Growing up in a house of 3 girls (and our brother, God bless him), you’d be surprised to know we didn’t spend much time together under that roof. As adults, we each started living our separate lives. We got busy with things like raising children, pursuing careers, and “living the dream.”
We got busy taking on too much, feeling stressed out 24/7, and putting everyone’s needs far and above our own. Each of our dreams independently turned to restless nights after just trying to get through each day, before any of us realized it.
I was creeping up on one of those birthdays you don’t want to celebrate. You know the ones. They cause you to stop and take a closer look at where your life is truly headed.
Yeah, that birthday.
One thing the three of us got right was always spending our birthdays together. I couldn’t imagine this one any other way. However, being the big birthday it was, I wanted to do something different.
A chance to get away, to reconnect with each other and ourselves, New Zealand was that place.
How we were all able to swing it, I’m still trying to figure out.
I think we all knew deep down this was something we needed - even if on the surface it looked frivolous and self-indulgent.
We planned, talked and laughed about all the things we wanted to do, see and experience. Then an idea surfaced that made my hair stand on end. Anna and Janell (the middle and youngest sisters) had heard about “The Nevis”, a bungee jump in New Zealand.
They launched into explaining their “fantastic” plan of including this in our trip. While they talked over each other (in the excited way only sisters and very close friends can do) my stomach flipped and danced in a way that almost sends you to the bathroom.
Maybe it was the Cabernet or the excitement of an exotic adventure, but they had truly lost their minds. I was on board for a nice vacation to escape my problems for a while, but plunging to my death is where I draw the line.
That was just irresponsible.
In an effort to help them ease back into reality, I shouted,
“Who’s going to take care of your children if your bungee cord snaps??”
My alarm was barely noticed by the growing excitement in their plans. They were more than happy to go off and have fun - sticking me with the responsibilities if anything goes wrong.
As the oldest in our family, I’m used to being put in charge.
Growing up, my siblings had to listen to me. They always said I was too serious and needed to have more fun.
But this was different. Jumping off a cliff didn’t sound like fun to me, it sounded like a unique form of torture. I’ve always been afraid of heights, even the monkey bars on the school playground scared me - there, I said it.
What would happen if I fell? I might be seriously hurt - or at least my pride would be.
Before you think to yourself, “you wuss,” let me explain The Nevis.
My sisters didn’t pick just any ol’ bungee jump. They picked the most extreme one they could find.
The Nevis requires you to go in a cable car suspended between two mountains, strap yourself into a harness, Mummy wrap your feet together, and walk out onto a plank 440 feet in the air.
If that’s not enough to make your stomach flip, it gets worse.
After you jump (which itself, is insane) you endure an 8.7 second free-fall before YOU are supposed to remember to pull a ring by your feet. This turns you right side up again.
Then, you bounce a few times like a kangaroo on a trampoline until they finally end your misery and begin pulling you back up by a cable.
How fun, my sisters thought.
So how did I find myself staring at that plank over 400 feet in the air? A.J. Hackett in Queenstown promised me I could go with my sisters on this death march, I mean excursion, even if I didn’t want to jump.
I could still be part of it without threatening my life, always the voice of reason.
A.J. Hackett required me to complete the paperwork and weigh in as if I were jumping, for legal reasons.
Umm was it a trick? Were they in on something with my sisters? They assured me it was a formality.
We began the trek up the mountain which felt more like a spider ride at the theme park than a bus ride. Did I say I get car sick? Yeah, I’m a walking barrel of fun.
I sound like such a wimp, but maybe that’s just who I am. My condition wasn’t helped by the fact my sisters and I just finished a beautiful winery tour right before this. Well played, sisters, well played.
Finally, we arrived and they broke us into small groups - we were the last. Fine by me. Our turn came and I agreed to go in the cable car to watch. They insisted on wrapping me in the straps - for safety - but really all it did was make me look like a hardware store display around Halloween.
Getting in the cable car was enough of a rush for me. My stomach flipped again, palms got sweaty, and I felt like my heart was beating out of my throat.
