Six months ago I sat counting my tips, alone in the dark, shifter in hand at my second job. Bartending gave me a full wallet but it also opened my eyes to a path of self-destruction I was terrified to find myself on. Days were long, nights were late. The booze was always flowing. That night had been a disaster. The bar had gotten out of control. And I was too exhausted and too hung over to do anything about it. As I took the last sip of my red beer and put it in the wash sink the decision had already been made. It was time to make a change.

I quit a lot of things that night. The drink, the job, my bar friends, the late nights. I quit fast food after one last trip through the Taco Bell drive through on the way home. And as time passed, I realized I quit having self doubt. I quit being so hard on myself. I quit making excuses. I quit putting myself dead last. I quit all the things that were keeping me from being the woman I knew I was capable of being.

I set out on a mission to not only find HER, but to find the happiness I knew I deserved. 

In the last six months I have camped on ocean beaches, hiked under waterfalls, hit the open road with no map and no destination. I have relaxed in the shade of volcanoes, had clam-digging races with my pup. I've thrown out first-pitches at ball games and pretended to be a rodeo queen for a day. I've taught my dog to swim and rehabilitated her from a broken leg that was my fault. I've ran a half marathon and cried under the Bridge of the Gods. 

This weekend I practiced yoga with baby goats. I listened to the sweet sounds of my favorite artist under the stars with my best friends - my Mom and Dad. I climbed a mountain peak with my pops and pup as well. 

There was only one thing left. 

The solar eclipse didn't interest me in terms of SEEING it. But it's representation of my life had me aching to celebrate it. I flew my first plane at 12 years old. The sky has always intrigued me. I've always wished I had wings and six months ago when my life took that positive turn, I sprouted them. And six months later I was finally ready to fly.

Like the eclipse we all lead lives that go from light to dark to light again. And sometimes it's that darkness that, while scary, can lead us into the brightest of days. Brightness that is also scary because it can lead us blind at times. But you have to follow your gut. You have to listen to that little pain in the ass voice hanging out on your shoulder that you need to do what's best for YOU. You NEED TO LIVE. 

That little guy told me to jump out of an airplane to celebrate the eclipse and my six months of sobriety. And I took a leap of faith and listened.

I told a friend skydiving was like the most incredible torture imaginable. Your skin feels like it's going to rip off your face, the air is filling your lungs with so much force it's hard to breath. Your adrenaline pumps all the way to your finger tips and your serotonin levels literally give you wings. It felt like LIVING. All the fear, all the anxiety, all the elation, all the pride, all the excitement, all the happiness....ALL busting out of your body from 13,000 feet in the sky as you zoom through the atmosphere at 120 mph. 

It's unlike anything I'd ever imagined. 

This is me telling you to do it. To take that leap of faith. To jump and sprout those damn wings you were meant to utilize. Whether it's from a plane or just in life. You deserve to live the best days imaginable. We only have so many. Don't waste them saying shoulda, woulda, coulda. Live in the moment. Make that change and be the best version of yourself. Cause that person is a badass. And once your realize that, you'll be unstoppable.

Happy flying. 

xoxo,

SJ

A HUGE thank you to my amazing instructor and tandem partner Kasch and the whole staff at Skydive West Plains! Book your adventure with them HERE!