Shane McConkey Extreme Athlete | Not Afraid of Dying, but of Not Living Fully

Shane McConkey, extreme skier, base-jumper, wingsuit

Shane McConkey always wanted to make people laugh

By chance, or rather synchronicity, I tuned in to a documentary about Shane McConkey, an American skier whose style was so over-the-top, that he continually raised the bar in the extremes he displayed in his maneuvers. Skiing down narrow shoots, performing multiple somersaults off cliffs more often than not, was eventually replaced with base jumping. Naturally, when wingsuit flying was introduced because of the technology of fabrics, he was all over it.

His father had been a professional skier, whose involvement in his own pursuits impelled him to follow this path rather than that of remaining with his family.

Shane McConkey surprising the audience skiing naked in a slalom race

Shane McConkey surprising the audience skiing bottomless in a slalom race

Endlessly, Shane was clowning; doing all sorts of stunts to make people laugh. He was continually the life and light of whatever event. Such as competing with other contestants in a slalom race, with no pants on.

Wherever he’d arrive to ski, he’d blow people away with his graceful and daring ski jumps and runs. Throughout his career he had multiple injuries; broken bones and dislocations.

He changed the face of skiing;

both in the maneuvers he pulled off and in his designs. He came up with the concept of the fatter ski, now the standard. He also designed ski boots.

A movie is coming out documenting his life. Here’s the trailer.

Watching the documentaries about his life, one follows his path to the most majestic mountains and glorious terrain; witnessing in awe his spectacular feats. The quest of Shane and his buddies was to seek out extraordinary heights and challenges worldwide. They traveled the globe to the most venerable peaks to plot the cliffs they would jump off; in the States, Norway, Italy, South America, Asia and the Arctic circle…

Majestic peaks in view with one of Shane McConkey's ventures

Majestic peaks in view with one of Shane McConkey’s ventures

Shane proceeded to do this in more and more complex ways: combining skiing while wearing a wingsuit – launching off cliffs – doing multiple somersaults  – then sailing the cliff like a bird before deploying the parachute. It’s phenomenal to see how much courage he had. Talk about squeezing every last drop out of seeking the ultimate experiences in life!

Quoting his friend, “People like Shane and I are not afraid of death, we’re more afraid of not living fully.

Shane McConkey, BIG Air

Shane McConkey getting BIG Air

 

Shane McConkey extreme sport athlete Wingsuit jumping

Shane McConkey extreme sport athlete Wingsuit jumping

If was when he was performing a ski jump – wingsuit maneuver in the Dolomites in Italy on March 26, 2009, that he died. Though he’d already performed this successfully multiple times, he had technical difficulties when the skis didn’t release from the bindings properly. He had executed a double back-flip and when the skis didn’t properly eject, it sent him into a spin. Though he did manage to manually release the skis; moving at 110 mph, by the time he had ejected them he was already too close to the ground when the parachute opened.

The feature I saw was on the cable station “Animal Planet”. The link below is a comprehensive article about his life.

http://adventuresportsjournal.com/snow_sports/backcountry-skiing/mcconkey

Shane McConkey Extreme Skier, Basejumper, Wingsuit diver

Shane_McConkey Extreme Skier, Basejumper, Wingsuit diver

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Final metamorphosis of the ‘eBook Trailer’ for “Adora & Vitali: A Spin on the Matter of Motion”

In fact, it is continually being revised! Here’s the sneak preview of my eBook, of which the best prospective readers are more than likely the cyber charter – online schools – and home-schooling groups!

“Adora & Vitali: A Spin on the Matter of Motion”

I’d say it has reached its final metamorphosis! Basically, other facets of ‘life’ got in the way !-))

http://spinonmatter.carbonmade.com/projects/4800092#1

Adora & Vitali: A Spin on the Matter of Motion trailer thumbnails

Adora & Vitali: A Spin on the Matter of Motion trailer thumbnails

Thanks to http://carbonmade.com for making it quite simple to build and display, for free!!

Announcement of my soon to be released eBook

I intend to release my first book around the summer solstice, June 21st.

“Adora & Vitali: A Spin on the Matter of Motion”

Due to having not a ‘low’, but ‘no’ budget ‘-) I’ll produce an eBook prior to the first print edition. Besides writing, illustrating and composing music for the digital version, I’m publishing and marketing it too; using iBook Author, Smashwords as well as (kdp) Kindle of Amazon, so that it can be read on whatever platform or device the reader prefers. I’ll also do a voice-over for an audio-book version. The print will be POD ‘print on demand’ for starters. It’s all new terrain and the whole process is a learning experience, about which I’ll be happy to share any information!

