I promised some video footage and pictures and I’m here now to share with you one of the most amazing adventures of my life so far!
The pictures will come in a few days (or so, LOL), but I am so excited to share with you the following video (please excuse my no makeup and hair not ‘did’ state… sky diving isn’t about looking pretty!!! LOL):
If this video is not working properly or streaming slowly, you can check out the video at YouTube.com
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At the beginning of June, I went to spend a few weeks with my parents and we had a marvelous adventure exploring the north of British Columbia (in my home country, Canada). I will post some pictures for you of that soon. When we came back from our Northern adventure Dad and I went skydiving.
I have to share a bit of the back-story regarding this feat! About a year ago my Dad called me to say that he wanted to take my brother and I skydiving. At first I said “HELL NO! No way am I jumping out of a plane and risking my neck for some silly stunt!” So for a long time it was just supposed to be my Dad and Bro going to do the dive. I was so terrified of doing something like that. Then my brother and my Dad started to talk to me about my fears. I really was scared of the thought. It seemed as thought they both wanted me to go and gave me some data on the limited amounts of deaths that happen in sky diving. I started doing some research on sky diving and saw that Tandem jumping is pretty safe. But you see, I have this thing where when I get freaked out at something, I tend to faint dead away. I was so afraid that I would faint if I attempted the dive. Plus, honestly I was shit scared about doing it!
So, time went on and I planned my vacation and some things were going on in my personal life that forced me to look at the meaning of it all (my existence). And somehow, one day I started to think that my fear of doing this sky dive was symbolic of my general fears in life. I began to get very mad at myself. I was angry because I felt like I let fear dictate my actions and decisions too much. I have a lot of fears. I think we all do. But one thing I hate is being frozen by fear and I felt that I was being frozen in many areas of my life. So after a lot of thinking, I called my Dad up and said I would do the jump with him and my brother. Of course, I was still scared, but at that point I felt that I did not want to be a prisoner to my fears and that this jump, for me, would be the symbolic banishing of all the fears I have about my life.
It turns out my brother and his band had to record their new album during the exact time we were all supposed to take the family vacation, so unfortunately he wasn’t able to make it. It made me feel sad that he couldn’t come, but in the end I was glad I had decided to jump with Dad as I knew he really wanted to do it with us kids… so at least I was representing!
So now we fast forward to June 3rd at the the Abbotsford Skydive Centre… the previous few weeks had been terrible weather-wise and we had been on standby for this jump for about 2 weeks. They don’t allow you to dive if the clouds are below a certain ceiling and the weather had been terribly cloudy and no jumping had taken place for a while. Even though I had agreed to the jump, a part of me was still very shit scared and I had basically said to myself, “I’ll let the clouds decide whether or not this is meant to go down”; meaning, if the weather was bad then I was not meant to dive and if it was good I was meant to go. I was scheduled to arrive in MD on June 6th to resume recording with Jeremy and I was on a deadline to make the jump with Dad. So this jump was either gonna happen now, or not at all.
Saturday morning arrived and it was pretty nice out, yet the weather forecasters were predicting rain. So my Dad called in and we were on stand by to Jump. We had to make the hour drive out from my parents’ place to Abbotsford, so my Mum, Dad and I piled in the car and headed out. It was looking cloudier and cloudier as we drove and part of me was relieved and the other part of me was disappointed. I had such mixed feelings about the whole event. Plus, only a few days earlier a woman in Ohio had plummeted to her death during a Tandem jump because her harness was loose, so this re-kindled all my fears about this jump and I was on edge. But I figured the worst that could happen would be that I would die and I wouldn’t be worrying about anything if that happened! LOL
We arrived at the centre and it had actually cleared up some there in Abbotsford and it was looking nice outside. As we drove in I saw a bunch of jumpers landing. I was surprised at how softly they landed as I thought you’d crash to your landing considering you were dropping from 10,000 feet! So Dad and I watched a few jumpers come in and then went to get registered. Poor Mum was very nervous. She had told me a few nights before that she was afraid she’d lose half her family if we died. Dad and I tried to reassure her, but I can imagine it must have been very nerve-wracking for her to see her baby and Husband take off for this dive and think that it might be the last time she saw us.
