This is somewhat of an anniversary for me. Maybe more of a milestone, or a reminder to look at how far I've come. About a year ago I moved into my own place, with nothing more than a pocket full of tandem money and the confidence I'd easily find a job to work over the winter so I could go back to paragliding full-time the following spring and summer.
But living close to a flying site often means you're living in a small town, and living in a small town can mean a struggle to find work. Typical job ads read, "Experienced milker wanted" or "Chicken catchers needed". Not being proficient in any of these, I've kept my eye open for office jobs or retail or something else exciting from the "et cetera" column on the Craigslist job postings. I spent my days applying for jobs and doing whatever contract work or odd jobs for friends I could find, and would "play" my nights away...getting lost for hours working on my website (although it never felt like work).
In February I was hired at my current retail job, which happily started out as full time as it was a new store and we were prepping it for opening. The hours slowly dwindled down to very very very part time, and the frantic search for something to supplement it began. I loved the job and didn't want to replace it with something else full time, especially since it was spring now and that meant tandems, right?
Wrong. Mother Nature had other ideas, and I flew maybe 10 per cent the amount of tandems I had last year. What was I thinking in trying to run a flying business? But every time I considered putting my ambitions on hold, something pulled me back in. A new student. A group of tandems. Media opportunities. Great turn-outs at the paragliding courses I started teaching. Becoming an authorized dealer for my Flyte Park microvarios and having such a positive response to them (and my tshirts too!). Friends believing in me and sending me business. Then the big one...the Skywalk paraglider sponsorship! Every time I thought that this dream was just that - a silly dream - something else would pop up as if to say, "Don't you dare give up on this!"
So I've stubbornly carried on, even cutting down on my personal flying to save the money I'd have spent on gas to drive to the take-off to simply make ends meet. Why? I've talked it this before, but I HAVE to fly. It's not an option, it's mandatory. And if I can't fly I have to help others fly, or learn more about flying myself. It's bigger than me, and it's what keeps pushing me through the challenging moments.
A few more job opportunities have been presenting themselves lately, and I'm confident that I can get back to a place where I'll feel more comfortable financially again. It may be another lean winter, I may not get to join my friends on flying trips to sunny destinations, but I know I'm on the right path. After reading so many inspirational books lately on success and those who struggled and made it, I know this is just part of the process...that this is the time to have the most faith and believe in myself and Just Keep Going.
In the meantime, I will search onwards for more fun things to sell on my website (shameless plug! Buy something from me! http://www.jetsetparagliding.com/shop.html ) and follow the signposts that keep popping into my life that tell me I'm doing the right thing.