I have a vague memory of being a young girl and picking up a small bow and arrow at a Girl Scout Camp. I have absolutely no recollection of shooting the weapon–or hitting a bullseye. If I would have hit a target dead on, I am sure people would still be listening to my bragging. So as far as I am concerned, and as far as my memory serves me–my attempt at archery never happened.
After recently seeing the Hunger Games, a fire ignited within me to go try out archery. Fortunately, within days of wanting to head to the range, a Google Offer went up, and my friends and I were setting up a lesson for half off the normal price. #Winning.
Dressed in a Robin Hood outfit, I stepped to the line, I loaded the arrow, I pulled back, and I released. Bulllllls-eye….Wait no, I think the correct term is Bull S***. With the exception of shooting from a close range, I had no such luck. And for all you Hunger Games geeks: This means the odds were never in my favor–But at least I looked good in the hat.
Every time I try a new physical activity, I wonder how I was ever a Division 1 Varsity athlete. Between my lack of strength, my inability to follow choreographed dance steps, and my flexibility deficiency, one would think I never played sports in my life–let alone went to college for them.
As a young girl, I took ballet, but never danced my way into any other classes. I left the studio to play baseball with the boys. Over time, I continued to add more and more sports to my list including soccer, basketball, tennis, softball, and field hockey. How I even survived playing sports astounds me. Sophomore year of high school I broke both hands (not at the same time) during my spring softball season, and during field hockey camp right before college I went flying through a goal cage head first. So it doesn’t surprise me that last night I had trouble figuring out how to put my right foot over my left foot and vis versa.
As I looked at the other women in the class, I noted that I was clearly the outcast in my athletic shorts and t–while they sported leotards. Note: Add leotard to the budget. I sweated profusely through the stretching and core work, struggled through the early warm-up dance moves (in which I moved so slowly, I could be called a geriatric patient) and thought to myself–don’t leave–don’t leave: This isn’t like zumba where there’s fifty other people to hide behind. You gotta commit to this Libs…COMMIT!
And so I did.
And not before long, I was gathering the steps, following Joi, our instructor, and moving–semi-smoothly across the floor. Shaking my booty, and getting all groovy–all while singing the Will Smith tune in my head with my own words:
“Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na Getting Jazzzzzzzy with it.”
By the end, I told the girls that I was just hustling them–and that I was truly a professional 😉
“You were outed early,” says a fellow beer brewing classmate. “You’re here for the hobby aspect…not the beer aspect,” He laughs. I laugh along. He’s right. I am not a drinker. In fact, my friends often wave alcohol in my face in hopes that I’ll take even a sip. For the most part, I can’t stand the taste of alcohol, and I can have a pretty good time without it. So why would I ever want to do beer brewing?
Because it’s a craft, and who knows maybe it would be a craft I would want to continue. I never enjoyed science class, but maybe if fermenting and beer brewing were part of it–I’d have a different take.
I also think it’s good to know exactly how the food and drinks are processed that we are willing to put into our body on a regular basis–or in my case–a non-regular basis.
And of course, it’s always wonderful to meet new people with passions and knowledge that you may have never met otherwise.
And that was one of the best parts of my 6 hour day, spent in Brooklyn Heights.
I came across Fritz Fernow on SideTour, a site one of my bosses had introduced me to. On the site, he offered a one day home-brewing workshop for just $35 dollars. I couldn’t pass it up–and I am glad I didn’t. The moment I got to the door, Fritz smiled at me and kindly let me in. Immediately, I was met by his playful siamese cat Oscar.
One by one my six other classmates shuffled through the front door, and not before long we were on our six-hour adventure. Fritz took us through the ingredients, and offered a brief summary of what the day would look like, and then we began.
Passionately, Fritz spoke about his encounters with beer throughout the day and how he got into it. This was his 105th batch, but we could all tell it was not his last. With a smile on his face, he told us much of what he knew about beer, but I can guarantee not all. He is an encyclopedia of brewing. The perfect teacher.
During a rest period, he led us down to his bedroom, where his closet holds a kegerator–yes a kegerator. Most people have laundry baskets in their bedroom closets–but not him. He and his wife have a kegerator. Talk about a brew-fast in bed!
As the day continued, the 7 students bonded over casual conversation, lunch, beers brewed by his previous Sidetour class, and the anxiousness of the final steps of beer brewing which in a short were:
*Add the Hops
*listen to Fritz talk about his experiences brilliantly (Really!)
*Add the yeast*Declare you have beer — well at least you’ve got beer processing.
In four weeks the seven of us can return to try our beer. Cheers! I wonder if it will just keep the name 105? I wonder what I would name my beer if I brewed it myself on a consistent basis?
Libbrewery; Libation (The comedian Randy Tongue suggested that one); Libs Hops (Hops are female flower clusters of a hop species that you add for flavoring and such). Or maybe I’d open my own brewery called: Hip HOPS and play really loud hip hop music while serving really delicious beer. Oh the life.
