. I have a lot of love to give and those who are in my life see and understand this – and hopefully, cherish it.
I have amazing friends. The ones who live in NYC and the ones who don’t. I’m so incredibly lucky to have the people in my life that I do, and honestly, I’m proud to call them friends. I’ve learned over the years that I don’t let people into the “friend zone” unless they’ve earned it. And I’ve also learned when to remove people from that zone that don’t deserve it. Friends do, with the exception of a special few, come and go. But the impact they have on your life in the time they’re there is invaluable.
I joke that I’m the “black sheep” of my family, and for the most part that’s true. Not only have I “moved away” from home but I continue to move around the country to chase experiences. I skydive, I have tattoos, I’m divorced, I go to raves and spend my money on experiences rather than “saving for retirement.” Regardless, my family continues to stand behind me. They support me when I need it the most and are there to let me know they’re there if I need them. I’m closer with my parents than I’ve ever been even though we live hundreds of miles away. I’m lucky to be able to return home for visits and say that my blood relatives are pretty “normal,” whatever that means.
I saved this one for last because, well, it’s pretty obvious. This is my 5th season as a skydiver. Being a “skydiver” is something that has changed over time. At first it was “cool” and now it’s about being a part of this amazing community, always having people who get you and get why you jump. It’s about the freedom you experience with each and every jump. It’s about pushing yourself, your limits and having as much fun as you possibly can. The sky is my playground and with each jump I feel a little bit closer to my 8-year-old self.
So tell me, what defines you?
A few weeks ago I took a trip out to San Francisco to visit my buddy who works out there and to attend the Swedish House Mafia show as they make their rounds on their farewell tour.
As I look through the many pictures we took in those four days I’m flooded with happy memories of sunshine, wine, music and lots of laughs.
My first night out there was Valentine’s Day – which if you know anything about me, is something I do not celebrate. So naturally, I was flooded with all kinds of sweet crap that would make anyone want to vomit just a little. I’d expect nothing less from someone who has known how to push my buttons for a decade.
Of course, the smart water and Excedrine Migrane came in handy after much wine drinking during the day on Friday.
We met up with a tour group at the Ferry Building and headed up to Napa promptly at 9am. We visited Robert Mondavi and got a full tour of their facilities followed by Andretti where we drank more wine and had lunch. Apparently I felt as if wine tasting wasn’t enough and ordered a glass of red with my lunch. It was a healthy pour, so needless to say I was feeling pretty good after winery #2.
After lunch we headed over to Menage a Trois / Napa Cellars where I fell in love with a syrah and a cab and got a bottle of each (both of which I have since thoroughly enjoyed)…maybe that was the wine talking? The last winery was the Franciscan. It had a nice fountain out front – I think that’s all I remember.
Once we were done at the wineries we headed back toward the city and took a ferry boat part way back. By this time our stomachs were in need of some sustenance so we found a patio under the Bay Bridge and had some sushi and a couple more drinks. That was pretty much the end of the day for us. By the time we got back to the hotel I’d been day drinking for almost 12 hours and passed out around 8pm. I’m going to blame that on a little bit of jet lag, too. Yeah, that sounds good.
Saturday we checked out the farmer’s market at the Ferry building before meeting up with an old friend from high school who just happened to be out in San Fran that weekend as well. He went to the SHM concert on Friday and I know it was killing him not to talk about the concert at brunch given that we were going that evening and he didn’t want to spoil it. Brunch and catching up with some fellow Michiganders was a great way to start this day. After a few mimosas we parted ways and headed to Half Moon Bay. It was gorgeous but quite chilly on the ocean.
An hour or so on the beach was about all we had time for since we had to get back to the city for the concert. We cleaned up quick, grabbed a couple Red Bull Vodkas and headed off to see Swedish House Mafia.
Now, let me tell you, the venue we went to was incredible. Only 6,000 person capacity so there really wasn’t a bad spot in the house. We perched ourselves center stage, about 3/4 of the way back (easy access to the bar). The house music that was playing before the DJs came on was good, but there’s nothing quite like starting off an EDM concert with what seemed like 20 minutes of Greyhound (look it up if you haven’t heard it, amazing).
The show wasn’t nearly long enough, but between the music and light show I walked out feeling sufficiently mind fucked. It was a great way to end a weekend on the West Coast.
Sunday was my travel day back, sadface.
I’ll be back someday, West Coast. You can count on that.
Love and Blue Skies!
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.
