Create cliffhangers in your life and JUMP!

Lured by the rush of adrenaline and weightlessness, Hank Caylor and his friend planned to jump. They entered the revolving door of the Embassy Suites Hotel, slipped past security and the front desk. The two-story escalator took them to the mezzanine. They dashed to the elevator. After riding up to the 38th floor, they made their way to the roof and climbed onto the ledge. With less than 400 feet and mere seconds from the impact of concrete, there was no room for error. BASE jumping is illegal in Denver. They had been warned.

BASE jumper on ledge of building

Hank and his friend dropped their gaze to the street below. While timing the traffic lights, so they wouldn’t get hit by a car or truck, the wind picked up.

Hank hesitated. His friend jumped. His parachute opened and he landed on the street. Crowds formed.

The longer Hank waited, the higher the risk that someone would run inside the hotel to tell security. They would call the cops. Security could be on their way to the roof already. He didn’t want to get busted.

He jumped.

At first he sailed down in a free fall, hands and legs splayed out. The rush of air whipped through his hair, stung his eyes and screamed in his ears. As he dropped, he pulled the ripcord of his parachute. But a sudden burst of wind blasted between the skyscrapers.BASE jumpers off antennae

It spun him around. Instead of floating to the street, the gust slammed him into the side of the building. His body smashed through a plate glass window on the 21st floor.

My heart pounded while Hank Caylor told me his story. I met him while he worked as an electrician in our home in 2000. He was recovering from that infamous BASE jump. Ironically, my husband and I lived on the 35th floor of the apartments at The Embassy Suites Hotel for two years when we were first married. I could picture everything.

I knew Hank survived, he stood right in front of me, but I hung on his words like I clung to the building beside him. It was the ultimate cliffhanger. Hundreds of stitches, jail time, and an acquitted lawsuit weren’t a part of his plan, but at least he took a chance. He didn’t wimp out.

So what does this have to do with you? Why should you jump?

You need to create cliffhangers in your life in order to challenge yourself.

Attaining a new goal can be exhilarating and can take you to a whole new level in life’s journey, but you have to be willing to take the leap and risk crashing in failure.

My son applied to an exclusive music production school. It required a detailed application, a Skype interview, submitting original music, and answering personal essay questions. He created a cliffhanger. While we waited to hear if he’d been accepted, he flew out to Los Angeles and took a tour. Impressed with the direction of the school and its graduates, the pressure to get in increased ten-fold. We all sat on the edge of our collective seats. Last Tuesday, he received an email. It contained a fantastic acceptance letter saying he had the talent they were looking for. Go Kelly! 

My daughter works in digital marketing, but has always been physically active. She participated in ballet, high school pom-pom, and CU’s Dance Team for half-time shows at football games. Now that she is working full-time, she goes to the gym on a regular basis and calls herself a “gym rat.” She is taking an intensive course to become a personal trainer to supplement her income. She created a cliffhanger. So far she’s passing with flying colors. Go Courtney!

Both of them have climbed up on the ledge, looked down and then jumped.

I can’t wait to see where they land in the next year or two. I sit on the edge of my seat and watch.

I’ve taken a huge risk in investing thousands of hours writing for this blog and my books. Now I am taking a leap in querying agents. Every day I check my email for responses. The rejections aren’t as painful as smashing through the plate glass window of a building, but they can be gut-punching setbacks.

Use failure as a way to improve.

I’ve received feedback in several rejections and my manuscript has been out on submission. Instead of giving up to self-publish, I’ve taken the constructive criticism, worked on my technique, and repacked my parachute. If I end up self-publishing anyway, I won’t look back and regret the querying process. The professional critique has hugely impacted my manuscript and it’s been free advice by top professionals.

You’ll never please everyone.

I want my book to be the best it can be. I’m not in a big hurry to publish. It’s worth the extra time.

Regardless of how it is published, someday I’ll face public reviews of my work. Talk about nerve-wracking while looking down at tiny traffic lights as turbulent wind pummels my face. I expect that no matter how much I revise and improve it, my book will be panned by someone.

Cliffhangers are a way of life.

Will I score an agent? Be traditionally published? Will my words find ten readers or ten thousand? Who knows?

The only way to find out is to climb out on that ledge and jump.

By the way, ElSalvador.com posted a video of Hank and two friends skydiving from a hot air balloon a few day ago. Go Hank!

