Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Year of Kristi

When I was younger, I was fearless, ready to do anything. If I wanted to try it, I would just go ask to get it done. My dad often told the story of when we were in Malaysia. He was sitting on the beach asking where I was and then he looked up and out to the ocean. He saw me sitting on the front of the windsurfer board dangling my feet in the Pacific Ocean, while the windsurfer moved us along the water. I think he was proud of me, because I didn't know the guy and just went to ask him if I could try it. As I got older, I retreated in to myself, getting scared by the minute. I mean, even riding a plane was something scary for me. Now, you are thinking, but wait a minute, she skydives. Yes, I do, but I had to be talked in to it. I just didn't go for me. I had no desire to ever do this in my life, but I did it and loved it.

Over the years, my ex husband and I joked about how we wanted to be like George Constanza in Seinfeld and have the Year of George, but we were thinking of it in a different context. I look at it now more as doing things that I never thought possible instead of just doing nothing for a year. For me, this year has been the hardest year that I have had to deal with, even beating the year my dad died. However, even though I have gone through some crazy things that I don't wish upon my worst enemy, I still conquered my fears to try some new and amazing things. I pushed passed the fear and my self doubt to say I did it, because I wanted to do it. And this has been The Year of Kristi.
  • I had to ask for help. My friends and family know that I don't do this like at all and if I must, I am kicking and screaming to avoid it. When I broke my leg, it took everything I had to not only let them wash the dishes, but to be okay with it. So, when I was kicked out of the house and had only a few friends to call, they were there to help me and they knew what a big deal that was for me. I called and emailed them days and nights with endless talk and cries about whoa is me, which I just don't do, but they let me. They knew I needed it and I'm thankful to have those friends and family in my life. Without them, I would be a lost little puppy right now.
  • I hiked to the top of a mountain (even if it was only 2,000ft) with my good friend, Ashley. Now, I have the bug and can't wait to do my next big climb. Tibet anyone?
Ashley and I finally making it to the top even if I almost missed my flight.
  • I hiked alone in Colorado and Utah even though they were small hikes and not a great deal of summitting so to speak.
Me at the Colorado National Monument.
  • I went to England for 2 weeks by myself, just backpacking around. I did have some friends there that I met up with and some that I hadn't seen in years. Normally, I would just cancel the trip if my friends couldn't go (England has been planned 3 times before, Ireland once, and Spain once). I would have never thought to do this alone, but I did and it was the most amazing time. I met so many people (one in particular that puts a smile on my face everyday) and got my confidence back in humanity again. I met an Aussie at the rugby match and although he was super drunk, he gave me his Australia flag and bracelet (yup, went to England to come home with Australia stuff) since he had just recently gone through what I was going through. I never take that bracelet off, because it reminds me that I have the strength to be me and do whatever I need to do by myself, if necessary. I even drove a canal boat. I don't care if it was for a couple of minutes, I still did it.
I walked the famous Abbey Road with a great couple and survived it since there was a lot of traffic there (angry drivers).

Of course I went to London and found the Texas Embassy.

