Monthly Archives: May 2013

My Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Biggest, Baddest Fear

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It’s 2005. I’m staring at myself in the dressing room mirror of a major retail store in disgust. I’ve been inside this room for twenty minutes trying and untrying summer wear. I am turning sideways, crouching down, bending backwards. “Nothing fits right!”  I yell. “You’re fat.” The words spill out of my mouth as I taunt my reflection. I smack the hangers on the door, and I imagine smashing the mirror so I don’t have to look at myself any longer. But there’s my reflection staring back at me with disappointment.

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Eight years later I’m hosting a blog about refusing the word no, getting out of our shell, and overcoming our biggest fears.

In the past year, I have tried everything from pole dancing to sky diving, from beatboxing to plane piloting, and from archery to shark diving. I’ve looked fear in the face on several occasions and I’ve laughed, loudly. I’ve told fear that I am bigger than it. I’ve started saying, “Yes!” instead of, “No way.” This past year I’ve given myself a chance to live—freely and happily. But just because I’ve laughed fear in the face on occasion, doesn’t mean I’m completely immune to feelings of anxiety and uneasiness.

Throughout this blog, I’ve discussed my fear of the ocean, and I’ve mentioned how downhill ski mountains kind of sort of give me the heebie jeebies.

But the truth is my biggest fear doesn’t involve heights or falling. It doesn’t involve dying in a fire nor does it involve being eaten by a shark (though, my second biggest fear IS ocean water). “Why?” you ask. Well because none of these things asks me to stand in front of another human being and be vulnerable to their thoughts, their judgments, and their feelings. My biggest fear is much deeper—much darker. And while the panic I feel towards this specific fear seems silly to write about, it is this fear that tears at my self-esteem and that makes me feel more human than any of the others — the one that I even feel vulnerable writing about now.

My biggest fear involves an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot—oh wait no, I mean it involves ANY itsy bitsy teenie weenie bikini.

That’s right, the girl who has gone swimming with sharks, who has jumped out of an airplane, and who has let the Great Throwdini throw knives all around her is scared of nothing more than donning a bikini.

This isn’t a new fear. It’s always been my fear. When I was younger, I’d go into the dressing room—two or three one pieces in hand, and a dreadful aching feeling in my heart.

“Does it really have to be swim suit season again?” I’d painfully ask my mother.

As I got older, those dreadful aching feelings remained, though one summer—the summer of 2005, I decided to be daring, and bring a bikini into the fitting room. I removed my t-shirt, and went to clasp the top piece of the bikini. That’s when World War 3 broke out within the confines of a small fitting room: the disgust, the self-emotional abuse, the smacking of the hangers, and the yelling at the mirror.

I screamed, “Nothing fits right! You’re fat.” I continued the conversation with myself and added: “Really, Libby? Really? You thought you would suddenly have all the confidence in the world?”

I relentlessly continued the abuse. I felt sick to my stomach.  “I can’t do this,” I told myself, and before even attempting to pull on the bottom piece, I had already unclasped the top and started throwing my baggy hoody back on.

Saddened, tears swelled and fell from my eyes. I was falling apart in the dressing room of a major retail store. There was no one there to confide in—just my disappointed reflection.

I was sixteen going on seventeen at the time—and I was terrified of my own reflection. Each time I took a look, I’d pick out all my problems—my flaws. So instead of looking—I just stopped. I stopped seeing myself.

My failure to accept my size and myself resulted in me turning down many shopping trips with friends. And during the times when I did tag along, I’d avoid trying on any of the clothes. I didn’t want have to pick up the size 12 from the jean shelf while my friends were pulling off the 4s, 6s, and 8s. I didn’t want to have to try and squeeze into an Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt that was never made to fit me anyway.  Put simply, I didn’t want to be publicly embarrassed in front of my best friends—who probably would have never judged me either way. At this point, the only person truly judging me–was me.

Years later, when I was a junior in college, I lost a significant amount of weight. I was thin as a board. But still, I could never find comfort in sporting a two-piece that bared my stomach. A Tankini—yes, but a bikini? No way. Even though I wasn’t as big as I once was—or felt I was—I knew I was still bigger than someone. And that was enough to trigger all those irrational self-conscious feelings from the past.

To this day, I have never publically worn a bikini. Part of my goal on this blog—and in this life—is to inspire others to experiment without fear; to push past the judgmental thoughts of others and ourselves; and to live life freely—without chains holding us back. I want to show people that we are capable of overcoming even our deepest darkest fears—ones that don’t always appear on the surface. So often, we are fearful of telling people our age, our weight, our height, or our innermost beliefs, but we never admit it as our “fear.” The scariest part of it all? Is that these things—our age, our weight, our height, our beliefs, our ability to stand in front of people—all these things that make us vulnerable—are a huge piece of what make us as beautiful as who we are.

