Monthly Archives: June 2013

AOL Live Audition

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“I have three favorite words: “Passion,” “Dreams, and “Serendipity.” I believe that if you’re passionate, then your dreams are reachable. And even when you think you are falling from the path—a serendipitous accidental blessing will be there to catch you. Moral? Believe in your passions and your dreams no matter how far fetched or crazy they may seem. Anything is possible. Life will surprise you. You will surprise you.”

I wrote this on a Manhattan bound L train from Bushwick this morning at 3:00am–a time when many people are leaving the city after a night out. Instead, I was heading into the city to pursue a lifelong dream: to be an on-camera talent.

When I was six, I told my mom that I wanted to be a play-by-play commentator for Major League Baseball. Subsequently, I went downstairs to the family computer opened up Coral Word (yep, old school), and typed out an entire nine-inning play-by-play commentary of an imaginary game. I gave each player the name of a friend of mine, and when I finished writing the commentary, I’d practice reading it out loud.

“Emily throws in the pitch. Julie takes a swing, and it’s a long fly ball to left field. It could be, it might be, it’s gone!”

And when I felt really good about how I was saying the commentary, I’d pull out a radio, throw in a blank tape, and hit record. Then I’d listen back and see how I could make it better. Yes, I swear, I was only 6! It was my favorite childhood hobby.

One day, I decided I wanted to write a basketball game out as well. When I finished writing the game, I was so excited that I accidentally saved the document over the nine-inning baseball game.

I was devastated. I wanted to have both commentaries to practice. I wanted to master the craft.

Over time, my dream changed from wanting to be a sports broadcaster to a weather girl and then eventually from wanting to be a weather girl to wanting to be a news anchor—and above all wanting to be a storyteller—a storyteller who informs, a storyteller who engages, and a storyteller who inspires.

However, very rarely is there a once-in-a-lifetime  opportunity to  just walk into a studio and possibly be offered the chance to stand in front of a teleprompter and audition for a room full of producers for an on-camera role. So when I learned yesterday afternoon that AOL was inviting all on-camera hopefuls into their studio to take a shot at being their next anchor at 5am this morning, I knew that I had to be there—I knew that I had to wake up early—and I knew that I wanted to be one of the first ones in line with my yellow sunglasses in tow and a big ole smile on my face. And so I made sure I was.

When I arrived at AOL’s office on Broadway and 9th Street around 3:45am, just one other person was there–a young friendly woman who had taken the train in from New Jersey. We chatted briefly and then others began to show up. I could feel the energy boiling among us as we described why we wanted to be the one of the first AOL Live anchors.

“What an amazing opportunity to take advantage of,” I thought to myself. “Everyone is so passionate. I love it!”

Soon enough we were guided up to the AOL offices where we checked in and then awaited information on what would happen next.

We were then told there would be two rounds, but that we were only guaranteed the first round:

The first round would be an interview round—where five people at a time would be escorted into a conference room to charm the judges with answers to whatever questions they asked.

The second round, if selected by the judges, would be the one where we’d have the chance to step in front of the camera and give our best newscast based on the teleprompter script.

Not before long, the first group of five (which I was in) was escorted into the room where three AOL judges were. I sat in the middle with a big giant smile on my face. I could feel my face glowing.

“Nice shades,” said one of the judges.

I blushed. “God, I love my glasses,” I thought to myself.

After the judges completed questioning the first two women, I stood up and introduced myself:

“Hi, I’m Libby Segal, but most people call me Libs.”

And then the judges threw me their first and only question:

“So Libby. Tell us. What do you like to do?”

I smiled. Tipped my yellow sunglasses a little bit forward on my head, and excitedly responded: “Everything,” before launching into an elevator pitch about the The Hobby Hoarder year and my quest to try one new thing every week. I could feel my face beaming as I spoke passionately about the year.

The judges smiled as I spoke and wrote down my answer.  They then thanked me for my answer and moved onto the final two in our group. Soon enough we were asked to leave the room while the judges could decide who would move onto the next round—the round that mattered most: The live camera round.

