Well, I’ve been in the city for about two months now and I still haven’t made a jump. But, the weather is looking up so hopefully I can get out to the dropzone soon. I’m starting to twitch over here.
Regardless, I still had a pretty amazing weekend in the city. Looking back on it yesterday as I was walking through Union Square with a Starbucks in hand, it’s quite amusing how the weekend turned out.
Having planned to stay pretty low key, given that I was sick all last week and just wanted a solid weekend to recover, it didn’t quite end up that way. It went a little something like this.
The Plan: Dinner with the girls on Friday after work. Brunch with out-of-town friends on Saturday followed by a trip to WTC since I haven’t seen ground zero, and a tattoo session on Sunday.
The Actual Weekend: Dinner and drinks with the girls lead to me coaxing my friend Charlotte’s accent out of her (she’s English) and going to another bar for follow up drinks (and shots) while mimicking her accent – or trying anyway. A friend from Cleveland was going to show up for a drink and he texted as he was in a cab going through China Town saying it didn’t look good. Bummer. Our Boston friends decided that going to a strip club was in order, so it was off to the East side for me. Thankfully, one of the girls escorted me there so I wasn’t alone in a strip club waiting for my other friends. A few hours, many drinks, and a couple lap dances later it was time to go home and shower.
Saturday brunch turned into massive hangover and mimosas to cure it – and some pretty fucking amazing eggs benedict. We walked with our friends from the Upper West Side down to the World Trade Center and checked out the view of Freedom Tower and the construction from their hotel room while convincing them to hang out in the city longer, rather than catch their train back. As they checked their bags at the front desk we got to watch a guy get trapped in the revolving door and attempt to find his way out. I believe he wasn’t drunk, so it was all the more entertaining. The rest day was spent walking the city, some intense people watching and drinking until they were convinced to stay at my place for the night. A couple bottles of wine later it was bed time.
Sunday included a diner breakfast to cure a couple hangovers (thankfully I was smart enough to quit drinking around midnight – no hangover for me) followed by a quick nap and a trip to The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop before a 2-hour tattoo session. Exhaustion set in as we walked through Union Square sipping coffee so going home and ordering food was the perfect end to a rather crazy weekend.
I guess this is what it’s all about, living in New York, having adventures you never imagined. As much as I miss the sky, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring my city.
How did your weekend unfold?
Until just recently, I didn’t actually enjoy my canopy ride…it was simply a means to an end, to get me back to the ground so I can pack up and get back into freefall again.
I was scared of my canopy, I was scared of other pilots, I was scared of the wind, and I was certainly scared of the ground. But as my currency continues to stay high, I find that I’m enjoying myself under canopy more and more. Conversations with good canopy pilots, with swoopers and with S&TAs around the South has given me a greater respect for my canopy and what it’s capable of. One-on-one canopy coaching has helped me safely push the limits and learn as much about my canopy as possible.
As I continue to progress and understand the dynamics of canopy piloting, I find that I’m craving higher performance and more speed. This is surprising even to me, as someone who looks at swooping and shakes her head, not understanding why someone would purposefully practice a discipline that’s been known to – for lack of a better term – fuck some people up. But just as anything else within the sport, once you learn one skill it’s only natural to want to move on to the next…safely, of course.
I’ve been thinking a lot about downsizing. Even under a 120 I’m still not performing well in strong winds, and even though my wing loading is still fairly light and stepping down isn’t all that risky, I’m taking plenty of time to feel out my options. I find the more I play under canopy and push the limits of what my canopy can do, I’m craving more performance. I’m in no rush to swoop, of course, but having a higher performing wing seems like the next step for me in my canopy flight progression.