Below is an ‘inside/back cover’ summary about what the book entails! I’m open to any suggestions, yet particularly I’d love to hear about any venues (book stores/cafes in your area) which you recommend for me to contact to set up ‘readings’. Once I schedule dates at various locations, I’ll map out a tour. I’m always up for traveling and talking with people! From early on, I anticipated creating versions in French, Spanish and German, especially on the digital platform. This would give the reader the option to read the same content in another language as a learning tool. I’m conversant in these and love learning languages. Since I’m not fluent, I’ll naturally need editors who are native speakers. adoras_path_satellite_revised_2_10_13
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“Adora & Vitali: A Spin on the Matter of Motion” is a spiritual quest imbued with scientific concepts. It is woven throughout with parcels of information relevant to the phenomena that emerge in the story itself. It is specifically designed to inspire curiosity and evoke within the reader the desire to learn more about the fascinating nature of our universe.

A children’s book for adults or classroom textbook embedded within a tale, it has approximately 80 illustrations throughout (black & white as well as color): from scientific diagrams and charts to character and fantasy images. Interwoven throughout are about 120 (and counting) active links; a ‘live’ bibliography that not only substantiates the facts but gives the reader a means to explore in more depth each of the subjects covered.

The tale involves a young woman named Adora, who after learning of a place which enchants her because of its mysterious qualities, decides to journey there. The place not only has almost no gravity, which is extraordinary in itself, but the people residing there have exceptional qualities of mind and spirt. None are capable of lying – they are sentient beings able to telepathically read each others’ minds. A utopian, transparent world, where only truth and honesty exist; in which intentions are transmitted through love. To reach her destination, she is instructed to follow the magnetic lines. The book is a journey to this place with its supernatural characteristics, distilled with information revealing how this theoretically ‘could’ occur. For example, successive natural phenomena were triggered as a result of accelerated global warming.

Besides reading the book sequentially, it is designed as a reference tool in which one can jump from one topic to another; each covered on its unique page. The book is geared for curious readers from adolescent on; for students, science or science fantasy enthusiasts, or those curious about spirituality and consciousness. Generally, those intrigued with adventures into the unknown. Besides being a tale infused with symbolism and mystery (“Adora” means “love” and “Vitali” means “life”), it is a multimedia ‘expeditionary learning platform’, which peers into the phenomena of nature from the microscopic world of subatomic physics to the cosmic, including a smorgasbord of other topics from biology, to geology, chemistry and more, displaying how extraordinary ‘our’ world is. As the title suggests, among other phenomena in the natural world, the book strives to build an appreciation and understanding of the integral role that electromagnetism plays in all of life as well as the communication of love.

with love,
carolkeiter@gmail.com

Pursuit of Happiness  | IDEA  | Authentic Happiness  |  PERMA | Motion

In my pursuit of happiness, a couple months ago I decided to take a trip. It appeared to be pretty spontaneous, yet I had intended to eventually make this circuit, after having lived for the last 6 years in Europe. I had moved to Barcelona in 2004 and then Berlin, Germany for a second time in 2005. It had been a while since I had physically visited these former communities and friends living there, upon returning to the United States on the eve of Christmas, 2011. My first prompt was to reach San Francisco by the day of the How Weird Street Faire http://howweird.org, which would certainly bring a lot of people together in one place, from among the community of people I knew while living in the ccc warehouse, back in the day when my housemate Brad Olsen had established the first How Weird. En route, I decided that I could visit friends in Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico, as I made my way to the West coast. I was originally drawn to Taos, a high desert town not far from the Colorado border and nestled in the lower reaches of the Rocky mountains, for snow skiing. I had worked at the ski area there teaching skiing for several years, then later lived in Santa Fe in 2003, teaching skiing at the Ski Basin. The point of this trip was to assess where I might wish to relocate, if it happens to be in the United States, and also to visit with friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. As I mentioned in the last blog, I found a flight to Denver, with the intention of hitch-hiking to Taos, as my first destination. After staying in Taos for the first stretch, I continued hitching on to several additional New Mexico locations, and further on to California. I successfully made it to the street fair on time, and really had a delightful visit throughout. I cut my journey short however, because of a number of reasons. Though my initial incentive was to investigate Portland and Seattle as well as Los Angeles, as potential places to consider relocating, I opted against them. Basically, I intuited that probably each of these towns offer a combination of what I’m looking for in a residence; lots of opportunities for people to participate in music, cultural, art related and outdoor sports like mt. biking, ultimate frisbee and nearby mountains for skiing and snow boarding, as well as having a solid infrastructure for bicycle routes along with a good public transportation network (with the exception of LA). However, what I would miss, is the accessibility of dipping into different European languages on a regular basis, which is typical in Berlin. I studied cultural anthropology and am fascinated by languages and the movement of them along cultural migratory routes. I have to admit that I am not too keen on monotone weather either, and really prefer the dynamics of four seasons.

