Well, I made it back from my 2 weeks in Europe in one piece…kinda.
I’ve been back for more than a week but upon setting foot on US soil I was promptly overtaken by sickness. Thankfully, I’m on the mend now and can get back to my normal life as a skydiver.
The trip was absolutely incredible. It was the time away from work, the city and constant connectivity that I needed. I wouldn’t say I feel refreshed given my continuous coughing for the last week, but my mind got the break it needed.
So much happened in the 12 days I was abroad that I won’t be able to capture it all in this blog post – not only would it be far too long to keep your attention, I simply don’t have the time to recap the details in the way they deserve to be written all in one sitting. Over the course of the next week or so you can expect to hear all about my adventures in Amsterdam, Germany, Belgium and at the Tomorrowland festival (I’m going to save that one for last as it was the most amazing experience of them all).
I’m not just writing this post to tell you to stay tuned, that wouldn’t be very nice of me, but as this was my first time in Europe, I found that I learned some incredible lessons about living life while I was over there. There are things I never imagined I’d miss, things I learned about myself that I like (and some that I don’t), and key tidbits to take with me for the rest of my life. So naturally, as I like to do, I’ve created some lists to capture these fond memories and take them with me through life. Some of these will make more sense with upcoming blog posts, so stay tuned.
What I missed about the United States:
- Large glasses of water – how do the Europeans stay hydrated with these tiny glasses of water during meals? One of our waiters even criticized “us Americans” for our constant need for refills. Don’t they ever get thirsty?
- Ice – it wasn’t until the last day of the trip in Brussels when I actually received ice in my water…two small pieces, but the chill, no matter how small, made me happy.
- Free toilets – you pay to go to the bathroom everywhere (at least in Germany and the Netherlands). Rest areas on the autobon, 1 euro please. At a park, you put in change and they have turnstiles to let you in. Plus side, they were always clean. In the States, you enter public bathrooms at your own risk.
- Air conditioning – of course we ended up in Germany during the one week that it gets hot in the summer. Everyone kept telling us how nice it was, that we came at the perfect time. There was just no escape from the heat – why would they put central air in when it’s only hot one week a year? I get it, but us Americans seemed to be the only ones with issues.
- Signs in English – or, signs with words on them in general. Everything has a symbol on it with no directive. What do you want me to do, people?
What I learned from visiting other countries:
- Americans tend to be very closed off from society. When we’re not buried in our phones seeing what’s going on elsewhere, we are walking around with earbuds in, avoiding eye contact with strangers on public transit and just generally suspect of the people around us. It wasn’t until spending time in Germany trying to find my way around without knowing the language, that I came to appreciate the help that locals can provide. I will never brush someone off again who is in need of directions. Seeing a woman, who was clearly on her way to work, tell a tourist the other day in the subway that “she had no clue where Grand Central was” made me slightly angry – it also made me jump in and give the kind woman directions on getting there. The Dutch, Germans and Belgians were also very connected to what was going on around them. Rarely did you see someone with their nose buried in their mobile device. People interacted with others on the subway, in cafe’s, even on the street.
- The Germans are a friendly people. I came back being incredibly proud of my heritage. Any time we looked lost or were wondering where was good to eat in the area, the locals jumped at the opportunity to help.
- We’re all in a big damn hurry. I’m sure people have things to do and places to be in Europe, but everyone walks around like it’s no big deal. Here in the States, I regularly get run into (both on public transit and on the streets) by people who are rushing. Everyone seems so stressed out all the time…
- Maybe it’s because we are in desperate need of a vacation. 10 days is a joke when it comes to the 25+ days of holiday our European counterparts get. They know how to take a break!
- Nutella is far superior in Europe. Real sugar trumps corn syrup every time.
- EDM is a universal language. It didn’t matter what country you were from, what race you are or what language you spoke, walking into Tomorrowland everyone checked their issues at the proverbial door and partied together while sharing their favorite music.
- Being in touch with your inner child is the only way to live. Have passions. Do everything you can to live them. Get excited about life. And don’t take yourself too seriously.
What I learned about myself:
- I care far too much about 24/7 connectivity. I could fool myself and say that if I’m not around and something happens to someone I love how will I live with myself? But let’s get real here – I just like knowing what’s going on with the people in my life. I have of friends and family all over the world, and Facebook is the best way for me to stay in touch. But I didn’t realize the obsession till I was walking around without 4G LTE access – not to mention the lack of Wifi in public places. Since returning I find myself taking a conscious step back from my phone when I don’t need it for work. I’m also finding that I’m much more annoyed about people being on their phones when they could be spending time interacting with others, in person. I was already annoyed by this so that’s saying something.
- I need to vacation regularly. Stepping away and letting go of the day-to-day every now and again really does help make me happier. And you realize that the world won’t collapse if you don’t respond to that email for a few days.
- I really do love my life. Everything from skydiving to travel opportunities, getting tattoos and going to concerts, to cuddling with my pup on the couch at home, reading a good book and enjoying my quaint little group of friends, I’m proud of the life I’ve built for myself. It’s only going to get better from here.
Stay tuned for more on what I experienced in Europe along with photographic proof.
After three long years, I decided that it’s time to break up. It was good while it lasted, but our relationship has reached a level of destructive that just can’t be repaired.
Today, I say goodbye to Foursquare.
This hurts a bit, knowing I have to give up solid mayorships like East Side Ink and the dropzone. But what I’ve come to realize is that mayorships don’t make you loved at these places, being present makes you loved. But being present requires putting the phone down from time to time to have conversations with those around you, to make real relationships, rather than obsessing over keeping the mayorship so everyone knows you’re the most frequent guest (besides, you can tell by the ever-expanding ink on my arm that I’m a regular at a tattoo shop somewhere).
I like to say that Foursquare is one of those tools that allows me to look back and see where I’ve been, who I was with, and gives me the ability to go back and find those cool places I once visited so I can return. But, if I’m honest with myself about the whole thing, I rarely do that.
For one, not all my friends are on Foursquare and I don’t always tag them anyway, so I rarely capture who I was with. And for two, scrolling back through my hundreds of check-ins at work and my apartment is far too annoying to “find that one place from that one time.”
I originally signed up for the platform so I could learn about it (given that I’m a social media marketer and all) and to get deals at local restaurants – back when places actually did that on the regular. My usage has since morphed into this virtual competition with my friends to see who can spend the most time at the top of the leaderboard. This leads to ensuring the first 30 seconds I enter any location is spent checking in so I can get those “first of friends” points. It becomes an obsession I tell ya!
Which is precisely why it’s time to end this unhealthy relationship.
There are other platforms, such as Instagram, that are a better use of my time. If I really want to remember where I was and who I was with, I should just snap a photo and tag the location on Instagram. At least that way I’ve got something to show for it rather than a couple of meaningless points and a pin on a map. It’ll give me a photo to remember the time spent there – I’ve been meaning to take more pictures anyway.
So, I’m officially calling it quits as a Foursquare user. Sure, I’ll keep the platform around in a folder on my phone, check out the new updates so I can stay on top of functionality – it’s what any good social marketer would do. But as far as check ins go, you won’t be seeing me on the map anymore.
Follow me on Instagram if you’re curious what fun things I’m up to.
Love and Blue Skies!
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!