Monthly Archives: April 2013

My Reaction on the Boston Marathon

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I don’t often write about breaking news on this blog. But after a tragedy like this, it seems hard not to want to reflect. As someone whose hobby before, during, and after the initial hobby year was running–this really got to me.

There are supposed to be fireworks at the end of races like The Boston Marathon–not deadly explosions.

As my coworker read the breaking news to a group of us in the office, I put my head down and continued to write the treatment that I was working on. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be informed–I wasn’t ready to be sad.

Sadness, after tragedy, is often addictive. After Colorado; Newtown; Sandy;  and other large events that have resulted in death, I often find myself refreshing the Twitter stream relentlessly, clicking from news organization to news organization, and texting friends about their thoughts. All I want to do is turn away–but I can’t. So when I finally tuned into what was going on in Boston, an hour after it occurred, my obsession with the story quickly manifested. I wanted answers. I wanted to know who, what, when, where, why, HOW. I wanted to know everything.

And rather than feel sadness, I suddenly found myself feeling angry. This wasn’t an attack on our country, no it couldn’t be. There are over 90 other countries represented in a race like The Boston Marathon. This was senseless–terrifying–and reckless.

As someone who has run a lot of races, my anger too stemmed from the fact that this could have been any race in any city.

On Sunday morning, I ran my first race in nearly 9 months on the JFK runway–a 5k. I even got a few friends to come run it with me–one who hadn’t ran a race before. As we approached the 5k, I told her how excited I was that it was her first–that the community feeling of running a 5k, or any race, is what keeps me coming back.  People are supportive–People feel a sense of community.

And what I love most about running in races is that it’s not a judgmental sport. People of all ages run–people of all run levels run–and people from all over the world run–without being judged. The spectators stand by–cheering, relentless–holding signs that make you laugh as you pass by, giving you high fives, motivating you until you cross the finish line. And unless it’s the Olympics or unless you’re a top runner battling it out for the top time, then no one is cheering against you either. It may not be a team sport but it brings on a team of people who want to see success. It brings people together–if even for a short bit of time. That’s the fun of any sporting event–the community that is drawn in. To see that disrupted, to see our spectators hurt–our runners–our fellow Americans–and even those who travel from near and far to take part in a race that has such magnitude as the Boston Marathon gives me chills and is beyond disheartening.

As more and more information is released, my heart begins to sink more. As I see the photos of the carnage, I am reminded of photos I’ve seen of battle scenes.  People are without legs–three lives have been lost–and hundreds are battling what could be life threatening injuries in multiple hospitals across the city of Boston.

An 8 year old boy lost his life by simply watching a race–a race that perhaps he one day wanted to participate in, or that his family may have been participating in yesterday.

As I try to suppress my anger, I think of what I can do–what we can do in order to support Boston at a time like this.

The answer is to continue loving. To continue loving with all our hearts–showing our neighbor who may not always seem to love us back–so much love that they can’t avoid showing love too.

There is too much good in this world to let the bad rot it out.

To all those with family and friends who ran in the race or who had family and friends watching–my heart goes out to you as you dealt with worry and fear.

And to all those who took the start line yesterday–and who stood by, relentlessly cheering them on to the finish, my heart–my thoughts–and my prayers are with you.

Landings

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Tears form behind my eyes as we climb into the tiny aircraft on the last day of our fifty-day adventure. I make sure that my sunglasses are covering my eyes so that my friends can’t see. “It’s not over yet,” I remind myself. “Don’t cry just yet.”
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  On this blog, I’ve written a lot about excitement, about fear, about risk, about joy, about happiness.

But I haven’t written about sadness.

I guess it seems strange that I’d put down a post about “sadness” when writing about something as rewarding as a fifty-day cross country trip, but I promise, it will all make sense.

However, let me first point out that it’s extremely difficult to put into words everything that I felt as we returned to New York City, two weeks ago today. So let me try and do this in a simple, concise manner:

Returning to New York City, from fifty days of continuous stimulating adventure was hard. Going from a fifty-day trip with rarely any sleep, back to the city that never sleeps suddenly felt like going on an exotic trip to a foreign country. As Kim drove me to my apartment, after dropping David off in mid-town Manhattan, I suddenly felt lost in my own home.

