Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Go Big! Transformation At 18,000 Feet

There's only so much you can learn in one place
The more that I wait, the more time that I waste

  I haven't got much time to waste
It's time to make my way
I'm not afraid of what I'll face
But I'm afraid to stay
I'm going down my road and I can make it alone
I'll work and I'll fight till I find a place of my own

  Are you ready to jump?
Get ready to jump
Don't ever look back oh baby
Yes, I'm ready to jump
Just take my hand
Get ready to jump
~ Madonna, from the song "Jump"

Boomer and SMO, Est. July 23, 1997.  Our first date, 16 years ago today, has unequivocally always been our official anniversary.   We were all-in on that night. We jumped.  We knew it.  While there was rampant nervousness throughout the evening, and some initial trepidation with both of us in where we might be headed (read 1978Band-Aid, and Perspective) we were instantly monogamous and committed to each other; bravely stepping into the unknown together for the rest of our lives.  Boomer cherished this date as much as me, sometimes maybe more.

The next cycle of mourning all the "firsts" without my beloved has been unfolding the last week and a half.  It started as I grieved at the 8-month mark of Boomer's passing, nearly losing my mind as I made the poorly timed choice to read an email that had all the makings of bullying and intimidation wrapped in ignorance, insensitivity and arrogance.  Next was July 18 (read Sweet 16) , the absence of and yearning for the physical intimacy and affection of my guy.  Today it continued - - Sweet 16, 2.0.

I knew this day was coming.  I do my best to step lightly into these days of "firsts" (although I tripped heavily in reading that email) with as much loving kindness I can muster for myself.    I've been replaying July 23, 1997 in my mind and heart everyday, while striving to reclaim my inner-strength and courage - - or better still - - discover it at new levels.  Some days I do well.  Others not so much.

I'm designing my life.  A new life.  The life I've known the last 16 years ended on November 14, 2012 (read My Man).  Come to think of it, so did the preceding 33.  Death of your spouse changes you.  You're never the same.  In deep grief you are called to:
1.  Become your highest self - - more than you knew existed.
2.  Bask in your shallowness of character - - stick your head in the stand and live there.
3.  Wither away.

You have choice.  One, two or three?  What's it going to be?  Examine yourself.  Examine your life.  Examine your relationships.  Look at where you are.  Look at who you've been and what you've done.  Or not.   You are called to define what matters - - to you and only you.  Most of what once did matter, no longer does.  In deep grief you are asked:
1.  Who will you now be?
2.  What will you do?
3.  How will you carry on?  

Boomer admired my courage.  He said so fairly often through our years.  He admired the challenges and risks I'd undertaken for myself, both before and while he knew me  - - some successful, others failed still with success in having made the attempt.   For Christmas in 2010, Boomer gave me a gift certificate for hang gliding.  I was so excited.  When I called to book the excursion before we moved to Florida, I was told the company wasn't scheduling any more appointments until they secured a new equipment vendor, one that maintained the equipment to their standard.  I didn't get to hang glide and was instead mailed a refund.  

Each day, during the last 8 months, I am challenged.  Challenged to rise to my highest self or wither away.   The daily challenge is all the more daunting because I am simultaneously working to heal my broken heart and find my path forward without Boomer.  It's extremely difficult, and pisses me off on a regular basis because I so often feel like I'm treading mud in my progress.  Plus, honestly, I don't know who my highest self is.  We have yet to be introduced.  I do know that in order for me to design the new life I thirst for I've got to do something bold.  Go big or don't go.  

It's time to go big.  It's time to jump.   It's time to take the leap of faith.  Just as Boomer and I did 16 years ago.  Trust in knowing I am figuring it out.  Trusting I will not wither away or be broken.  Honor that I am worthwhile and deserving.  I'll continue to grow and rise.  Boomer is telling me to as well (read Three Words).   He's insisting on it.  He always saw more in me than I did.  It's SHOW time.  It's GO time. 

This morning I left my house at 5:20 a.m., a pile of music CDs, walnuts, raisins, slices of pear, and two pictures of Boomer all in tow, heading northeast, 239 miles to Titusville, FL.  My mission:  jump out of an air plane - - at 18,000 feet - - the world's highest tandem jump.  I am a virgin sky diver.  This is my first jump.  I traveled by myself.  Only three people knew of my secret mission:  My daughter, my grief counselor and my friend Lisa, co-conspirator in creating my new personal mantra - - Go Big.

So what possess a 49-year-old woman, recently widowed, to want voluntarily jump out of a air plane?  Death wish?  No, that's not me.  My purpose:  Because I can.  Because I want to (it's been on my bucket list for years).  Because I must.

  1. For me, this is how and where I proverbially get to flip-off bereavement, grief and mourning with my two stubby middle fingers and say, "Suck it, you won't beat me."  
  2. It's my anniversary with Boomer.  A day that will forever be emotion-packed; I need to create another memory to connect with this day.  A pretty damn powerful one too that can stand in solidarity with healing my heart, moving forward, and loving reverence.  An 18,000 foot jump should do it, don't you think?  
  3. My self-esteem is severely fractured.  I need to demonstrate to myself that I have the capacity to be extraordinary; or try believing perhaps that maybe I already am.  I need to teach myself to stand in my truth.  Believe that I matter, and not give a shit what anyone says or thinks about that.  I need to acknowledge that much of the last two years of life has been more misery than joy.  I can't go back and fix anything, but I can stand for my future life; a life where I know and believe that I matter and am worthy of the life I want to create for myself.  
  4. Make up for that lost hang glide excursion - - and put it on high octane - - Boomer would love that.  I know how proud of me he is today.

An 8-hour travel day, which I planned 6-weeks ago, for a single activity that lasted about 20-minutes - - from take off to landing.  Was I scared?  No.  Never.  I was safe (read Tipping).  I had highly skilled, experienced teachers with me.  Thiago (the "h" is silent), my jump partner, has over 2,500 jumps under his belt.  After his own first dive experience, he gave up a 13-year career as a journalist in his native Brazil to become a sky-dive master.  Wow.  I knew I was in good hands with him, listening to his soulful take on sky-diving, paired with the Japanese tattoo writings on his under arm, all words of inspiration:  hope, love, wisdom, faith.  I think I was more afraid that I might change my mind because I wanted to have this experience the way that I did so very much.  I was the first in our group to jump.  I freakin' did a back-flip jumping out of the plane for heaven's sake.  How fantastically cool is that?

It was breathtaking, amazing and spectacular.  I was liberated - - via a back flip and 2 1/2 minute free fall toward the earth at 130 mph.  I was invigorated - - to trust and believe in me; continue to persevere, stand for me, allow myself to pave a road to future happiness my way with Boomer forever in my heart.  I was exhilarated - - discovering my inner hutz pah of grace, calm and peace, at a deeper level, no matter the situation, outcome, or others' opinions.  I was moved to tears - - the young couple from Minnesota, there celebrating a birthday of the man, proposed to his girl when she landed.  So apropos for me to be able to witness their jump today.   It's life changing stuff.  I've been empowered and transformed by the experience of jumping out of a plane at 18,000 feet.   Similar to that of my life with Boomer, when we jumped 16 years ago.   He was with me for all of it today - - smiling, taking pictures, encouraging me to Go Big and continue doing so.

Today I did Go Big - quite a bit actually.  While I'm reeling from the day I've had, it still feels very surreal, and my ears have yet to pop.  I reflect and let it all settle in as I hear Boomer whisper in my right ear (read Left Right), "It's o.k. SMO, you can be proud of yourself too. You deserve it."  

Happy Anniversary Honey.   Today was for me, inspired by you.  xo

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