I can’t say that I came to the decision to admit my fear on my own. Recently, author Torre DeRoche launched her memoir, Love with a Chance of Drowning, which chronicles her willingness to overcome her biggest fear (sailing the ocean) to salvage love. She refers to it as a “fearful adventure.” With the launch of her book, DeRoche invited her followers and fellow bloggers to take a challenge and share their own fearful adventure. She said the entries could be as ridiculous or as simple and sweet as the writer wanted. And she made the requirements clear that each story should focus on that one “special” fear “that keeps getting in the way of what you want to be doing.”

So I decided to accept DeRoche’s challenge and invitation and describe my own fearful adventure. At first, I was ready to get comical—and outline something “absolutely ridiculous.” I jotted down a few ideas like riding a dolphin around the world—or throwing on a cape and being a real life superhero! But then I realized, I was getting ready to use comedy to cover up what I really wanted to talk about: My Real Fear—the one of wearing a bikini—the one of being vulnerable.

So this summer, I am setting out on a fearful adventure to leave my insecurities behind, squash my low self-esteem and to glide seamlessly along the sands of even the most crowded shores.  When the sun finally heats up this summer, I am setting out on a fearful adventure to don an itsy bitsy teenie weenie  bikini – or at least get back into that dressing room and try.


Love with a Chance of Drowning – A Memoir by Torre DeRocheThis post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.

“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press

“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.” Nomadicmatt.com

“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail

Find out more…


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Top 10 Summer Hobbies

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This weekend, Memorial Day kicked off the unofficial start to summer. You know what that means! It’s time to grab the boogie board, throw on the board shorts, and host some barbecues! But it also means it’s time to get out and take advantage of all the activities the summer sun allows! Whether you’ve done them before or are looking for a thrill, here’s your top 10 guide to summer  hobbies and activities:

1. Sky Diving

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2. Outdoor Rock Climbing

The Hobby Hoarder Climbs

3. Surfing

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4. Stand Up Paddleboarding

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5. Kayaking

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7. Motorcycle Driving

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8. Hang Gliding

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9. Mountain Biking

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10. Trapeze

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MY HOBBY WISH LIST FOR THE SUMMER:

Water Skiing
Kiteboarding
Wakeboarding
Parasailing
ATVing
Jet Skiing


Can you help me out? Send me a message at thehobbyhoarder@gmail.com

Top 5 Reasons to Take a Pilot Lesson

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This week marks the year anniversary that I tried one of my favorite hobbies of last year, piloting a plane. I wanted to celebrate that landmark with a post on the 5 reasons you should consider taking a pilot lesson:

  1. There is absolutely nothing more freeing than using the plane to paint the canvas of the world down below.
  2. You can break from the bounds of gravity and soar for just under $150 with the help of Groupon, LivingSocial, Zipit and other online deal sites.
  3. There’s nothing that will beat your fear of flying than getting to sit in the cockpit and controlling the plane yourself. You’ll never say no to a vacation again.

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  4. Sometimes we only get to see our cities and our towns from within. A pilot lesson allows you to really see the veins that make the heart of your city or town beat.  Where do all those rivers lead to? Where do all those train tracks end?

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  5. Because you always said you wanted to.

Interesting in flying? here are some other hobbies you may want to try as well:
Hang Gliding
Sky Diving
Trapeze

 

Wall Running & Bungee

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When I first attacked the hobby year, I created a list of activities I could tackle. That list included everything from pole dancing to surfing-and from hip-hop dance to glass making. And while I did hit all of those things–what excited me a lot through the year was when I found hobbies that weren’t on my list–hobbies that I didn’t even know existed in and around New York City until I really started digging. These hobbies included samurai sword fighting and Jedi light saber training.

Most recently, I was introduced to another little known New York gem: Wall Running & Bungee. I have to admit–I didn’t come across this one on my own. A new friend of mine, Lauren, messaged me on Facebook asking me if I’d be up for trying this great class that involved running on walls and dancing in a bungee at a place called The Muse Brooklyn. She attached a video to the message in hopes of piquing my interest, but I didn’t even need to watch the video to know that I’d be in –it sounded awesome without the help of the video. Shortly after Lauren’s initial message, we set a date (May 1), signed up for the class, and patiently waited for our lesson to roll around.

