One of my trapeze instructors whispers this to me as I am suddenly about to swing off a platform that feels as though it is miles from the ground.
I take a deep breath, bend my knees and then leap-I leap for my fears of heights- for my fears of falling- I leap for my friends – for proving that my last turbulent experience dealing with heights hasn’t held me back- and I leap for myself. And I soar- like a bird. I feel the air rush past my face. I hear for my commands from below. Legs up. See my hands. Let go. Look for Brooklyn. Enjoy the ride. And boy was I enjoying the the ride.
I listen for my commands again– Legs down, and “up,” which in trapeze lingo means… Drop.
“Awesome,” I proclaim and I get giddy about trying it again.
Trapeze was one of the greatest activities I’ve tried this year. Joined by good friends, I knew that this was the best way to kick off a Saturday morning. And not only was it fun–but it taught me a great lesson as well.
“All that matters it that you jump.”
The words continue to echo.
A metaphor flashes before my eyes.
Every day asks us to jump- to make a choice.
We can either stand still or make a change. It may not literally mean a jump from the sky- but it could rather be as simple as a phone call to an old friend, or family member we’ve lost touch with. It could be taking a new job–or having the courage to ask for a raise at your current one.
In the end, all that matters is having the courage to jump.
.In my opinion, every mix tape of life should have a laughter track.
Laughter is universal.. It’s not age specific. It’s not ethnically specific. It’s not race specific–and it’s not gender specific. And when we use it to promote good (laughing together — rather than at someone) it is the most beautifully common spoken language in the world. Yes. I said language.
And as a good friend once told me, “95 percent of life should be filled with laughter.”
As a stand up comic, you’d think this would be the first type of yoga people told me about. But it wasn’t. In fact, I only recently discovered laughing yoga while reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. People kept suggesting hot yoga, hot yoga, hot yoga (and i’ll get there), but as soon as I read about this–I was baffled as to why no one had told me about it sooner! And it was one of my FAVORITE activities yet.
This should be the point in which I jump into why laughter is amazing, beautiful, and wonderful. This should be the point where I tell you that laughter changed my life. This should be the point that I make note of how I became a stand up comic to give people one of the greatest gifts of the world. And this should be the point where I use a metaphor to tell you how life and laughter make the world go round. But for now, I hope you just keep enjoying the laugh track.
Falling can be terrifying. It can be accelerating. It can be painful. It can lead to fear. It can lead to injury. And it can lead to pride.
On the evening that I headed out to Williamsburg to take a skateboarding lesson with my good friend Michael Bonner,a sense of pride overwhelmed me. As the skateboard began to slip out from underneath my feet, I felt my arms flare, and then my body hit the ground–hard. With little hesitation, I got back up, threw on a helmet, and hopped back on the board. Moments later, the board came out from underneath me again–and I went kaboom. Still–I got back up–and tried it again.
Life is all about taking the hits–getting a little bruised here and there, and then coming back–leaving the past behind and standing on two feet. I hate to be cliche–but if you fall off the horse–then get right back on it. And that’s exactly what I did–with bruises, blood–and smiles.
It’s nearly been a year since I walked myself down to Occupy Wall Street the morning after the park was raided and the media was blacked out in downtown New York City. I was horrified at the unimaginable thought that people were beat and kicked out of their home at the late hours of the night–without a voice being able to tell what was going on.
After visiting the site, I proclaimed that “no one could take your voice” in a blog post. Several days later, my good friend Laura joined me as we marched with the union across the Brooklyn Bridge to voice our beliefs. So it’s no wonder that the same person who helped me to find my voice during Occupy Wall Street–is the same person who helped me to find my voice during a singing lesson on a Tuesday night.
As a kid, I always wanted to be in the talent show–as a singer. I remember walking up to the mic in 3rd grade, and raspilly singing, “I Believe I can Fly,” pretty terribly. Somehow, I didn’t let it scar me for life–and in 4th grade I convinced a group of four girls to let me sing Celion Dion’s “My Heart Will go On” in auditions for the show. We didn’t get in. But I still sang on. I found comfort in blasting music and vocals in my car when I finally had a license–and singing at the top of my lungs.
And then I discovered karaoke in college—which of course allowed me to choose fun songs–rather than serious songs, and just have a good time. Hello ‘N Sync–Helllllo Spice Girls.
