Why is hating such a cool thing to do?
As kids, it was cool to love things. Kids loved riding their bikes, loved being outside, found so much joy in watching the older kids do tricks at the skate park. No one hated on you for embracing what you loved.
As adults, it seems like the cool thing to do is sit around and criticize people for loving what they do. “How can she like that movie? It’s so stupid!” … “Ugh, Nickleback is the worst! You clearly have no taste.” … “How can you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” … “Tattoos are ugly, you should stop getting them.”
Now to be fair, Nickleback is terrible and anyone who does enjoy their music clearly has no taste.
Ha! Kidding. Kind of.
Note: This is all just an observation – I’m not hating on haters or anything. I have plenty of friends who I would classify as “haters,” but I still love ‘em.
I have three questions for the criticizers:
1) Is this how you make friends, by laughing at the pleasure others get out of their lives?
2) What makes you an expert on what’s worth enjoying and what’s not?
3) Is there anything that you actually enjoy, aside from hating on others?
I think these are very valid questions. I read a statement the other day that slapped me upside the head, and I even tweeted about it:
“Don’t be ashamed of your obsessions. If you love something, go ahead and fucking love it - loudly and all over the place. That’s how you find your people, after all.”
And why shouldn’t we embrace what we love? So what if it’s not “popular.” We’re fucking adults – why on Earth would we make rational, adult decisions to dismiss what we love because someone else thinks it’s stupid?
Our differences are what make us unique, people. I don’t want to live in a world filled with 5 foot 3 blonde chicks who skydive, have tattoos and spend a little too much time on social media. Fuck that noise!
One of the things I love about traveling the world is that you get to experience different cultures, meet new people – some who are like-minded, others who are completely different but are amazing just the same. Aren’t we supposed to live in a “melting pot” culture? One that embraces everyone and their differences, even if their opinions and preferences are different from ours? Hell, especially if they are different from ours!
Whatever, if hating is what you love, then keep on keepin’ on. I personally, will be spending my time loving life in my own way – I challenge you to do the same.
Love and blue skies!
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!
“You can be anything you want if you put your mind to it.”
Living in New York City the past few months has made me realize just how true the above statement is. Of course, that phrase is often used in accordance with a discussion about career paths and serious life decisions.
But it is also true when it comes to the every day.
Often times it’s the little things that add up to make you who you are and your life what it is. You make choices every day that define you. For instance, making the choice to get up in the morning and run, or attend an after work yoga class in lieu of happy hour with co-workers, that makes you an athlete. You can become a chef in your own home simply by picking up fresh ingredients at the local farmers market and cooking dinner rather than ordering in. Spending your weekends living out your passions, whether it’s walking the city with your camera, playing frisbee in the park with your dog, or skydiving with your adrenaline junkie friends, that makes you a photographer, an outdoorsman, and a skydiver, respectively. Even the smallest choices like being a healthy eater or a budgeter (is that a word?), can make the biggest differences in how your life unfolds.
Here’s the thing about definitions – they’re what you make them. If you think that in order to be an “athlete” you have to compete professionally and be famous for it, then there’s a high likelihood you’ll never define yourself that way. But, if you see athletes as those who push themselves physically, who use their body the way it was designed – as your greatest instrument – and are always pushing the limits, striving for improvement, then all it takes is a few right choices to get you there.
But what’s so important about the definition anyway? (Thanks to A Life Less Bullshit for a bit of inspiration.)
Well, for some it’s not. But for others, it’s a way to stay motivated, to make the choices that will lead you to the path to becoming what it is you want to be.
It’s easy, especially in a city like New York, to fall into a routine of coffee, commute, work, happy hour, commute, dinner at 10pm, sleep, repeat 5 times, then booze it up on Friday, day drink Saturday and Sunday and repeat the whole process. There’s always someone in the city willing to grab a drink, there’s always a networking event happening, there’s always an excuse to put off your plans till tomorrow. But it comes down to personal choices, because there’s always people out running, taking spinning classes, or even just willing to go to the park on a nice day to get off the couch. It may not always be the popular decision that’s the right one for you. It’s taken me a few months to realize that just because everyone else is settling into the bar for the evening doesn’t mean I can’t just have one drink then head to spin class as planned. Sure, you might get some flak for it, but it comes down to what’s most important for you. Sometimes, that drink(s) with co-workers is just what the day requires. And sometimes, skipping a fun weekend of day drinking in the city to head to the dropzone is the only choice for sanity sake.
Taking into account all the decisions you make in a day, what can you change in order to define yourself the way you want?
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.