Fritz hasn’t come up with an official name yet, but from what I tasted of the previous brew (Yes the non-drinker gave it a taste–YOU HAVE TO IN THIS CASE), I think he could easily call it “Fritz Fantastic Fix,” because even as a girl who can’t normally stand the taste of alcohol, I was able to taste this brew with a smile on my face.
Here’s our recipe taken directly from the blog Fritz wrote after our class!
12 lb 2 Row
8 oz Carapils
8 oz Bairds Light Carastan 13-17
8 oz Bairds Carastan 30-40
4 oz Red Wheat
FWH .5oz Cascade
70 minute boil
60 min. 1.5oz Centennial
15 min. .5 oz Simcoe
10 min 1oz Columbus + Wirlfloc and Nutrient
1 min 2 oz Amarillo
Wyeast 1056 on a stir plate 18 hours in advance
Mash grains at 152 degrees for 60 minutes
post boil: OG 1.063
“You were so still. I couldn’t believe it. My first time, I was allll over the place,” – Meditation Participant.
Why I became this woman’s focus during this time for self-reflection, I am still trying to figure out. But what she should know is that both my feet painfully fell asleep and I couldn’t have moved abruptly even if I wanted to.
I chose to do meditation this week because on Sunday, April 15, I will be running a half-marathon, and as someone who has often webMD’ed herself into a coma, due to clumsy experiences, I believed that any physical activity outside of walking and running would be a terrible–awful–no good idea. Sitting still is normally not an option for me–my friends in Pennsylvania often tell me that it makes sense that I ended up in NYC, because I never rest. And when I told my mom I was doing something calm, her response was: “Well that’s not like you.”
But after this week, I think that calmness should definitely be added into my life on a more frequent basis–and conquering calmness as well–because it is clearly difficult for me–seeing as my feet fell asleep only minutes after beginning the first meditation. Our guide had even told us that the first thing we need to get right is our seat. Sigh. Fail. Pins and needles flowed through my toes.
“Stay calm,” I cautioned myself. “You don’t want to ruin the ambience, the stillness of the room. Don’t move an inch.” And so I sat the way I would when I was a child so my parents wouldn’t know I was awake which means I held my breath. My focus was no longer on the beaming light or diamond that our guide was telling us to breathe into. My focus was now on the fact that I couldn’t move. As I maneuvered my feet quietly and carefully, I fell back into the guide’s voice. Calmness returned as I focused on a bright beam of light shooting out of my head and then a tiny diamond directly in front of my closed eyes.
After then being asked to see someone who annoys us–and have compassion for that person–we were told to open our eyes for a brief moment, reflect on what just happened and then go back into meditation.
Soon, the other students and myself were told to envision a mentor of ours, someone we look up to, someone who’s guidance leads us. Someone who’s wisdom motivates us. I instantly chose someone to see–to speak to–to listen to. And not before long I was spreading that guidance to people all around me–imagined people all around me: Telling them to attack whatever life brings them full on. Telling them that making mistakes was okay–that sometimes the things we think we are doing most wrong–are actually being done extremely well. Through meditation, I told the world that we could do whatever we wanted to do–like one big cliche. But it felt great.
I became lost in my mind–my thoughts far, far away from me. Now it was just me–no thoughts, no worries–no moments of necessary clarity. I lost sensations in my body parts and I floated. I disappeared–in the best way possible.
I became the sky, the sun, the moon, and Mother Nature, and I embraced the world. And I held her tight…and I kissed her, and I breathed her in, and felt at peace–if even just for a moment. And then I returned to the chaotic room that was filled with noises of construction outside the window, the aroma of burning candles, and the warm feeling of an accepting place. I had escaped–I took a quick short vacation, a brief leave from the world. I spent time sitting still in a moment of ultimate calmness. What one could consider a thing of beauty.
I did my meditation at The Three Jewels in Manhattan, New York, where they have volunteers come in and lead guided meditation from 8am to 9am each weekday, and on 7:00pm on Fridays, Venerable Phuntsok provides guided meditation. There is no fee associated with the guided meditations, but donations are suggested.
Mats, pillows, and seating is provided, and comfortable clothing is absolutely encouraged.
According to The Three Jewels “Meditation” website, “Meditation sessions are based on several types of Tibetan meditation practice. These forms of meditation above all include Ton Len. Many of these meditations emphasize the importance of giving love and needs and taking others suffering. other meditation practices that are taught include Mahamudra and Heart Sutra meditations, which examine the nature of mind and objects.”
From one newbie meditator to another, it’s pretty amazing. Check it out for yourself:
“Why do you want to play the steel pan drums?” Freddie Harris II asks me.
I look at him, and I think to myself, “Why not?” Then I take a moment, and I say, “Because I want to culturally diversify myself–I want to take a stab at something new–and well because I was asked to leave the school band in the 4th grade, because I squeaked too loudly on the clarinet.”
“Good enough for me,” he says.
Freddie Harris II is Freddy Harris III’s father. And he’s an awesome teacher. They both took me–a complete novice to the steel pan drum—and taught me how to play a scale, harmonize, and “march.” Together, we all had a great time.
Hmm… Maybe steel pan drumming is my future… or … maybe not–with bloopers like this one: