Thursday, August 20, 2015

Might As Well Jump. Go Ahead And Jump!

When I was working at Wrinkle City, A/K/A the retirement playground for rich old people, the very cute executive chef gave a talk one day about how a person's taste buds change as they get older and they lose the ability to enjoy food as much.  He went on to say that you have to add lots of texture and spice to foods to make them more appealing.

I don't think that holds true just for food, because it certainly applies to my life.  One day last month, I found myself coming home from an event (alone-no +1) thinking that I am loosing my joie de vivre. The event was certainly beautiful, but was absolutely no fun because I'd stopped feeling the textures and tasting the spice.  I'm maintaining Wingman's gardens but all I see are the weeds. I'm a manager in one of the top, hip nationwide retail stores, but all I think about is NOT working anymore and traveling.

I needed a serious bitch-slap.  One to wipe the RBF off of me.  You haven't heard of RBF? It's the new buzzword this summer, a/k/a "Resting Bitch Face".  I look in the mirror and it's not just resting.  It's everyday.

And it was really plastered on my face when I ran into an old friend a couple of weeks ago.  She and her husband had just had a big party at their house-one that Wingman and I use to get invited to. So, I called her out on it.  Asked if my invitation had gotten lost in the mail.  She replied "I thought you had your own set of friends by now."  What kind of friends would that be?" I queried. " know...other widows like yourself."

Cowboys! Saddle em up, and yee-haw! Time for a round-up. Get those widder women penned up and away from the men-folk out there!

Really.  Where does she think I'm finding all these widows? Trolling cemeteries to find who leaves fresh daisies on tombstones?  Because if they're like me, the hubster is still residing in a closet and making side trips around the USA in film canisters, while I'm looking for places to go and people to do things with.

Feeling really down I reached out to my lifelines to talk me down off my drama ledge.  It must have been an exceptionally busy day, because either they didn't pick up or couldn't talk. So since no one could talk me down, I called the one person who wasn't afraid of climbing up and dangling her toes off the edge with me.

And when I asked my Goddaughter to go skydiving, she shrieked a resounding "Y-E-S-S-S-S!!!"

I've always had an edge of a daredevil in me-the absolute opposite of Wingman. I love BIG ferris wheels and roller coasters-the higher and loopier, the better. I would have loved to have bungee jumped off a cliff when I was younger (my fear now is not the jump but dislocating a hip). This was my "slap that RBF" event if ever there was one. I booked our jump the following day, then was too afraid to tell anyone, especially my kids, less they try and talk me out of it.

We drove about an hour to an air field not too far from the ocean.  We watched the obligatory danger video (with a bearded guy who I swear looked like he trained the Taliban) and signed the release forms before boarding a prop plane.  My tandem instructor buckled himself to me at both shoulders and hips.  He opened the door, put a foot on the step...

And we flew.

The first 15 seconds, I cursed myself, thinking that this was probably the dumbest thing I've ever done.  When they say you're life flashes before you-they ain't kidding.  I relived births, birthdays, Christmases and times both happy and sad in the blink of an eye. 

Then I hit my stride-or glide.  For the next 20 or so seconds, Joe urged me to arc and soar.  We
spun and laughed before he pulled the ripcord and the chute opened. As I looked at both the pictures and video, I smiled not only at the skin stretched like Jim Carrey's in "The Mask", but at the excitement and exhilaration of the jump.

For the next 4 1/2 minutes, we descended until making a soft landing in the sand pit. My Goddaughter landed nearby and we celebrated what was a picture perfect day.

On the drive home, she and I talked about fear and how it stops us from doing the things we want to do, and sometimes need to do.  And we both agreed. No more fear.

In the week between booking and flying, I faced a couple of fears. I had a friend who I shut out of my life over something stupid, and I was afraid to contact and apologize until last week.  We've already gone out to catch up on what we've missed in each others lives.  I also went to see a dying friend, even though I was really uncomfortable seeing someone so close to death. We ended up talking for a couple of hours until her pain was so great that she asked me to leave. I felt good knowing that she needed to talk and I was a sounding board for her pain.

I also thought about the sizzle in my life the rest of this year: going to vividly beautiful Hawaii with my kids and grandkids.  Going to hot, steamy Florida for a long relaxing weekend. Holding my Dad's hands and touching his face in the days before he passed. The blasting music of rock bands in beautiful theaters. Dancing in the sand with girlfriends at beach concerts.  Broadway shows. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners on the spur of a moment. A recent yard party with neighbors who haven't forgotten I'm around the corner. Riding kiddie rides with my granddaughter at a local fair. The events that are the texture and the people who are the real spice in my life.

The future has me drooling over new adventures as well:  The BFF has planned a trip to Amsterdam in the spring.  A sister-in-law wants to go to Berlin.  Another friend has a pilot-son relocating to Chicago and wants company. I'm going to the joyful weddings of two friends' kids in the next couple of months. And while there's no +1, I'm not going to fear it happening or not.  I've eaten sea slugs and live octopus in Korea, and now jumped out of a plane. What can be as scary as that?

I played "The Bucket List" on my DVR the other night-just for the skydiving scene.  I thought it would help me finish this piece, and it did, but not for that scene.

Edward says at one point "We live, we die, and the wheels on the bus go round and round". He's right.  Stop the drama. (He also says "never trust a fart" but let's not go there).

But the one line that really got me was from Carter who said "You know, the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls got to the entrance to heaven, the guards asked two questions. Their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not. ‘Have you found joy in your life?’ 'Has your life brought joy to others?"

I'm finding the joy in my life.  Now I'm working on my life bringing joy to others. Enjoy this video!


Thanks for taking the time to tell me what you think!

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