Nervously, I chatted with one of the other anchor hopefuls outside the door. The woman who escorted us into the room then walked out of the room and asked for three people to join her. I was one of them. I held my breath. She didn’t disclose to us if we were moving on to the next round. Her poker face was brilliant. And as we began to walk, I could feel my heart beating rapidly. She was taking us in the direction of the exit.

“Breathe, Libs. Either way, you got out of bed and gave it your best shot.”

Before reaching the exit though, the woman took a right hand turn and led us down a dim hallway to a row of chairs.

I half expected the next words to come out of the woman’s mouth to be, “May the odds ever be in your favor.” (Hunger Games). And while these weren’t quite her words, the news to follow was definitely grand:

“Congratulations, you three have made it onto the next round!” Instantly, I could feel all the tension release from my body.

“Phew,” I thought. “Now it’s time to rock and roll.”

Ten minutes later, I was brought into the studio and given the chance to strut my stuff. I danced onto the screen from stage left and gave it my best shot as the script ran through the teleprompter. I could hear myself stumble over a word and then recover. Before I knew it, it was time to de-mic and give the next person their shot. As I exited the studio, I breathed a deep sigh of relief.

“How’d you do?” asked a new friend.

“Hard to tell, but I got to dance on camera—so I feel pretty good,” I laughed.

But the truth was, I felt great. I was proud of myself. I felt good not just because AOL had given me the chance, but because by getting out of my bed at 2:00am—I believed in myself and gave myself the chance–And the first step to pursuing  any passion and achieving any dream is believing in yourself. I knew very confidently that no matter the outcome, I had taken a giant step in the right direction.

You can catch up on the auditions that aired live here: AOL LIVE

And you can vote for your favorite on Twitter by tweeting @AOL 
#AOLLive #AOLAnchorQuest

And as always you can tweet me @LibbySegal #thehobbyhoarder

Motivational Soundtrack Part II

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After posting my motivational soundtrack yesterday, I decided to go to some of my hobby coaches and find out what songs motivate them. AND I took it one step further and asked each of them why they chose their songs. What you’ll read is sure to amaze you–and inspire you. Here are some of the answers I got:


Christopher Grady
(Guitar Lesson):
“I Turn My Camera On” – Spoon
“It’s nearly impossible to have that song come on and not move from a walk to a strut. It has all the swagger of Staying Alive but none of the cheesiness. Plus it makes every sidewalk feel like a catwalk.”

April Brucker (Ventriloquism):
1.” Causing a Commotion” – Madonna.
“This is because it reminds me the world is mine and the stars and sky is only the limit I make it.”

2. Glamorous Life-Fergie.
“It makes me know my dreams and the Hollywood life are within my reach.”

3. Stay-Madonna.
“It gets me going and it is a song I covered.”

4. Take Me Home-Lisa Lisa.
“Reminds me that I am worth only the best and to respect myself in business and in life.”

Jon Hanson (Downhill Mountain Biking):
“18 Candles” – The Sessions
“The song is from a mountain biking video called seasons with one of my favorite riders Matt Hunter. The video is like 5 years old, but any time I watch Matt’s part, I get stoked to ride.”

Nicholas D’Sent (Pilot LessoN):
1. “My Life” – Gwizz

2.  “I Believe I can Fly” – R. Kelly
“Because he said if I can see it then I can be it.”

Flynn Michael (Jedi Light Sabre Training & Stilt Walking):
“Heh, favorite inspirational song as a kid was High Hopes (Rubber Tree Plant) song, but as an adult, I’d say Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name Of.

Laura Fisher (Singing Lesson):
“Creator” – Santogold
This song has all of the wild, dark, inspiring energy I need to get me going any strange day I wake up and need some abstract coffee. The lyrics also give it that equally important layer of self-empowering wordwisdom that I need to toss me up on top of the world. a gleam of chorus:

“Me, I’m a Creator
Thrill is to make it up
The rules I break got me a place
Up on the radar
Me, I’m a Taker
Know what the stakes are
Can’t roll it back, it’s understood
Got to play our cards.”

Brandon Jacobs (Drumming Lesson):
“Rearview Mirror” – Assorted Animals
“I know that it is a little self indulgent to choose a song by my own band, but it is a song that does truly inspire me. Not only is it a testament to what I have accomplished with my band in New York City, being that it’s on our first self produced album recorded in NYC, the song itself has a great message.

