On not having a plan

On not having a plan

When I moved to Toronto to pursue acting two years ago I was wildly optimistic. I envisioned talk show interviews, red carpets, sparkly lights, glam dresses, set life— actually wait a minute, HAHAHA. No I didn’t. I’m a dreamer, but also a realist… which is maybe a bit contradictory. I didn’t imagine being the next insert-actor-name-here, that’s never been my goal. I did, however, imagine being able to support myself a little more comfortably with the help of the odd job here and there. I did imagine booking real acting roles with substance that were both fun and challenging to perform. I imagined that the arts culture here would help me to discover and shape my craft.

Some of these visions have come true, and others not so much. Most of my circle is comprised of like-minded souls who are in the arts community in some form or another. Lots of actors, musicians, dancers, artists, writers. We’re all here for the same reason— for the opportunity to share our stories and our talents with a community that cares. We’re here to be discovered, to create, and to have a voice.

The past few months have been very introspective for me. To be perfectly honest they’ve been a bit of a struggle. I only have myself to blame, I mean, who goes galavanting around Europe for two months knowing they’d be coming home broke and stressed and still goes anyway? I have no regrets. But it does mean that I’m looking objectively at my life choice of pursuing acting and what that means for me in terms of being able to actually support myself— while ideally maintaining some form of sanity. Not to mention trying to maintain my creative charge. Life can be pretty difficult in this concrete jungle which is one of the most expensive cities in Canada. On the plus side, one of the great things about being an actor is that when you do book jobs they pay very well. I have paid an entire month’s rent based off of one commercial booking which was just a day’s work. Print jobs are nothing to shake your head at either. The reality, unfortunately, is that most of the time I’m not working. Acting jobs are not something you can count on. And in that sense, a large part of this career that I’m after is totally out of my control. Yes, I can work on my own projects and hone the craft without a booking. But I’m talking straight up just surviving in the city without losing my mind.

It feels like the plan to be an actor translates into not having a plan at all.

A lot of us turn to restaurant jobs to pull us through. I did that for my first year here, but not again. It wasn’t for me. Each day I could feel my soul abandoning my body due to the sheer monotony. I said goodbye to that job and started something else, another pursuit which also didn’t work out. I stressed so much about what to do. Then 2018 rolled in and I made a promise to myself that no matter what I wouldn’t spend any time in a job that didn’t in some way satisfy my soul. If I wasn’t working as an actor, then I would be working in the field of some of my other interests.

I decided to start my own business. It’s very slow and not bringing in much more than pennies at the moment, but I hope that with my dedication and hard work I can see it grow throughout 2018. I’m also going back to my roots this year— teaching yoga and dance— and as an added bonus, as I mentioned in the previous post, I’m also starting a few photography projects.

Where will it all lead? I have no idea. But I feel a lot better now in not having a plan and instead having many plans. Because, why not? Life is not a cookie cutter event, it’s in our own hands and in our own power to mold into whatever cookie shape we want. When times are tough, I can still smile. When times aren’t tough, I’ll appreciate it more.

Someone once told me that if my life were easy, then I probably wasn’t on my own path. Well, things aren’t easy. So I guess that means I’m headed in the right direction.

If you have any thoughts on the subject I’d be interested in hearing them.

As always, thank you for reading.

Let’s go back to Switzerland

Let’s go back to Switzerland

I’ve been home from my grand European adventure for almost a month now. In the last three weeks I’ve started three new jobs, gotten a year older, and donated even more of my apartment to charity (forever en route to minimalism). I’ve slipped gracefully(?) back into Toronto life– aka big-city-life aka sirens-never-stop-life aka never-see-the-stars-life aka it’s-actually-okay-here-life.

I usually find it a little difficult to adjust to my regular world after being away for so long (I was gone for over two months!) but this time it was rather unremarkable. Instead of being all ~woooowww I’m home! How novel~ I was just like –oh yeah. This is Toronto. Okay-

This morning I ran out of soap in the shower and it was time to bust open the last remaining piece of my adventure– a bar soap I purchased in Cologne, Germany. As far as I’m concerned I’m still overseas in my heart so long as the soap remains….

maybe that’s a little out there. But hey! This is my inner dialogue and I can pretend, okay!

Alright… let’s go back to the beginning.

On August 26th I was hastily cramming my new backpack full of what I thought was necessary for two months of life on the road. I went through my mental checklist– clothes, toiletries, tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, collapsible pillow– seemingly I was good. My boyfriend was a lot more confident in our packing abilities than I was, and so he waited patiently for me to say “oh but!” and “wait! what about” at least a few dozen times as we were preparing to leave.

We were subletting the apartment for two months to a couple from the UK who were miraculously a lot like us. The girl was around my age and we connected on some very key points so I felt pretty confident leaving my place in her care. I gave her my key and she said,

Okay, bye! Happy Travels!