Do you take the safe route in attaining goals or do you jump off the ledge?

76 thoughts on “Create cliffhangers in your life and JUMP!

  1. I agree about taking a few risks here and there. I never would have started a blog, got a house built, studied abroad if I’d been too scared to try. I think risk-taking comes down to how comfortable you are with failure and with your need for external validation. If your ego can handle fixing your own mistakes publicly, then you’re go to go. Jump on, I say. And best of luck with your latest adventure in book writing. *fingers crossed*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ally!
      You hit on so many good points! Wow.

      You’ve taken lots of risks. I would have loved to study abroad, but it was never an option for me. Being in a place that doesn’t speak your language is really taking a leap. I bet you have some amazing memories and earned a lot of confidence from the experience.

      I am pretty good about picking myself off the floor and starting again. I don’t give up easily. I take another hard look and rewrite instead.

      You’re right about the validation. I’ll admit I would love that, but can’t depend on it. This book isn’t my only project. In the meanwhile, I keep learning, seeking out information and improving my craft by doing tons of writing.

      This process is my least favorite part of writing. I just want to write!
      Thanks so very much for the finger crossing! Every little bit helps…

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much, Diana! I guess I did. 🙂
      I’m so happy they have the confidence to try! So many hold back and think “what if?” That can be a place holder for regret later. That is the worst!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful post Susie with a really powerful message. It’s so important to get out of our comfort zones (not that I’d jump from a building like Hank!) and take a few risks in life. It’s worth a few bruises, what you gain in confidence is priceless, as both you and your kids have discovered. Keep jumping Susie. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Miriam!
      It’s super scary. When pressing “send” and receiving a response, my heart could explode. I have to take a deep breath in both cases. But I agree about gaining confidence. I look at the personalized rejections that include advice as indications that I’m getting close.

      I am thrilled that my kids are taking leaps in their lives. Now’s the time and I think the more you do it, the more likely you are to put yourself out there in the future.
      I hope you’ll keep jumping too! 🙂

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  3. You’ve obviously instilled a take charge attitude in your kids’ lives. Well done. Good luck on the agent search. I would think the fact that you can illustrate as well should be a bonus in that regard.

    As for me, I’m not the “edge of the ledge” type normally, but I have taken off and landed on an aircraft carrier (as a passenger) several times (when I was in the navy.) I’ve also taken a hot air balloon ride in the Blue Ridge mountains in the fall. Spectacular!

    Oh, and I got married (48+ years ago.) Talk about risk taking!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t mentioned the illustrator side of the package, but will bring it up after scoring an agent. Hows that for positive thinking? 🙂
      Being adventurous isn’t for everyone, but it sounds like you’ve had your share of adrenaline rushes. I think a lot of writers are my polar opposite personality type. They send out 5-10 queries and give up. I haven’t sent out many, since I take time to personalize and revise each one, but I have about 150 to go. Hopefully I won’t crash and burn each time. OUCH!

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  4. Great post! I am constantly amazed at the things my kids jump for. (Wish I could say they got it from me!)

    Oh, and you will have at least ONE reader guaranteed. I can’t wait to review your book!

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    • Awww! Thanks so much, Barb. 🙂 You made my day.
      I’m sending out another query package today. It’s so tough on the nerves.
      It’s fun watching the kids to see what they accomplish. You may not think of yourself as a risk taker, but you’ve had some amazing experiences. It takes a lot of guts to publish books and you are so good at what you do!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I pick and choose my ledges, so I guess my risk-taking is calculated. I’ve FALLEN off many ledges, though, not necessarily by choice. Maybe that still counts as long as you pick yourself up and keep going, and don’t let the experience keep you from approaching new ledges. After all, that’s where you find the best views.

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    • Hey, Maggie! Somehow I missed your comment.
      I LOVE your comment about views. That is exactly what I’m talking about!
      Picking yourself up again is so important. There’s a lot of harm in giving up. It shuts a door on possibilities and undermines our confidence. Walking up to ledges and leaping builds that hope muscle. And we want to be strong!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Funny, I was just thinking about agents the other day…wondering when I’ll ever write something I feel is worthy of an agent’s eyes.