On May 1, I showed up to the studio and watched as people stealthily climbed to the ceiling in a silks class, and I oooooed and awwwwed as others somersaulted in an acrobatics class. I have to admit, I was a little nervous for the class. The only form of acrobatics that I had really given a shot to during the hobby year was trapeze. Usually anything that involves flipping and spinning is an invitation for disaster for me, but I took a moment to mentally get my energy level up and pursue the evening with an optimistic frame of mind. I didn’t want to get to the wall and have to build up my confidence then.

Soon enough, it was time for class to begin.  Our teacher, Angela, introduced herself with a bright smile on her face and gave us the option of trying wall running or bungee first. Whichever we chose, we knew we’d have a little bit more time to dedicate to it. We opted for the wall running–because let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to spend a little more time feeling like they are Spiderman?

While Lauren and I were newbies to the class, the third woman in our class–was not. She’d been practicing wall running for a good amount of time and she was ready to jump right into a choreography she was working on for an upcoming show. I observed as she moved gracefully back and forth on the wall–like a horizontal ballerina.

“Wow,” I exclaimed. “That’s incredible.”

Before I knew it, she was starting to spin and flip.

I laughed with awe. “Are you kidding me? How freaking cool.”

“You’ll be doing that too,” Angela turned to me and said.

My confidence level was growing, but I still wasn’t sure I would be flipping. Even still, I smiled and nodded along. I appreciated her positivity.

Not before long, it was my turn to give the basics a shot. I climbed up onto the stool, and then stepped off of it. Then I rotated from my vertical initial position to a horizontal position with my feet placed on the wall and my back parallel to the ground. Slowly, I began to bounce to and from the wall. “I got this,” I thought to myself, and then I progressively got into a better rhythm. After a few minutes, Angela asked me to give the “wall running” a shot. I turned to my right,  relaxed my shoulders, and felt gravity begin to pull me down. I giggled. “This is hard, but I can do it.”

I began moving–not nearly as gracefully as the woman who’d been coming for lessons for weeks, but I was certainly moving. I felt like I was performing a scene straight out of the Matrix. As I began to feel my muscles fatigue a bit, I took a break and let my other two classmates take their second turns.

But before I knew it, it was my turn again–and this time, I was going to get to attempt to flip.

“You ready?” Angela asked.

“I think so,” I responded.

“You can do this,” She told me.

And then I gave it my best shot, pushing off my right foot, extending my left leg, and spinning through the air.  As I landed, slightly ungracefully, I started to laugh with excitement. “Oh my goodness…I did it….I just flipped through the air.”

Angela laughed along and said, “Good–now give it another shot.” And so I did–and then I did again–and then one more time. I began to feel muscles in my body that I didn’t know existed. I began to understand parts of my body that I didn’t know existed. I tested out the power in my push off foot–sometimes giving myself a little bit too much of an oomph. Not only did I feel like I was training to be in an action-packed movie, I felt like I was really beginning to understand my body–and the capabilities of my body.

After a few more flips, I returned to the stool and de-harnessed myself. “So cool,” I thought–“so cool.”

And class wasn’t even over yet….We still had harness bungee to jump into–and man did we jump into it. Angela had each of us bounce, turn, and flip within the bungee.

“I feel like Peter Pan,” I yelled!

I added, “Just think happy thoughts.”

All I needed was Tinker Bell to be throwing fairy dust all around me.

As I took my final bounce, de-clipped myself from the bungee, and climbed down the ladder, I couldn’t help but smile. And while I’m not sure that I’m ready to try out for the next Fuerza Bruta cast–or star in a Matrix remake–I do know that  having the opportunity to feel like I had the capabilities of a superhero was pretty damn awesome, and I can DEFINITELY see myself going back to The Muse Brooklyn very, very soon.

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Special Thanks
The Muse Brooklyn
32D South 1st Street
Brooklyn, NYC

New York City Dance Parade

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Just a week ago, I mentioned that my pre-hobby anxiety before going to CrossFit was at an all-time high. I was worried what people would think of me, if I would be too weak, and if I would fail miserably. As I noted in the blog post—there clearly had been nothing to really worry about, but that didn’t mean that my pre-hobby anxiety never existed.

However, this week my pre-hobby anxiety was at an all time low. The only thing I felt going into this week’s hobby was excitement—pure and wonderful excitement. This week I was doing something totally novel, totally unique, and totally awesome. This week, I was doing the  7th Annual New York City Dance Parade!

I’ve watched the dance parade a number of times over the last few years. The key word in that sentence is “watched.” I should have never been watching…I should have been shimmying and shaking right along!