Why, oh, why was I here. What if the cable breaks, what if the strap breaks, what if this guy has a heart attack, what if I have a heart attack...
During my panic, my sisters were joking and laughing - enjoying every minute of their adventure.
What was wrong with them? Did they not see where they were? Did they not realize our danger? Clearly they didn’t care.
The guys running the show in our cable car were definitely the A Team.
It felt like hanging out with cheerleaders on steroids. They pumped everyone up, high fived everyone, and made it seem like the easiest thing in the world was to hurl yourself from a rock 440 feet in the air.
“Anna, you’re up”
No, no she’s not ready. She has a child. She looks terrified, she should be terrified!
They click her in, check her straps, and everything is happening so fast I’m convinced she can’t understand the instructions.
Soon she’s at the edge of the plank and I’m trying to keep down the wine and cheese from the vineyard tour.
She’s frozen, everyone’s eyes are on Anna.
Yes! She’s come to her senses, we can all leave now!
3-2-1 JUMP ANNA!!!
And she’s gone.
I can’t see her fall because if I look over that cliff I’m going to pass out, so I waited.
We waited for what seemed like an eternity, but I soon begin to see her face.
She is smiling, pumped with adrenaline, yelling at the top of her lungs. They pull her in and she is radiant. Everyone is screaming, even me.
But, wait where’s Janell? Oh no, she’s up next. Going through the same nauseating drill.
She’s the baby of the family, the one we all watch over, and she’s walking to the edge of the plank. She seems so excited but why? She’s yelling, YES!!!
Janell, 3-2 and she jumps!
She didn’t wait for 1 before she was gone. The cable car erupts again. Wow! She was so brave. When she came back into that cable car her face shone like the afternoon sun.
She and Anna were embracing, shouting, filled with an alluring cocktail of adrenaline and pride.
I was so happy for them. They said they were going to do it and they did. They were scared before that jump, I saw it, but they did it anyway.
As I watched what was happening around me the excitement of it all, I knew I was on the outside of it.
My fear had me pinned to the wall of the cable car. I wanted to high five with them, I wanted to share the excitement of that moment with them not from the sidelines as an observer.
Did I want to live my life observing or did I want to experience it?
Their excitement and bravery shook something loose inside me, and I stood up.
Before I realized what I was agreeing to, they shuffled me to the edge of the plank.
Just like my sisters before me, I was done being on the sidelines.
Their shouts were deafening, I couldn’t hear myself think. GO KENA, YES!!! You can do this!!!
Then the guy says,
“See that tree on the mountain?”
“That’s a tree? Looks like a speck!”
“Swan dive towards it.”
Swan dive. Has this guy met me? I’m more of a flopper than a diver, but sure, Swan Dive it is…
The fearful thoughts were drowned out by encouraging voices ringing in my ears. All the voices came together to shout…
1 one million, 2 one million, 3 one million, 4 one million, 5 one million, 6 one million, 7 one million, 8 one million! PULL.
Thank the LORD I'M ALIVE!
I felt alive. I was proud. I was excited.
As they pulled me back up to the ledge to meet my cheering section, I realized how much I’d missed in my life because of fear.
In that moment, I made a promise to myself that fear will never keep me from experiencing great moments again. It will not stop me from pursuing my dreams.
If I had the courage to do this...I have the courage inside me to do anything.
I was finished being a spectator of life, living on the sidelines watching other people create memories.
I want my own memories, just like the one we created that day on the side of a mountain in New Zealand.
Most of all, fear was holding me back from bigger dreams. I was stuck wondering, what if it didn’t work, what if I couldn’t do it, what if........
I knew my life changed that day. I felt it.
When we returned home from the trip, I began to create jewelry inspired by that feeling. The choice between staying comfortable and taking action despite your fear. Jewelry to remind us of our story together and the places we have yet to travel.
Not everyone will pursue their dreams, or continue chasing the next one.
Only the few.
Which is why I took the leap to create Few Made, Inspired by my Journey, Designed for Yours.
- Kena Treadway, Founder, Few Made
SHOP THE PIECE INSPIRED BY THE JUMP
The Nevis Necklace