Posted by Dr. Lori Arnold
Be COURAGEOUS. Do something out of your comfort zone. BE BRAVE. Take a leap of faith. What is something you would like to do in your life that may seem completely wild and crazy?
In a previous blog, I walked you through why you should create a “Bucket List”. Did YOU complete YOUR own Bucket List? Since I last covered this topic, I actually had to modify my list! I have been checking off so many items lately, that I had to add new items that I want to achieve or do before I “kick the bucket”!
One of the items on my list I really wanted to complete was to go SKYDIVING! Yes, I wanted to jump out of an airplane and feel the sensation of free falling… BUT knowing full well that I would safely make it back to the ground below. The day I chose to take my first jump, I was terrified. I don’t normally have a fear of heights, but when you are in an airplane at 10,000 feet above the ground, I believe it is only natural that fear would kick in for most… unless you are a thrill seeker!
So, WHY did I do it? I remember that day very well. I was at a time in my life where I was feeling rather lost. I was in my early 30’s, was single (divorced), had a good job with financial security, but I simply felt very empty. Around that time, the movie “The Secret” was released and I discovered a new path for myself. I started a gratitude journal, I made a wish board, I started looking for the positives in my day rather than the negatives, I opened myself up to more spiritual experiences, and I created a Bucket List. When I added skydiving to the list, my intent was to choose an activity that would help me overcome the fear of taking risks in my life, and would get me out of the rut of playing it safe. I have always played it safe. I chose a safe career as a pharmacist so I would have a set schedule and a steady decent paycheck. I lived in a safe neighborhood with nice “things” because I was in a “nesting” mode. My relationships with my friends were based on the same people I was accustomed to hanging around with, even if they didn’t necessarily fit the bill for my highest good. I rarely experimented with new foods for fear of getting grossed out! I was very regimented and had a set daily schedule and would freak out if anything knocked my schedule off kilter! Skydiving seemed like a logical choice to get me into another mindset and open me up to taking more risks to reveal my potential in life. I figured either I would open myself up to taking more risks after I instilled the belief that I could take a chance and survive, or the opposite end of the coin was death. Hmmmm, quite the choices!
I chose a date, showed up, completed the tandem-training program, and was ready to FLY, or drop… whatever came first. As we reached our altitude of 10,000 feet, my heart began to beat faster and I could feel my breathing quicken. I watched as each tandem “couple” jumped one by one from the open door of the airplane. My mind started racing creating crazy scenarios of what “could” happen if the parachute didn’t open. I even pictured myself free falling and the resultant “SPLAT” of my lifeless body below. I envisioned myself suddenly getting nauseous as we fell through the air and could see myself getting bathed in my own vomit, and drenching Christian to my horror! Trust me, the vomiting scenario happens more frequently than you hear about… So, what if??? The skilled instructors were all laughing and having a good time around me, as they have done this thousands of times before and had NO FEAR at this point. Just when I started to calm myself down, the lady in front of me started freaking out as she and her tandem coach approached the open door. She started screaming, “Wait, Wait, Wait!!!” Then quickly followed with, “I’m OK!” Then followed by, “Wait, Wait, Wait!!!” She was clearly having an issue, and I actually chuckled a little at her reaction. Her instructor didn’t give her much time for second thoughts as he leapt with her out the door… and then they were gone!
Now, it is my turn. My cameraman, Danny, was already out the door and hanging on to the outside door of the airplane like a spider! My tandem coach, Christian, a very handsome Australian jumper, led us over to the open door. Now I could clearly see the view the previous lady had that got her all freaked out! It seemed liked miles to the bottom and I could almost see the ocean on one the right and the mountains of Palm Springs on the left. The view was amazing, but we were jumping out of an airplane right now! Christian counted down for me and I knew this was officially my leap of faith… no turning back now. We were going to jump no matter what! One. We rocked backward. Two. We swayed again. And three, we were falling at lightening speed from the airplane. We reached speeds greater than 100 miles per hour, and in the video you can see the rippling of my skin and how the force of the air pulled and contorted my face. The air was brisk and chilly and it took my breath away as we gained speed. I was gasping for air as we rocketed downward, and struggled to find a way to breath. I guess I failed to ask, and didn’t know until my second jump that you have two choices for breathing, either you SCREAM the whole time or you keep your mouth shut and breath through your nose. Mouth breathing is not an option, I later learned. Just as quickly as the fall began, Christian signaled that we were approaching 6000 feet… the magical number. Time to pull the cord. I fumbled around for that golf ball ripcord I was supposed to pull, but couldn’t locate it. Christian quickly took over and before I knew it the cord was engaged and we were now literally JERKED back up in the air with an incredible JOLT, like a bullet through the air back upward. I would compare this sensation to bungee jumping after the cord has reached its limit and flops you right back up again. This is my favorite part. After you free fall, and you engage the parachute, you get to slow down and sail through the heavens until you reach the land below you. What an exhilarating experience to be able to see a 360-degree view of our beautiful Southern California. I felt no fear, no anxiety, and no regrets. I just felt BLISS.
We approached the ground for a very smooth landing and I was on top of the world! I did it! I conquered my fear of taking a risk! I went outside of my comfort zone. I finally opened myself up to the possibility that I could take a risk, get out of the safe pocket I created in my life, and be successful at achieving new and exciting things in my life! That was a ground-breaking day in my life. Many things changed after that, as I became more open to the possibility that I could safety take risks. I can’t say, “what is the worst that could happen” as it pertains to skydiving, as you and I both know what could happen if the chute didn’t open! But, what is the worst that could happen if you open yourself up to new and exciting adventures and experiences in YOUR life? I can tell you what will happen… YOU WILL actually BE LIVING!
Be the best you can be. Try new things. Take a leap of faith in your life. Start crossing items off your Bucket List today. I promise you that you will not regret it!
If you would like to take this same leap (out of an airplane), please contact Skydive Elsinore via the following website and tell them I sent you: http://www.skydiveelsinore.com.
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