Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Skydiving Adventure

It's already been a week since I've made the plunge and checked off skydiving from my bucket list. I wanted to see if the exhilaration from the experience would fade in time. It hasn't. I can still feel the excitement of the anticipation. How my heart beats faster each day leading to my birthday - the day when I made the jump.

That day, I woke up with my cellphone ringing. My best friend didn't bother sleeping that morning. She decided to head over my place before the first rays of the sun broke through the sky. Half-asleep and struggling to dress up for the big jump, I finally decided to wear shorts and a tank top.

The view during the trip towards Skydive Space Center in Titusville is amazing. The dawn was just breaking and different shades of red and yellow whirled together while the sun began to rise. Mists of water floated up into the air as the day began to heat up. Reflection of the sky mirrored against the waters in the marshes and lakes. It was beginning to look like a gorgeous day.

We ended up being at least one hour early. The diving center was still closed. We were intrigued with the different planes outside the hangar of the other site. There were at least six planes of different sizes, shapes, and colors.

Finally, the doors opened. Wendy at the front register spoke with me a little more about skydiving. I explained to her that I'll be doing 18,000 feet that day. She wondered whether I went skydiving before. When I told her that it's going to be my first, she became very excited. Then she indicated that I had to have a partner since they need at least 2 people to do the 18,000.

Thank goodness that my partner for the 18,000 came as he promised. We were both so excited to be the only ones to do the highest jump from the group. I told him that since we have the option to do 18,000, might as well do it all the way. More air time = more fun.

Since our registration finished before anyone else who wanted to do the dive that day, the three of us wandered off to the hangar. There, we could see parachutes being put together. We took pictures of everything. We wanted to be able to look back and remember what we have done.

I ended up talking to the pilot, Greg. He was teaching me bits and pieces of the plane. He was also showing what he's looking for, making sure there's enough fluids and what the engine looked like. He even went further and discussed about the propeller and how that worked.

Finally, the plane was being out pulled out of the hangar. We still had a lot of time to spare before getting into our harness. So, we started talking about the expectations during the jump. Next thing I know, I was donning the pilot's harness and checking out the cockpit. My little group definitely ended up with more experience than the rest of the skydivers that day. I suppose being sociable has its advantages.

After fooling around with a farting dummy, it's finally time to get into my actual harness. My jump master is going to be JR and my videographer was Big Bird. I think Big Bird's real name is Paul. But Big Bird stuck in my head instead. After being geared up and ready, I had my before jump interview. Looking back, I have to wonder whether or not I believed what I said. I said that I'm just really excited and make the big jump. I was not scared at all - just really excited. I didn't even have knots forming in my tummy. No butterflies flying around. Just calmness. It's hard to explain since most people would have been anxious. I guess I just had a knowing that everything was going to be A-OK. Might as well just enjoy the ride.

The call to head towards the plane finally arrived. At first, I was seated in the opposite side from the door. Somehow, I ended up being right next to the door of the plane. Big Bird was crazy. He mostly kept the door of the plane open and he was sitting on the floor right next to it. I have to agree that the wind flowing in was pretty refreshing. As the plane went higher and higher, the perception of how things look became very different. The houses looked like little boxes and trees became dots on the ground. I'm glad that I ended up being next to the door.

I told JR to go crazy with the dive. I was met with lots of approval from other videographers in the plane. They said that JR's middle name is crazy. I got excited when JR told Big Bird to get ready for 3 flips in the air. Yay! It's going to be a lot of fun.

The door finally opened and the light switched from red to green. At that moment, I realized that I was the first one to jump. I told myself that since I was already there, I don't have a choice but to jump. And 3, 2, 1... there goes the jump. Chin the chest, tuck in knees - we did the flips as JR promised. Then comes the serenity of floating in the air. Weird enough, I didn't feel the dropping feeling someone would have experienced in free fall rides such as The Tower of Terror. No, the feeling was surreal. I felt like I was embracing the world and I loved it.

We did a few more things like grab Big Bird's foot to put in the video. Then it was time to pull the chute. It was so relaxing just parachuting up there in the air. The view is amazing. I could see where NASA is located, the beach, and everything else in between. I can see the curvature of the earth. I was at peace. I wish I could just fall asleep with that nice feeling.

JR let me navigate the parachute for a little bit. I could see others in their parachutes landing and yet we were still way above them - still had a long way to go. I was not strong enough to make circles with the parachute so JR had to help me with that. Whoa, that part made me a bit giddy and dizzy all at the same time.

I thought at first that I had to end up in my butt when we landed. JR instructed me to just look like as if we were running. It was a little tricky trying to find the right timing but yes, there we were, stopping successfully.

My partner and I ended up with the 18,000. It was sweet to have something to let others know that we could do it. But in the end, I just say that the paper could not even show how much of a blast the entire experience have been.

Now, another check in my bucket list. And more to go... Who knows I'll be up to next.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh The Little Things That Matter

It is one of those nights. Millions of stars twinkling against the dark of the night. The light of the moon cast dark silhouettes of the trees and houses. Random ripples of water break the shiny surface of the lake from curious fish peaking through. Tendrils of moss lay hanging on the majestic trees. The thickness of the humidity created some sort of heaviness within the lull of the night.