    Yes, I’m hypercritical, but considering everything but my poetry book is not something I could see a traditional publisher releasing, that makes a difference! (I suppose I could try sending Barefoot on the Couch to a publisher, but they’d probably make me take out all the pictures. 😛 )

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    • You go girl! Crashing and burning can leave its scars, but getting up to try again worth the risk. Your open arms will take you so much farther!!
      Thanks so much! I really appreciate the positive vibes…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi susie…

    -For myself, I had had to learn some very hard lessons, and at half a century plus now have learned to listen to my body, taking risks most always came with a sacrifice of self and if your quality of life matters and the well being and quality of lives of other around you within your family and community also matter’ then responsibility is a must. Life is indeed an art, in my youth I have made mistakes and I have made great achievement and made beautiful love and babies.

    I think the biggest risk which I had ever taken was when I in high school, I worked a hazardous industrial job all through the night and schooled all day, I also lived / co-habitated with my love / girlfriend in our apartment together. As a junior in high school which pissed my parents “The Ghosts off” especially when she became pregnant, I thought the news would be welcomed to my parents, but was I ever wrong about that, they turned viciously evil and cruel and a forced an abortion against our will with the threats of putting her in jail for Statuary rape for her being older than I, she was 18 and I was at the time 17. Well it really messed us both up bad. I quit my job and high school four months prior to graduation, packed up my car with all of our personal belongings, and left California with nothing. Driving east to Arizona I got a hard labor Job building a high rise and second job repairing boat hull at Lake Powell, in Page, Az. Then I took my money and drove us north to Northern Idaho on more blind hope. We had a baby daughter within the same year, married’ we had a second baby girl. All on blind hope and a need to distance us both from very evil self absorbed people.

    ‘You have to make life happen. Like in the late great Helen Keller’s Quote: “~ Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. – / And her other of my favorite Helen Keller Quote: ~ although the World is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming of it. – Helen Keller –

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    • Wow. That is quite a story of bravery. It’s amazing how messed up things can get with people who “want the best for you.”
      It’s going with your gut, faith and love that will get you through anything. You can’t pick your relatives, but you can choose what’s best for you. Onward, upward, and forward!!!
      Thanks for sharing!

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    • Quiet is good!
      He worked our house when we built it fifteen years ago. After I wrote this, I found the same story online and linked it up. It has always stayed with me, probably because we lived there. I found a video that recorded him skydiving this week from a hot air balloon! The guy is still at it. Amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I take risk—just a little slower than most—but your post is a great motivator. It offers a fervent reminder that we need to get in the game, stay busy, and take some calculated risk to experience life. Congratulations to you son, Susie.

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  9. Your book will be a bestseller I’m sure. I have jumped off a number of metaphorical cliffs and have to agree it is a better feeling for having done it. The health cliffs were especially challenging as you know.

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    • Awww! That is so nice of you to say that, John! You made my month. I just really enjoy the process of creating and writing and will be so happy when it’s published. I have more books lined up behind it.
      The jumping is such a huge part of growing don’t you think? But the health cliffs, we can do without!
      What are you writing now?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I really like the idea of “cliffhangers,” and the message here, but take issue with daredevils that risk others’ well being. I know that wasn’t the point, but I reflexively felt it, reading Hank’s story. As for your ledge, Jump Susie jump! All the best in finding that agent!

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    • He parachuted out of a hot air balloon this week! I can’t imagine.
      Thanks so much, Dawn! I’m jumping again tomorrow. The key for me is finding the agent looking for my story, so I hope we find each other soon. I have to admit the crashing is making my hide a lot tougher. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Jump indeed! I did that last July when we packed up everything we owned and headed across country to our new home and business venture in Vicksburg Mississippi. Talk about a cliffhanger!

    I’m standing on that ledge with you in the publishing world as well. I’ve sent out queries and gotten rejections and requests for partials, but I’m still waiting for “the call.” It’s going to happen. And if it doesn’t, I’ll land on my feet and find another way into the book world. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

    Keep hanging on and jumping when you’re ready.

    And super congratulations to your son! That’s so neat.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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    • Thanks so much, Patricia!
      You are so cool like that. You made a huge leap in your move. I know first hand that searching an agent is a very humbling experience. Congrats on your partials! I bet you get that call. 🙂

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  12. I like the concept of cliffhangers. I’m not a thrill seeker, but I do like challenges. Sometimes just being open to the possibilities in life and not being afraid of change builds in natural cliffhangers. Congratulations to your son on his acceptance to the school of his choice. And with the encouragement you bring to your children I have no doubt that your daughter will attain her goal as well. Very exciting times!