I suck as a blogger these days. There’s been so much going on in my life, between switching career paths a bit and getting settled into what feels like a whole new life, I’ve been neglecting y’all.
But don’t feel too bad, it’s not just you, I’ve been neglecting the sky, too. The last few weekends have been spent on the ground for the most part. I was lucky enough to attend the Skydive Tuskegee Christmas Party / Dropzone Opening Kickoff, but on Sunday I woke up with a touch of the stomach flu so I was out of commission for a good 4 days after that.
Now we’re full on into the holiday season and I have trips planned to see family and friends. Unfortunately I won’t be making it to The Invasion as planned, but maybe I’ll share some fun tidbits from my New Year’s when I get back…just maybe.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and to all my friends going to The Invasion, have a little extra fun in the sky for me, will ya?
Love and blue skies!
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!
Moments of clarity tend to come to me at all times of the day. Today, it was on the stair climber at the gym, where I effectively wrote most of this post. Hope you enjoy!
It’s not uncommon to hear skydivers word vomiting about the importance of following your dreams – doing and living what you love. After all, we found our passion and want nothing more than to see the rest of the world seeking out theirs. Really, we only do this with the best of intentions.
But let’s be honest, for most of us, and even those who preach about living their passion, it’s not all unicorns shitting rainbows over here. Nothing is perfect all time time. It’s about balance. We have decisions to make to get us to our optimal level of happiness. As i see it, so long as the positive outweighs the negative, regardless of how that ratio fluctuates day-to-day or even moment-to-moment, I’m all good.
I tend to see life as a series of events rather than an ongoing stream of consciousness. This outlook allows me to pull happiness into my life in multiple ways throughout the day. I’m not an all or nothing girl, so if something doesn’t work out at 9am, my day isn’t shot, there’s still plenty more opportunity to have an amazing day – this also keeps me in check from allowing one let down to spiral out of control into a bad mood that lasts longer than anyone around me would prefer.
Every day I make it a point to do something I love – often multiple things. I guess that’s easy to do when you have so many things in life that make you happy. As I’ve mentioned before, I couldn’t “quit life” to become a skydiver because I like diversity in my every day…not to mention that I’m not ready to make my hobby into a job. As one friend said to me recently “make anything ‘work’ and it takes just a little bit of the awesomeness out of it.” I prefer to stay in awe of this sport and this community every day. Jaded can wait.
But back to happiness here….
Finding ways to fold those activities that make me happy into each day is my key to sanity and keeping that positive to negative ratio in my favor. Here are just a few things that, at the end of the day, make me smile.
It’s not just coincidental that I’m here, sharing a few times each week with y’all. As much as I love keeping this community satisfied, let’s be honest, I’m here for me too. Writing is cathartic. It’s how I sort through my thoughts, how I make sense of the craziness going on in my head sometimes. By writing it down, I’m able to sort through the crap to find the meat of my thoughts. I attribute my ability to reflect, learn and grow every day from my writing. It’s by far my best creative outlet. (If I haven’t said it lately, thanks for sharing it with me.)
There’s a running joke that I have a hug quota, but sometimes I really believe it to be true. Sometimes, a hug can just make everything better.
Sharing laughs with over a beer
Whether it’s on a patio after work or around the bonfire at the dropzone after a day of skydiving, spending this type of time with my friends is crucial to my happiness. Now, for those who have been paying attention, I have to call myself out on this before you do – yes, I realize I’m a bit of a hypocrite here. Earlier this year I wrote about a friend of mine who criticized me for not having a social life because I wasn’t out at the bars every night after work. I still stand behind the fact that I don’t need to go out and drink every night to consider myself social, and that I’d rather put the money spent on $7 beers toward skydiving, but I will admit that after first moving to Atlanta I was a bit of a hermit. I was going through some personal crap and the last thing I wanted was to be out with other people while I had a lot to work through on my own. That said, I do understand the value, and often the need, to have this quality time with friends over a beer or three. I’m so lucky to have the friends I do here and am incredibly thankful for the packed social schedule it provides. I’ve never felt so much like myself as I do now.
That said, I value my Ashley time immensely. A gym membership is always one of those things I’ve struggled with because, honestly, I don’t want to spend the money every month. That’s two extra skydives people! Truth is, I need that time at the gym. Instead of taking “me time” on the couch cuddling with the dog as my brain turns to mush in front of the TV, I’m able to do some cardio and lift some weights while I work through the thoughts in my head.