“Isn’t funny how things always seem to seem/Oh the grass is much more green/as it disappears/through my rearview mirror.”

It’s a message of always looking forward, and even if you look back and it might seem better, it doesn’t matter because we always have to move forward towards something better.

That and it’s a kick ass song that’s catchy as hell. That doesn’t hurt either.”



Jason Schneider
 (Welding):
“Nightcall” – Kavinsky (featuring Love Foxxx)

(Excerpt from an amazing email Jason sent me when I asked him to name his motivational song and why–make sure to check out the doc he’s working on and more at JsWorks.Org)

“I first heard this song while watching the movie “Drive” with Ryan Gosling. I had just started my documentary, and in the beginning, it was going to be much more of an uplifting film. I hadn’t even thought about tackling any heavy issues / conflicts within myself, and wanted to show mostly the uplifting or “overcoming” aspects of my story / disability.

It sounds corny, but something clicked inside me when I heard this song sitting in that movie theater. The idea of the lonely driver, who’s essentially a good man, but has some dark demons he’s trying to hide from / escape, really resonated with me – because that’s how I felt about myself for most of my life (post accident).

I’ve always had a passion for music, and really identified with / attached personal meaning to various songs over the years, but the dissonant tone of the beat, coupled with the lyrics, just stirred something up inside me. It made me realize in that instance that I had to go places I hadn’t wanted to ever go before… push myself to explore all the negative feelings / thoughts I’ve ever had about who / what I was – and my “disability”- on camera.

There are things I have accomplished in my life that I should be really proud of – and some could look at it as the whole “overcoming” thing – but at the same time, I constantly feel like I haven’t accomplished enough, or pushed myself hard enough. I feel like these internal demons (thoughts / feelings) really weigh me down. But I realize now that many of those feelings come from the very thing I’ve been running away from (or chose not to face / explore until now). I don’t know if my internal conflicts have helped to drive me (no pun intended) all these years, or if they’re standing in my way of something bigger.

Throughout the process of my film I’ve played the song over and over as a source of inspiration. Every time I listen to it, it still gives me the same feeling / motivation to dive deep into uncharted territory within myself.

Motivational Soundtrack

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“Reach for the stars.
First you have to have a vision.
Reach for the highest.
If you could see it, you could be it.”

-Major Lazer

A lot of people ask me, “What motivates you?”

Above all, people motivate me. But there’s also one other very significant thing that motivates me and that is music.

But not just any music–very specific music.

I’m talking about the music that make me believe I can move mountains with my bare hands; the music that inspires me to want to tackle a tiger with only my legs. I am talking about the music that makes me want to get out of bed and dance; the music that makes me want to skip down the street with my head held high; the music that makes me want to drop all my doubts and reach for the stars.

I’m talking about the music and songs that I post the lyrics to on Facebook–the jams that would have filled my AOL profile in the early 2000’s. I’m talking about the music and songs that I put on repeat for hours before I try something new–or before I attack something that terrifies me.

I’m talking about the tracks that make up my motivational soundtrack.

Below you’ll find the songs that motivate me each time I press play. Also, stay tuned tomorrow for what songs inspire some of the hobby coaches from this past year (Trust me: your iPod is going to be bumping after these two posts!) And if you have your own inspirational/motivational songs that you’d like to share or make known, make sure you leave a comment or tweet me @LibbySegal.

Cheers!

“Reach for the Stars” – Major Lazer

“The World’s Greatest” – R. Kelly

“Shooting Star” – Owl City

“Battle Born” and “Flesh and Bone” – The Killers

“Walking on Sunshine” – Katrina & The Waves

“Empire State of Mind (Part II)” – Alicia Keys

“We Can” – Jesse Ruben

“Lose Yourself” – Eminem

“And Run” – He is We

“Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor

“Tubthumping” – Chumbawamba

“Never Give Up” – Tiwony (feat. Konshens)

“Sometimes Dreams Come True” – Jessie J

Haiku Mania

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Credit: Sarah Steenland

After taking part in the Guerilla Haiku Movement, I put out a challenge to HH readers, Facebook friends, Twitter followers and the universe to write and share haiku! And while I mentioned I’d pick and post the top 5, it was just too hard. Check out all these awesome haiku I received! And if you feel inspired (and you will)– share your own!

