3,300 Feet in the Air!

Two weeks ago I went on vacation. My husband and I met friends in Albuquerque, New Mexico where we shared a house for the week. I know, why do you care? Because of the experience I had, and the outcome you might benefit from.

I did something that scared me.

On Friday morning, my brother-in-law, Jim, and I took a ride in a hot air balloon! I’ve wanted to try it in the past, but something always got in the way…usually a fear of heights! Understand that this fear isn’t a full-blown panic type of fear, but rather the kind of fear that is just enough to keep me from actually agreeing to try it.

My husband, and Jim’s wife, had that full-blown panic kind of fear (they don’t even like the chair lift when skiing). Jim didn’t want to experience it alone so I tucked my fear away for a while and said I’d go too. Then the morning came when I had to live up to that promise!

It was cold when we got to the field, only 23 degrees, but I know that my shaking wasn’t from the cold as I watched the balloon being filled and that small wicker basket (that word didn’t make me feel any more secure) being attached.

I’m going to get into that?! I didn’t see any seat belts or harnesses. In fact, there were no seats at all!

I stood next to Jim in the basket, along with two other people and the pilot. The beautiful balloon was hovering above us, the red, white and blue cloth gently rippling with movement. With the whoosh of the burner and the warm air from the flame passing across my cold face, we started to lift off.

The ground slowly began moving away, and my experience was on the way! It was thrilling! It took me only about a minute to gradually move to a spot along the edge of the basket so I could see everything. There were the mountains, the Rio Grande River, the desert, and buildings getting smaller and smaller as we rose higher and higher.

People were sitting on their porches and dogs started barking as they “chased” us across the sky. At our highest, we reached 3,300 feet and the view was unimaginable!

I leaned against the front corner of the basket where there was nothing obstructing my view. I held my arms out and felt just like Kate Winslet on the very front of the Titanic in the movie as she felt as free as a bird. Remarkable.

From lift-off to touch-down, every moment was an experience that I was incredibly thankful I had taken. I didn’t let fear stop me.

As we sipped the traditional glass of champagne when we were back on the ground, I felt that I had taken a huge step forward.

This entire blog is to encourage you to do the same. Deployment may even be that thing that scares you (or just makes you nervous), if you are the one deploying, or you are a loved one left to handle the home front.

Maybe it’s something else that makes you uncomfortable, like a fear of heights. What can you try that would take you, momentarily, out of your comfort zone?

I believe that life begins at the edge of that comfort zone. We spend most of our lives inside that zone and rightly so. That’s where we live as responsible people. But who says we shouldn’t risk some comfort occasionally?

Do something that scares you every once in a while, even a little bit. The feeling of complete exhilaration and proud accomplishment is something to be cherished.

Life is all about experiences. What’s yours going to be?


About Elaine Dumler

Through interviews with over 3200 military families, Elaine Dumler garnered family connection ideas and websites and compiled the best ones into two deployment resource books; “I’m Already Home” and “I’m Already Home…Again”. Her 3rd book, “The Road Home – Smoothing the transition back from deployment” soon followed. Her work as an “active civilian” has been featured in over 100 publications, including 6 in foreign languages, and national media including MSNBC, FOXNews and Montel. She established the “Free Flat Daddy®” project, and she has been presented with 22 challenge coins, including President George Bush’s Commander in Chief coin. Elaine has one goal for her work: to make sure that every American deployed or on temporary assignment has the means available to be in the closest contact possible with their loved ones left behind. Elaine is writing a new series of 25 articles, with information addressing the challenges facing military families. They are free for reprint in all FRG newsletters. To get these directly as they are released, do a “newsletter signup” at ImAlreadyHome.com.

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