Thus I left my home to be someone else’s home for a while, and I sauntered off to the airport weighing much more than I usually do when I leave my front door. As I mentioned a while back, this was to be my first ever proper backpacking trip. I was mostly excited, although somewhat unnerved… I mean, what was waiting for me across the pond? So many doubts running through my head: Can I really make this work for two whole months? What if I run out of money so fast that I can’t afford to eat and I end up sleeping in my backpack on some unknown European street, unable even to ask for help because I can’t speak the local language!? Oh god.

Despite these nagging doubts I actually went into this trip with a healthy attitude– I knew it wasn’t always going to be pleasant or easy (I was right), but I also knew the adventure would teach me so much (also right).

After checking in and with our burdensome backpacks vanquished into the ether it was time to board and get ready for one of the least pleasant parts of traveling… the dreaded flight. We were scheduled to land in Zurich around 8:30 in the morning, which I think is pretty brutal. I’d much rather land just before bedtime so I could sleep and adjust to the time difference. The thought of landing after an exhausting flight and then having to face a brand new day was a bit daunting. But hey, maybe I could sleep on the plane. I once slept through an entire flight (Auckland to Calgary) from beginning to end. Maybe flight miracles can happen twice?

 

Though our faces and hearts were optimistic, it was not to be…

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Somewhere, way up high in the sky, amidst this beautiful and seemingly zen window seat view, I got yelled at by the woman in front of me as I was innocently trying to sleep.

I think most people can agree how agonising it is to sleep on planes. No matter what you do there is absolutely no way to get a good night’s sleep or even moderately enjoy yourself. *inhale* You flip through inane magazines, watch movies you don’t really care to watch, half-heartedly read a book, or play chess with the computer and when all of that inevitably fails to entertain you, you toss and turn and pray to the universe that you might get just a small sliver of shut-eye, even though body part after body part is falling torturously to sleep and everything you ever learned about your breath and meditation is coming up short until there you are – somewhere in the sky in no man’s land – questioning your entire life and wondering how you ever found yourself on this god forsaken plane in the first place. *exhale*

Or at least that’s how it is for me.

So back to this woman… at some point during all of this turmoil I suppose I accidentally bumped her chair as I was shifting between uncomfortable positions, and where most people would feel a slight sting of annoyance and shrug it off, she decided to turn around over top of her chair to aggressively poke me and wake me up.

“You kicked my chair,” she just about yelled.

It was apparent that I had ruined her holiday before she even landed at her destination.

I was a bit dazed, but I immediately apologised and told her it wasn’t on purpose. I think most everyone in the world would understand, but no…

You’re making it so I can’t sleep!!” she exclaimed, and then she just stood there looming over me with hatred in her frazzled looking eyes, waiting for a more satisfying response.

So I said, “Yes, well I can’t either because there’s a crazy woman yelling at me…”

….

..

.

Okay I didn’t really say that. I took the boring road and just said I would be more mindful which I guess she accepted because she finally turned around and slumped angrily back down into her chair. But jeez it was a really awkward situation. I mean if I kick your chair, and you yell at me, and I earnestly apologise, then… what more do you want from me? Should I sing you a lullaby? Guide you into savasana? Prostrate myself at your feet? What?

Anyways there wasn’t much getting back to sleep after that, but it didn’t matter. The hours went by and we would be touching down soon enough. Switzerland was finally in sight through the plane window, and that little magical feeling was beginning to set in.

It was happening.

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There’s not much to say about that first day, it was all a bit of a haze. One thing I can say with confidence is that I took the world’s best nap which more than made up for the grind of the flight. We were lucky enough to stay at a friend’s apartment who was out of town, so we had a cozy bed, a kitchen, and a base to make the most of the first day– which was mostly wandering as you might expect.

Zurich is a lovely city with some really nice architecture and even nicer canals. Also, the day had literally PERFECT weather. Clear skies and bright sun. It was so hot and I was so glad I decided to pack shorts, although it turned out to be one of only three or so days where shorts were acceptable attire, and the rest of the time they just took up space. Another thing we learned that day which we had to relearn every week thereafter– grocery stores in Switzerland are closed on Sundays, and many restaurants as well. Just doesn’t happen where I’m from.

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When we finally felt tired from our long day, we decided to hang out with some ducks and get our feet wet in the water…

Well that pretty much sums up day one.. so that’s one down and another sixty or so to write about.

Have a great weekend everyone! xo

here

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here
is where
men hold their breath
and let their voices
sound in roars
over the
mind’s
eye.


I snapped this photo while hiking yesterday and felt like there was a poem in it somewhere. Short, but sweet… hope you enjoyed.

As always,

thank you for reading.

xo

Highlining… sort of

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The first time I tried highlining I became a butterfly.

When I say that I don’t mean I bloomed into this beautiful creature that went soaring to new and wondrous heights. No, no.

I mean my belly was full of butterflies… in the “I’m so nervous I could pee” kind of way. As I was shimmying my way out onto the line, butterflies stacked on top of butterflies in the pit of my stomach until eventually my whole body was taken over and I was just a rigid sack of human nerves. An overwrought human butterfly, but without the wings or grace.