And as I arrived back at my place, I felt even more lost. For a few days, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t function. It wasn’t dissimilar to the feelings I had or the culture shock I went through when I returned to America from studying abroad in Italy back in 2008. That semester abroad had been my first real shot at exploring the world, and when I returned to the states–I was devastatingly depressed. I spoke in Italian to strangers, I imagined sprinting through Piazza Navona while I ran in the gym on a treadmill, and I day dreamed of going back and galavanting down the cobbled alley ways. It took me months to readjust. I didn’t want it to take that long back in New York.

But as I continued to mope in my apartment, my mind began to race with questions:

“How will I acclimate back to the city life?”

“When did New York City get so many people?”

“Why is it so loud?”

“Will I make back the money I spent?”

“What will sleeping in my own bed feel like?”

“What will cooking my own food feel like?”

“When did I get so concerned about alone time–I spent a year focusing on me?”

“What happens if my friends in the city have forgotten about me?”

Suddenly I was more fearful of being in a place I recognized, or now seemingly didn’t, than I had been in the new novel nooks of the country that I had gotten to experience, and that was an overwhelmingly strange feeling. Now, the the routine of the train which I’ve written about enjoying in the past, suddenly felt like a nuisance. And don’t get me started on the feelings I had about interviewing for jobs and returning to work.

I actually considered packing up a suitcase–renting a car–and driving off again.

For a few days, I couldn’t snap out of it. Everything I saw reminded me of the trip–of the beautiful world that Kim, David and I had the opportunity to explore full-on. Everything made me think about that freeing feeling of hanging out of the car in the Badlands:

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Of laying out on The Wave in northern Arizona:

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Of waking up early to catch sunrises:

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Of seeing old friends:

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Of quiet.

I asked someone if they often felt sadness when they returned “home” from traveling. Their response was that they had wondered how long it would take the sadness to kick in for me.

Then I let myself cry-a lot. And then I kept crying. –and then I cried some more, texting a friend here or there asking, “How do you cope with sadness?”

I’d felt a large amount of sadness in my life before–but this sadness was different. It wasn’t a depressive sadness. It was it’s own breed of sadness–one that stems from all those other feelings I felt throughout the year: excitement, fear, joy, happinss.

As I wiped away my tears, I wrote another text to another friend: I am okay with this sadness.

I continued, “I respect this sadness.”

It reminded me of one of my favorite Winnie the Pooh quotes:

“How lucky I am to have something, that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Pooh’s right. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are sometimes, when sadness is all we feel.

I looked at the quote one more time and then decided to paraphrase it to match my exact feelings:

“How lucky I am to have had the chance to experience something so wonderful. How lucky I am that the sadness I feel now is because of an overwhelming feeling of joy that I was privileged to feel, that we can all be privileged to feel, if we just let it happen. How lucky I am that the sadness I feel now is because of the world I let myself see, the chances I let myself take. the obstacles I let myself face, the fears I let myself overcome, the challenges I let myself defeat. the life I let myself live. How lucky I am to look back on the moments I lived–with tear drops in my eyes and joy in my heart.” –-Again–I learned to respect the sadness.

Over the days that the sadness had escalated, I told myself that I had to think of returning from the trip–not as an ending–but rather–a transition–but more so as a landing.

So often, we get caught up on the words “ending” and “finale.” But there was nothing final about this trip–this hobby year. Both adventures opened up incredible opportunities for me to learn about myself, to challenge myself. Both adventures allowed me a chance to grow. Both opportunities allowed me to experience meet new people from all walks of life and to build long lasting friendships. Most of all both adventures allowed me to live a life I’ve always wanted to live: one that’s filled with genuine happiness.

The flying lesson that I posted a video of on this piece may have been the final day of the travels, but to use that word “final,” just seems wrong.  That last day  gave me a chance to look back on not only the trip with two of my best friends, but also on the year that I said “yes” to–the year that allowed me to overcome my fears, to tackle things I never thought I could–the year that allowed me to live life in an abundantly, exciting way. The year that went from a project–to a lifestyle. The year that was my navigation to true happiness.