Splish Splash Splush Whoosh Wash
Raining water this way comes
Drip Drop Pitter Pat
-Connor Tenant

Whenever I’m sad, 
I think of avocados. 
Joy comes back to me.
-Rachel Kerry

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-Nina Cowley

Rises over fields
Light washes my eyes and skin
Sun warms and welcomes
-Julia Ember Ricciardi

Mother of two girls
Early mornings, up at night
Smiles make it worthwhile
-Jessica Ruhle

Morning coffee mouth
sends the sun into orbit,
sugar-paints the moon.
-Laura Fisher

A cat a day keeps
hearts renewing themselves and
all hair ties missing.
-Laura Fisher

Muay Thai early morn
Punch and kick and sweat it out
Become sexy hot
-Julia Menn

Orwells prying eye-
(now) big brother left unchecked
little brother sees
-John Hayden Brady

I Swim bike and run
70 miles is my threesome
I race for boston!
-Grant Ryan

“Es o si que es”
It is what it is, mom says 
“Es o si que es”
-Kimberly Manley 

To travel is to
exchange Home for another
not of your making.
-R.G.M

I munch at the leaves
From the sweet boughs (the) gums provide
What is that below!

SarahSteenland.jpg-largeCHAINSAW?!
-Haiku and Photo Credit: Sarah Steenland

Everything is green–
even the rain in the trees.
It’s June, the best month
-Carolyn SegalGood is good to share
Spreading sunshine brings more sun
Let’s do it today
-Shannon Murray Martinforgot

Haiku rules
asked google for the answer
thank you internet
-Molly McGaughey

Smiling is more fun
than frowning about the mud
so play in the rain
-Molly McGaughey

I like this a lot
to write is to worry not
keyboards sing to me
-Molly McGaughey90 Days of Joy
Spreading happiness to all
Changing lives for good
-Rebecca Kopec

Fear, don’t hold me back
You are a weighted falsehood.
Look what I can do.
-Melissa Caminecci

Do I want too much?
Inside, dim fluorescent lights 
The sun’s warmth beckons
-Melissa Caminecci

Lying on the couch
Looking forward to summer
I drift off to sleep
-Alana

You are my hero
I’m jealous of your awesome
So glad I met you
Emelie Samuelson

Go to spin class now
You’ll be happy that you did
Ice cream for dinner
-Kimberley Cameron

Fear and doubt are myths
Cling fast to inspiration
Faith writes its own song
-Carrie-Rachel Dean

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Guerilla Haiku Movement

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Within days of moving to New York City, three years ago, I was approached on several occasions by clipboard holding agents. Each of them asked me to commit to something different. “Love children? Sponsor one in Africa! Don’t have time to chat about the child in Africa? You must be pretty selfish.” “Want a puppy for that apartment you barely fit in yourself? We’ve got bags of them!” “Do you love the environment? Prove it. Stop and talk to me. If you don’t I’ll make sure to note that you hate the environment. Your carbon footprint is the reason our children will never breathe clean air.”  It was in those first days that I made a vow to never hold a clipboard and approach people. Ever. Even if the rent to my apartment depended on it.

This past weekend I broke that vow. But I promise–it was for good reason.

A little over a year ago, I met Caley Vickerman. She is the founder of the Guerilla Haiku Movement, a movement that aims to inspire people to get out and create/make art; a movement that brings joy to people’s lives; and a movement that motivates people to explore and celebrate the temporary and the virtually permanent. How does the movement do this? It’s simple: Through chalk and Haiku.

(Quick reminder: A Haiku is a three line-syllable based poem. The first line must have 5 syllables. The second line must have 7. and the last line must have 5 again).

Throughout the world, Caley organizes events that ask people to take a moment out of their day to pick up a piece of chalk, find a free space of blacktop or sidewalk, and haiku away. Each haiku can be about anything a person wants his or her haiku to be about. Easy.

