life list

Life List: Hike in Hawaii, Jump Off a Cliff, and Yell “Geronimo!” on the Way Down – Check!

Twin Falls | 6300 Hana Highway, Haiku | Maui

When I imagined checking this off my Life List, I pictured it being thrilling and breezy. No big deal, leap into the water, “Geronimo-oooooo!” Splash! Yay!

Then I got to the top of the waterfall and looked down. And down and down and down.

Hmmm. This ice cold pit in the middle of my stomach was… not what I had imagined feeling. Instead of jumping I stayed put, wrapped my arms around my torso, and shook.

Daffodil’s eleven year old had picked this particular waterfall for me on the grounds that it “wasn’t too scary”. He grinned and launched himself by me into the water as easily as I’d been imagining I would.

“Come on!” he called up from the lagoon. “It’s fine!”

Her husband jumped, too, and Daffodil perched with my camera aimed at me, waiting, while tears dripped onto my swimsuit. It was really not ok.

“Ugh! Why is this so difficult?”

It was obviously safe, but I was terrified anyway, and as the minutes slid by, it turned from something fun into a Big Fucking Deal. I started to feel awkward and kind of over it.

Luckily for YOU, she caught my entire crisis on camera.

“Why the fuck is this so high?!”

“Ok, here I go!” Except not.

Actually crying. Like a weenie.

After a solid 15 minutes of standing there freaking out, I concluded my “work up the nerve” method was bunk. The “nerve” wouldn’t come; it was simply a decision to be made or not. So I decided.

“I don’t think I’m going to do this.”

“Um, I’m not letting you leave without doing it.” Daffodil called back. “You know this. And it’s really not that big a deal. Just do it!”

So I changed my mind and launched myself into the air, completely scared out of my mind.

I kind of had to, right? I’d traveled nearly 5000 miles to be there, and it’s been on my Life List for years. Plus Lucy was watching. She’s seven, and according to her, I’m “really cool and fun”. Girls in our culture are bombarded with messages telling them to be pretty, not feisty; to be cool, not strong. I had an example to set. She couldn’t see me chicken out.

Later Daffodil, who jumped for the first time herself right after me, pointed out that it was so, so much more than just jumping off a waterfall.

I surfaced laughing and exhilarated. It was amazing to have done it, and I was giddy.

Then another jump, right after. It wasn’t easier the second time – it might have actually been more difficult because of the fresh memory of the feeling of falling which is, frankly, horrible – but it cemented my bravery. Which is important, because the pursuit of bravery is kind of my thing these days.

I did it!

P.S. My bathing suit top – and bottom.


  1. SAWK

    14 June 2012 at 11:23 am

    Dear Amber – I was having a shit day until I read this.
    Thank you so much for reminding me what is important, and to not be afraid.
    You are awesome.
    – SAWK

  2. Kizz

    14 June 2012 at 11:43 am

    I think it would also be brave to take the “Like a weenie” part out of that caption. You’re human and you did something brave. It wouldn’t have been brave if you hadn’t been afraid.

    Good call on posting the swim suit link ’cause that is one fine suit and it looks fabulous on you!

    Thanks! It did an excellent job of not going askew when I hit the water. I was “locked and loaded”.

  3. Leslie

    14 June 2012 at 11:52 am

    YES! Good for you! But what I love THE MOST about this post is that you included all those (adorable) pictures of you freaking out about jumping. THAT is the beauty here. That is wasn’t easy, that you struggled, that you had to fight with the rational parts of your brain telling you not to do this. But then you did it anyway! You embraced your fear and just threw yourself off the cliff. Way to go girl. You rock and you are indeed “really cool and fun.” xo

    PS. The captcha for my comment is “Victoires” which is French for Victories, so, VICTORIES!

  4. Nichole

    14 June 2012 at 11:54 am

    You are awesome! I would’ve cried, too.