That my friends is not an ending. That my friends is much bigger than an ending–and much more rewarding. That my friends, is what I call a landing.

And what’s the best part about landing?

Getting to reflect–Getting to refuel. And getting to take off again soon.

Rappelling

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While I still have a few videos to compile from the trip including hot air ballooning, snow shoeing and an end of trip flying lesson, I thought I would publish this short video clip and post.

Since returning to New York City, I’ve been on the go. I’ve been interviewing for jobs, I’ve been doing stand up, and I’ve been meeting more and more people. Let’s just say I’ve been getting back into the “swing” of things–especially with hobbies–and especially with THIS hobby.

This past Saturday, I headed out to the Hollywood Stunt School in Brooklyn where I had previously taken a high falls class and a trampoline class. However, rather than jump from a 20 foot platform or bounce around a bit, this time I took on the challenge of learning to rappel–which is defined as “the descent of a vertical surface, as a cliff or wall, by sliding down a belayed rope that is passed under one thigh and over the opposite shoulder or through a device that provides friction” (Dictionary.com). In simple terms–it means to scale the side of a wall or mountain–perhaps, like Spiderman.

I learned about the rappelling class when Bob, the owner, posted a photo of him hanging upside down on his Facebook wall.

“I want to do that!” I commented. A week later, Bob announced there was an upcoming class for rappelling. I couldn’t say no! “I want to be Spider-Libs,” I thought to myself, and so I contacted Bob via Facebook and signed myself up.

Before climbing up the ladder, our instructor told us that we would have to appear comfortable enough with the rope, on our first try, to be able to go upside down on a future try.

“I am going to go upside down,” I told my good friend Naomi, who joined me for the afternoon. “That’s why I wanted to do this…I totally am going upside down.” “I’ve rappelled down a rock climbing mountain before. I can totally do this.” My confidence bubbled as I tried to reassure myself that I was ready.

Minutes later, I was climbing to the platform we were to rappel from. And as I gripped each rung of the ladder, I suddenly realized that the last time I had rappelled down a mountain–someone was belaying for me—this time I was on my own. Suddenly the 15-20 feet from the ground felt like 60.

“Are you feeling scared, nervous, terrified at all?” My instructor asked me.

“I’ve got some nerves.”

“What do you think is bringing on those nerves?”

“Just forgot what heights feel like…But I am good. I got this,” I said trying not to appear shaky. “We go down forward first. But I definitely will get to upside down…” I peeked over the edge… “I think.”

 “I’m a tiny bit scared because it is a little higher up than I felt it would be. And I am scared because that’s what happens sometimes when we’re doing something we’ve never done before.”

“So you have respect for fear.”

Respect for fear.

I had never thought of it that way. But over the last year, I think that’s what I’ve learned to have respect for most. Fear is a driving force that allows us to reach our potential–that allows us to find out what we are truly capable of–that motivates us to do more–to be more.

“Why yes. I have a great respect for fear.” I declared.

And then I swung myself out to the wall and slowly made my way down—feet first.

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As I reached the ground, I heard the rest of the class cheering (we did this for each person who completed the task). It felt good. ‘I’m ready for round two,’ I thought to myself while I traded off my harness to the next person in line.

As we began our second rounds, Bob yelled up to the instructor to let some of the people go upside down. I watched as the first woman to try managed to put her body into the perfect inverted pirouette and effortless rappel in a straight line until she flipped back on to the ground.

I could feel my smile widening.

My turn. This time, I climbed up the ladder much more quickly. I listened to my instructor’s directions, shook off the small fears of falling out of my harness or flying into the ground head first, tightened my harness again, and then gave it a shot. Unlike the first girl to gracefully spin her web down the wall, I began literally spinning in circles.

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“Well this is interesting,” I said to myself, before safely making it back to my feet.

“How’d that feel?” asked one of the other works.

“Dizzzzzzying,” I said as I shook myself out of it. “But really, really awesome. I definitely gotta try it again.”

And so I did–this time much more gracefully.

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You can look for me in the next Spiderman movie….

Just kidding.

But you can look for me at the stunt school–I’ll definitely be going back.

Hollywood Stunts NYC
73 West St.
Brooklyn, NY

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