What I’m trying to say is that I was terrified. So, so nervous. And scared. And wondering what I was doing and why I was doing it. I’m afraid of heights, despite having a skydive under my belt, but that’s not even the number one reason to be anxious. The biggest reason is failing to be able to pull myself up to the line and thus being stranded and in need of rescue. You see, when you suck at highlining as much as I do, you fall a lot. And that means spending a lot of time dangling under the line. The transition from line to dangle is the fall, aka the fun part. I don’t mind falling. Honestly it’s pretty fun. The height doesn’t bother me too much, either.

The anxiety inducing/worrying/scary bit is the idea that after I fall, I’ll be trapped under the line because I won’t be strong enough to get back up. See, when you’re dangling from your leash you have no choice but to muscle your way back up over that line. Let me tell you… that shit ain’t easy. Climbing that leash like I didn’t almost fail gym semester after semester in school was not something I was looking forward to. So now you understand the butterfly reference.

The first time I sat on the line my breath was frozen in my throat, my legs dangling in the open air like two planks of wood, my eyes fixated on the impossible task in front of me: stand up. That’s it. That’s the only goal. Sounds SO easy, right? On land, when I’m just slacklining in the park, I can manage alright. I’m not walking monstrously long lines yet, but I can walk a decent one. Forwards and backwards. With much focus and effort, of course, but I can do it. Up that high in the air it’s harder. A lot harder. The line itself is heavier, it moves more, it’s a lot longer and takes a lot more skill to master. Did I do it? Not a chance.

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I couldn’t stand up. I could hardly even get into position to try to stand up. I just fell and hung dangling in the air over and over. But miraculously, to my total and utter surprise, I could pull myself back up to the line. Muscles that I didn’t even know were there banded together to help me and I managed the whole day without needing a rescue.

It was exhilarating, something wholly new and different. It was challenging and exciting and it was filling me with energy. So I went back a second time. I still couldn’t stand up. But slowly I was making progress. Fine tuning my body position and reading the line a bit better with each attempt.

The third time I went back, magic happened.

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I stood on the line. For like, a couple full seconds. It was bewildering. I remember as soon as I was up I thought oh my god it’s happening. I’m up! I’m up! I can’t believe it! This is amazing! Look at me everyone, I’m standing!! A miracle has happened, the most amazing thi- and then before I knew it I was down again. But let me tell you, that moment, though so painfully brief, was glorious. One of my shiniest moments to date.

If you want to see the moment in all it’s real time glory, I invite you over to my instagram where I posted the video that my beautiful wondrous friend somehow managed to capture for me.

Now I’m hooked. I am busting with excitement at the idea of actually taking a few steps on that thing. Highlining is going to be more and more a part of my life, I know.

So that’s it. An account of my first highlining adventures.

As always, much love to you all! Happy hump day!

And thank you for reading 🙂

xo

Ziplining through Mexico

Ziplining through Mexico

A discovery I’ve made about myself in the last year or so is that I absolutely love having an adrenaline rush.

It was never the case when I was a kid or even a teenager. In fact when my family went to Canada’s Wonderland when I was very young I distinctly remember feeling overwhelmed at the idea of being on even the tamest rides. Seriously. I was standing behind my parents in line for one of those rides where you’re sitting in a little pod that lifts you up and spins you around upside down (you stay in by momentum). It’s a ride that isn’t even that interesting, let alone scary, but I can recall with great detail being a little girl in that line. The fear, the terror, the panic setting in as we inched closer and closer to the front of the line. It didn’t seem to matter how many smiling faces I observed from other park patrons, I ended up bawling at the prospect of actually getting on that ride and in the end I opted to just watch my parents go on. There I was, a little redheaded girl crying lamely as this gentle baby ride whirled her parents around for a gripping and worrisome 2 minutes. Afterward they took me on one of those old wooden roller coasters to show me how fun they could be and that there was nothing to be afraid of, and that thing was so wildly out of control to me that it only solidified my aversion to thrill rides and adrenaline sports for essentially my entire childhood.

Fast forward to now, and that couldn’t be more different. I love roller coasters, sling shot rides, sky diving, giant swing rides, hell even just regular swings. You don’t get much of an adrenaline rush on a park swing but I still love it. That little bit of weightlessness is very relaxing and enjoyable to me. When I was traveling around New Zealand back in November I would always go and swing in the campsite playground as my brother and father took care of all the campervan chores. One particular campsite had this miniature zipline and I probably rode that thing, no joke, about 15 times. Probably would have done it more if not for a bunch of actual kids showing up and spoiling my fun. I never managed to have a proper ziplining adventure in New Zealand, though it was something I wanted to do, so when Pam and I were in Mexico last month and I saw that zip-lining was on the list of potential activities I thought now is the time.

