Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happiness

Posted on

“If you want to view paradise–simply look around and view it
anything you want to–do it!
want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.
There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.”

The Willy Wonka words echo off my computer as I awake on Saturday morning. However, in my head, I am changing the words–I am swapping out paradise, and slotting in Happiness. Because if you want to view happiness–I believe we can all look around and view it.

And Saturday, I was going to make sure of it.

IMG_4808
_____________________________________________________________________

As I wake up, on Saturday, I say to myself, “Today–is an important day. Today, I am completing my 52nd hobby.” For anyone who has been following along, you’ll know that my original goal for this project turned lifestyle was to try 52 new hobbies in 52 weeks. About two months ago that goal changed–My new plan is to finish at least one hobby a week for 52 weeks, ending with a road trip across the country in February. But that doesn’t mean my 52nd hobby isn’t a significant one. In fact, it’s one of the ones that means the most to me–because it’s a sign of achievement–even if my new goal is to exceed it.

“Anything you want to, do it” plays through my speakers, and I smile.

“Today I am going to complete my 52nd hobby,” I breathe of relief.

***Never doubt a dream, always move forward…Like the song says…
Anything you want to do…Do it.***

But though my excitement for hobby 52 is high on Saturday, my will to go out and do it is quickly hampered as I wake up and see that it’s cold–and gray–but not just cold and gray–it’s pretty much a frigid apocalypse outside with gusting winds up to 50mph and snow flurries pleasantly beginning to fall. I struggle. It would be the perfect day to stay in bed–all day, to get dressed at 5pm and eat cereal for all three meals in my pajamas. But I had made a plan–and that plan included to complete my 52nd hobby, by traveling to each of the five boroughs and chalking the word happiness. I groggily got out of bed and decided that this was better than chalking happiness when the weather is perfect–because in the case of clear skies, people are likely to already feel happier. This was my time to spread happiness–even if the weather was threatening otherwise.

It took me no more than 7 hours to complete my trip to each borough and tattoo the word happiness into the sidewalk of each.

It took me no more than 7 hours to etch happiness right outside my doorstep in Brooklyn. It took me no more than 7 hours to experience the excitement of families going on the Staten Island Ferry and having an amazing view of Manhattan. It took me no more than 7 hours to witness the wealth of joy outside the doorstep of my favorite chocolate shop in Manhattan, as a homeless man approached me and thanked me for the happiness.It took me no more than 7 hours to clear my negative image of the Bronx and leave a positive message behind. And it took me no more than 7 hours to make my way to Queens and chalk happiness into a park that I once danced happiness into–just two years ago.

The truth was–that in each borough– It took me no more than moments to see that even though I was physically spreading the word happiness–it was all around me. It was in the faces of children who’d never been on a boat. It was in the faces of those who told me they had nothing but still felt joy. It was in the faces of those walking through streets of the Bronx—and it was in the faceof the child who stood up on the subway seat and peered out the window on an above ground train heading to Queens. It was in the taxi driver who got me from downtown Manhattan to Grand Central. It was in the cappuccino that I drank mid-morning. It was in the face of the man with his child who strolled past me on Fordham Road. It was in the skateboarders who skated through the park while I finished my last borough tattoo. Happiness was truly–everywhere.

And what I learned most about happiness–aside from where to find it (ahem, again, everywhere): was that much like my chalked out versions of the word: Happiness doesn’t always come in a straight line–in one swoop–or even in one size–but it always, always feels good.

Here’s to 52 hobbies–and many, many more. and here is to happiness. Cheers.

IMG_6462

IMG_4804

IMG_4824

IMG_4828_2

IMG_4854_2

Curling

Posted on

“Did someone call maid service? Cause we’re sweeping up a storm!”

I laugh along with my friend Naomi as we close out our curling lesson at the Ardsley Curling rink with the Long Island Curling team.

I’ve watched curling in the Olympics several times, but I never understood how a sport–could be so intense with just a broom. But after one lesson, it became very clear that the sport of curling is full of strategy, skills, and teamwork. It is much more than just brushing the surface of the ice with the bristles of a broom. No–it’s about understanding how to throw a stone–flick the wrist–and lunge correctly. It’s about listening to your teammates as they yell sweep–or don’t sweep. It’s about paying attention to your skip and knowing where to place the stone. It’s about working together through communication. Like all sports: it’s about hard work, dedication, determination, and a will to want to get better.

At first, I get a little nervous. Just after setting up my video camera, I forget that I am stepping on ice and feel my feet slip out from underneath me. A shame the video came that I had just set up was facing the other way because that would have been an amazing blooper. After gaining my balance, watching Matthew our teacher show us some basics, and seeing my friend Naomi give it a try–effortless, I jumped in. Boom. Right onto my butt again. I come from a family that manages to slip on the one patch of ice on the driveway each winter. Clearly, this wasn’t going to be easy for me–even if Naomi looked like a natural (She did practically live on us her entire life as a professional figure skater though, to be fair)

After regaining my balance once more, I get some tidbits from our instructor, and give it another shot–this time without falling. And then I do it again–and again–and again. Confidentially, I release the curling stone from my hands in a perfect straight line. “I could get used to this I exclaim.”

