Birthday’s are a big deal for me. I know some people aren’t exactly thrilled about turning a year older but I am grateful for every birthday that I see. And this birthday was a big one because I turned 50! I am now an official card-carrying member of the Fifty and Fabulous Club! I have entered into the second half of my life and I’m excited to see what God has planned for me.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would see my 50th birthday. There were quite a few incidents that occurred over the years that by all intent and purposes should have taken me out. But God said no, I would live! And live I have; in spite of the twist and turns life has taken me on.
As my 50th birthday approached I began to think about how I wanted to celebrate. Turning 50 is a big deal and therefore I knew that I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something that I had never done before. I wanted to do something that I was afraid of doing. I wanted to bring 50 in with a bang. Therefore, the traditional dinner, dancing or spa day was not going to suffice this birthday. Oh, don’t get me wrong, those things are wonderful. For my 49th I treated myself to a day at the spa. From the crown of my head to the soles of my feet I was pampered and it felt marvelous. For my 48th birthday I gave myself a birthday party. Approximately 20 of my friends, Soror’s and colleagues helped me celebrate as we danced the night away. Each year was a great celebration of which I am grateful for, but I wanted this year to be different.
And so, after much deliberation I decided I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday by jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at 11,000 feet! Yes! This 50-year-old woman who has an insane fear of heights went skydiving! What made me think of going skydiving? I wish I could tell you. I will say it was NOT on my bucket list. I never had a desire to jump out of an airplane. I do not ride roller coasters because I’m a scaredy cat! So the thought of skydiving petrified me. I admire people who do things like skydiving and bungee jumping. And I guess my logic said, “if they can do it so can I!”
So I put a plan in motion. First thing, see if there is anyone else as crazy as me who would want to go skydiving. Ironically, there was; my Soror’s. And can I be honest with you? When they said they would, I thought “darn, I really have to do it now.”
The date was set and from that point it was a waiting game. I was so nervous and scared the days leading up to my jump. I would look towards the sky and imagine me falling out of an airplane. I watched videos of other brave souls skydiving, including the 80-year-old woman who almost died skydiving. And every time I watched a video or talked about it, I became more and more nervous. What was I thinking?! Did I have a death wish or something. I laughed with friends as I thought about my mothers reaction to my pending jump. It would have been one of mass hysteria followed by her putting a direct call through to God asking him to send a blizzard. Or maybe she would have burned rubber up I95 so that she could tie me up and hold me hostage until I came to my senses.
After one failed attempt due to the weather, the day had finally arrived! I did not sleep at all and I had knots in my stomach. It was finally time to bring my 50th birthday in with a bang!
My wingman, my boo (at least for 30 minutes) got me all suited up and then we, along with my sisters and their wingmen headed to the plane. Before long we were taking off and the higher we climbed the more nervous I became. I thought about backing down but I knew I’d regret, possibly for the rest of my life, not finishing what I had started. So I went within and began to pray. I was so focused that I did not hear my name being called.
Before long, it was time. Time to jump out of the airplane. I had my instructions….I was ready. I was the second one to jump and when the door opened fear kicked in to high gear. First jumper out. Oh no, it’s my turn. My heart is pounding. My palms are sweaty. And I forgot what I was supposed to do. My wingman and I had made our way to the door. I was expecting a countdown or something so I could be prepared. Instead what I got was, step….OUT!! OMG…..I’m falling!!! I’m falling fast!!! I’m falling from the sky!! I’m screaming!!! My wingman is taking pictures and recording my jump! Then suddenly, WOOSH! Our parachute is released and we are gliding towards the land! What an amazing view!!! It was simply spectacular. The air was cool, not as cold as I thought it would be. My screaming turned to awe as I repeatedly said, “oh my gosh this is amazing.” After about a minute we were back on the ground and I was in complete awe.
Someone asked me what did skydiving do for my life. I pondered that question and can honestly say that has given me confidence. It was a reminder that “I can’t” should never be an option. I accomplished what 99% of the population never will. Skydiving also put life into perspective and reminded me not to take things too serious. Yes, in addition to being an absolutely amazing experience, skydiving was life changing for me.
By now you’re probably wondering if I’d do it again. Well, to answer that question I will refer you back to the title of this blog: you only turn 50 once.