As some of you may know, this week I spontaneously decided to do the Auckland Sky Jump with my good friend Hannah. After I was diagnosed with Marfan, I wrote a bucket list, which I continued to add to over the years (until I lost the list in 2006). Some people think this is morbid; but I see it as a constant reminder to challenge myself- to do things I have always wanted to do. To do things I’d never dream of doing.
Jumping off the Auckland Sky Tower was added to my list in 2005 when I first immigrated to New Zealand. In all fairness, my thirteen-year-old self was a little less fearless than now, and I wanted to do anything I could. However I never had the chance to do this jump, as each time I’d pluck up the courage to do it, I’d be awaiting spinal or heart surgery. Also, because I am a Marfling, I dislocate easily… making a bungee jump non-conducive. However, I’m slowly learning to take calculated risks, and to push myself as far as I can to make the most of life… so when I had a willing friend and a 2-for-1 deal, I decided (after some encouragement from Hannah and Elliot) that it was an opportunity not to be missed!
As I was clearing my room to move flats at the start of this year, I found this bucket list in one of my boxes. Some of the things made me smile, some I’d already accomplished, and some are too embarrassing to even write on here. But after reading it, I made a conscious decision that I should challenge myself more, love myself more and try to become the best version of myself. It’s quite funny actually, because fourteen-year-old Keira wrote, “find the love of my life.” And little did I know, that this love of my life would help me to become the best version of myself. I’ll stop the cheese there, but it is true. This last year and a bit has been a great journey for myself, where I am still continuing to learn how to be the best version of me.
The first thing that I decided to tick off after finding this list was donating my ponytail to cancer. My hair at this stage was down to my waist, and most people knew me from afar for my bright dreadlocked waves that I could never be bothered straightening. In 2006 my dear friend Kimberley lost her mum to cancer. Although some may claim this didn’t affect me directly, I can’t explain the feeling of witnessing a close friend, and their family, go through such heartache and trauma. I decided at this point that I wanted to donate my hair, as I had so much of it, and after all, if I were to lose my hair like Robyn, and many other sufferers, I’d want to have a ginger wig! So all 30cm of my ponytail was donated, and I felt it was the least I could do (Might I add here, Kimberley has donated 3 pony tails in the time I took procrastinating!)
Other things I’ve ticked off on my list this year include getting a degree, a tattoo (or three) and continuing to love God despite my circumstances (little did I know at fourteen what this really meant)
I feel as if this list is just trivial, and that I would add a lot more (and different) things to it if I were to update it now. But it makes me realize that I am beyond blessed… I have done much more than many people do in the short time of my life… and that is just about to be expanded on my next chapter of my journey.
Today was the day I said goodbye to close friends, family, and my wonderful Elliot at Auckland Airport. All morning I had the song “’Cause I’m leaving on a jet plane; don’t know when I’ll be back again” stuck in my head. And yes I am leaving on a jet plane today, but I will be back to the land of the long white cloud (I’m marrying a kiwi!). And these days, with facebook, smartphones and blogs we can keep in touch a whole lot easier. However, that leaving part, the part of actually hugging them for the last time in I don’t quite know how long required the leap of faith I took at the top of the Sky Tower.
I will never forget the feeling of hanging over the edge of a building, 192m above the ground. The first person in our group decided he couldn’t do the jump, which intensified our sacredness. Up until this point we were excited… and then nervous… and then all the “what ifs” came out before we jumped. “What if we die?” or “what if the rope doesn’t stop” etc…
There was a sudden realization of “this is it. Now or not at all.” I sure had enough adrenaline (sorry docs, my BP I’m sure was through the roof). I recognized I just needed to jump off the solid ground. And boy was I happy once I did. I’d do the jump a hundred times over… I nearly doubled over with excitement/shock when I made it to the bottom completely unhurt.
I felt the Sky Jump was a good metaphor of my life. At the moment I have my “solid ground” and the idea of jumping off is exciting, yet going into the unknown is scary. And common sense kicks in just before the jump. The ongoing thoughts of “why jump when you have a perfectly solid ground underneath you?” I have so many good friends, a nannying job which I love, interning with Heart kids, the best support crew and a blossoming relationship. The unknown of the jump suddenly seems beyond scary and I want to chicken out. But then I am reminded once again of why I am jumping. If I stayed in the same place the rest of my life I would not move forwards, and I would not become the best version of me
So it is time to be brave. To chase my dreams. To get specialist medical care. To start my career. To travel. And to become a better me. It’s time to take the leap of faith, and I’m excited to see where the UK will take me.
And now it’s time for a holiday in Perth…