I like to feel good about myself, and when I’m doing things to push my mind and improve my body, I leave the experience exhausted yet feeling amazing knowing I’ve accomplished something. Challenge makes me happy – hence picking up a sport like skydiving. And we can’t forget about those endorphins. There’s a reason I start every morning by heading to the gym – it sets the tone for the day and gives me a nice little kick start. Lately I’ve even found myself heading back there after work if I don’t have other plans. Why sit around surfing the channels when I could be doing something positive for myself instead, right?
Of course, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like my downtime. Aside from Thursday nights (because let’s be honest, that’s the best TV night), I often find myself curling up with a good book. Sometimes there’s just nothing better than losing yourself in another reality with a good novel. Although lately I’ve found myself craving non-fiction as well. I like to soak up knowledge on things like psychology, human behavior and of course skydiving. Sometimes even a good magazine will do – subscriptions to Blue Skies Mag, Psychology Today, Women’s Health and Parachutist keep me happy there.
It’s amazing what even 10 minutes of deep breathing and focusing on your body can do for your emotional well being.
Quality time with my dog
Whether it’s going to the dog park, out on a walk around the neighborhood or chilling on the couch, my dog always puts me in a happy place. Every day she makes me laugh, and for that I am grateful.
At the gym, reading, cleaning, at work….these are just a few of the times you’ll find me with ear buds in and jamming along to the appropriate tunes for the circumstances. Blasting music and singing at the top of my lungs is the only way I get through chores and long drives. Music has played a big role in my life for as long as I can remember. I was a “band geek” even through college. I have a music inspired tattoo. I am often found tapping my fingers, my feet, my hands along to a rhythm that only I can hear inside my head. Something about music touches my soul and there’s always a song to put me into whatever state I desire most. It’s amazing how influential music really is in my life.
The smell of pumpkin and lavendar
Let’s be honest, we’ve touched on most of the other senses here…you can’t ignore that scent can be quite mood altering. Something as simple as lighting a lavender candle in my house can be enough to calm the day and put me in a happy place.
What’s that? Did I really just say work? That thing that everyone is trying to escape so they can live their lives? Well, to be honest, I enjoy a solid day of work. Productivity makes me happy. I feel satisfied after tackling those items on my to-do list. I often find myself volunteering to help out with events – hence my up-and-coming philanthropy consulting that we’ll be talking more about in the coming months. I rep for Deepseed not just because I love their products but because it gives me something to pursue while on the ground at the dropzone. When friends have projects they need help with, I’m the first to lend a hand. At the end of the day, if I’ve accomplished something I can be proud of, I’m happy.
Having something to look forward to is critical in my life. I love traveling to new places, jumping at new dropzones, testing out different wind tunnels, or even just going to visit friends in a new city. Variety definitely is the spice of life.
Making others happy
It makes me happy to put a smile on someone’s face. I’m always happy to help out a friend in need or do something out of my comfort zone to make someone else happy. I’ve been known to be that random stranger on the street who compliments someone when they look like they’re having a rough morning – after all, that may be the nicest thing they hear all day.
You didn’t think i was going to leave that off the list, did you? Freefall is my happy place. Skydiving is by far my biggest passion and if I could, I’d do it every day for the rest of my life.
So tell me, what makes YOU happy?
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!
A fellow blogger buddy that I met back in my days as a Cleveland resident often has these posts that inspire me to share something similar of my own. I know I’ve had posts inspired by her before, so here’s another one. She and I lead very different lives but I feel so connected to her just reading her blog each week. Miss you girl!
When I started reading her post, I couldn’t help but have three decisions immediately pop into my head as life-changing events. And as you may have noticed, I love making lists, so this was a must write. Most of my list includes risky decisions, but without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today – and honestly, I love where I am today. But enough chit chat, here’s my list:
Going to Michigan State
I’m pretty certain there aren’t many people reading this blog that are aware, but I actually wasn’t planning to be a Spartan. I grew up bleeding green, as we die-hard Spartans say, with a father who taught me to scream at the TV when our point guard misses shots from the free throw line (and other sports blunders), so it always seemed like a natural fit for me to don my green and white and attend the university that was just up the street. But, as a teenager who wanted to live her own life, ‘up the street’ wasn’t going to cut it for me.