And not only was I signed up to do the 7th Annual New York City Dance Parade, I was signed up to break it down with the crew that won my heart on January 6—the Pon De FLO crew!

A note: Prior to the hobby year, I’ve written that dancing for me in public was difficult—especially in group       classes. A long time ago, I deemed myself choreographically challenged and found myself walking out of dance classes: I couldn’t get comfortable. I couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t smile and have fun—when that’s all I wanted to do at all–well get fit–but also–just have fun. During the hobby year I took several dance classes including pole dancinghip-hop, jazz, and tap.  And in June, I took part in a flash mob. Finally—dancing in large groups of people was becoming fun.

Then I took Pon de FLO  at the DANY Studio.  And I had an epiphany—dance wasn’t just fun. It was exciting. It was freeing. For the first time in a dance class, REALLY—the first time—I felt comfortable—comfortable to be me—comfortable to be free—comfortable to FLO!

So when Pon de FLO posted on their Facebook page that they were looking for participants to join for the 2013 New York City Dance Parade, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t want to be cheering from the sidelines—I didn’t want to be restricted by some barricade. I wanted to be shaking my hips, stomping my feet, and breaking it down freely—I wanted to be in the parade, and I wanted it to be with the Pon De FLO troupe.

Prior to the parade, we had two rehearsals. While my opportunities to take the class since first jumping in at the beginning of the year had been limited due to my own scheduling conflicts, the group of men and women ready to move and groove down Boadway was quick to welcome me into their crew, for the parade, with open arms.

As I sat down in our first rehearsal and Heather (Founder of Pon De FLO) started telling us the details of the parade, I felt a smile spread wildly across my face. “This is freaking awesome,” I thought to myself. “FREAKING AWESOME.” I got so excited that when I left rehearsal I started sending texts to people that I hoped they could come out and support. Whether I looked good shaking my hips or I looked ridiculous, I wanted people to know that I was proud of my group and that I was extremely proud of my decision to dance in the parade at all.  I wanted people to want to dance too.

When I woke up on the day of the parade, I woke up with a smile on my face. And as I threw on my Pon De Flo shirt that Heather made for each of us, and as I buckled my fanny pack (yes, fanny pack), I began to two-step through the living room. “Gosh…the power of dance,” I thought. “Whew.”

fanny

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Upon arriving at our group’s meeting place, I could feel the positive energy already FLOwing ;). Everyone was decked out in the yellow, purple, and green Pon De FLO gear. Everyone was chatting—smiling—laughing—gearing up. I began introducing myself to a lot of the people I hadn’t met yet, grabbed coffee with a fellow flo-er, and warmed up for the parade by shaking it out to the music that was blasting out of our speakers which sat on top of our sponsor, Wicked Willy’s bike. Gracefully, I swayed my hips with one of my groupies to the sounds of reggae; freely, I busted a move to the sounds of Call Me Maybe as it blared out of a set of speakers. I guess it was Pop-De-Flo momentarily 😉

PonDeFlo2                                                        Photo Courtesy: Violeta Fabé

Not before long, I bravely took my place in our groups formation. Patiently, we waited to begin moving along the route, and as we turned our first corner onto Broadway, from 21st street—a smile expanded across my face—the same smile that I felt form at the first rehearsal—this one, however, was even bigger. And as we began to choreograph our way towards Astor Place and then St. Thompkins Square, I laughed to myself: “Two years ago, I was sitting behind the barricades, thinking I could never be in the parade. Now look at me—I’m making moves like Beyonce at the Super Bowl.”

The truth is two years ago, I was sitting behind the barricades thinking I would never have the courage to dance in the parade. Sure I’ve danced at parties or at bars/clubs when my friends have gone out—maybe at some karaoke—but never, before this past year, did I believe in myself enough to partake in such magnitude of an event.

Honestly, nothing can describe the feeling of being able to dance so freely down Broadway in New York City. Nothing can describe the feeling of being able to forget what you look like—to forget what other people might be thinking of you; to feel accepted, so quickly, in a group of people who really just met you one night prior. Nothing can describe the feelings and emotions that overwhelmed my stomping feet or my shaking hips, my body—or the feelings and emotions that overwhelmed my heart.

What an amazing parade—what an amazing day.

PonDeFlo

     Photo Courtesy Pon De FLO

CrossFit

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You’d think after a year of hobbying, I would be immune to pre-hobby anxiety and intimidation. The truth is I’m not. But that’s a good thing. It means I am still exercising my mind and my muscles. It means I am still continuing to be challenged. It means I am still taking everything that I am trying–just as seriously as all those things I tried when it was simply just a project. I am still attacking life and taking chances. I am still living.