After Dad and I registered we had to go get suited up. The owner of the place greeted us and told us what was going to happen. We had to get our dive gear on first and then we would meet our tandem instructors and go through a training session before we went up. I took the owner aside and explained to him that while I was excited about jumping, I had heard the Ohio woman story and expressed my concerns. He was very good about calming my fears without dismissing them. Apparently this woman was not in a double strap tandem harness and they were not yet sure (because the investigation is not over yet) about if the harness was not tightened correctly or if she slipped out of the single back harness because the chute opened too hard. He assured me that the harness they use is a double back harness and that they check the harnesses very frequently before we jump. He showed the harnesses to me and explained how they worked. That made me feel a lot better.
After suiting up, my Dad and I made our way to the training area. In the first part of the video you catch a little bit of our training session. Basically they tell us how we are going to be sitting on the plane and how the tandem harness works. They also explained what we were to do when we exited the plane. Basically in sky diving, the more you can shape yourself like a banana, the better! So with the banana mentality and a lot of courage, my Dad and I made our way to the plane. After pin checks and harness checks, 8 of us plus the pilot loaded into the fierce looking Pilatus Porter and took off to do the damn thing!
I started to get a bit nervous during the 15 minute ride to our jump altitude of 10,000 feet. My instructor Shane was great tho and chatted with me about things and went over the procedure again. He was really great and calmed me a lot. It was a beautiful ride up. I’ve never been in a plane that small before, so this too was a new experience.
Shane pinned himself to me as we approached 10K feet and hyped me up a bit saying we were gonna have a great dive. I hoped he was right!
We got to the jump altitude and Dad went first. You can see him going in the video. Second up was me. One thing that did catch me off guard was that Shane grabbed my head before we dove. I wasn’t sure why he did that. I figure it was either because he wanted my chin up for the video (PS thanks Warren for a great job!) or that it was because he was a bit shorter than me and he needed my head out of his way for the exit from the plane. So I was a bit distracted by that when I first left the plane. Plus to be honest, right at that second when we were looking over the step and all I saw was the river and dots that looked like land…. well, I was a bit skuuurd!
But then, when we left the plane something weird happened. All my fear left me. All of a sudden I was so struck by the beauty of what I saw below me and I became silent (weird for me!). I sucked in a deep breath and nearly cried for all the beauty I saw beneath me and for the feeling I had of being completely free. I really didn’t care if I died at all at that point. I realized that I didn’t matter at all. There was all this beautiful land and here I was as free as a spirit or a bird. I had no cares. I just drank in the splendor of falling at 120 MPH and how incredible it felt to be so free. It was a a spiritual experience for me. After about 35 seconds of free fall, Shane opened the parachute and we slowed down. He asked me how I was and remarked that I didn’t even scream! I laughed and said I was fine. I was near tears though as something deeply emotional was happening to me. It may sound silly, but even as I type this, that deep emotional feeling is coming back. It’s something I can’t accurately describe, and certainly something I will never forget! So we started to chat on the way down. I removed my goggles and had a perfect view of my surroundings (farms, the Fraser River, the clouds… it was gorgeous!). I asked Shane how many times he’d done this and he said about 4000 times. I asked him if it ever got boring for him and he said no because each jump was different depending on the client. I told him I felt like a bird and I kept saying over and over how beautiful it was. Then Shane asked me if I wanted to do some tricks. I was game for it! So he did these cool vortexy, spinning moves. He asked me if I liked roller coasters and I said yes, so he did some wild stuff with the parachute. We even did this Zero gravity move which was so awesome. You felt as though you were stopped completely in the air! I really didn’t want the jump to end. I was enraptured by it all. As I floated and tricked my way down to earth, I became so grateful that I had the opportunity to do this and to face my fears.
The landing was great. Smooth as whipped cream sweetened with Splenda! I just glided into the gravel pit which was our landing marker. I wanted to go right back up into the sky again. What an amazing experience!
A million thoughts zoomed through my mind after I landed. I could have missed out on this beautiful and uplifting experience if I had let fear control me. I am so glad and thankful that I swallowed hard on my fear and jumped. Doing this jump has confirmed in me that you can’t allow fear to control you. Another realization I had, is that the anticipation of things going wrong or bad is really the worst part of anything we do in life. Usually “the boogie man” (as my wonderful boyfriend calls it) is a lot less scary if you just face it dead on. The boogie man is never as scary as we think he (she or it!) is. Ever. Anticipation of something you fear is usually worse than the thing itself.
So kitties… live life free like a bird and don’t let fear stop you from flying.