Chatting this weekend with some of the other freeflyer chicks at Skydive Carolina I realized that the time really has arrived. Turns out my canopy progression has been not only completely normal, but maybe even a bit conservative compared to my fellow jumpers. To each his own, but it helped me feel better (and completely justified) about my desire to go elliptical. On top of that, I was dealing with turbulence issues those on fully elliptical canopies were cutting right through. When uppers were cookin’ and wind on the ground was less than 5 knots and I was coming straight down, watching my canopy breathe and flex heavily as it bounced me around, I had to consider whether jumping was even a good idea – I’m tired of it and I’m ready to have a little more confidence under canopy (and let’s be honest, with my openings….Sabre2 off headings are not my favorite).
Thankfully I’ve got some friends in the area who fly the canopy I’m looking to get, so looks like this girl has some demoing to do.
So tell me, what’s your canopy progression looked like?
This is great advice for all aspects of life and something I’ve found makes most circumstances easier to tackle – but especially in skydiving.
When it comes to making decisions in life, we all have those moments where we hesitate, where we doubt ourselves but often push forward anyway. The problem with this is, if you’re wavering in your mind, that’s going to show in your actions. This effect is magnified in sports like skydiving. This is why when you’re on the plane you’ll often see jumpers with their eyes closed walking through a dive flow, preparing their muscles for exactly what they want to do – even something as simple as handle checks to keep that memory fresh so you can make the right moves at the right time as needed.
In short, make a decision and act confidently on it.
When you’re not confident about an exit, it’s going to show. When you’re not confident in the tunnel, you’re likely to hit the wall. Making low turns under canopy – whether aggressive or not – must be deliberate and calculated or you just might bounce. Visualize, breathe, dig deep down and find that part of you, no matter how small, that just knows you can do this and bring that to the forefront of your mind.
For a long time I had trouble with exits. There was never a reason why I wasn’t confident about it, I just wasn’t. Then I started wingsuiting and found that if you’re not completely solid and stable on exit, if everything isn’t timed just so, flat spins are likely – and let me tell you they’re not fun. After about 10 exits in a row that were complete shit (thankfully I was able to recover quickly so the skydive didn’t completely go to hell) I had to find that part of me that knew I could do it, that part of me that wanted it so badly I had no choice but to make it happen. Being deliberate was the only way and solid, practiced visualization helped.
I still find myself doubting certain things about a planned jump, but the more I push myself out of that comfort zone the more confidence I have in my flying overall.
At the end of the day you have to find what works for you, but the next time you find yourself with butterflies about a dive plan, remind yourself to be deliberate in your actions – you just might surprise yourself.
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.
It’s summer here in Georgia, which means it’s regularly 90+ degrees when I’m out skydiving. Sweaty jumpers pack together into the plane for 60 seconds of air conditioning upon exit at 14,000 ft, and we’re already sweating by the time we’re back on the ground.
Needless to say it’s not uncommon that I get looked at like I have two heads when I’m putting on my skull cap and gloves as I’m boarding the plane.
Now, any woman skydiver knows just how critical a skull cap is in ensuring that you’re not spending hours brushing out knots in your hair (or worse, cutting them out), after a day of skydiving – so not much justification takes place here…but gloves, in the summer, really?!
Let me just tell you, I’ve jumped with and without gloves and regardless how hot and humid the weather, they’ve proven to be a necessity. Here’s why:
It never fails, the day I forget my gloves or think for one reason or another that they’re not needed, I end up injuring my hands. We’re talking scrapes, cuts and bruises here, nothing too serious, but enough to be annoying and usually leave me bleeding post-skydive. Rarely do I know exactly what happened – skydiving is sometimes a full contact sport, with fellow jumpers, the plane, the ground – but once I’m back on the ground I’m all “that stings, what the hell!”
This weekend proved to be no different, thanks to my altimeter for gouging my paw!
Personally, I like having gloves for the added grip they provide. When you’re skydiving with others, there will come a time where you’re hanging outside of a moving aircraft with one hand on a bar keeping you attached to the plane while your fellow jumpers get set up to exit. With gloves, I have confidence I’m not going to slip off. It’s also nice to have gloves when it’s pull time so slippage isn’t an issue.