This week my pre-hobby anxiety was high. I’d signed up for a private one-on-one CrossFit session. For those that aren’t quite sure what that means–here’s one of CrossFit’s own videos:

Intense right?

I grew up playing sports and I even played Division 1 field hockey. I’ve dabbled in the Insanity workouts on my own time and I’ve trained for and completed two half marathons. But at all cost, I have avoided going to a personal trainer–or really letting others see me train. So the thought of letting someone train me–in addition to having a good friend standing by to help video–induced a lot of anxious feelings.

I began to think to myself:

“What if I fail? What if I am just too weak? There will be a lot of FIT people there–what will people think of me? I’m flabby and big boned–do I really belong?”

I went as far as texting my friend who does CrossFit on the regular to confide in her about my feelings.

She responded quickly:

“Google articles on being nervous for CrossFit. No one’s there to judge–everyone has to start somewhere.” -CF

She was right. So I took a breath, and I asked myself one more question:

“Why are YOU doing this?”

I gave that question a moment to sink in. I surely wasn’t doing it for all those people who would be at the CrossFit center working on their own fitness-just as they weren’t going to be doing their pull ups for me.

And then it came to me:

“I’m doing this because I can. I’m doing this because I said I would. I’m doing this because deep down inside, I know that the things that intimidate me most–are the things that are most worth facing. I’m doing this because I WANT to do this, not for anyone else–but for me–My health. My body. My life.”

I kept repeating all these answers in my head as I headed over to the Black Box on 28th Street. As I exited the elevator I walked into what appeared to be a factory of fitness. There were rings hanging from the ceiling, free weights, bar bells, kettle bells, and pull up bars everywhere. I watched as people all around the gym fiercely worked out. I watched as their muscles flexed and their sweat dripped. I could see determination in their eyes–in their focus. Instead of intimidating me the way that I had imagined it would, it motivated me.

“I can do this,” I whispered to myself.

I walked over to my coach and introduced myself.

“Hi Kyle, I’m Libby.”

He shook my hand.

“You ready?” he asked.

“Let’s do it,” I said with a new found confidence.

“Great, let’s start with a warmup. 30 seconds of jumping jacks, lunges, and 30 seconds of mountain climbers.”

I felt my muscles waking up, and the first drop of sweat fall from my brow.

Ninety seconds later, I was so focused on myself and my breathing and my own workout ahead that I had already forgotten that the gym was filled to capacity with all the other CrossFit participants. This was solely about me and my body–and about bettering myself–not anyone else.

Following the warmup, Kyle, my instructor, told me that next up would be a 10 minute repetition round–I would be doing sets of 15 squats, 10 kettle bells, and 5 pushups. The goal was to see how many rounds of this cycle, I could do and also to maintain a consistent time for how long each round took.

As I took on the first round, I felt strong. But as I transitioned into my second and third, I could feel the fatigue setting in. My arms shook, my legs wobbled, my movements slowed. But I pushed through. I didn’t let the word “can’t” enter my brain. Like the Little Engine That Could, I just kept saying, “I think I can, I think I can.”

And I did.

In ten minutes, I completed five rounds–most at around 2  minutes and 15 seconds. Kyle gave me a high five. “You moved well. Your first round was fast–because your muscles were strong. But the consistency of the last four rounds was really what we are looking for–great job!”

I took a sip of my water and I smiled.

“But we aren’t done,” he added. “We’ve got one 90 second round to go–90 seconds of burpees.”

Burpees involve a combination of a squat, a pushup, and a jumping jack.

They are kind of hell.

“90 seconds, that’s it Libs, you got this,” I cheered myself on.

That was quite possibly the longest 90 seconds of my life. As I dropped to the ground, and pushed myself back up, I could feel my body working, the sweat dripping, my heart racing. With each burpee, I felt my muscles ache. “30 seconds Libs, you’re almost there…Drop, push, Jump. 15 seconds…10…Come on…Don’t stop.”

“AND TIME!” Kyle yelled.

I picked myself up off the ground, and I raised my arms over my head. I glanced around the gym. The anxiety that I had felt just the night before was now totally gone. I smiled.

I breathed in an enormous feeling of positive self-esteem, while my legs shook with fatigue.

And I thought to myself:

“This is why I do these things. Because of THIS feeling afterwards. This feeling of accomplishment–of success. This feeling is the most rewarding feeling of all.

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Special Thanks

CrossFit NYC
Joshua Newman
Kyle Smith
http://www.crossfit.com

Special Thanks
Ashley Castle
http://www.travelwithcastle.com

 

 

 

 

 

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