  5. Elly

    14 June 2012 at 11:59 am

    You are AWESOME! I always get so proud when I see other people checking things off their lists, and even more so when it isn’t so easy. You’re a rockstar hey 🙂

  6. Jen

    14 June 2012 at 12:18 pm

    YES! So glad this happened! And totally, I echo what everyone else said, which is THAT IT IS TOTALLY NORMAL TO NOT LOOK AT A TALL JUMP AND THINK “WHHHHHEEEEEEE”! 😉

  7. Shannon

    14 June 2012 at 1:15 pm

    You’re amazing. For reals. 🙂

  8. Daffodil Campbell

    14 June 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Gives a whole ‘nother meaning to the song “Way Down”, huh???
    As I told you while we both stood on the cliff (and dammit, that was a CLIFF) “if it was easy, it wouldn’t be a life list item”. And you *had* to do it twice – the first time you didn’t know what to expect – and the not knowing was scary. The second time, you knew what to expect, and you knew it was scary as hell – AND YOU STILL DID IT. That right there is total bravery.

    I invite anyone to join me in Maui, face some fears, fly through the jungle, and turn your face to the sun. Maui can be a very healing place. Hurry back, the kids miss their Auntie and trivia night is tonight at the bar. SLIPPERY NIPPLES FOR EVERYONE.


  9. Val

    14 June 2012 at 11:53 pm

    That is amazing! I am so excited and proud that you did it despite the fears! I had a similar thing this week: I was convinced to go bungee jumping but when I got to the top I just couldn’t do it. Some day I hope to be able to take that plunge. You rock my socks!

  10. CeCe

    15 June 2012 at 1:13 am

    Way to go! I’m not sure if I would have been able to do it myself.

  11. margosita

    15 June 2012 at 10:57 am

    I loved this. WAY TO GO!

  12. Smedette

    15 June 2012 at 11:04 am

    Awesome. Just awesome.

  13. Pam

    15 June 2012 at 1:49 pm

    OMG I laughed and cried reading this. And “Why the fuck is this so high” is PRICELESS.

    Just like you.

    SO thrilled for you.

  14. Sherry Carr-Smith

    15 June 2012 at 2:42 pm


    This is wonderful and brave and I love it! I cried at the joy on your face when you surfaced! I’m so glad you included the photos!

  15. Amy

    15 June 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Just because you cry before you do something badass doesn’t make it any less brave. This is fucking awesome.

  16. tea_austen

    15 June 2012 at 10:43 pm

    I went to a summer camp for years, and later was a counselor there, and my favorite lake we hike to has a jumping rock and EVERYONE jumps off it. It’s not even that high, really, compared to your cliff. But I’ve never done it. Not in more than twenty years of going to this lake.

    This summer, though, I am going to jump off that fucker. Because you showed me how.

    Love you bunches, rockstar.

    PS. My security code captcha is “tisista awoke,” which I am reading as SISTA awoke.
    She’s awake now. You betcha 🙂

  17. Cindy

    16 June 2012 at 8:32 pm

    I cried with you. You’re beautiful and awesome. My word verification is “harm-ful” which, considering this post, made me laugh.

  18. Sharon

    17 June 2012 at 8:01 am

    Kudos to you for the jump and for including the whole process, the freaking out and all, not just the jumping and the whoo hoo after-shot. Good for you.

  19. Laurie

    19 June 2012 at 11:32 pm

    I love this so much. Congratulations.

  20. Suebob

    21 June 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Yow! Wow! I used to swim every day and there were kid swimming lessons going on at the same pool. The last lesson included a jump off the high dive. There was always that one kid who wouldn’t go, who would stand there FOREVER and I used to get a chuckle out of it. One day I decided to do it. I hadn’t jumped off a high dive in 15 years. Easy peasy. I got up there and FREAKED OUT. The pool suddenly looked like a tiny postage stamp, like in the cartoons. I did it, but it took all my nerve.

    In other words, I’m amazed at your bravery!

  21. Britt

    26 June 2012 at 3:08 pm

    This brings me back. I went to Maui with a native and a bunch of much more dedicated adventure types. We jumped off a couple of rock things into a couple of water things in the week we spent there but boy, oh, boy I freaked out exactly like this every time. Especially at what I think was this same spot. Adrenaline on high, pride in limbo, and just generally going crazy inside my own head. I’m clammy just thinking about it.

    But we did it! And, even better, we never have to do it again. 🙂

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