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    • Thanks Debra! Great to “see” you!
      It is vey exciting around the Lindau household with lots of trips to LA in mind. 🙂
      You are right! The whole idea is to look down at the possibilities and then go for it! Even if it means taking a risk. For me, it’s been a risk to put invest so much time in writing, but hey, it’s my thing now!
      Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Duuuuuude I know what you mean about cliffhangers. This whole blogging journey started off as a cliffhanger and so glad I did it as I’ve met so many good people and heard so many interesting stories. You know, I was going to ask you about your book because I haven’t talked to you for some time about that and I was just wondering how that was going, whether you went the traditional route with agent and publisher or if you took the independent route and self-published. I always feel conflicted about that but I’ve heard stories of success on both sides, just kind of depends how it pans out. I’m getting it back from friends and editing buddies right now and the query process is always difficult. Nibbles, nibbles, nibbles. Just waiting for that one hook. But I’m sure you’ll get yours too. I’m so happy to hear about Courtney and I know your family gets a lot of its inspiration from you. You’re the Wild Rider 🙂

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    • Thanks, Guat!
      This first one has been a learning process, but I’ve learned so much. It’s done and I’m querying. Waiting on pins and needles. I want to exhaust this avenue before trying others. I think there’s a lot to be said about the validation and what I could learn from an agent. Although I’ve heard a lot of good things about self-pubbing. You should check out this post about that subject and read the comments. https://susielindau.com/2016/03/23/traditional-vs-self-publishing-blew-up-facebook/
      Good luck to you! I know what you mean about the nibbles and ripples in the water. They have to LOVE it. There’s an agent for us, I just know it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks! I will check it out … I remember you saying you had written something on Facebook, but you know me, I’m a dinosaur with the that Facebook stuff. Sooooo glad you provided the link!! So I can just click on it. THANKS! I’ll let you know what I think 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

          • Duuuuude it appears that this is definitely a touchy subject. I’m kind of with you a bit, you know in terms of trying it the traditional way first and if that avenue isn’t open to me I can do the self pub route. I know a couple of writers on WordPress that have published that way and some feel it was successful, while others did not. But there is this whole ‘I’m Better Than You” “This Is More Legitimate” tag against people who self pub and I don’t know about that. Don’t think all traditionally published books are better (ridiculous reality stars who “write” a book), they’re just luckier. But if you can earn some dough and keep writing then that’s a success to me.

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            • You’re right! Being traditionally published usually, but not always means the book has gone through a lot of hands including several pro edits before publishing. The bigger the author, the less time they spend, so I see a lot of poorly written books by bestsellers. From what I have gathered, it’s a crap shoot no matter what you do. I’m still pursuing the agent/trad publishing route. I’ve gotten close and still have my fingers crossed. Good luck to you too, Guat! Are you querying?

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    • I’m glad to be that bandage! Our egos all get shot down from time to time. That’s life. It’s whether we have the courage to stand up and try again that is the difference in succeeding.
      Go Uma!

      Like

  14. You gotta jump. You’ve got to always be ready and willing to reinvent yourself. You have to see disappointments as a chance to learn, not a “failure” and a defeat. Water is masterful at chipping away and finding another route if necessary. You are made up of a whole bunch of water, so mimic it. Best lessons a parent can teach their kids
    Go, Susie, go!

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    • Thanks so much, Phil. I agree about reinvention. It goes along with adjusting, learning and growing in order to keep moving along that path. Be the water! I LOVE it!! As long as I don’t freeze. Ha! Gotta keep on moving….

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    • The rejections build resilience and a thicker hyde, don’t you think? We are in a business full of it. Imagine actors. They are most often judged on the surface. That would be terribly hard. But we can take criticism and learn from it. Revise, edit, rewrite and submit it again.
      All it takes is one good bite!
      Good luck to you! Thanks for stopping by the Wild Ride.

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    • The actual ones are way too hard on my knees and against doctors orders. Ha!
      The metaphorical ones are exciting. They can take to all kinds of interesting places. Thanks for stopping by, Jay!

