Life Lessons learned from Indoor skydiving

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cropped flyI was heading out the door to Indoor skydiving for my daughter’s 16th birthday party when my cell phone rang.

It was a friend, calling and the conversation started like this “I’m so sorry it went down this way, I suspect you’ve already been told…”

Actually, I hadn’t been told.  My previous conversation with my friend was letting him know I’d done well in my interview, that I’d been told I’d be in the final panel interview, that I was one of the top candidates for the position he’d recommended I apply for.  That I was told I could expect to be called in within the next two weeks.  I was just pondering sending a follow up email the following morning, when I received the call from my friend that inadvertently broke the news that I was no longer being considered.

I thanked him for letting me know, I reassured him that I was good, and not to worry about me.  After ringing off the call, I headed to the car, admittedly a little deflated, off on a happy celebration to the flying park, bewildered at the turn of events.

This adventure started when I was in Hawaii, I had just finished a 10-day spiritual class in energetic training.  I was relaxed and looking forward to returning home and digging into expanding my part-time private hypnotherapy practice to a full-time endeavor, recently having given my notice at my full-time day job.

We were at the observatory of the Volcano Park when he’d initially called encouraging me to apply for the new opening at his workplace, briefly describing it to me.  I replied that I’d be happy to look at it once we returned to the mainland.  While intrigued, I was somewhat unclear as to what this opportunity would mean for my business expansion dream and in regards to continuing my education to earn my BA then MA with Licensed Mental Health Counseling as the end goal.  Encouraged by my husband stating he was supportive of my decision to leave my job; I wasn’t sure I wanted to immediately jump back into the fray of the corporate world.

Once we returned home however I had doubts about taking my business full time, perhaps I needed to wait just a bit longer, until I had additional savings at my disposal. Going out on your own as an entrepreneur frankly is a little daunting.   I would pursue the possible job opportunity and then build my practice slowly, secure in a bi-weekly paycheck.

I applied for the job position my friend had spoken to me about.  This got the ball rolling.  It was just a matter of a few days and I had an initial phone interview set up.  I learned more about the job and its requirements, demands and the workplace and culture.  It sounded really good, a dream opportunity.

On days in between I saw an uptick in clients at my practice.  The day of the phone interview came and it went very well, I was asked to come in person to interview – thumbs up.  A week later I met the manager and we just clicked.  My next interview would be with the director, again another week passed.  All the while, I was receiving a slow but steady stream of 3rd person referrals to my practice.  The day of my second phone interview arrived, things went fairly well.  It was apparent that I would need to learn some of the technology details, however I was told that I was a top candidate that I’d be in the next in-person round of interviews.  I felt really happy, and very confident about having a second opportunity to be more technically prepared.  Confident until, I received that call from my friend.

I was still pondering this as we pulled into the parking lot arriving at indoor skydiving, the kids were impressed by how tall the building was, understandably so, the tower is probably 5 floors high.  We checked my daughter in for her flight training and went up to the second floor to the viewing area before our class.  There to our amazement was a glass cylinder wind cone.  As students and instructors entered the cylinder, the wind was adjusted to their skill levels and weight, first levitating, then seemingly flying.  The instructors were communicating with their hands, in some sort of language to get the flyers to make adjustment to their bodies.  I didn’t quite understand it just yet.  Then up walks a friendly, fit, man, tall and slender in his flight suit.  He asked us who was flying and my daughter shyly looked up at him raising her arm with the flight bracelet.  He asked if it was a special occasion and a sheepish smile broke over her face as she let him know it was her birthday.

С Днем Рождения (pronounced S Dnem Rozhdeniya) He sang to the happy birthday song theme loudly.  “It’s Russian for Happy Birthday!”  He announced joyfully.  The man introduced himself to us as Steven and he was originally from Russia.  His wife from a neighboring country.  He and his wife were new parents of a new baby boy. I told him how I made a collage for my daughter that morning with photos from her years growing up to the lady she’d become.  During which I was a weepy mess, with box of Kleenex at my side.  “The time goes by so quickly” I said, “before you realize it they are almost grown up! Enjoy your son’s babyhood, it will be gone in a blink”.  Steven agreed and then he asked why I was not flying with my daughter, to which I replied “If I were to fly with her she would yell at me, she yells at me when she is stressed.  For a stranger she will listen, and be much better behaved, but I’m just Mom.”

Steven shot my daughter a conspiring look, “Do you yell at your mom?”“Sometimes” she replied Steven asked again “Do you think you are smarter and know more than your mom?” “Sometimes” she agreed.To which he replied “You don’t know about life and you don’t know any shit about jumping, so you pay attention to what the instructors tell you in there!  They know about jumping but you’ll only get what you pay attention to so in order to have a smooth flight, listen and learn!” All with that charming smile still spread over his face.   “When they give the thumbs up that means raise your chin up”.  My daughter smiled, nodded in understanding, listening attentively.

Keep your chin up, turns out this is one of the valuable components of jumping.  It allows the air to have the least amount of friction or surface area hit the body during flight with the axis being the middle hip area of the body. If you lower your chin to look, getting distracted, you start encountering all sorts of friction which throws the body’s balance off. The more I reviewed the interview and the way it ended, looking for where it went “wrong”, the more my head was getting in the way of me, creating friction instead of flow.  Maybe if I kept my chin up and looked for the positives, I could see the benefits gained.