When I met Caley, I became enthralled by her movement. As someone who can often be caught on the subway counting syllables and noting haiku on her phone, I wanted desperately to be a part of Caley’s movement. Unfortunately, my schedule wasn’t matching up to haiku events, and I kept having to miss them. However, I felt so inspired by Caley’s chalking movement that in December of 2012, I set out on a quest to chalk the word happiness into each of the five boroughs.

IMG_4854_2(THAT’s A LOT OF HAPPPPPPPY RIGHT THERE!)

The joy I felt in purely taking the time to write the word happiness and visit each borough was amazing. It was then that I had caught the chalk bug–I knew that I absolutely would need to take part in Caley’s Guerilla Haiku Movement–as soon as I physically could.

It’s difficult to explain how honored I felt when Caley reached out to me just a few weeks ago about an upcoming event in New York City. She asked me if I could be a haiku agent.  Joyously, I went to type yes–but substituted yes, with an inquisitive: “What is a haiku agent?”

“You’ll stand with a clipboard, a map, a scavenger hunt, get people to join you, and keep track of the hailing/get social media photos, and more.

I hesitated for a moment, while Caley patiently awaited my answer. I sighed. A clipboard. Can I really do this, I thought? I made a vow NEVER to agree to hold a clipboard unless it was for a television or film project.  BUT this past year, I also made a vow to refuse the word “no.”
My friends, that is what we call a catch-22.

Alas, I decided that only the power of haiku could put a clipboard in my hand on the streets of New York City in order to approach people and ask them to do something–because I knew what kind of JOY it could possibly bring someone–even if it were just one person.

And honestly, I couldn’t be more happy that I broke my vow of going against the clipboard. Within minutes of chalking my first haiku of the day in Columbus Circle, I could feel the excitement bubbling. “Okay, this is awesome. Clipboard or not. I get to ask people to have fun doing this?! HECK YA.”

IMG_1951“Go find your passion
and believe in it–Be Brave
never stop reaching.”
-Libs Segal

After penning a few more of my own haiku poems, I met my co-team leader, James and the rest of our team. Their excitement was contagious, and as a team, we decided that infiltrating the park may be our best course of action. Our second best course of action was choosing a small bridge on the south side of the park–where within twenty minutes, tens of people were on their hands and knees haikuing away.

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This chalk traffic continued consistently for the next hour and a half. And through our chalk adventures…

We met people who wrote in Bengali….

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And people who wrote in Gaelic

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We met families!

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We met a father and a son who decided to take a break and haiku, because they thought it would make a great memory on Father’s Day.

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We saw a haiku written about zombies!

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And haiku that went deep–real deep:

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And haiku that made us laugh!

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 We saw people take a second to live in the moment. We saw people say yes to something they may otherwise not say yes to. We saw people leave their comfort zone–talk to a stranger–and slow it down.

And above all? We saw joy and we saw happiness.

What could have been a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

IMG_2015*Art strikes where it strikes*
*We happened upon this bridge*
*Art is where we are*

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If you are interested in taking part in a Guerilla Haiku Movement event (holding a clipboard or not), head over to www.ghm575.com and reach out to Miss Caley Vickerman–The Haiku Mistress.

AND I’m  inviting all to participate in the haiku joy. Submit your haiku below, message it, Facebook, or tweet it to me and  look for it to appear on the site later this week!!!

Cheers

Power Vinyasa Yoga

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Before I jump into my power vinyasa yoga experience, I’d like to share an anecdote with you about the first time I tried another type of yoga class–a hot yoga class–just over two months ago.

—————————————————————————–

It is very hot

I feel like I am dying.

I must be dying

**********
Five minutes later
**********
I feel like I am sweating out my organs

I look up. Sweat drips off my forehead.

I’m in the safety position which means I’m on my knees. Not one knee. Too worried I’ll tumble over. Two knees.

I don’t feel safe. I feel like I am dying.

The instructor motions for the class to transition to the next posture of 26.

I look at my hands to see how many fingers I have used to count postures. 

I’ve lost count.

I may vomit.

I’m still on my knees.

I try another posture.

Golden.

We’re asked to repeat. And I retreat to my knees. My water is out of reach. I don’t want to disrupt the peacefulness of the class. My internal dialogue is already disrupting my peace. I don’t want to ruin this moment for these practitioners. 