Yeah, even if it's just a photo op, I drove the boat and made it through a small narrow passageway under a bridge.
  • I started yoga and LOVED it. I remembered taking yoga awhile back to try something new instead of Tai-Chi (so much better on my back) and it threw out my back for weeks. So, I have pretty much avoide yoga like the plague. But through a Groupon deal, I tried it again and I'm glad I did. Some of those classes and teachers and moves are scary and hard, but I'm working on it. I'm always scared to go, I'm sweating and dying in the middle of it, but I come out of it completely feeling just awesome.
  • I started bootcamp where I get up for the 6 a.m. class when I can.
  • I tried Zumba.
  • I ran in some crazy and tough events, some that I thought would actually kill me. Do you remember the Toughest 10K Kemah? And I have my second Toughest 10K next week. I ran in my undewear with Amy and her boyfriend down in Rice Village. I ran in my first running event alone. My my mother was there to cheer me on, but not running. If I didn't have someone to go with, than I wasn't going. I ran in the dark at night by myself, which I never do unless I have people around me like at the Sand Crab event.
Amy and I at the Hot Undies Run.
  • I tried kayaking for the first time and LOVED it. I'm hooked like hiking. And my next kayaking trip is with Haley in a couple of weeks (cross your fingers it happens, because it has taken forever to schedule).
  • I participated in an EcoChallenge (ends officially on October 15) where I am learning to change the way I consume food (Sustainable Food Options challenge) and use water (Water Conservation challenge). I mean I went 3 days a week for 2 weeks without meat. I know me, right...the big carnivore. I also shopped at a Farmer's Market and learned new recipes (mostly vegetarian). I stepped out of my comfort box to try some new vegetables and fruits, including cremini mushrooms, which helped me win a prize (well, that and what I did for breast cancer this month). And on Saturday, I'm taking my recycleables up to Discovery Green and going to my first ever pumpkin patch with my nieces some time this weekend.
  • I learned how to make a pumpkin pie from scratch...FROM SCRATCH...even the crust with my friend, Haley. Even though, it took forever, it was so worth it and I'm forever ruined on pumpkin pies made from the can.
Haley and I after our first pie 1 a.m.  Yeah, we had a bite...don't judge us.
  • I finally quit the one big, last addiction of my life and that was sodas. I have had at least one everyday for over 25 years. When I was young, I drank 8 cokes a day, but as I got older, they got less and less. And finally, I was down to 1 coke and it was the 7.5 oz. All week, I didn't have cokes, but I could get them free at my job. But on Sunday, October 2, I was lazy and didn't feel like walking to the store to get one and just decided to quit. It was my second day of the EcoChallenge and thought that it was time. That sunday was fine and gave me false hope that I could get through this without issues like when I quit smoking. But boy howdy was I wrong. I have never felt so horrible in my life. I was up there with crack addicts trying to break their addiction in rehab. The range of emotions were textbook that would have been a pyschotherapists' wet dream and I probably could have hurt someone if they got in my way. But I'm finally at a place where I don't crave it as much (took me about 5 days). Am I ready to drink a coke without going back in to an alley giving services for soda? Hell no, not yet.
But in all the things I have tried, one thing got put on the backburner for various reasons and for a little bit of fear. Last night, I finally went to meditate. March and April (well and February since that was the worst month ever), I was looking in to meditating to calm my mind and maybe get some sleep. I read Eat, Pray, Love (which is how I got the inspiration to go off to England by myself) and thought that this might work for me since that book was a timeline of my life (well, except for spending a year away). I searched the internet and found a free Buddhist learning center called Chung Tai Zen Center of Houston in the heart of Houston's Asia town where the road signs aren't in English anymore. I liked this place, because it was free (only donations), they had other classes like Tai-Chi and Mandarin (started learning that a LONG time ago when I lived in Singapore), and you could go on day retreats. I also learned that you can get a free vegetarian dinner at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays (possibly everyday, but the meditation was this day).

I couldn't go in May when the Summer session started, because I got in to a car wreck and didn't think I could sit with my back straight for minutes on end mainly because I couldn't keep my back straight. So, I put this off and put it off and finally, my mind calmed a great deal (not 100%) largely due to England and getting that hurdle crossed in August. But my friend, Jules, in my opinion needed this more than anything and I thought it was a good time to go. I had a couple of fears:  1.) Do they speak English? 2.) Do they let non-Buddhist practicing people show up? 3.) Are we okay to join if the Fall classes started? 4.) What happens if someone Yes, yes, and yes were my answers, but who knows about the last question. We just needed to show up at 7 p.m. to get a quick class on how to meditate, such as body position, hand position, and breathing.

The Buddhist Monk was really nice (unfortunately, I can't remember his name, but will get it next time) teaching us everything since it was my first time (not for Jules). This was zen meditation and the breathing was different than yoga, but the principles were still the same. After we were done, he showed us where to go and we stood around and waited. I was nervous and intimidated, because everyone already knew what to do (this being their third week). Jules and I went in the room and I immediately noticed the incense. I hate incense (damn hippies), because it gives me a headache. So, I was starting to worry how I was going to survive 2 hours of meditation with a headache and nausea. I just took a breath and sat down in the position he told me. It was quiet...oh so quiet...death quiet. And of course, Jules and I stupidly picked the one seat that was directly under the hot lamp. At this point, now I'm worried I may not make it. Then, they started, but they didn't really say it. It just happened. I was hoping for a bell, but nope.

I spent the time focusing on my breathing, breathing in for so many seconds and out for so many seconds. It was hard, because I could hear myself breathe and it was loud, so very loud. I kept wondering if people could hear me and if my nasely breath is disrupting everyone else. I mean, how is everyone else so silent? So, I tried to flush out those thoughts and just focus on the breathing. I was finally getting the hang of it where my breath was flowing and not choppy and then I moved my foot alittle bit. Darnit, why did I do that? My foot was asleep and not just asleep, but in a coma. It was dead and then it started to bother me making it the only thing I could focus on at that moment. So, I had to undo my foot, shake it up as silently and slowly as I could without disrupting the class, and reposition myself. This was hard, but I finally got it awake and changed footing. It took some more time to get back into a more meditative state, but I did. And then the bell chimed, the lights came on. I was like was that 2 hours? People were moving around and folding their blankets. I took the cue to do the same, but Jules didn't catch on so quickly. Yup, the entire class was waiting on us to get done.

The monk told us to follow the others and we started the walking meditation portion. You step and breathe each time the bell chimed. We are supposed to relax in to the walk and not anticipate the bell, but that's like telling someone not to push the red ALWAYS want to push the red button. It was still cool. We did this for a bit before the bell chimed again. Everyone looked like they were leaving. So, I asked if it we were done, but the person said that it was just a break. They were gathering their things, because we went in to the classroom to discuss the principles of meditation. The men were on one side and the women on the other side; however, a young girl wanted to sit with her father bucking the system. I liked her immediately. It was so neat to hear the ideas behind it. And I'm reading a book called the Miracle of Mindfulness that talks about the idea of duality. I did speak about it, but I got the name wrong. Oh well. I also realized that skydiving relates to zen meditation and the ideas behind it, but we as skydivers are so focused on...well, skydiving that we don't see to apply it to other things in our life. Afterwards, we had some Chinese bread and went home, with the promise to come back gain next week. I was really excited to try this meditation thing and I might even hit up the Mandarin classes next session. Also, Jules and I did talk about doing the Tai-Chi class on Saturday afternoon if anyone is interested.

Oh and sorry for the long post. It was deep reflection time, growing my avacado tree when I wanted oranges...I think the Buddhist got to me.


  1. Reading this brings pure joy to my heart. I am proud to be your friend KWB! Good on ya! :)

  2. Thanks BWB! Love ya, mean it. Just don't beat me like a redheaded stepchild.

  3. Krusty, I am really proud and envious of your bravery and strength. I am glad you are finding peace within yourself. I am proud to be a part of your life. I love you.

  4. ahhh....thanks uterus. I love you, too.

  5. You SO Inspire me ...
    And dont feel like you had the "Year From Hell" cornered ok ... I got a BIG chunk of it too !

  6. Kristi, awesome blog!! What a joy to see someone put their thoughts out there for others! Congrats on making life just about as fun as it can be!

  7. thanks guys! and didn't quit skydiving for several months and you moved to a beautiful beachy state!

  8. Awesome Kristi ... keep up the good work! Proud of you for sticking with yoga and pursuing meditation. There are a lot of forms of meditation. See if you can take a Kundalini class, or Pranayama!

  9. You have inspired me to look into meditation, xxxooo!

  10. Boy have you ever accomplished a lot!!!! So very proud of you:) Grandpa would be so proud too:) Take care and thanks for including me in your blogs. Love them:)

  11. Kristi, I am so proud of you doing all that and I am trying to do yoga also. By the way, Teddy and I are coming to Houston for Thanksgiving. Love to see you then, Your Uncle Lance.


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