My visiting adventure came to a poignant exclamation mark wrap-up, when I found myself seated on a return flight to the East coast next to a woman who had just written an article http://positivepsychologynews.com/news/elaine-obrien/2012053122448 in Positive Psychology News about health, fitness and general well being. She was touching on the subject of happiness, which I’ve ironically been blogging about numerous times. The mantra of many of my friends is ‘there are no coincidences’. Elain was returning from the 2012 IDEA Health and Fitness Convention, and had just published an article about it, writing specifically about the association. Here are their publications. http://www.ideafit.com/idea-fitness-journal

With her aura of helpfulness and kindness, Elaine was ebullient as she offered information about the subject of fitness, health and Kinesiology (movement). Years ago when I lived in San Francisco and was sketching a guy sitting next to me at a bar, he asked me to draw my ‘favorite thing’. I responded with an impromptu picture of concentric circles, indicating that this was an image of the concept of motion. Here’s the original sketch on a napkin

and a subsequent version on a card I created.

Motion

I spontaneously revealed that motion is my favorite thing; both geographical, intellectual, physical, spiritual…indicating that through moving to a new place/perspective, can one acquire a new insight. I later read Elaine’s article and saw a quote of Plato’s prominently placed at the beginning: “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical exercise save it and preserve it.”

Elaine writes that Peter and Kathie Davis started the group IDEA, to ‘inspire the world to fitness and wellness’, back in 1982, which has now grown to 65,000 members worldwide. They wanted to create “an association where fitness professionals could learn from each other and from the experts”. According to Peter, “Fitness professionals focused mostly on the body for the first 25 years. What we at IDEA have tried to do in the last few years, is to encourage fitness leaders to understand the mind, the body, and the spirit together in a wholeness model. Through this, we can inspire wellness and positive transformation.” Their incentive is to re-frame the way that people look at health and fitness, to recognize how integrally these are related to the pursuit of happiness. They wish to inspire people to make healthier behavioral changes towards wellness.

She also quotes Tal Ben-Shahar, “Exercise feels good, enhances self-esteem, induces calm, improves thinking, makes you feel more attractive, has virtually no negative side effects, is legal, and is free.” He teaches a course on ‘Happiness’ within the Positive Psychology department at Harvard, University, and has written a book “Happier”. Interviewed on The Daily Show, he mentions that students claim that the course makes them feel happier. He hopes to raise the level of happiness and quality of life in the community.

How do we understand happiness and how can we apply this to our lives? There’s a growing movement in positive psychology and for the first time a ‘science of Happiness’. A study done by the Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, not to be confused with con man’-)) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Kahneman has found that people are less happy if they are too distracted. Therefore, this is not merely about physical fitness and motion, but the necessity of being ‘present’ in what you’re doing. In addition, studies demonstrate that meditation can actually affect how the brain works, so that people can feel the positive emotions more fully and be more resilient to deal with negative ones. Incidentally, my frustration with my refusal to specialize, and insistence in juggling multiple projects in disparate areas, sometimes causes me to feel like I’m not making enough headway. A few weeks ago as I was sensing this, I decided to ‘randomly’ pull a magazine out from a pile of “Utne Readers” to see if the one I picked might synchronistically deliver a message. Ahhh, the one that I slid out from near the bottom of the stack spoke ardently about my ‘problem’.

A Focused Life

It was the issue with the theme of “Focus” and “Why We Are So Distracted and What to Do About It

My airplane neighbor Elaine also talked about Dr. Martin Seligman, the Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. It’s more than serendipity, that his homepage is “Authentic Happiness” His website welcomes visitors to use the tools and resources available for free.

An excerpt of his book, “Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being” “What Is Well-Being? The Original Theory: Authentic Happiness” describes that we not only make choices because something makes us feel good, with more measurable happiness; such as pleasure, comfort, delight, joy, ecstasy. But we also can really derive happiness by being ‘in the flow’ of an activity, when we are totally engaged. This is when time appears to stop, because we are so completely absorbed in an activity that we lose track of time. Engagement is different, even opposite to positive emotion he says, because people often become so involved in an activity that they are aware of nothing, and are not thinking or feeling. The flow involves having to employ your highest strengths and skills. With respect to this, I like to make the analogy of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, when he talks about “using the force”. Seligman states that the third element of happiness that he defines in his book, is meaning. Summarizing his well-being theory since revising it further, it is encompassed in these measurable elements which all contribute to happiness, expressed in the acronym PERMA. Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning/purpose and Accomplishment.

I like the fact that my journey pulled me back to these same themes, motion and happiness, which I am engaged in perpetually, in my pursuit of happiness, fulfillment and meaning. My intention is to aspire to and maintain health, resilience and awareness, balanced with forever engaging in what I love to do, so that I can somehow contribute to inspiring and guiding others to find their own path.

https://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/happiness/

http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/guides-to-living-longer-happier-lives-right-here-right-now/

http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/speaking-of-happiness-laughter-yoga-giggling-guru-madan-kataria/

http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/happyness-making-the-best-of-what-you-have/

http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/gross_domestic_problem_-why-measurement-of-wealth-depends-on-a-healthy-environment/