This probably goes without saying but gloves provide a nice barrier between your skin and the elements. My skydiving gloves are less “wintery” and more the type you’d find baseball players wearing (in fact, I picked them up from the baseball section of a sporting goods store if I remember correctly), but they still do the trick when it comes to weather protection – that is, unless it’s below freezing at altitude, but that’s an entirely different conversation.
Here in the South, it still gets chilly at altitude, even when it’s warm on the ground. And for someone who has circulation issues in her hands and feet, I don’t need to worry about my fingers going numb on a skydive.
It’s all what you’re used to -
Here’s what it comes down to – personal preference. If you want to jump with gloves, if that’s where you’re comfortable, you know what it’s like to grasp your hackey (we’re talking skydiving here people) and exit with (or without) gloves, stick to what’s comfortable. As a jumper who grew up at a dropzone in the North, it made sense to get comfortable wearing gloves – they were essential if you wanted to jump any time other than the dead of summer. In the end, only you can make this decision for you.
So tell me, do you wear gloves? Why, or why not?
And ladies – thoughts on the skull cap? Totally critical in my book!
Today I searched The Google for “yoga blogs” and came up pretty much empty handed. There are lots that were started back in 2009, 2010, but that have become abandoned real estate at this point.
Back in 2009, it’s this type of search that led me to start a Skydiving Blog – there just weren’t any out there. Of course, now if you search for skydiving blogs you’ll come up with more than a handful of pretty great sites to visit – rock on fellow skydiving bloggers!
That said, from what I know about yogis vs. skydivers, I get the sense that, generally, we extreme sports enthusiasts like to talk about and share our experiences in the sport moreso than those in the world of yoga. Granted, skydiving is a much more public sport, it’s much more visual, but in my experience, there are so many layers to yoga that can easily be explored in writing.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, skydiving and yoga have so much in common. Yoga is an amazing method of training for your time in the sky because it keeps you flexible, elongates your muscles and strengthens your mind/body awareness that is essential to skydiving. When I’m not in the sky, I practice a lot of yoga to keep myself limber and strong. Of course, I also practice meditation that encourages visualization – which is one more way to train your mind to replay the perfect skydive technique when you can’t be in the sky.
All that said, I want to start filling a bit of a void in the online universe and start posting more about yoga. No, I’m not going to abandon my skydiving discussions, but I do think it will be valuable to readers out there to hear a bit from the mind of a yogi every now and again.
If you have opinions or feedback as I post about yoga (and subsequently how these learnings relate to life and skydiving) please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter. And if there’s anything you want me to cover, give me a shout.
Love and blue skies!
Skydiving, like any specialized activity with a tight community of passionate individuals, has a very distinct culture. Part of that culture is a specific language that comes along with it. No, I’m not just referring to cultural ideals such as using Fuck as often as possible in conversation – it’s deeper than that. The sport of skydiving should come with it’s own glossary – oh wait, it does - but this list seemed to be lacking a bit in terms that I find myself using in talking about skydiving with whuffos because they just don’t understand our language.
And if that last sentence has you going “huh?” then you should definitely read on.
- Canopy – this is what skydivers say when they are talking about their parachute. We rarely say parachute or ‘chute as some hip whuffos like to say. Stick to canopy, it’ll make you sound legit.
- Rig – the harness system that carries both of your parachutes in a pretty backpack type system. Your rig is your lifeline in the sport!
- DZ – the acronym for dropzone. Dropzone is the area in which skydivers land. It’s also where we hang out. Our community is based around dropzones throughout the world.
- Dump – a term used for deploying your main parachute. Example: “where are you dumping?” translates to “at what altitude are you going to pull (deploy your parachute).”
- Chop – slang for cut away. (Read: releasing your main canopy and risers when it malfunctions so you can deploy your reserve canopy)
- Flare – a parachutists version of hitting the brakes where we pull our toggles (read: stearing lines) down to give our canopy lift moments before touching the ground. Makes for a softer landing.
- PLF – the acronym for Parachute Landing Fall. These came in handy during the days of round parachutes, but can help save your ankles if a landing isn’t as soft as planned.