Walking back from the gym, I began to wonder how the time flew by so quickly. It's already Thursday and yet it felt like yesterday was just the weekend. I suppose time flies when you're having fun. In that sense, life isn't as boring as it seem to be.

During the walk, I felt that I missed out somehow. I've been so busy that I haven't stopped an smell the roses, so to speak. As a huge advocate of living life to the fullest, I normally look for the big picture. But at times, I forget to just enjoy the journey.

So finally back home, I thought about writing down the little things - the little things that I appreciate when I actually stop and look at the treasures that we live with. The things that are usually overlooked yet so wonderful when given the time to be thankful for. You don't always need to spend money to enjoy the gifts of the world.

There's too many things to list down. So I'm starting with a list of 25.
1. Sound of the running water
2. Lightning lightening the sky
3. Shower after a workout
4. Tantalizing smell of a flower
5. Smell of a freshly baked bread
6. Reading a good book
7. Laughing so much that my tummy hurts
8. Afternoon naps
9. Aroma of a home-cooked meal
10. Quenching thirst from a cold glass of water
11. Making sandcastles
12. Hanging upside down on a monkey bar
13. Floating on the water
14. Being on top of cliff/building
15. Daydreaming
16. Sleeping under the stars
17. Watching the clouds go by
18. Eating a good meal
19. Climbing a tree
20. Jumping off a rope and into a lake
21. Catching a fish
22. Starting a fire with a flint and steel
23. Learning new things
24. Eating a popsicle in the dead of the summer
25. Being in a hammock

There, I finally wrote some of them down. I know I have lots more that I want to put down too but I'll save that for another time. It's a lot of fun being able to achieve my goals and dreams. But it is also the little things that matter the most.

Enjoy The Ride by Moorcheeba

Shut the gates and sunset
After that you can't get out
You can see the bigger picture
Find out what it's all about
You're open to the skyline
You won't want to go back home
In a garden full of angels
You will never be alone

But oh the road is long
The stones that you are walking on
Have gone

With the moonlight to guide you
Feel the joy of being alive
The day that you stop running
Is the day that you arrive

And the night that you got locked in
Was the time to decide
Stop chasing shadows
Just enjoy the ride

If you close the door to your house
Don't let anybody in
It's a room that's full of nothing
All that underneath your skin
Face against the window
You can't watch it fade to grey
And you'll never catch the fickle wind
If you choose to stay

But oh the road is long
The stones that you are walking on
Have gone

With the moonlight to guide you
Feel the joy of being alive
The day that you stop running
Is the day that you arrive

And the night that you got locked in
Was the time to decide
Stop chasing shadows
Just enjoy the ride

Stop chasing shadows
Just enjoy the ride

Monday, June 7, 2010

Go Team!!!

This season is the season of giving and it's not even Christmas yet. I've decided to join Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training (TnT). The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) provided us an opportunity to train for a marathon or half-marathon. They also have other programs such as a triathlon and the century ride. All of which are endurance activities.

I have personally committed to fundraise $3250 this season towards Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It's a very high commitment to make in such an economy. However after finding out that the society have funded research for Gleevec, a cancer medication, it became personal. I have also discovered numerous personal contacts that also have to go through cancer treatments. In my line of work, I've spoken to patients that has to go through different kinds of conditions from cancer to multiple sclerosis to rheumatoid arthritis. My heart reaches out to my patients that have to suffer through their condition. Knowing how much money it takes to stay on therapy and be able to afford the maintenance medications each month, raising my commitment amount seems menial.

As an alumni to TnT, I can't say that this is my very first marathon. I have also trained and completed my first marathon back in January 2007 for the Disney Marathon. To this day, it is still a challenge to be doing an endurance run since my body is adept at doing short distances. I believe that with the right training, I should be able to complete it. I've done it before so it shouldn't be a doubt now. The biggest challenge is the fact that this season's marathon is going to be held in San Francisco, California. The course would encompass the famous hills. And I live here in Florida - known for being flat. Coach indicated that we would be running a lot in Clermont. With that in mind, keeping up with the 6-days a week training becomes essential.

I'm open-minded to a lot of suggestions regarding fundraising and training. I've been getting a lot of advice regarding modifying my diet and taking supplements. To my dismay, I have to figure out everything I'm eating and putting them into categories so I can find out what nutrition I'm lacking. I'm sure it's not all that bad once I get going. The only problem is I love to eat so I'll be stuffing it in before trying to analyze how much protein or complex carbohydrates I've just eaten.

I wish to be able to brainstorm regarding fundraising with someone. I'm trying to fill in the how to be able to reach my fundraising goal at the moment. Possibly raffle off a trip? Or sell something else? This calls for a plan of action.

Provided that training with TnT requires mental and physical challenges, it's been an interesting journey for far. And the season has just started.

"Accept the challenges so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory." - General George S. Patton

If you'd like to help and donate to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, please stop by my site -> Jan's Team In Training Page