My love of sports and the Big 10 conference had me choosing an out-of-state school (I was actually considering being a Purdue Boilermaker – facepalm) in hopes of gaining some much needed independence. After deliberations and looking at the programs at Purdue vs. MSU, along with the ridiculous out-of-state tuition costs, I decided, somewhat begrudgingly at the time, on State. My first year in Holden Hall, walking across the street to tailgate at the tennis courts, attending games at Spartan stadium, getting season hockey tickets with my buddy Brian at Munn…it was an experience I can’t imagine not having.
And now, as an adult, the Spartan pride and community follows me. My closest friends in Texas were Spartans, the community of MSU grads in Chicago is overwhelming. When you’re on the hunt for jobs, Spartans will jump at the chance to help each other out. There’s so much pride and so much opportunity that comes with being a Michigan State Spartan. I definitely made the right choice.
Taking an internship across the country
When I graduated college I was willing to go pretty much anywhere for the right opportunity. Jobs were scarce, especially in public relations, and even with 5 internships under my belt during college, it wasn’t enough to secure me a full-time gig fresh out of the gates.
I’d met a number of great people on my job hunt and received what is still the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given: “Don’t fear the word no. If you don’t at least ask, you’ll never know if the opportunity was there, and the worst thing that can happen is you’re in the same place you were before.”
So, when I called up a friend who worked at one of the top public relations agencies in the country and she recommended I reach out to their office in San Antonio who might need an intern, I did just that. I picked up the phone, dialed, and asked for an interview. The woman on the other end of the line was quite surprised at how forward I was, and sure enough, I was granted a full interview process.
Three weeks later I got a call for a summer internship in San Antonio, Texas. The money wasn’t great, there were no benefits, but if I blew them out of the water with my work I knew they’d find a place for me. So, I picked up and moved. Once the internship was over, they placed me full time in Dallas.
This decision not only helped me get in on the ground level of the career path I wanted, but it made me less afraid to take chances. Opportunities come up all the time and I’ve moved across the country a few times now for them (living in San Antonio, Dallas, Cleveland, Chicago and now Atlanta) and if another opportunity arose that tugged at me, I probably wouldn’t hesitate to do it. At least, it wouldn’t be the move/change part that scares me away.
Pursuing social media when it was still a risk
When social media marketing was still fairly new and I was eyeballs deep in media lists and pitching for flea and tick medication, I had an opportunity to join the “digital team” working on the first social projects our agency had seen. At the time, I was thinking “fuck yes, as long as I don’t have to pitch these damn stories to traditional media outlets, I’m in!”
My role started as a project manager of sorts, helping guide and write content for new websites. Before I knew it I was managing full-blown social media campaigns, acting as community manager for Fortune 10 brands, and developing social strategy. I fell in love with my career and haven’t looked back since.
Along the way, so many friends and colleagues have asked how I got into social. Lucky for me, I got in early and have experience to show for it – unless you’re willing to start on the ground floor (read: intern) it’s going to be a challenge. Sorry guys – everyone wants in.
Doing a tandem skydive
This one probably goes without saying, given that I’m in my 4th season of skydiving and haven’t loved anything quite as much as I love this sport. The thing is I almost didn’t go.
On the ground, I was so nervous, I was shaking. I felt like I was going to vomit. I was light headed. But, it was the last stop on my vacation and something I really wanted to check off the bucket list, so I forced myself to do it. And I certainly wasn’t going to be that big of a pussy and get all the way there to back out.
Thank God I did. I was in love before my feet were even back on the ground. I just knew it was something I needed to do for the rest of my life.
Simplifying my living style
For as long as I can remember I’ve had this need to hold on to things. Whether they had sentimental value or held a memory, I had trouble parting with things.
After moving to Atlanta, I took a look around my house and told myself it was time to simplify. My college psychology courses told me that I was holding onto these things not because I needed them or used them, or really even wanted them in my house, but because they reminded me of a happy time, and if I could hold on to the things, I’d always have that happiness – or some bullshit metaphor like that.
My move here was a time of signifiant change, so I found that getting rid of anything redundant in my life (hello 3 jumpsuits that I don’t wear anymore) was a great place to start cleaning house. After removing the clutter that’s really just been making my life more complex, I found that my house was much more peaceful and that I generally prefer living with less – it allows me to focus my attention on what’s important in my life.
You may think there are some things missing from this list, like starting this blog and, if you know me well, some of the other big decisions I’ve made recently, but some of those are topics that don’t have a place here while others are just plain obvious. I stuck to the decisions that made the most positive impact on my life to include in this list.
So tell me, what are the best decisions you’ve made in your life so far?
Love and Blue Skies!