      Like

  15. NO !!!! I really don’t need to jump, Susie ! I’ve climbed enough mountains, Looked over too many cliffs, …and seen too many other dangerous events in my lifetime. I’m saving my adrenaline for the times coming when I really need it ! 🙂

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  16. Congratulations on your children’s successes, Susie! The apples don’t fall far from the tree and your justifiable pride is evident! So good!
    I noticed your comment further up about Barber’s article. I had somehow missed that whole debacle. So I took the time now to go and read her article. All I can say, Susie, is that she is seriously misinformed and most of her post is sheer nonsense. There are many literary authors who have switched to the indie world in recent years, for a variety of reasons … think J.K. Rowling. Many indie authors use the same editors, cover designers, and other vital support, as those in the traditional world because most people who work in those fields have to freelance now. Many indie authors receive great recognition … for example, Lisa Genova, who initially indie published the amazing “Still Alice”.
    I have many friends with trad publishers who have to market themselves because the traditional houses no longer have the budgets of yesteryear. Good, serious indie authors learn to market with taste and efficiency (spamming is definitely not acceptable) and most of our time is spent on our craft, writing our stories.
    I feel fortunate to have one foot in each world but will always encourage serious writers to try the indie route if it is taking years for their good work to be published.
    I won’t blather on here about it. You and I have had this conversation before and I’m always happy to continue it with you. Just please promise me you will not use Barber’s post as “the truth”, because it so terribly isn’t.
    Onward, my talented friend!

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    • Thanks so much, Pat! I am a proud mom and they are hard workers. Exciting times!
      I knew that article was ridiculous, but I loved how it inspired conversation. I would love to learn the publishing ropes by being traditionally published, but will self-publish if I can’t find an agent or boutique publisher. It’s quite a process. Wouldn’t it be great if we could hire someone to find an agent or publisher for us? Actors have managers. Why can’t we? I would rather spend my time writing. Speaking of talent, congrats on your third book! Woohoo!

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  17. I love the risks your kids are taking! As for Kelly, the music industry today is over populated with a lot of no talent. I’m happy to hear that his was recognized and that he took that tour while waiting, not allowing his passion to sit on the sidelines.. Go Kelly!!!
    This post hit home…time to figure out what cliff I can hang off of in the near future. Good luck on getting your work published!
    Thanks Susie!!!

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    • Thanks so much, Lisa! He is super excited. We are flying out next week to find him a place to live. It’s all getting very real!

      Cliffs are good for us. With so many balls in the air above my pointed head, I find it hard to keep walking to the ledge. But every time I put myself out there, I’m so glad I did. Good luck to you in packing your parachute, Lisa! It’s scary, but thrilling to jump.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Lisa! I’m packing my parachute and taking another leap today. Ha! The “win win” is exactly my point. In most cases, people aren’t losing anything except pride, but they can be waaaaaaay better off for leaping. We’ve all got to jump!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I can’t believe that guy lived to tell the story! His guardian angel was working overtime that day. You do meet the most interesting people, Susie.

    I just know a faboo agent is about to email you any day now. Go, go, go!

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    • He’s still at it. I added a video of Hank jumping from a hot air balloon…last week! I do meet interesting people. You won’t believe who I met on Sunday. Blog post alert…

      Thanks so much, Peg! I keep imagining that email too. Positive thinking goes a long way….
      Great to “see” you!

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  19. I do like your philosophy on cliffhangers. I’m a big advocate of choosing new challenges to push me out of my comfort zone and always setting a deadline. I don’t want to dip my toe in the water. I don’t want to dabble. I’m not really interested in starting unless I have a real deadline to force myself to progress and hold myself accountable.

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    • You’re cool like that, Paul! You take on the challenge headlong. I don’t think most people do that since it’s too uncomfortable. You take the ultimate risk in your stand up and get immediate feedback. Boulder just hosted http://igniteboulder.com/ and I thought of you! I’d have to work up to working a crowd that size.

      Danny and I went to a celebrity thing last Sunday. (I plan to blog about it.) Public speaking used to be my greatest fear. Now I don’t think I would have a problem speaking to a room full of people about something I knew a lot about. But asking a question in front of a crowd is nerve wracking. I worry that it might be an eye-roller or has already been asked and I missed it. If I have a question, I ask. It’s breaking down that fear. Baby jumps…

      Like

  20. Pingback: The Boob Report – Three Years Cancer-Free | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

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