But deep down inside, I’d always wanted to be in plays–in musicals in high school, but I never had the courage to try out–because I knew my voice was no match for the last year’s lead. So I never tried out, and for good reason–I had already convinced myself that I was tone deaf–and when we’ve already preconceived beliefs–they tend to come true.
I never found my voice.
That is until, I headed over to Laura’s apartment and she took the time to teach me correct breathing–explain why I might be nasally–showed me how to find a note–did several vocal exercises–and then took me through the chorus of the popular Michael Jackson song, “Billie Jean.” By the end, I was exhausted–I could feel my vocal chords screaming for a break. But inside my heart was beating quickly. It was a good exhaustion–the kind where you feel like you’ve pushed past a barrier–and exceeded your own expectations–the kind where you’re thankful you had a friend along for the journey.
I had found my voice–at least for that night. Thanks Laura.
Disclaimer: Title of this blog post is based on song “Bruises” by Train.
Ski mountains have always been a bit terrifying for me. The first time I tried to go down something other than the bunny hill, in 6th grade, I fell so hard that my skis popped off. I decided that this was the moment that instead of going down the hill–I’d walk back up it and straight into the lodge. After a dinner full of persuasion, my best friend had me back out on the mountain in no time.
A year later, my brother broke his arm and leg skiing.
And the following year, I took a tumble down a black diamond that had all my co-skiiers questioning how I’d ever survived the fall without breaking my neck. I laughed and said, “Let’s do it again.”
Even still, ski mountains are kryptonite to me. Smiling, I can take on any hill, but inside all my organs are twisting.
When I signed up for downhill mountain biking–I really didn’t know what I was getting in to. A Twitter follower had suggested it–and had suggested the perfect place as well. I reached out to Mountain Creek Bike Park and they were ecstatic about having me come out for a trial lesson and run on the mountain.
When I told my friend what I’d be doing, his response was: “Oh that’s awesome! You know it’s like a ski mountain right?!”
“Like a bunny hill though, right?”
“No–a ski slope.”
Oh…Right…I’ll be fine.
As I approached Mountain Creek Park on Sunday afternoon, I could feel myself bubbling with both anxiety and excitement.
I suited up, met my instructor Jon–and headed outside for a quick tutorial on the basics. Following our flat ground lesson, Jon took me to the lift–and said it was time to head up to the top of the mountain. Again, my insides bubbled. I remained calm and continued to talk to Jon along our ride.
We pulled our bikes off the lift-hopped on and headed toward the green hill. As we approached, I smiled and said to myself “Libs, you got this.” And then we were off. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought to myself. After a few turns, a couple of stops, some high fives, and a short glance at a double – black diamond- that Jon has taken a ride down before–we took off for our next couple turns.
“Oh god. Oh Jesus. Oh God. Oh Jesus” (that was the most the holy man had heard from me in a long time). With each bump, my “oh Gods” became more frequent. As I came around a turn I began to lose control, my feet came off the pedals, and I came off the side of the bike as it fell to the ground. ‘Deep breath,’ I thought to myself as Jon asked me “what happened?”
“I hit the breaks too hard and I panicked.” That was the easy answer. But within moments, I was back on the bike, ready to take on the next challenging turns…I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.
And then it hit me–no not a lightning bolt–but instead my own bike.
As I went over a rocky area, I lost control of the bike, and took a turn persay–without taking a turn, sending me off track. As I tried to stop myself I felt my butt fall behind the seat–and as the breaks eventually caught, I felt the bike seat jam directly back into my groin muscle and–babymaker–aka pelvic bone. Pain immediately swelled over the lower half of my body. Jon came over and helped me to get out of this unpleasant situation….and I attempted to walk it off.
Realizing I couldn’t really lift my leg–I began to tear behind my helmet. “Just give me a moment. I got this…” But I didn’t. The pain didn’t subside, and the movement in my leg, due to the crushed muscle, was limited–My bike ride was over.
Jon understood. But my disappointment level was high. I do a really good job of laughing and smiling about things–even when I am experiencing multiple levels of pain-and frustration–but really I just wanted to curl up in a ball. The thought of physically not being able to get back up was just as painful as the bruised pelvic bone I’d have for the rest of the day.
Even still, there is a lesson in this. We’re not invincible–I’m not invincible. And it’s these falls–and these bruises that teach us about our pain tolerance–both mentally–and physically. It’s these falls and these bruises that teach us about the risk–in taking risks. And most of all, it’s these fells and bruises that give us something to go back and conquer later. This won’t be my last time at Mountain Creek Bike Park. I still have unfinished business to attend to.