Fortunately for me Pam is very adventurous and easy going so it was not at all hard to convince her to go like it was to convince my brother in NZ. We took some time off from lazing around on the beach and flipped our way through some catalogues. We found an adventure that seemed to work well for us: it boasted various ziplines that take you through the mexican jungle (including the longest in Mexico — the superman), as well as some offroading UTV fun, and even a random water slide.

Normally these tours are provided to fairly large groups and take about 6 hours, but Pam and I were lucky enough to be guided on a private tour for two and so we finished in less than half that time.
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Upon arrival we were taken through a brief orientation by our tour guides, going over the basics of the equipment and safety. The most important thing for us of course is to get the basics of the hand signals so we could understand how to get from one end to the other without getting stuck. Which I can’t imagine happens too often.

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The circuit they take you through provides some pretty fun mission impossible type activities. We rappelled, climbed a woven ladder, and then shimmied our way awkwardly across a rope (above). Which, to be honest, was the most worrisome part of the day for me.

Next up was the UTV adventure, which Pam took the wheel for.

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Pam’s huge smile and my look of concern makes me laugh every time. We only nearly toppled over once. Not too bad for our first off roading experience.

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After that you take a little hike up to the Superman, the longest zipline in mexico where they lay you on your belly, load you up with weights and then send you careening off a cliff at 100 km/h to sail overtop the jungle.

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You can’t even see the landing zone from up there.

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As you can imagine it’s very exciting. You really feel a bit like you’re flying, and the views of the forest are obviously beautiful.

So that was our fun adventure day. Something to do when you need a break from playing in the ocean or lying on the beach.

If you’ve ever thought about going I’d highly recommend it.

Have any of you ever been? Experiences?

Thanks for reading! xo

Lucky or not quite so lucky?

Recently I’ve been paying more attention to the Daily Prompts that wordpress provides. The prompt today was ‘luck’. Seconds later I went to youtube and saw that a channel I follow posted this video:

I thought it was pretty strange that the subject of luck came up twice like that in the span of just a few seconds, but then I remembered that it was St Patrick’s day and suddenly it made sense. I hadn’t remembered that today was St. Patrick’s day, yet amazingly, I still managed to wear green underwear and order a green tea latte. Very lucky, indeed. Or perhaps my subconscious cares a lot more about this day than I do. In any case, the video is pretty interesting and you should take the 6 minutes to watch it if you can.

He talks about how luck can be looked at as a meeting of the conscious mind with chance. Or rather, that our own reactions to the curve balls and opportunities that life throws our way can actually empower us to, in a sense, create our own luck.

For example, today I really wanted to write a blog post here, but I also wanted to practice yoga, and I only had time for one or the other. I chose to go to yoga because I’m trying to make it a daily habit and I’ve been going every other day until now at around 5pm. So I got myself organised, grabbed my mat, walked to the subway, paid for the subway, rode the subway, and walked all the way to the studio only to discover that it’s closed on Friday afternoons.

Was I unlucky because I wasted all that time going there to not be able to practice yoga? Or was I actually lucky because the fact that the studio was closed meant that I had time to write this blog post?

I definitely felt the latter, but in general when I think of luck I tend not to put a lot of weight on it. Luck is such an intangible concept… you can’t really pin anything concrete on it. It’s just a word in our speech that we use to describe how we feel about random situations. When things work out surprisingly well for us we call it lucky and when they don’t we call it unlucky.

On the other hand when I look at my life I do feel very lucky. Or I guess I just feel grateful, but it can’t hurt to try and cultivate that elusive “luck” that may or may not be floating around out there. To me it all comes back to what you put into the universe you get back from the universe. The law of attraction. All that jazz.

 

Did anything happen today to make you feel lucky or unlucky? Let me know in the comments what you thought about the video if you ended up watching it.

Happy St Patrick’s day, everyone!

Thanks for reading xo

Alarm woes

What do you do when alarm clocks actually don’t work for you anymore?

Everyday my alarm is set to go off at 7:00 am and everyday at 7:00 am my subconscious either hits the snooze or outright dismisses the alarm without my consent. I swear to god my body will hit the snooze 15 times without my ever having noticed it. I have trained myself to be immune to alarms over many many years. What to do about this?

I have tried changing up the sound. I regularly set new and excitingly obnoxious tones and songs in the hopes that one will be annoying enough to properly wake me up, but it doesn’t work. I’ve tried putting the alarm across the room and setting multiple alarms, but none of these things have been effective enough to stir me. Fortunately I mostly work afternoons and evenings so until now it hasn’t mattered much if I overslept, and generally I get to bed fairly early so I’m mostly awake at 8:30 or 9 which isn’t too bad. The problem is that in the coming weeks I have been scheduled to work at 7 in the morning which means I need to be up by 6 at the latest and that’s quite the jump from 8:30 or 9, you know? I prefer to run off my own biological clock. Now I’m scratching my head wondering how on earth I’m going to manage to wake up before the sun, which I hate. I seriously HATE when I wake up and it’s still dark. It feels wrong.

I remember once I had to leave to get to work at 4 am and man was that ever a disaster. I had to set my alarm for 3:30 but I was too afraid to sleep in case I overslept so instead I just stayed awake the whole night and spent the entire day exhausted and grumpy.

I follow this guy on instagram whose handle is Before5am. His tagline says “Success starts before 5am,” and I think there must be some merit to that so I’m always keen to read his thoughts on the subject. Recently he wrote a post with tips on how to wake up early and he offers some really solid advice like listening to music first thing, looking at your goals, using motivational images, or playing motivational videos… all of these things sound great. My struggle is that I don’t ever have that moment of consciousness whereby I can implement any of these strategies.

I’m the girl that needs the alarm that’s not really an alarm but rather a pair of robotic arms that come out of the wall in the morning and tip the mattress over to spill you onto the floor. I think that might work. Or every morning a pack of puppies is released into my apartment to wreak havoc and chaos. I’d get up for that, too. I’m sure we could brainstorm plenty of ridiculously innovative but impractical alarm scenarios like these, in fact we should.

In all honesty, though, I think it’s a smart habit to wake up early. I’d really like to get in the habit of waking up at the same time everyday. Do any of you have any tips for this? It would be great to have a proper morning routine. Wake up, write for a couple hours, post on the blog, enjoy some chai, then go to work. It would be very classical hipster, which I love.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

 

 

My first skydive experience

My first skydive experience

The other day I messaged my best friend in Calgary to help me think of something to write about on here. She gave me two suggestions: the first was to start an angry protest against bronies (a bit controversial and unnecessary, though appreciated) and the second was to write about falling from a plane in New Zealand. As the title suggests I decided to opt for the latter. So… let’s talk about my skydive in Abel Tasman.

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I had it in my head long before I left for New Zealand that it was something I wanted to do. I had never thought about skydiving much before in my life. Any thoughts I did have about it were along the lines of: skydiving is for crazy people, extreme dare-devils, adrenaline junkies, idiots, and people brave enough to potentially die early. So, not something I had EVER actually considered. Not seriously, anyway. To be blunt I was a bit of a wimp about the subject and would likely have remained so if I hadn’t met a particular boy.

Typical. “A boy came into my life and then I couldn’t help but jump out of a plane.” That tired old story, ya know? Riiiiiight. It’s true though. Sometimes it just takes meeting someone with a fresh perspective to make you think of doing things you wouldn’t have before. So this boy I met (who went on to become one of my best friends and eventually my boyfriend), mentioned casually in the early stages of us knowing each other that he had sky dived before. It wasn’t just ‘I went skydiving once on vacation’ (like me), no, he decided on his 16th birthday that he wanted to skydive and so took a course to become solo certified and start jumping out of planes… I mean, I don’t know what you guys did for your 16th birthdays but when I turned 16 I was still nervous to give presentations in front of the class let alone board a plane with a parachute on my back and jump out from 10 000 feet. Alone. He said he had finished about 80 jumps before selling his parachute to move to Toronto, and that’s not even a big number. His father, who decided to take up skydiving with his son, has something like 500 jumps under his belt, and my tandem master had 1980 + jumps!

But anyways, I digress. The way he spoke about sky diving made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal. “Tons of people do it”, he said. It was just so casual. Like listening to someone talk about hockey, only I was actually interested. I think this was the moment where the realm of sky diving made its transition in my head from ‘that thing that only crazy dare devils do’ to something I could potentially do. I became fixated with the notion of free falling through the sky. It’s really pretty poetic, don’t you think? You guys know how I love poetic. I became very preoccupied thinking about it. What would it feel like to fall through the air? Is it what flying feels like? What do people think about as they fall? Why do people do it? This is a terrifying thing, how do these people not realise??

At some point I made up my mind that one day in my life, one day soon, I would be a sky diver. I had no idea when but I knew without a doubt that it would happen. Eventually it occurred to me that if I was going to do it, I should do it in one of the world’s most beautiful places that I coincidentally would be headed to in a year’s time: New Zealand.

Fast forward about 10 months to when my father, brother and I are gallivanting around the NZ countryside in our camper van. Amidst the rolling green hills, the mass of sheep, and the impossible to pronounce Maori road names, I finally piped up to speak what had been on my mind for months and months.

“I’m going to go sky diving on my birthday next week.”

I remember my brother’s reaction very clearly. A very quizzical look crossed his face that I know he reserves for only those moments that ignite great amounts of skepticism.

“Actually?” he asked.

“Yes, actually!” I said with a defiant grin on my face.

Ha! Your wimpy little sister wants to jump out of a plane. Are you shocked? Yes, be shocked! For I am Heather and I am not afraid.

I affirmed my seriousness with confidence and gusto, though under the surface I was still asking myself the same thing. Really, Heather? Are you sure? If anyone is going to die sky diving it’s probably going to be you. But I just kept saying to them, yes I want to do this. Yes, I’m serious. Convincing them, but more convincing myself. I think I thought that once I said it out loud, I’d be stubborn enough to follow through even if I was trembling with fear when the moment came to board the plane.

