Saturday, July 9, 2011

Two Miles Downward....JUMPINGSTRONG

 "Do not be afraid of death.  Be afraid of the half-lived life."
1 mile = 5,250 2 miles = 10,500 feet.
"What in the world is Barb doing?  She hasn't posted in a month and then she's giving us a math lesson?"
Just thought is was important to understand how far 2 miles you could grasp the depth of my latest adventure.
I have not always been very adventurous.  Actually, I was always the one that needed a lot of convincing and was at the edge with one foot in and the other out.  However, as I have gotten older, adventure is much more my style.
I definitely give Cancer credit for this change in my outlook.  After watching so many suffer and have their lives stolen by cancer much to early in life, I have certainly become someone that often states "what are we waiting for?"
Although I have not always been adventurous, I have ALWAYS wanted to jump out of a plane....but out of respect for my spouse - he was an attorney with an full understanding of the risks involved - I never did.
Recently, my VERY adventurous, risk taking friend Kristin, sent me a note as she was preparing to head off  to skydive on her birthday back in April.  I was so tempted to join her but activities that weekend wouldn't allow me.  She came back with stories that only made me more interested in taking on this challenge.
Then a few weeks later, I hit an emotional bottom.  Just a lot of "stuff" and it was Kristin that was there to catch me before I fell any further.  She heard the desperation in my voice and showed up at my doorstep, sat with me for hours on my front porch as I was unable to control the tears and sobs, listened without judgment, and supported me as I worked through some very, very awful and dark times.  (Let me state for the record that I had the support of several friends during this know who you are....and I love all of you!) And, over the next few weeks, as I was no longer drowning but had finally resurfaced, the subject of skydiving came up.
Why was I allowing this "stuff" to put MY life on hold?
What was I waiting for?
Certainly not the Barb you all know....letting life take over....but it happens to the best of us.  Slowly and surely, if we are not paying attention, you can very easily start putting your own life on hold.  I had allowed the negative aspects of life overshadow the positive aspects....and unfortunately, that still creeps in....I am certain we can all relate to that.
No more waiting.....I had been wanting to skydive for 25 was decided....I was going on my birthday....June 27th,
Kristin and I cleared our afternoon schedules for that day, and the exciting anticipation began to take over.
In true Barb fashion, my black weather cloud appeared on June 27th.  I awoke to thunder, lightening and pouring rain.  The forecast for that afternoon did not appear any better so our plans were scrapped.  Kristin however was not going to allow me to miss out on this off we went a few days later.
As we drove the hour to Champaign, IL to the Illinois Skydiving Center (with my cancer hating red-headed daughter in tow), it struck me that I was not the least bit nervous.  When we arrived at the location and I was filling out what appeared to be a ream of paper filled with warnings and waiving a lot of rights, still no nervousness.
I met my Tandem Master, Ken....and of course we started laughing right from the start....Barbie & Ken....and still no nervousness.  Ken strapped on my gear, gave me instructions but never once did he make me feel nervous.  These guys were fantastic....full of energy and positive vibes. Within a few moments, we were loading onto the plane - a plane I may add that reminded me of Fantasy Island and Tatu "Boss, de plane, de plane."  Although I suppose that plane was more luxurious since mine had no seats....and somehow we squeezed in 4 parachuters, gear and a pilot.

 As we taxied through the corn fields, still no nervousness.  As we ascended into the sky, still no nervousness.  Then, at 5,000 feet, the door opened up and one of my fellow riders disappeared....OK, that made me a little nervous.  She just stood up and disappeared from my sight!
Moments before the big moment....with my new BFF
Another 5,000 feet and suddenly it was my time.  Tandem jumping requires a lot of trust....I had just met Ken yet he was strapped to my back and had my life in his hands.  It took me a long time of dating Brian before I trusted my life to him, yet an exchange of money and a brief little training...and I handed over my trust to Ken.
 Anyways, I allowed myself to trust Ken and followed his instructions.  I found myself sitting on the edge of the plane door, my feet hanging out of the plane as there was 2 miles of air between my feet and the ground.  Before I knew it, Ken leaned forward and we were out of the plane.
A bit breezy at 10,500 feet

Off we go!
 I cannot even describe the feeling of freedom and exhilaration I felt as we were free-falling through the air.  I was actually a bit disappointed when the parachute opened just 30 - 40 seconds later.  Funny, I thought the free-fall portion would be the part I would dislike but I loved it!  

The next 5 minutes I floated through the air with my new BFF Ken, laughing and chatting as we drifted back to Earth. 
 As soon as we landed, I was ready to jump back on that plane again.  Alas, I couldn't but I would have!
So, what next?  No idea.....but I am keeping my eyes open and will not postpone a dream ever again. 
On another note - I am just $100 shy of hitting the $8,000 fundraising mark for LIVESTRONG.  If you would like to lend your financial support to this outstanding organization....and my efforts of RunningSTRONG for Hope (another race on Sunday), please use the link below to make a donation.  THANK YOU!!
Barb's LIVESTRONG fundraising page 

1 comment:

  1. OMG, I got goosebumps just reading it!! You are one brave lady - I don't think I could do that.