Saturday, September 4, 2010

Twenty years ago

This picture was taken twenty years ago on September 3, 1990. It's a picture of me when I wasn't yet a skydiver, with my tandem instructor, Bill Jackson. I look pretty happy and laid back in this picture, but I wasn't at all; I was very nervous. We didn't get into that plane behind us but into a C-206, a very small plane that holds a maximum of six people. I wrote about how this all came about on my other blog, a post called "How I Became a Skydiver." If you're interested, you can read about it there.

For now, I'd like to examine the twenty years that have passed since that day in Loveland, Colorado. It's amazing to me when I look at that 47-year-old person and think about who I was then. I had been working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder for more than a decade and had just recently begun working full time after years of sharing my job with another woman. Consequently, I had a little extra money.

Little did I know that before long, every last bit of that extra money would be poured into the Drop Zone (Skydive Colorado), because by November 10, 1990, I was certified to jump solo. I had to borrow from the bank for this endeavor, because even twenty years ago, it was not cheap to get certified. Now it's probably double what I paid to buy one's first gear and go through the certification.

Through skydiving, I met Smart Guy, and Bill Jackson ended up being our Best Man and videographer when we got married in freefall on May 5, 1994. On June 18, 1994, I received my certification to become an AFF (accelerated freefall) Instructor and I began to teach others how to skydive. Before I quit teaching in 2008, I taught more than 1,200 students.

In 1998, at the height of my addiction, I made 401 skydives in one year. Now, with more than 4,000 skydives under my belt, I no longer feel driven to be at the Drop Zone every moment that looks even possibly jump-able. I do see others at Skydive Snohomish here in Washington State that are hooked like I was, and I see them living through it now.

As Smart Guy said to me once, "You can't have 100 jumps forever," meaning that the experience changes as you progress through it. Like all life events, hobbies, endeavors and addictions, the progression can be imperceptible as you evolve into something new, something else.

Today I am content to write on a beautiful Saturday (with enough clouds in the sky to make jumping dubious) about my experience and head out to the Farmers' Market instead.


  1. Sounds like you have had a really exciting life, for the life of me I don't think I could jump out of a plane and how nice to have met your husband while doing something you love. Have a great weekend.....:-) Hugs

  2. You have arrived! That's what life is all about, 'balance' and I do believe you've achieved it and found yourself in a very good space. I congratulate you! Not easy to do.

  3. What a very unique set of experiences that not many people could equal. Pen your memoirs--we couch potatoes would buy it.

  4. You are very brave D-Jan. I could never jump out of an airplane. Oh no, not for pleasure! It is interesting looking back at pictures of ourselves from years ago, knowing what events happened since. Probably just as well we can't do it the other way round.
    Blessings, Star

  5. Contentment is what it is all about. You have some great memories, DJan. Personally I would much rather climb a mountain than dive down to one! :)

  6. I admire your bravery DJan as well as your relaxed attitude now, 20 years later. In the early 70's I had friends who were like you - they just couldn't jump enough. I never jumped but I used to go up in the plane and "cheer" them on. Unfortunately, my girlfriend's mother, one of the first woman "recreational" jumpers in the U.S. was killed (I'm thankful I wasn't there and I really don't remember what the "failures" were). Then my life took another turn so I was never around it again.

    Bravo though for all those years and jumps - and I hope you had a good meal with all the bounty from the Farmer's Market.

  7. You're a gutsy lady, DJan.. I wouldn't have the courage to do the jump. I admire that you found and pursued your passion.

  8. Over 4,000 dives? Yikes and how wonderful for you. :D

    I see I am not alone in my aversion to jumping out of anything; it takes me a day or so going up and down an 8' ladder before I'm comfortable. For me to jump, it'd have to be a "do or die" situation and I'm not too sure what the decision would be. lol

  9. Wow, quite a milestone. Mine numbered in the hundreds before our local DZ closed and I sold my rig. I did buy a tandem for my daughter when she turned 18 and sprung for the video. I wish I had bought a video of my tandem, it would have been "memorable". Blue Skies!

  10. I read all the posts I missed while being in Norway then in Tennessee. As usual your posts reflect the person you are – they are sincere and beautiful. I enjoyed them all – I might say though that I really liked the one showing little Lexie and the ceremony. But then I love looking at all the pictures you take on your hikes. I wish I could walk as well as you do. I start walking then my knee starts acting up…. Then I tried to remember – what was I doing 20 years ago? I was at work and am not sure what trainees we had – I think it may have been trainees from Saudi Arabia and I was preparing my trip to Indonesia. Time went quickly.

  11. You have some really great memories there DJan. You do look pretty laid back in that photo.

    I suppose that is the way it is with most of our interests, at first we jump in with both feet and try to grab every moment we can with our new found pleasure. As time goes one we realize we can slow the pace a little and still have fun with it.

    Twenty years ago I was single and living in AK and trying to figure out how to get in some backpacking time over a short weekend.

  12. 401 jumps!! wow
    I'm really impressed and a wee bit envious of your courage
    I've been to sky diving sites to watch others but never took the plunge

    I love the photo, you look very adventureous :)

    and I like how you describe how our interests evolve over time

  13. Twenty years ago - 1990 - I visited my ex-boyfriend in Croatia. He was a concert cellist. My husband tagged along, mainly to make sure I came back home.

    Long story short, I could not stop weeping on the plane back to Hawaii and was subdued for months after my trip.

    Twenty years later, I am cured of my infatuation with an image.

  14. The first step is a big one. That never changes. Interesting though.

  15. 401 jumps in a i am glad you have found contentedness as is great to have all the fun and be just as happy at home...

  16. Hi DJan, You are comfortable and content with yourself now. That is a good thing my friend!
    I was trying to think back twenty years ago..I was so busy..with teenagers and trying to run a business ( Far Guy did a long commute everyday..180 miles a day.) We were much younger then...:)


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