I decided on Skydive Abel Tasman. I read the website and felt comfortable with the team. One thing stood out for me from their FAQ…

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That’s pretty convincing isn’t it? Instills confidence, has a bit of humour to it. Yes, I liked this place. Hit by 3 busses in a row, hah. Not possible! I’m golden.

On the day we were meant to be boarding our ferry to the south island (and subsequentally heading to Abel Tasman which is on the tip of that island), the earthquake struck Kaikoura. I woke up that morning to an onslaught of messages on Facebook from friends in Canada asking me if I was okay. I was very confused to say the least. I made my way to the communal kitchen of the campsite and discovered that everyone had woken up with the same confusion as me. None of us had felt the earthquake. We were a long way away and safe and sound on the North Island.

We were told that ferries were suspended for at least a week. With our plans gone awry, we had to come up with a new plan of attack which consequently meant delaying my skydive, much to my disappointment as I had been building up my nerves. Later that morning I hopped across the road from the campsite to go get a coffee at the local cafe. After ordering I took a number and a seat, where I was told to wait and they would bring the coffee to me. 5 minutes went by, 10 minutes went by. No coffee in sight. 15 minutes, 20 minutes… they’ve clearly forgotten me, but I’m too Canadian to say anything so I just waited patiently and threw some longing looks in the barista’s direction. Sure enough she walks by me and goes “oh geez! I’m so sorry. I completely forgot your coffee!” Now, you may be wondering what the point of this story is when I’m meant to be talking about skydiving. Well, this happened to me 3 days in a row, in the same cafe, twice forgotten by the same employee and once by a new one, but MAN. Three times in a row? Totally forgotten? That never happens! That’s weird, am I right? (And if you’re wondering why we were even in the same place for three days in a row it’s because of an even longer winded story involving me cracking my head open on a rock, blacking out briefly, waking up covered in my own blood, being carried back to a hike entrance and whisked off to the hospital (all on my birthday) to determine if my brain was going to be okay. Spoiler: I was fine. Or at least no more out of sorts than normal.)

ANYWAYS, the point of the cafe story is that they forgot me 3 times in a row. Now remember the likelihood of dying skydiving, as per the Abel Tasman website FAQ, was the same as being hit by a bus 3 times in a row. To me these became the same thing.

Coffee forgotten x3 = getting run over by a bus x3

I’m going to die. Oh my god I’m going to die skydiving, it’s a sign! Also how did I smash my head open on a rock? Why was there an earthquake the day before I was meant to go?? I’m definitely being given warning signs. Do not do it. Abort abort abort. Just go back to wimpy life. It’s safe there. 

Both the doctor I saw and my brother declared that I should 100% definitely not go skydiving on this trip because that’s just not something you do after smashing your head open. But to be honest, I felt fine after a couple days and I wasn’t going to let anything deter me from jumping out of that plane. I told them I appreciated their concerns but I was dead set on doing it. Luckily for me they respected that and supported my decision.

Fast forward six days and we were finally on a ferry to the south island. I had decided that night that tomorrow was the day. We would camp one night, and then drive over to Abel Tasman in time for the afternoon. Late that evening, I made a reservation for the following day at 2 pm (because apparently it’s no big deal to just book a last minute sky dive. Again, so casual).

I didn’t really sleep that night. I was excessively nervous and overly excited. I honestly couldn’t believe that I, Heather, was going to sky dive. This was a big deal for me, something I had been dreaming and fretting about constantly, and it was finally going to make it’s way into reality.

We arrived at the centre at my booked time and after hopping out of the camper van I looked around to see a completely vacant parking lot. Weird. I entered the building, butterflies literally busting out of my belly, and saw that there was almost no one there. I approached the desk clerk only to discover that they hadn’t even received my booking because I put it in too late. Seriously is this EVER going to happen?? Fortunately I was able to get a booking for that day, I just had to wait a couple hours before someone would be available to come tumble out of the plane with me… so very anticlimactic.

I know what you’re thinking… Heather how long can you write a blog post about sky diving before you actually talk about skydiving?

Okay, okay. I’ll get on with it…

After waiting around the drop zone for a couple hours people finally started to arrive. That tangible, tingly, buzz of energy started pouring in from a slew of apprehensive and eager first time sky divers which totally reignited me. After a few introductions, weighing in, and signing our lives away on a piece of paper (yeah yeah I die, my own fault, whoops), we were shepherded into a little cinema room to learn from an instructional video what was going to happen and how we should behave during the fall. I literally can’t remember a single thing about it. I do remember that after it ended we had to decide from how high we wanted to fall: either 9000, 13 000, or 16 500 ft.

Can you guys guess what I went for?

16 500 ft (duh)! All the way up, please and thank you! If I’m doing this I’m going as high as possible, falling as long as possible, and prolonging this sensation as much as nature will allow me.  From that height you “enjoy a 20 min scenic flight, up to 70 seconds of freefall and then 3-5 min under the parachute.” Yup, okay, that all sounds pretty good to me.

It was time.

I was lead to the backroom of the centre where all the tandem masters were packing their parachutes and given my jumpsuit. After suiting up I was lead over and introduced to my tandem master, whose name was Scruffy. I stood in front of Scruffy and he stood in front of me, laying out all of the equipment that was paramount to hurdling us safely to the ground. As I was stepping through straps and being tightened into fancy foreign skydiver gear he was explaining the specifics of the process… telling me about my oxygen mask going up, what he needed from me during the initial jump (arms in, legs tucked behind), etc. All the good stuff. I was nodding with exceptional enthusiasm and paying diligent attention, trying to take everything in as best I could. But, to be honest, the whole thing happened so quickly that in the end I was basically just like…

yeah you’ve got this Scruffy. What a pro, I don’t need to do anything.

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And honestly that’s pretty much true. The tandem masters take care of everything. They are trained to pack the parachute, operate the gear, strap you in, take you up in the plane, keep you calm and happy, jump out, get in proper position, pull the parachute, have fun with you in your video, guide you down to the drop zone and finally plop you safely on the ground… all in the span of a half hour. All you have to do is get strapped to them like a parasite and follow their instructions as best you can remember. You’re basically wearing this critical person as a backpack and hoping that everything goes according to plan.

I was trying to hone my concentration on feeling excited, breathing, and being hyper aware so I could take in the whole experience without letting fear get in the way.  I’d say I was about 90% excitement and 10% fear at this point. Before I knew it the plane was ready and it was time to wave goodbye to my dad and brother, time to put one foot in front of the other and to follow Scruffy to the door. There were two other teams jumping with me, and the plane was pretty small, so we packed in like sardines in our jumping order. Scruffy and I were second and so we smushed up close to the pilot on the floor of the plane, Scruffy behind me and the first pair of jumpers directly in front of me. The hatch was closed and off we went, up and up and up into the sky. Headed for 16 500 ft.

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It was an absolutely beautiful day; crystal clear skies, a gentle breeze, bright shining sun. I felt so lucky considering the amount of rain we had faced in the weeks prior, and I took in everything as we ascended more and more. Abel Tasman is a huge national park along the ocean, and from that height and by the grace of clear skies, I could even see Mt Taranaki on the North Island. All the way up I kept my breathing long and even, just looking out the window and enjoying the view. The higher we went, the higher my nerves, and the higher my excitement. It’s a pretty short 20 minutes cramped in that tiny plane, which is louder than you like, going higher than you realise, when you consider that the way back down is a pretty unusual plummeting.  I was wearing my oxygen mask and thinking gee I hope Scruffy is definitely remembering to strap me to him. At some point I remember him saying in my ear “you’re strapped in. From here, you don’t go anywhere without me.” It made me feel a lot better.

Then the plane door opened in front of me, and that’s when it all really hit me… suddenly my fear and excitement could no longer be put into percentages because the intensity of both were just amassing inside me like they were forming their own little planet in my chest. Planet Holy shit, I am really doing this. It all becomes abruptly real when you look down and realise that there’s nothing between you and the earth from 16 500 ft but open air. The first team in front of me moved swiftly into position, and then poof, they were gone. Now it was our turn.

Scruffy and I inched forward like a pair of awkward siamese twins, him angling me to the door where my feet escaped and tasted freedom from the plane for the first time. I was held in position, my body perched to fall, my heart racing, my mind a flurry of anticipation. But I was smiling. He tucked my arms in, reminding me to hold them to my chest until I felt him tap me, giving me the all clear to release my arms and have fun. I think I said “yes, okay”, or something, but there was no real appreciation of his instruction to be had because I was preoccupied by the fact that I was dangling out of a plane door. He grabbed my head and leaned it back on his shoulder, we rocked for a brief second, I took a deep breath and then…

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You can see in these pictures that, immediately upon exit, everything I had been told about keeping my arms into my chest went out the window and instead I just went woooooooooooooooo, and threw those arms up like I-just-don’t-care. I was out the door, my body desperately trying to orient itself by flailing around with poor Scruffy behind me. I can imagine what went through his head, ohp another flailer, hahaha. But he was such a pro, he just used his arms and legs to contain mine and held me together so he could orient us in the right direction.

I was falling, falling, falling, and wow… how do I explain it? It felt absolutely… breathtaking. Dazzling. Surprising. Exhilarating. It’s total weightlessness, a feeling of extreme liberty and freedom. In the span of milliseconds I had become a skydiver and it was such a rush of intensity I was hardly ready for it.

A lot of people I’ve talked to imagine that stomach-lurching sensation like going down a hill on a rollercoaster, but it’s nothing like that. I just felt the shock of the wind blowing against me, the surprising cold, the breath caught in my lungs. I was falling, yes, but it’s a bit hard to get perspective from up there because you’re so high up that your senses can’t make heads or tails of where you are and so you’re just a bit disoriented. But oh man is it ever gorgeous. Those 70 seconds of freefall were so intoxicating. I tried my best to take in everything around me and admire the scenery from the sky which is a bit hard to do when you’re up there and there’s a camera in your face, haha.

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My photographer’s job was to get in front of me and encourage me to make silly gestures, blow kisses, look cool, etc. I mean… how am I supposed to concentrate on this when I’m falling through the sky?! Actually can we side track for a sec and talk about how amazing and crazy it would be if you were a tandem master or sky dive photographer?

What do you do for work? I throw people out of planes. Or I jump out of planes and take pictures of people.

I wish that was my job.

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When the parachute finally caught us I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude and awe for the experience I just had. Being under the chute was mesmerizing and relaxing. Your body calms down and suddenly you’re just floating like a wish from a dandelion, gently descending. The earth was approaching, coming closer and closer, and I just exchanged little bits of conversation with Scruffy and enjoyed my limbs dangling in the air. It was all coming to an abrupt end and I felt that tinge of bittersweetness. On the one hand I was so glad and relieved that I survived, but on the other I really didn’t want it to be over already. So badly I wanted to hold on to that sense of complete freedom. Mere minutes had passed since I fell from the plane and, just like that, I was plopped down in the grass, safely on the ground once again.

All in all I call it a sweeping success. I was on such a high for days after. Honestly I could not stop talking about it… must have driven my father and brother crazy.

My dad gave me a big hug when it was all done and told me I was very brave.

I felt completely invincible. My face minutes after landing says it all. I love this photo because I can actually see the wonder in my eyes…

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I had to snap about the occasion, obviously. 🙂 🙂

So there it is, my first (but definitely not my last) skydive experience.

If any of you guys have ever been, I’d love to know!

 

Thanks for reading xoxo

I know it was a long post ;p

 

4 years on wordpress

This morning I was notified via my wordpress app that today is in fact, my 4 year anniversary here. 4 years ago, wayyyyy back when I was but a wee university student, I decided to start a blog.

I remember having an epiphany about it one night. I remember it was very early in the am, maybe 1 or 2, but for some reason it struck me, I MUST start a blog. What would it be about? I didn’t know (I still don’t). What was I hoping to accomplish with it? No clue (and still clueless). All I knew was that it felt like something I wanted to do all of a sudden. So I went with it.

It was just a glimmer of an idea in my mind one night and for the first year I was really into it. After that I somehow got a bit mystified as to what I wanted from this and so it’s been more or less teetering on obsolescence for years. Like a fading friendship. You want to be friends, you want to see each other more, but somehow you only manage to meet for coffee once or twice a year. Before you know it you talk about the person in the past tense or think “I ought to call them”, but then it’s been so long and feels like it would be awkward. That’s pretty much me and my blog. You guys know… every entry is me coming back saying, “I’m going to blog more in 201x”, and then vanishing again for months.

My stats say it all: in 2013 I published 172 articles. In 2014- 34 (what a drop already!!). In 2015- a wistful 20, and last year a very dismal 15.

Despite my poor publishing history and utter lack of commitment, I’m still glad that I started writing here 4 years ago. Here’s to me for writing on the odd occasion, here’s to you guys for being so wonderful and taking the time to read, here’s to another year with this little blog of mine.

Cheers all around!

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2017 life

Hey guys do any of you remember when I said I was going to blog part 2 about my trip to New Zealand? Yeah, neither do I.

I feel like it’s time for some changes around here. I really miss writing on this blog regularly. I miss reading everyone’s work and everyone’s comments and all that jazz. The truth is I haven’t been writing too much poetry lately, nor reading it. It’s funny because when I moved to Toronto a while back I didn’t think my life would change that much other than I’d just be in a new location. Wow, was I wrong.

New location, new jobs, new living situation, new people, new friends, new hobbies, new weather. All of these things force massive change on you whether you’re noticing or not. Old habits are ripped out from under your feet and replaced with new ones. Moving here was the best decision I ever made but I definitely left a few pieces of myself behind, and they are pieces that I miss. I really want to get back into writing and sharing my poetry this year. I’ve heard a lot of talk from people saying 2016 was a terrible year and they were glad when it was over, but to me 2016 was one of the best. I faced some of the most intense challenges of my life. I grew so much.

I’m starting a new job this year, one much more in line with my authentic self and I’m excited about it. I want to learn more, do more, grow more… make a contribution, you know? 2017 feels like a very important year for some reason. More so than previous years. It’s just a feeling, of course, but I’m rolling with it.

Okay before I get too into 2017 I do want to share one particular 2016 highlight with all of you…

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I went sky diving!! That’s me! 16 500 feet in the air! I never ever in a million years ever thought I’d be brave enough to go skydiving, but look! There. I did it. Like it ain’t no thang.

Hope you’re all well and enjoying 2017 so far! 🙂 Here’s to a great year.

xoxo