It was time for the flight class.  We filed into the classroom, as parents or friends if there is room you can take the training as well.  For a half-hour we learned all of the hand signs for making adjustments to the body.  The main thing our instructor said was to relax into the axis- the area of the hips, lower back and pelvis, leaning back for the forward jump.  Again he reiterated keeping the chin up.  He demanded the students follow his instructions for adjustments.  He warned about tensing or locking up the muscles.  “When you do that it makes it impossible to correct your flight and it makes for a very bumpy, no shock ride of turbulence.  When you relax into the wind, you can ride it.”

Being flexible in the mind, adaptive has not always been one of my strengths.  It was a skill I had to practice and learn.  Those with the most flexibility win I was told.  It served me well in most areas.  Today I would learn a valuable caveat to that bit of instruction.

“When you relax” the instructor said, “you need to still be in control of your body, arms and legs.  You can’t just collapse into the wind being overly flexible or you won’t fly, because you won’t have enough surface to ride the wind”. As my daughter went to the counter and was issued a flight suit that fit her body, the instructor called out that a loose fitting suit is dangerous, and a tight one as well as it doesn’t allow for the flexibility needed.

Whoa, what was that?  He had my attention.   Could I be flexible enough to stay in the flow, while remaining ridged enough to be in control of me? This calls to mind personal boundaries, about not losing one’s identity to conform to fit into a role, but finding a role that allows for a good fit from the start. I contemplated that.  How could I have applied that more often in my career path?  This dichotomy I kept finding myself in between, torn by Technology and Psychology.  Both geared at enhanced communication processes, yet seemingly so vastly different, worlds apart.

Steven approached again, he asked my daughter if she would be flying “high” on her jump.  “High” flying is where the student and instructor go up several floors in the wind tunnel together.  “Noooo” she said adamantly.  “It’s too scary” she said to justify her position.  “Once you get in the chamber “He said with a twinkle in his eye “You won’t be scared anymore, it’s okay to change your mind.”  We gave her permission but she still adamantly shook her head no. Steven then shared with her how short all of our times are, not just children growing up.  He shared about his tumultuous teens, becoming addicted to alcohol and making a new choice with over 15 years sober under his belt.  He shared how thankful he was that he was able to make amends with his father before his father unexpectedly passed away.  That now that he has a great company, his wonderful wife and newborn how sad he is that his mom whom had dementia cannot remember holding her grandson even a moment afterwards.  “Your parents won’t be around forever, remember to enjoy them while you have them.” He said with a faraway look in his eye.  To my surprise, my daughter looked over at me, grabbed and squeezed my hand.  Then resolutely walked to the back of the line to enter the flight chamber.

My husband, son and I took seats back in the lobby to observe, outside of the glass chamber where the newly trained class all suited up sat behind the double layer of Plexiglas listening intently to the flight coach’s final instructions before heading inside the cylinder. A few moments later, before the flying commenced, the manager and Steven walked up and he presented my husband and I with two free flight tickets as a gift for us to learn to fly.  He said “A long time ago someone believed in me and I don’t know why but today I’m called to pay it forward to you, when you are in a place where you are able, you can again pay it forward to another.”

I thanked him.  I thanked him for all he said and did, and for this gift of random kindness and then he was gone.

Once again, I marveled at the strange day and the lessons and gifts it bestowed on me.  16 years with my beautiful daughter and giving her an amazing experience on her birthday.  Then I realized the gift of not being in that panel interview with that company.  The gift was that I no longer would be distracted from building my own business.  The gift from Steven, truly a gift of kindness in both word and deed that day.

While behind the glass enclosure students learned that small subtle movements are all that is necessary for big changes in flight, which can affect height, balance and direction.  All it takes is a slight bend or straighten of a limb, or a curve to the hand or feet and off they’d go.

That’s so true of life.  Subtle changes can have very big changes in our trajectory.  And it’s okay to change your mind, keeping in sight your balance and direction.

I have traveled the path of so called “security” to find out it is but an illusion.  I decided to make a slight course correction to once again pursue my own business, and have found that the security will come so long as I stay congruent, focused with integrity, keeping my chin up, being flexible enough to adapt, but rigid enough to float on the rising winds, allowing myself to make subtle course corrections, and just be myself.

Steven restored my faith with words and actions.  The instructors at the indoor skydiving venue gave not just successful flying instructions, but lessons that apply so much to our daily lives, as we are the ones who take flight in our pursuits and passions.

A few moments later my daughter was there behind the glass hovering like a champ before us, her first jump a grin from ear to ear.  Her second jump she decided to go “high”.  Up, up, up and swirling around with her instructor she went to the top then gently floating life a leaf downwards in a controlled fall.  Afterwards her smile and confidence was beaming from under her helmet and goggles.   I’m excited for my adventure and looking forward to applying these lessons in my own jump both at skydiving and in my life!


It’s Your Life, Own it, Design it, Live it!

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