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13,000 ft in the air with nothing but a hot veteran strapped to my back

So that definitely happened last month.

I’ve been talking about crossing skydiving off of my bucket list for AT LEAST 10 years now and I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it felt to cross that one off finally! I had purchased a Groupon in May on a whim when I had some extra money, otherwise I’m positive I would have put this off til my 30th birthday.  The day before my twentyCOUGHeighthCOUGH birthday I loaded up my extremely hungover BFFL Diana and we headed out to Lincoln (about 40 minutes from Sacramento) to Skydive Sacramento. I’m actually really surprised that I wasn’t more nervous because looking back on that video my palms get all sweaty and my heart races a bit. I was absolutely fine right up until the moment I realized I was about to leap out of an airplane 13,000 feet up…which was about 3 seconds before we actually jumped out, and by then it was too late for regrets. I’m so glad I upgraded to the higher elevation because I actually had time to process what the heck was going on as we were falling at 120+mph for a good 60 seconds.

Kurt, my jump instructor was a really cool guy, he is in the military (where he started skydiving) so this must be a cake walk compared to his day job I’m sure, by the time he had gotten to me he was on his 8th jump for the day. As soon as he pulled the cord and we could actually have a conversation all I could say for the first few minutes was “HOLY SHIT, YOU DO THIS EVERYDAY?!” I’m pretty sure I said that repeatedly because the adrenaline rush is like no other, not to mention the force of deploying that parachute on your body (if you could only see the bruises). I can see why he would do it, adventure aside, the ride down is absolutely beautiful. We could see pretty much all of the Sacramento area and you could see the Sutter Buttes, the Sierras, some distant clouds, and we were floating higher than birds. It was pretty breathtaking, I wish I could have taken my camera up there.  Next time I’m definitely strapping a GoPro to my head!

I’m already looking forward to my next dive, and I’m legitimately considering going through their “Accelerated Freefall” program where you do a jump school and learn to dive alone and become certified.  Now that I know what to expect I think I could have a lot more fun with it. I definitely made a couple mistakes that I won’t be repeating. Lucky for you all you can benefit from my missteps!

Val’s DO’s & DON’Ts for your first skydive:

DO eat a meal before because you will be STARVING after all that adrenaline runs its course

DON’T pig out- just in case

DO wear comfortable clothes

DON’T wear yoga pants and a v-neck if you’re busty like me. the yoga pants offered ABSOLUTELY no protection from those bruises and my boobs practically flew out of my shirt

DO bring a friend to root you on

DON’T forget to tip!!

DO upgrade to the higher elevation jumps and get the video & photo packages!!

DON’T be scared and silent, there was a quiet girl on my plane and she practically got punted out of the plane without warning probably because she was so freaked out already, I gasped when they jumped because no one expected it so fast, normally you count down lol

DO remember that as long as you follow the rules and follow the instructions your instructor gives you are  SAFE. you have a better chance of dying driving to the jump zone than you do jumping out of an airplane with a certified instructor strapped to you and 2 parachutes.

DON’T let the waivers of liability and the video they make you watch scare you off.

DO GO!!! Just do it!! It’ll be the craziest thing you do all year and everyone will think you’re a total badass even though all you did was let someone throw you out of a plane.  :)


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life is just too damn short

I may have bit off more than I can chew with this whole resolution bucket list thing which I soon realized as soon as my work schedule and school schedule took over my life leaving me with only 1 day off a week…

This last week one of my coworkers that I’ve had the pleasure of working with for almost 3 years suddenly passed away. He was just barely 21.

Life is so fucking short, and its in these horrible moments that I’m reminded that nothing else matters but living life and loving it. These are those bigger picture moments. I have the option of asking, screaming at god, why? why him? why now? why not me? But instead of being angry that someone so sweet, caring, open minded, kind was taken out of this world too early, I have to draw something positive from this and grow, that’s what life is about anyway, right? Anyway, back to my point.

Before all this happened I was ready to give up because I only had 1 weekend left to get it done and no energy, my resolution wasn’t looking too good. A couple weeks ago we had a team dinner and I mentioned the idea to JK (his name is Joshua but we call him JK), because he literally just turned 21 and he was all for my idea of going to karaoke. At first when I found out about his passing I selfisly thought, well for sure I’m not going to go through with this bucket list, how can I celebrate something and act happy when JKs family is going through the worst thing ever? But honestly, I don’t think JK would want me to put my life or dreams, no matter how small, on hold just to be sad. In my time working side by side with him 20 hours or more a week, I had never once seen him angry or upset, well maybe once when he had his first heartbreak and I had to give him the “all girls are crazy anyway, Jk” speech. He was just not the type to dwell on the negative.

robin & JK at work playing with mocha mustaches

I truly believe people come into your life for a reason, and they leave it for a reason. The only way I can even BEGIN to wrap my head around what happened this week is that JK was brought into my life for a short amount of time to teach me something. He was so bright, so funny, he had a unique and quirky humor, he approached life with childlike innocence, was open minded, non judgmental and took life in stride. And that doesn’t even begin to describe all his amazing qualities. The only positive thing I can bring out of this dark time is that he was our lives for such a short time so we could learn to be as wonderful as he was, and trust me, you never forget someone like JK that is taken out of this world way too early.

I know it might seem like a coping-cop out but honestly, wouldn’t you rather celebrate the life someone lived rather than mourn their loss? Everyone copes a little different and after a few days of crying non stop I’m ready to celebrate his life and honor his memory by trying to take a little piece of him with me wherever I go, whatever I do. To be a little more like JK.

This weekend I strapped on my happy face and went out with my friends despite being totally emotionally drained. Saturday I gathered up everyone I wanted to cheer me on and we went to the Pine Cove Tavern where I signed up for my karaoke debut. My song of choice was Spice Up Your Life by the Spice Girls which I think is totally appropriate since the opening lyrics are “when you’re feeling sad and low, we will take you where you wanna go, smiling dancing everything is free, all you need is positivity” and besides, who doesn’t love some Spice Girls! I won’t bother you with pictures or video of the event because lets be honest- it wasn’t pretty. But I was really excited that I got to cross this off my bucket list, because seriously, you really never know when its your last day here. I think it was the perfect way to honor JKs memory this weekend by going after something I’ve always wanted to try, and that- had circumstances been different- he would have been right beside me helping me belt it out.

I’m so glad I had the pleasure of knowing such a great person like JK and my heart aches for his family and closest friends, he was like our little brother at work and I cant even begin to imagine what they’re going through. Thank you JK for being such a shining example of what it is to be an amazing person and thank you for making me push through and be courageous enough to try karaoke. Thanks friend.

And since I don’t want to end this post on such a depressing and sad note I’ve attached a video of the original song, in case you’re unfamiliar with the wonderful Spice Girls. If you were there this weekend at karaoke… this is what it SHOULD HAVE sounded like. :)

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Welcome 2012! I’m excited to see you new year! Like every year I like to set my resolutions for the year and for the most part I stick to them (5 out of 7 for 2011), but this year I feel differently. Usually my resolutions read more like a to-do list, and honestly everything on my list this year were things I’d be doing or attempting anyway, like applying to Art Center or eating better. Last year was a big experimental year and I learned and grew a lot from it. This year I feel stronger in myself and who I am and where I’m going and I’d like to try something different.

I’ve been keeping a “bucket list” since I was about 17, every once in a while I add to it. There are silly things on there that when I was 17 I thought I’d never do them (like move downtown), some are entirely aspirational like “live the American dream (marriage, house, kids)”. Either way I haven’t really attempted to go out of my way to complete them, they just are happening as I go- like participating in an art show last year- that was a bucket list item for me as well as a resolution. This year my goal is to complete or attempt (because some take time like learning French or the guitar) one bucket list item a month, that’s 12 for the whole year.

First up for January I am going to cross “karaoke” off my bucket list. Yes I’ve never gone, and to be honest I’m having anxiety about it but we will see how it goes, I think I need to get my hands on a list of songs so I can even see if I know any of them well enough to sing them in front of drunk people at a bar. I’m not really sure what else I’ll attempt this year but I do know that skydiving and riding a motorcycle are coming up this year whether I’m ready or not.

In addition to attempting to cross off some bucket list items this year I feel like I’ve grown out of my personal manifesto I wrote a little over a year ago, so keep your eyes peeled for a new one sometime soon, I’m still brainstorming what I want out of the next chapter of my life. My old personal manifesto really helped me on days when my self esteem was at an all time low or I was stuck in a negative rut or just feeling bitchy for a little bit, its definitely something I want to continue doing for myself throughout my life. And apparently I’m not the only virgo who thinks a personal manifesto/mission statement is a great idea because one of my favorite bloggers GalaDarling just posted about writing your own statement, and its definitely worth the read if you want to set a positive direction for your life and stick to it.

Anyway, I’m really excited to start 2012, things can only go up and I feel like I’m not the only one fired up for a new year to begin around here. What are some things you’d like to accomplish this year? Do you keep a bucket list? I’d love to see your lists!