We move onto sweeping, which is fun and intense. It requires listening carefully to your teammates to know when to sweep and when not to. Sweeping, which I didn’t know is used to keep a stonet moving further—not to make it move faster. You sweep so that the friction makes a better area for the stone to move through.

The Long Island Curling Club was nice enough to let us join a game, and Naomi and I were able to show off our newly found skills as we both placed a stone in the rings. At one point Matt and I have a small conversation about how this became his hobby. He said to me that he didn’t need to try everything–because he found his passion—curling.  And I think that’s an important lesson in this year as well–it’s not always about trying something new–but just about finding something you love and sticking with it. Think about it–when was the last time you continued doing your FAVORITE thing in the world? Probably not as often as you’d like. I admire Matt for having that dedication in his life—especially to a sport that’s so difficult to find, right here in New York City.

As the game came to an end, Naomi looked at me and said “Can we keep doing this as a hobby.”

I smiled and responded: “Naomi, That’s how I feel after everything I try. But—yes–yes we can.”

IMG_6374

IMG_6366

IMG_6372

Picture 27
Special Thanks
Long Island Curling Club
www.licurling.org

School of Rock & Roll & Friends

Posted on

IMG_5012

I can’t echo myself enough when I say that the most intimidating moments of my year have not been when I was face to face with creatures of the sea in the shark tank—or in the moment before I was going to jump out of a plane. No, instead the most intimidating moments of this year have been when I have sat down—or stood—with a friend and taken a chance to learn their craft. It’s as if I don’t want them to think I suck—or that I am insulting their craft with how bad I am. But even they were beginners once too—and that’s the part I have to remind myself.

I recently had the chance to sit down with two of my good friends in New York City, on two separate occasions, and learn both of their skills—both of their full-time hobbies—and both of their passions.

I first sat down with Grady who taught me how to pluck four chords on a guitar, and I then sat down with Brandon who taught me how manage a loveable beat on the drums.

I was fortunate enough to meet Grady and Brandon who perform in a band together called Assorted Animals, when I first moved to the city. After getting invited to a party that they were both at, I slowly became more and more integrated into their group of friends, started going to their shows, and enjoying post-show chats and outings.

71511_715299107834_7460720_n                                                GRADY and ME 2010 Going Away Party

67259_715298883284_6598091_n                                                ME and BRANDON 2010 Going Away Party

After just a few months of living in Manhattan, I was happy to have found such good friends—talented friends.  Due to hectic schedules and the rush of New York City, we don’t get to hang out as much as I’d like, so this was the perfect opportunity to see and spend time with both of them.

As I sat down with Grady, I reminisced on just how lucky I was to have met him—to have this opportunity to learn from him. Patiently and perfectly, he described how to sit comfortably, how to hold the guitar, and how to relax my hands to make for better playing. I remember just once prior to this lesson picking up a guitar, in 7th grade music class, and being incapable of wrapping my head—and hands around the musical beauty.  But now, after less than just two hours, I had gotten the basic four chords down and Grady was playing along with me.  Appropriately, we were playing a slowed down version of “Time of Your Life” by Green Day.

374050_10100393311003534_1415106079_n

This past week, when I sat down with Brandon, my patience with the drum set, grew thin. Like trying to figure out a rubrics cube, I could feel myself growing frustrated: I couldn’t get my left hand to work with my right or my right hand to work with my right foot. I felt as though I was a shambles. I’d turn to Brandon and apologize for my inability—and he’d smile and say, ”It’s okay. Let’s just try again.” And so we did—again, and again, and again. “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,” I whispered to myself. “Right hand/right foot, right hand, left foot” and I continued this repetition until I was playing 2 measures—3 measures—4 measures, and at some point I lost count—at some point I lost myself in the music.  And even though we weren’t playing the Green Day hit, as I had with Grady, I still felt as though I was having the time of my life.

IMG_6259
Early in the drumming lesson, Brandon told me that this was his first time ever teaching drumming lesson. My response was simple, “Great! That means you are hobby hoarding as well. YAY!” After our lesson, I told Brandon he should continue giving lessons—that I really enjoyed his time and felt that I had learned a lot. I also told him that this year has given me a way to spend time with people that I don’t often get to spend time with due to harsh schedules and that I was grateful we could work something out. Brandon was grateful too.

On the earlier occasion when Grady and I left the studio, I smiled and thanked him immensely. He seemed just as pleased with this lesson as I did. And while walking toward the train, Grady turned to me and said, “I think I want to start teaching more lessons.” And soon after, I received a text message from him saying, “That was great fun and quite inspirational for me as well.”

My intimidation of working with friends was now gone. I could tell that this was just as much an experience for them –as it was for me.

And with Grady’s message I knew, the hobby hoarding—had done as I always hope it will—worked both ways.

228770_1609774177584_1835743_n                                  BRANDON & GRADY July 4, 2011: Courtesy Grady’s Facebook

Brandon and Grady perform in a band called Assorted Animals. Their keyboard/piano/vocalist Laura Fisher can be seen in one of my earlier posts giving me a singing lesson.

