Valuable Lessons Learned

hospital visitAs skydivers, we assume the basic and inherent risks with jumping out of an airplane. For me, the beauty of the sport is that I feel quite comfortable in my training and skills, knowing that if the need arises, I’ll be able to deal with any emergencies that may come my way. I believe — and hope! — that all skydivers feel the same way. For me, assessing these risks before each and every jump is important. Part of my ‘drills’ protocol before even entering an airplane is that I go through my emergency procedures, both in my head and physically rehearsing any actions I would take. Every year, drop zones around North America have an event called ‘Safety Day’ that helps to answer any questions and keeps participants in the mindset of dealing with skydive safety and emergencies, through education and simulation. But one can only cover so many bases …. the possibilities of what can wrong are endless. But one thing I have learned in my 19 years of the sport is that when things do go wrong, try everything and anything to deal with any problems that may arise.

Sunday was a perfect example of that scenario. Rick Epp, an old time skydiver of the drop zone and an excellent instructor, was on a jump where he deployed his canopy as normal, and part of his main snagged under the flap of his container. He initiated emergency procedures, but unfortunately, the main canopy (which is supposed to release and clear fully when ‘cut away’) entangled with his reserve parachute. The scenario was much more technical but this is the gist of the event. What saved Rick’s life in this potentially highly fatal scenario is that he fought for his life the whole time until he landed. I hope that if an emergency for me were to happen whilst skydiving (or anything in life for that matter), I would fight until the very end for my survival. Valuable lessons learned through his experience. One being that, no matter if you do everything right, things can still go wrong …. ‘Shit Happens’ so to speak.

Weekend fuN!

Lake ErieJump 100 pieIt was a gorgeous weekend, with unending blue skies and fabulous skydives! I managed to fly in the right seat of the Twin Otter twice at Skydive Burnaby, and both times were reminiscent of the days when I would fly as co-pilot with my dear friend Randy Goken. lucky girl was I! The views of Lake Erie are spectacular. And on the ground and in the air, much fun was had by all, including the rights of initiations to two fellow skydivers — at 100 jumps, all lucky skydivers are baptized with a creme pie :). I had one both at my 100 and 1000 jump landmark. Double blessed!

Mini-Golf with Friends

mini-golfIt’s interesting to see how different people interact when placed in a competitive sport of sorts. When I was a kid, I never really had great skill in the athletics department, so when I excelled at skydiving and yoga in my later years, I literally felt my spirit soar. As a teenager, I dabbled in such sports as badminton, track and field, competed in and eventually coached gymnastics, but I was clumsy, self-conscious and awkwardly trying to fit in.

Lovely familyToday, my bestest girlfriend and two sets of twins joined their Aunt Joan and uS in a playful round of mini-golf. As soon as we started, I could see the competitive edge to the boys. But after some discussion, our team agreed that the scoring didn’t matter and instead decided to just fun and enjoy the glorious warm summe’s day.

I’m still as clumsy as ever, not very lithe, nor succinct in my shots, but boy, did I ever have a blast! When it comes right down to it, it’s the quality of time spent together with my dear friends and family. Life is so inherently short, why not enjoy it with each and every breath and putt putt?

Flying Video

skydivingToday, on the 5 year anniversary of a major shoulder dislocation (in which I made my last skydiving camera jump), I took the leap of faith and video-ed 2 tandems, in prep for my family making their tandem skydives tomorrow. This was such a huge deal! The very first tandem, I had butterflies the size of a watermelon in my belly! But they took flight, joyously free and with a huge sigh of relief. It was especially amazing when flying beside my slaDE~ as tandem master. What a beautiful gift … I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to take on this role again, witnessing and documenting people’s very first leap of faith. Amazing!

Awakening.

sunset blissBack in the land of the online living.

Away for 7 days, and much longer from the blog.

So much to share! In due time.

But now it’s time to count the clouds I’ve danced upon, singing swooping melodies of body flight dreams.

Ah, hoping sleep comes quick to me tonight ….

Road Trip Choices

road trip guidelines

Jamie Oliver has been encouraging and motivating people around the world to change their diet and lifestyle. The blog by Canadian Karen ,”The Scattered Mom”, is one such example of a motivated Mother searching for healthy choices within her family and travelling lifestyle.

Karen’s inventory below is truly an inspiring checklist to follow on our next Airstream road trip. For the most part, we follow the guidelines below, to a T. I realize that I’m a big part of the driving force behind our healthy lifestyle that we lead. But of course, I’m human and have my weaknesses (before slaDE~, I never ever ate chips or junk food — apart from sugary items like liquorice or sour chewy candies, but now I’m rather feeble in my willpower if he feels inspired to indulge). As I get older, my body and metabolism is changing, and the need to be conscientious, consistent and diligent with my food / non-food intake is top on my priorities. So having a repertoire of ideas and a reminder of why I chose this lifestyle in the first place is a step in the right direction to a happy and healthy life filled with nutrition and goodness.

The Food Revolution Road Trip Goals / Rules / Guidelines:

1. NO fast food or gas station food. We can stop for a bathroom break if we need to, but that is it.

Every year on a road trip we stop at least 5 times in a two week period at a fast food place-usually McDonalds for breakfast, or Subway for lunch. No. Not this year. (exception: Starbucks is our coffee place of choice and not considered fast food. We don’t really eat their food anyway)

2. Eat only ONE meal a day in a restaurant. Breakfast is easy, as it’s always covered with a hotel breakfast bar. Lunch is where we need to be creative and make our own. We’ll be traveling here and there; whitewater rafting, jeeping, driving, hiking. Can we do it?fast food nation

3. Avoid high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors/flavors, and anything highly processed. This doesn’t just mean in what I buy, but in the food at the hotel breakfast bar. How hard can it be to find healthy food, anyway? It’s pretty easy here. And is the USA really that different from Canada?

4. Snack on lots of fruit, veggies, cheese, yogurt, nuts, and real food. That’s easy, right? Storage might be an issue. It should be pretty cheap, too.

5. Occasional treats are allowed because you know, this IS a vacation. Treats would be a chocolate bar, ice cream, or the fries with a restaurant meal. The fries will be hardest to avoid, but since we are on vacation a couple times each can’t hurt.

How about you? Do you make choices in your daily regimen to eat and be more healthy? Do you find that road trips tend to challenge your choices and restraint?

Passing

Frontier SkydiversYesterday, our friend Thomas ‘Toma’ Medbury from Frontier Skydivers, a man we’ve known for about 8 years, passed away from his critical injuries from the plane crash last Sunday. It was truly a miracle that up until then, all 6 passengers on board survived the crash, 5 walking away. When a fellow skydiver dies in the sport, part of our community loses the spirit of their essence, but the memories of their time with us will live on.

We’re  a tight knit family at Frontier, a club founded in 1960. Although I started jumping in England for several years before spending the bulk of my jumping at varying drop zones through out the past 19 years, I spent 4 solid seasons at Frontier with slaDE~, and the club became a family with whom we’ve built and maintained many close friendships. Toma dying was a huge hit to our family circle, but in times of difficulty, we rally together in friendship, remembering that life is short, and time spent with friends and family is more precious than anything I’ve ever experienced. In a positive light considering these tragic circumstances, Toma’s family donating Toma’s organ for others to live on was truly a gift of life.

Bless you Toma. May your spirit live on fire master.

Tears of Sadness

At 2:20pm today, my dear friends at Frontier Skydivers were in a horrific plane crash carrying a total of 6 people. On takeoff, at 300 feet (end of the runway, surrounded by tall trees), the door on the Cessna 185 popped open and a skydiver onboard lunged to close it. Unfortunately, the plane was uncontrollable with the sudden change in the plane’s CG (centre of gravity), and an inevitable stall occurred, sending it crashing into the trees. Not much can be done at 300 feet, although the pilot in command performed a miracle in bleeding off as much excess speed as possible, bringing the plane in as best as he could.

I can’t imagine what a horrific feeling that would be, knowing that they were about to crash land from that altitude into obstacles as looming as the forest below them. 5 skydivers were released that very night from the hospital. Toma sadly is still in a coma. Prayers for them all. Kudos to both: Mike Maly, the medic hero who maintained control of the accident scene (he was also in the plane crash, suffering from a dramatic facial laceration), and to the pilot Paul, who performed a miracle on this day.

The above video can be found at: http://www.wivb.com/dpp/news/niagara/Skydiver-tells-harrowing-survival-tale