Fear is such a complex emotion. It can be a motivator. It can be a catalyst for change. It can be a life preserver.
But it can also be a prison.
I grew up with an extensive mental list of what was safe and what was unsafe. Physically, socially, mentally - I had barriers on all sides to insulate myself. But more than any of those, my relationship with heights has always been the most unhealthy. And then I met Kristen, a person who miraculously is missing the "fear" center in her brain. I wouldn't say that Kris is reckless, but I wouldn't say she's not reckless.
Since we've been together, I have become more bold than I ever thought possible. And last weekend, I took the final step in my transformation when we headed down to Skydive Spaceland and jumped out of an airplane at 14,000 feet.
These are our buddies Callen and Abbi. Over the past seven years, they have become such an integral part of our tribe. I don't want to gush, but these two are pretty dang special to me and Kris. They are climbers, photogs, videographers, story-tellers, adventurers and overall just our kind of people. Seriously, right now, go to www.abbihearne.com or check out their Instagram feeds: www.instagram.com/abbihearne and www.instagram.com/callenhearne. They recently decided that it was time for a change and they are (as of today!) going fully mobile to live out of a Subaru and camper with their pup, Charles Matthew.
Abbi also recently became a licensed skydiver. So as Kristen and I were coming up with going-away party ideas, there was seemingly only one option. We were going to jump from a plane together.
Also at play was a gentleman's agreement made between myself and my buddy Steven eight years ago. When Kristen and I moved to Bonaire, he and I made a pact that if he would not only get Scuba certified but also come down to the Caribbean and allow us to take him on a night dive, I would jump from a plane. Seeing as we have known each other since the 4th grade, I was well-versed in his unreasonable fear of the ocean and he was quite familiar with my outrageous fear of heights.
The problem with the whole scenario is that, like an idiot, he actually kept his end of the deal. 8 years later, we were headed down to Spaceland to fulfill the rest of the pact.
The team of sky-walkers assembled:
Although there were definite nerves and trepidations, I was most overwhelmed by how each of us had come to intentionally confront our fears. Even Abbi, a skilled, licensed jumper admitted that there was still a dose of nerves every time she got on the plane.
But as we were geared up, waiting for our plane to arrive, I realized that I wasn't really there to skydive. I was there to experience the shock of my greatest fear because I NEED to continually push myself to my perceived limits. I've learned over 34 years that when that drive begins to wane, I just feel...off.
So, most surprisingly to me, I climbed onto a plane that I knew I would eventually fall out of at a great height with total peace.
This is my other buddy, Steven. He is equally terrified of heights, but he jumped, eyes closed but willing.
Abbi is a BA:
Gentleman's Agreement fulfilled.
We've barely spent any time at home this summer, and shockingly I found myself packing my bags just two weeks after our month long stint in Newfoundland. This time we headed south to Costa Rica. I'll fill you in next week on what we did there, but for now, I thought it might be nice to show you my (Kristen's) favorite travel products. I've tested out about a thousand different items through the years all in an attempt to make travel easier and more comfortable. With these products, I think I'm getting incredibly close to making every journey feel like home. So, here are some personal "must haves" that always make it into my bag, whether I'm on a motorcycle or on a plane. I tried to make it easy and have added amazon links to each of the items in case you feel the urge to buy them for yourself.
Compression bags... I can say with 100% certainty that everyone should go throw away those plastic compression bags that we all keep buying from the Container Store. They will fail on you. They cost way too much. You WILL lose the little yellow zipper thing to make it seal. Just save yourself the headache and buy a couple of these Sea to Summit bags. They cost a bit upfront, but you will have them the rest of your life, and they actually compress clothes better than the plastic kind. They won't break; I promise. They've gone all over the world with us, and haven't let us down. Up until this year we had only used them for camping gear, and now I'm switching to use them as our clothes bags as well. Do yourself a favor, just go buy some.... click here.
Many years ago, Matt and I were riding our motorcycles through a very snowy city and I couldn't take camping anymore. My sleeping bag wasn't cutting it. We stopped at an outdoors store and I purchased a Sea to Summit bag liner and I have literally taken this sleep sac with me every place I've ever gone since. It doesn't matter if we're camping in the bush or staying at a fancy hotel, this liner will be there, just in case. It's a t-shirt material and perfect for hot camping if you want to just use this instead of your sleeping bag. I can't recommend this product enough. Buy one here.
I'm also going to include the CoolMax Adapter because we live in Texas and often have to do very hot camping. This is also great if you're traveling to tropical climates are are unsure if you'll have decent air conditioning in your room. It's machine washable and comfy and makes you feel like you're home. I should also mention I use both of these on overnight flights all the time. They work drastically better than the gross inflight blankets that are provided. Check it out here.
While we're on the subject of sleeping, let me show you two of my favorite pillows. My top favorite is a memory foam pillow that I stumbled upon at TJMaxx one day. It's literally changed the game for me camping this last trip. I slept like a baby every single night. Whether you're facing an overnight flight, or are a pillow connoisseur you should probably add this to your list of travel must haves. Take a look.
This next pillow won all sorts of awards last year on camping websites, so I purchased it and have been extremely happy with it. I don't like it quite as much as my Sharper Image pillow, but it's a close second. It definitely wins if you're wanting to shove it in your bag and save space. This pillow has a tiny layer of memory foam and can pack down to the size of a tshirt. There are definitely way smaller pillows on the market, and we have a bunch of them, but I honestly can't fall asleep on any of them. This is as about as compact as I'm willing to go for now without sacrificing any zzzz's.
I don't always take this bad boy, but if you're looking into taking an overnight flight in the next few months you HAVE to purchase this. It is worth every penny. I am a side sleeper and have never been able to sleep well on planes. I started vigorously researching options before we flew to Australia last year and I found this little guy. It packs down to almost nothing. It is one of the most compact items in my entire gear room, but it sure packs the punch. If you aren't convinced, watch a youtube to see how it works. You can buy one here.
I found the world's tiniest hairdryer! I love this little guy. It will not work like your normal one at home, so don't expect that, but it will dry your hair and it will take up almost no room in your bag. You can find them at most Bed Bath and Beyond's or you can buy one here.
The Sea to Summit Day Pack is pretty amazing. It is so tiny that you may not even remember you brought it along. This has been such a useful little bag to stash in my purse while traveling around new cities. It's perfect when you end up buying more than you expected and run out of room your regular bag. Sea to Summit keeps making incredible travel gear and this is one of their best products. Check it out here.
I recently traveled with a friend who had never left the States before and she was NERVOUS. She has suffered for years with car sickness and in an attempt to help her enjoy our journey I bought a case of Dramamine and this tiny fan to help with the bus induced nausea. This little fan charges up with a USB and can last all night. In fact, our electricity went out last night and I pulled this guy off and cooled us down. I stash this in my bag every time we are traveling to a hot or tropical place. With this kind of price, it's a good thing to have just in case. Buy it here.
Smart Wool socks. If you haven't been wearing these then you need to start. These are the ONLY brand of socks I wear now. They are expensive, but I think they're absolutely worth it. Check them out here.
Dry Shampoo.... because sometimes you just can't take a shower. The fact that I was in my late twenties before I knew this even existed is shocking to me. I picked up this little travel sized bottle at Target and it saved Matt and I from looking like absolute hobo's while traveling around Newfoundland. It's a MUST for long term back country campers and a nice little extra for everybody else. Even at home, I use mine more than I'm willing to admit. Buy yourself some here.
While we're on the subject of not showering... let me introduce you to my favorite cosmetic find this year. It's been hiding at Target for years, but I finally bought some and they are amazing. I have sensitive, oily skin, which is terrible for camping and overnight flights. These wipes smell fabulous and keep your face and skin looking and feeling great. You can buy a big pack or a small travel pack depending on where you're going. The 10 pack is what I'm taking along with me this trip. Check it out.
This last one may seem obvious, but if you're traveling a lot you shouldn't be lugging around a bunch of books. For my birthday, my parents upgraded my old Kindle and this new guy is so incredible. I don't even know why it's so much better... it just is. Save your back and treat yo self.
This last product is without a doubt our most valuable possession on the road. It's where we store all of our photos and video from our travels. We have absolutely abused these little guys and they have never failed us. Fingers crossed! Buy yourself one here!