- Cypress – though this is a brand name (think how we use Kleenex when referring to any brand of tissues), it’s often used to refer to any automatic activation device that will deploy your reserve if you hit a certain altitude and don’t have anything over your head.
- Skygod – at first this may seem like a compliment but ,it’s not. Skygod, though it sounds like it should refer to someone who is an amazing skydiver, actually refers to someone who thinks they are an amazing skydiver. How do you know they think that? If they’re a Skygod, they’ve told you.
- Load – a plane full of skydivers. “Which load are you on?” is a question often heard at the dropzone. Load 1 is the first group of jumpers for the day.
- Turning loads – when the airplane comes down from dropping jumpers and picks up another load without shutting down. Often simply referred to as turning.
- Boogie – a skydiving event. Often there are novelty aircraft, organized loads, giveaways, t-shirts, etc. It’s a great reason to celebrate what we do and have a big party!
- Dytter – another brand name that’s often used generically to describe an audible altimeter. Often placed on inside helmet pockets so jumpers have an audible indicator of their altitudes.
- Swooping – a discipline in skydiving where jumpers use precise calculations to do low turns under often small, high performance canopies to land at high speeds. It’s very visual and spectators love it. See video here for a visual description.
- Burble – the dead air directly above a skydiver in freefall. Catch someone’s burble and you’ll experience significant turbulence in your flight. You’re also likely to crash into ‘em.
- Snivel – when you dump, your canopy doesn’t just, BAM, open (unless you’re flying a Sabre 1). The snivel is that flowering opening that helps your canopy open nice and smooth. This is an extreme example, as most snivels last only a handful of seconds, but this will show you what a snivel looks like.
- Whuffo – the term skydivers use for people who have never made a skydive.
- Spot – the exit location of skydivers from the aircraft. If the spot is off, jumpers will likely land off the dropzone, which isn’t ideal.
- Mal – that’s what most skydivers would have assumed the video above was and chopped! Mal is short for malfunction. Sometimes a malfunction is correctable, like line twists, but sometimes it’s not and you have to get rid of it and deploy your reserve. Or sometimes, in rare occasions, you might have a total mal where your main doesn’t deploy, so you go straight to your reserve. All things we are trained and prepared to deal with as they happen.
- BSBD – the acronym for Blue Skies Black Death. The skydiver version of RIP and a reminder to us all that we should live our days playing it up in the blue skies but always knowing that, if we’re not safe and careful, the Earth below us can kill us.
I’m sure my list isn’t complete, so be sure to check out the glossary of skydiving terms on Dropzone.com (see the link I posted above), or feel free to add other words in the comments that you find yourself using on a regular basis that clearly belong in the world of skydiving.
Today is my birthday.
I want to extend a hearty thanks to my mom for all she went through 28 years ago – and since that day – to help make my life what it is today. Without you, I wouldn’t be nearly as blessed (or you know, alive) as I am!
The tradition of birthdays has always been a bit confusing to me. On the day you are born, your mom does all the work. So why is it that each year you receive gifts? Being born was the easiest thing you’ve done in your whole life and we celebrate it year after year? Mom should get gifts too, right?
But, given that it’s tradition, I’m certainly not opposed to receiving gifts!
This year, all I want for my birthday is for you to donate to a great cause: Jump for Diabetes. What that means is your donations go directly to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, earmarked for diabetes research. You can donate directly on our site via PayPal or you can email us for mailing options if you prefer to write a check: JumpForDiabetes@gmail.com.
A donation to the cause, to help find a cure for diabetes, would be the best gift you could give me, and the diabetes community, on my birthday!
Love and blue skies!
A few months back I started writing a post about the skydiver sacrifice, about those elements of life that skydivers “give up” to pursue their passion, but then I thought twice about it because a) I couldn’t come to any type of conclusion on where it was going, and b) every person is different, and every path is different, so there was just no “standard” to discuss.
That said, something came to my attention today that brings up a similar topic.