Check them out at www.assortedanimals.com

The Need for Speed: Go Karting

Posted on

There are few things that have excited me more in life than the moment I drove a car, by myself, for the very first time.

I can remember the rain as it pattered on my windshield before my driver’s test, and how I worried that the conditions would make my test more difficult. And I can remember how I parallel parked perfectly, stopped smoothly at red lights, took turns cautiously—and was handed my driver’s license.  Most of all, I can remember my smile as I dropped off my dad, before heading off to school—on my own—for the very first time.

Prior to piloting a plane, driving a car was the most free I had ever felt. As a teenager, I drove my Saturn SL around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania blasting my music—and singing as loudly as possible. It was my own 90’s karaoke party every-time I turned the key, pulled out of my driveway, and headed to my destination.

But there was something I never felt absolutely comfortable doing–and that was speeding—even if part of me always wished I could. I’m not sure if it was because one of my childhood best friend’s fathers sat me in front of a Nascar race every time I came over, or because I constantly felt a need to be moving at lightning speed—but a part of me had always wished I could drive a race car—just one time around a track. When I scheduled an indoor go kart race with a group of friends at the Grand Prix race track, I realized that this was a stepping stone toward that goal.

As we loaded up our zip car to the race track, I could feel the excitement building–but not just mine–but  our entire group’s. Everyone was ready to race, some maybe even more so than myself.

As I pulled on my helmet, threw on the required neck brace, stepped into the small indie go kart, and buckled my seatbelt,  I could feel my adrenaline preparing to join the race.

IMG_6044

That little car may have only had a speedometer of 40 mph, but as soon as I had the courage to really press the pedal, I felt as though I could move at light speed. And even as my friends passed me, and even though I came in last place–I felt a freedom that I had never felt behind the wheel of my Saturn—or later my Honda CRV. With each turn, I felt more in control and with each acceleration, I could feel my heart beating right along with the echo of the engine. As I completed one lap after another, I breathed into the adrenaline. Again, I was in dead last, but it still felt like a win.

When the race was done, I could tell that our group of friends had enjoyed the race as much as I had.  And I’ll never forget what one of them said as we drove home:

“I gotta say—that first lap was really special—feeling how fast that little car could go—and seeing how it could drift around the turns.”-R. Buckley

I looked out the window and smiled. Robert may not know it—but he just expressed the same feeling that I’ve felt every time I’ve turned the ignition and jump started every hobby or activity that I’ve tried this year—he’s just expressed the feeling that I am hoping to inspire others to feel when they take a dance class for the first time—or jump out of a plane for the first time—or pilot a plane for the first time—or race a go kart for the first time: that something special has just happened—because more than likely, it has.

IMG_6048

IMG_6045

IMG_6028

IMG_6030

IMG_6032

Thanks for a great day—David, Rick, Mercedes, David and Robert.

___________________________________________________________________________

Grand Prix

333 North Bedford Road

Mount Kisco, New York 10549

Welding: More than just metal

Posted on

I’ve never been great at building or working on things with my hands- woodwork– mechanics– electronics– they arent really my fortay. Everytime I buy a new piece of camera equipment for one of my cameras, I tend to stare at it, Google terrible instructions and then walk up to my male roommate and ask him to put it together.

And to be fair, When I built the birdhouse with my mom, I admit, she did most of the leg work.

To be honest, I don’t remember ever successfully putting together a puzzle as a child. Sad isn’t it?

So when my friend Jason offered me the opportunity to learn how to weld with him over Thanksgiving , I accepted with an abundance of excitement. “learn to be good with my hands— yes why of course I’ll do that!”

To my surprise — and maybe even to Jason’s, I picked up welding pretty quickly. I followed his directions, pulled down my mask so not to blind myself and did what felt like chiseling away. After just a couple of attempts I had welded in a straight line and Jason had applauded my efforts.  However, if I said the straight line was the most rewarding part-I would be lying.

While welding away with metal– I was also welding away at something else–a friendship.

Much like my birdhouse making experience with my mom, the welding experience served as a really great bonding experience.

I met Jason two years ago at NYC Media, where I used to work. Over the last two years, we developed a friendship full of morning hellos and afternoon goodbyes–and small talk about our personal projects during breaks in the work day. On only one occasion did we head out to lunch. Sadly, neither of our schedules matched up to allow for more than an occupational friendship.

So when J first said we should do a hobby together back in April– I jumped . Again, our schedules conflicted. But finally, just this past weekend our schedules matched- and we were hobbying. We were being… Friends.

I met Jason’s fiancé, rode around in a 1969 mustang that J built, and got an opportunity to see what life was like for him outside of our 26th floor office. A lot of people asked me what I’d be making at my welding lesson—before the lesson, I wasn’t quite sure–and now I have a good answer for that, no wait–a GREAT answer for it: I was making a friendship.

 

Picture 24

 

Check out Jason’s current project at jsworks.org

%d bloggers like this: