On Sighing & Flying

by Cris Gladly on October 4, 2012

image source: movement and yoga naked

A few weeks ago,
I was supposed to be in Paris.

But that plan was thwarted.

So, I went slow dancing with the Sky, instead.

I opened mySelf up wide
and let altitude and breeze slowly stroke through me.

I flew right up into the Sky’s welcoming, wind-swept arms
and saw my own Self reflected there.

It was one of the most poignant experiences of my life,
that I had on a kite-like wing
during an early morning (my first ever) hang-gliding adventure.

For nearly a year now,
I’ve been trying to live into the adage “fly your open sky”.

And though my spirit has been doing well at this for months,
this was my body’s first chance to give the concept a real try.

photo source: eastside bride

The experience, in a word, was … tranquil.

In fact, one of the most striking memories I have from that morning,
is the giant, wave-like breaths that kept rolling through me.

Almost as soon as we were off the ground,
I started taking these massive slow, sighing breaths,
pulling the Sky deep within, and letting it meander through me.

My whole body would quietly shudder
with new lightness, buoyancy and expansion after those breaths.

And on each exhale …

so many hurt things I’ve struggled with,
simply blew away … {sigh}, so easily.

I would go hang-gliding a thousand times over and again
just to feel those releasing breaths slide through me some more.

For it was with each of those that the insights came.

And of all the A-ha’s that came amongst the gentle Ahhhhh’s of that morning
(and, wow, there were so many) …

my favorite was seeing Me for who I truly am.

You see, when I went sky diving a year or so ago,
that felt like trying to be something I wasn’t … deliberately.

Back then I was so ashamed of all the fear I was feeling in my new world.
I thought I should be different.
Bolder. More extreme.
More “ Grrrrr!!” > Less gentle.

vintage photo: photographer unknown

But … I am gentle.

Intellectually, yes, I am sharp, smart, and scrappy.
Emotionally, I’m told I am uncommonly brave.

But physically, I am gentle.

My spirit … is gentle.

There is nothing “hardcore” about me, except maybe kindness.

And for the first time in my life, knowing this felt okay.

So, while sky diving felt like ripping through resistance
and trying to, all at once, leap into everything I’m not.

Hang-gliding felt like finally being unapologetically Me.

It felt like being One with the Sky
and having a ‘welcome home’ party with the wind.

It felt like clear vision.

I am not adrenaline.
I am poetry.

And I am so grateful to finally recognize this about mySelf.

So, yes, mark me down as an epic fan of hang-gliding.
This is the Sky experience my little bird soul has been needing.


All of that said …
do you want to see my hang-gliding video now?

Yay!! {smilingsmilingsmiling}
I so hope you do.

Two quick things about it:

First: this is my very FIRST attempt at editing anything in iMovie. = Don’t judge me! :P

Second: the song in this video could alone have been the blog post for this experience. I actually heard this song playing in my head while I was hang-gliding. e/S shared it with me a few weeks earlier and the lyrics were words I could have written myself, they are so exactly my story. This song feels in my heart how those Sky breaths felt in my body.

Read the lyrics to “Welcome Home” here: http://old.radicalface.com/lyrics/ghost.pdf 

And so now, I simply must give a glorious and grateful shout out to Malcolm and the crew at Wallaby Ranch.

If you want to give hang-gliding a try, Malcolm is the dude to see. He has done more tandem hang-gliding flights then anyone else in the world. Although, really, he does not “do” this. The man IS this. I have never met someone so confidently nonchalant about their expertise. When we went flying, the dude didn’t even bother wearing shoes!

He was incredibly kind to me. And encouraging.

My favorite moment with him was while we were casually chit-chatting during our flight. And suddenly the reality of that hit me. And I laughed and said “Wow. We are totally having a conversation right now … in the SKY!!!” Thank you, Malcolm.

p.s. And thank you hugely, Lazarus for being there to witness. (#iD0)



Joy = No Expectations

by Cris Gladly on November 7, 2011

image source: curlygirldesigns.com

All last week,
I lived my life the complete opposite of how I usually do.

First of all, I finally went somewhere!!!
(two somewheres, actually),
which in and of itself is a major miracle.
But what was really really big for me …
was that I went somewhere to have new experiences
without expectations.

Most of my life I have walked into any and every situation
with a hefty stack of expectations against which to measure the experience.
I never ever mean to be fault finding…
I just have the propensity to be a ridiculously overly romantic, overly sentimental,
overly needing everything to go exactly the way I fantasize about it, control freak.

Going with the flow has rarely made my itinerary.

As a result, I have missed amazing moments and experiences because I was too busy glooming and grousing over what fell short, fell through, or otherwise didn’t occur as expected.

Case in point: my birthday last year.
The date closely coincided with the anniversary of my first full year Solo Me.
After so much tumultuous emotional inside-outness that year, I wanted to celebrate …
with every single person I had even the slightest friendly affection for.
The more the merrier.
One love! And all that jazz.

I conjured epic ideas of exactly how I wanted that party to go.
I would wear this.
My makeup would look like that.
The food and drinks would be this.
Then I’d get to dance to this, this and that.
I had it all imagined in my head. And it was glorious.
The best way to ensure things went exactly as I expected, I decided,
was to plan my own birthday party … myself.

Which I did. And the party sucked.
Pretty much nothing went as planned.
And as each element of the party unraveled, so did I.
I had a miserable time!
And afterward I was so depressed that I barely left the house for 4 days.
I was that let down by the experience.

A few months later a ‘friend’ of mine,
who (thankfully) never feels the need to pull punches with me,
laid it out for me straight during a phone conversation.
He said, “you were so focused on what didn’t go your way
and what didn’t happen just as you had scripted,
that you totally lost sight of the fact
that nearly 50 people cared enough about you to show up that night
to support and celebrate you!!”
(Including him, who happened to only be in town for 2 days and had carved out time
in that window specifically to come celebrate ‘happily’ with me)

Oh. Uhm. [shame face].You’re right … My bad!

An evening of nothing going as meticulously planned wasn’t what I wanted.
But it was definitely what I needed.
A sort of rock bottom moment for my inner crazy control freak.
Who suddenly realized how much she’d been missing out on by trying to micro-manage
every life experience rather than letting them unfold organically.

So, I got over myself
and revived from my dreary disappointment coma.
At which point, I began wondering:
what would happen if I just let go of expectations in general?
What would happen if I just let go and lightened up?

I’ve been playing with that notion for almost 9 months now.
In some areas, I’m still fumbling.
But, last week, I got to see that in some other areas I’ve come gloriously far.

image source: aprettypass

I took my first solo trip ever to NYC last week,
and though scared + scared + scared about it,
I barely planned the trip out at all.

I bought a ticket. Confirmed my place to stay.
(Had one major pre-departure freak out moment that I quickly pulled myself out of.)
Boarded my plane with nothing more than a text of the first address I needed to arrive at,
and I was off!
I had never been in a cab before. Never been on the subway before.
But I just rolled with it.
I created a loose plan for my three days, which shifted and changed by the minute,
and I just went with it … gladly!

Instead of packing my usual carry-on of control freak,
I packed an oversized portion of curiosity and sense of adventure instead.

And you know what?
I found joy around every corner.
Instead of racing from place to place to stay on agenda,
I simply meandered from one spot to another choosing my route and next destination as I went.
So many magical and humorous things happened along the way:

  • like the dude I saw dressed in a French maid costume playing basketball in Brooklyn (it was Halloween) when I let my host pick our breakfast spot;
  • and the witty banter I enjoyed with two guys on the J train that I wouldn’t have even been on at that moment if I hadn’t gotten on the wrong train earlier;
  • and the unexpected discovery of an “oh, that’s the perfect little thing!” birthday gift for LAkh in a quaint shop in the Village that I would have never found had I insisted on my original plan of going to the High Line.

Turns out, chill me is a really FUN me!!
And unexpected changes in the plans are where all the best moments occur.

Gotta say, I’m a convert.
From now on … going with the flow is the only way to go!

How about YOU? …
Do you find more joy when you go hunting for it or when you let it find you?
What’s the best magical travel moment you’ve experienced when you let go and lightened up?