For the month of May, I’m making it a goal not to spend any unnecessary money. Along with that comes not eating out unless I absolutely have to (you know, like a work event or if I’m traveling) but otherwise I’m keeping my debit card in my pocket and only spending at the grocery store. This brought something interesting to the surface: I have no social life.
First, I want to clarify that not eating out ≠ no social life. Not by any stretch.
Truthfully, if I look back at my life in general, my most social times were those where I was a broke college student / newbie careerist / young skydiver with a very shallow wallet. Going out to eat wasn’t an option as I barely had enough to sustain myself and those things that I didn’t consider optional in my life.
Even now, after 6+ years in my career where I’m doing fairly well for myself, I find that moneys are tight and I’d rather spend any funds that aren’t already allocated on experiences like traveling, skydiving and tunnel camps. And personally, I’m more social when indulging in these experiences than I am in daily life.
Granted, for anyone who knows me, you know I tend to be rather reserved until I get to know someone well, so I’m not sure how much that’s actually saying.
My point is this – regardless of the kind of life you want to lead, you only have so many resources (read: time, money) to go around to make that happen. There’s a priority list that each of us lives by, whether you’re actively aware of it or not, and in order to accomplish the goals you pursue, to keep the elements of your life that are closest to your heart in your life, it takes a sacrifice of some things that others might deem “necessary” in their lives.
It all comes down to this: not everyone walks the same path in life – after all, how boring would that be? Just because someone isn’t as open about their social life, because they don’t go out drinking on weekends or sit on patios each night after work with friends, doesn’t mean their life isn’t fulfilling, or social for that matter.
Personally, I would sacrifice a lot for the success of things like Jump for Diabetes because I know at the end of the day I’m making a difference in the world. But the truth is, thanks to things like Jump for Diabetes that tend to take up free time that would likely otherwise be spent out with friends, my time is spent with positive people who have entered my life in support of a great cause. And, when you get right down to it, I’d much rather have a handful of incredibly meaningful people in my life than dozens of people who are just there sometimes. I would say, even though on the surface it doesn’t appear to be, that my life is in fact highly social – and truthfully, amazingly fulfilling.
The choice is yours. It’s your life to live in whichever way is best for you. You only get one, so use it wisely, and be happy as much as you possibly can. Judging how others are living theirs will not get you there. Instead, be happy for them so long as they are happy, and support them when they are not. It will only serve to make your journey that much more worth while.
Love and blue skies!
Setting goals is important for progression. In a past life, I used to be a mad woman with setting and meeting my goals. I’ve found lately that my life has stagnated in certain areas where goals would be helpful (go figure, right?).
I’ve decided it’s time to get that part of me back. Now.
Today’s inspirational quote of the day (follow me on Twitter for these) came from a model in a blog post I was reading about exercise motivation: “Why not be the best version of yourself?” If I could add one thing to that, it would be now…be the best version of yourself now.
Too often people wait for things to get better, living their life in anticipation of how great things will be, someday (and yes, I fall into this group from time to time), well what the hell are you waiting for anyway? Be better now. Be who you want to be now.
The best way to get where you want to go is by setting goals. And when you’ve got somewhere big to go, rather than having this huge goal looming over you, set smaller, incremental goals so you can feel accomplished along the way.
Want to be a world-class cometitive skydiver one day? Okay great, but what’s an accomplishment you can mark on the calendar to help get you there? How about finding a team, and a coach. Getting some tunnel time. Mastering X, Y, and Z in training. All these things are check marks along the way to that big accomplishment.
Meeting goals makes you feel successful, and when you feel like you’ve accomplished something, it motivates you to continue succeeding and meeting your other goals along the way.
No need to take my word for it, start setting goals for yourself and see. Personally, I’m devoting one wall in my dining room to a framed weekly goal sheet. I’ve come to realize over the years that all or nothing isn’t my style, even though I’d like it to be. So, starting with a few attainable goals each week should help stir up that driven, motivated girl who once thrived on every challenge that came my way.
Here’s to setting, committing to, and accomplishing these goals!