Free Flying

Posted by Kelly Lewis Share Your Voice


Last weekend, I stepped out of an airplane from 13,000 feet connected to a man named Chuck. 

The story began back in March when my fabulous husband asked me "what do you want to do to celebrate your 40th birthday?".  To his surprise and amusement, I said, "jump out of an airplane ".  This is coming from the person that just last year conquered her fear of riding a bike by pedaling over the Golden Gate Bridge:)  

So last Saturday afternoon we hopped in the car and headed to Skydive Orange in Orange, Virginia to what the pros would say, "fly".  It was a gorgeous day with blue skies, thin white clouds, and light winds. We waited our turn, and I was filled with a mix of smiles and awes as I watched the sky above me fill up with bright colored parachutes that made their way swiftly and softly to ground.  

"Kelly Lewis...Glenn Lewis", we heard from inside the hanger.  "You are up next", they said.  Off we went to get suited up.  Twenty minutes later I was walking toward an airplane with Chuck, my husband, and twenty or so other folks who also decided to fly that day.  And fly we did.  

Chuck and I were the last two to exist the plane.  As we shimmied toward the edge of the cargo door I leaned back and we stepped.  Within 7 seconds he was tapping me on the shoulder to give me the sign that I could move my hands from safety position to flying position.  We flew at a speed of 125 miles per hour for 60 seconds and then pulled the chord.  A feeling stillness and peacefulness blanketed us and I could see forever.  Chuck handed me the steering wheel and said, "what to have some fun".  I accepted his invitation and guided us around the skies with his assistance.  Seven minutes later we were on the ground right back where we started.  

That day was amazing beyond my wildest imagination and didn't come close to living up to my worst fears.  It also taught me a few valuable leadership and life lessons:

  • Lean into the fear:  Do what you want to do, even if it makes you go "gulp".  It is better than we could imagine and never as worse as we fear it to be.
  • Rest back into the support:  Whether we can see it or feel it we are surrounded by support.  The challenge is to trust and receive it.
  • Take a step:  Sometimes the results we are trying to create only require a step, not a jump or leap. I had this image in my mind that day that I was going to have to jump or leap out of the plane.  All we did was step.  And with one small step the results were huge.
  • Be real:  One small step often requires a great deal of courage, vulnerability, and trust.  I believe our world needs more of this (less of the fear based approach) and authentic leadership and meaningful living require all three - and then some.  
  • Be connected, not attached:  When we connect, we are joined or linked together, understanding where we end and others begin.  We are clear about what we have in common and how we are uniquely different.  When we are attached it is harder to be objective, to consider other points of view.  That day Chuck and I were "ONE" and the distinction between being connected and being attached became oh so clear to me.

It has been a week since this amazing experience and I am noticing a new found respect (and a little envy) every time I look up into the sky to see a bird spread its wings and fly.   This week, I am going to practice giving myself and others what we need to spread our wings and fly.  And I invite you to fly with us.

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Small Kelly Lewis Hello! Here are a few things that I have found support me in creating the life I want, keeping myself in check, and leading with courage and compassion: a slow walk with my hubby and our pups, my work, honesty with myself, the smile of another, and mother nature.


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