Somehow I manage to sit in the room for the duration of class. There is a pool of water below me. I wonder if it’s possible to drown in my own sweat.

Dizzy. I whisper to myself, “I should have hydrated more. 

I leave the class.

My instructor smiles at me–no wait, I mean, he grins. “Libby, you did great!” He exclaims jubilantly.

 Inside, I am screaming, “Don’t you lie to me–I was like a fish out of water desperately trying to breathe.”

Instead, I try and chirp a positive, “Thanks.”

“You should do it again tomorrow–and the next day…” He responds.

I smile again. “Okay.”

Inside my head, “No thanks.”

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If I had written about my hot yoga experience in anymore words than that, it may have looked a lot like this guy’s post that circled on MindBodyGreen several years ago. Like him, I bought a pass to attend multiple hot yoga classes after my first. That would be great–if I hadn’t spent the money before even stepping into the heat infused room. That was my first mistake. But my bigger mistake was jumping into hot yoga before I had taken much more than a flexibility and stretch yoga class in Ohio during the road trip.

This wasn’t the first time I actually stepped foot into a hot yoga classroom. Last year, I took the time to video my good friend Rena as she completed her 100th Bikram class in under 100 days. But videoing and actually doing the yoga are two totally different beasts. I was unprepared for the struggle I was about to put my body through. I hadn’t drank enough water. I hadn’t attended any basic flow classes that involved difficult postures. Essentially, I had attempted to jump from being young Simba to the Mufasa of yoga far too quickly. I can tell you that, now after taking a hot yoga class, my respect for those who attend this practice on a regular basis has only exponentially grown. Hot yoga s not easy. Not at all.

But despite my disappointing first attempt at a yoga beyond the most basic kind, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let the experience deter me from giving other types of yoga–like vinyasa–a shot. So in order to keep my promise to myself, I headed to my first power vinyasa yoga class at Yoga to the People at St. Marks Place last week–and I couldn’t be more glad that I did:

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It’s not even five minutes into class and I can feel little sweat droplets moving down my back.

But this time something is different. Something is much different.

I can breathe.

I’m not struggling to find air to in a 100 something degree sweat box.

I find my breath.

My muscles loosen.

I’m transitioning from downward dog to salutations.

I’m bending backwards and stretching forward

And while my body feels the stress of the movements, I find myself enter a rhythm.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

I’m still sweating. 

It’s okay.

I’m flowing.

I try not to loose focus.

These men and women at my sides are much more flexible than I am. 

That’s okay.

This is about me. This is about my body. This is about my breathing.

I take a moment to retreat to my safety position.

“You got this Libs,” I whisper. “Keep breathing.” “Stop thinking.”

Inhale. Exhale. Downward dog.

I find shift my way to my left arm and hand and reach my right hand way up toward the ceiling, opening my entire body.

I can feel my body underneath me–all of it–working together. I feel strong.

I return to downward dog.

I flow.

“Now let yourself relax on your back,” I hear the instructor say.

Class is coming to an end. 

I’m not dizzy.

I inhale. I exhale. I can still breathe.

I feel alive.

I’m ready for my day.

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LibsYoga

10 Activities for Thrill Seekers

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A year ago, this week, I went on what I considered to be my first “thrilling” adventure of the initial hobby year: Ziplining. As someone who was slightly scared of heights for a while as a child, it was amazing how that fear didn’t reappear or escalate as I slid on my harness and stared down a 3,200 foot cable that hung 650 feet above the ground. In fact, rather than fear overwhelming me, my excitement grew. I wanted to be zipping across the trees. This adventure inspired my future sky diving and hang gliding adventures–thrills I will never forget. After these adventures, my mom started to call me an “adrenaline junkie,” though as I’ve learned from my research–I’ve got a ways to go before I become a true adrenaline junkie.

How about you? Are you an adrenaline junkie? Perhaps, a daredevil? Or are you just looking for a thrill? Here are 10 activities to help you get your fix:

1. Highlining

My friend Lauren, sent me this trailer for a documentary months ago. I am in awe of what these people do:

2. Zorbing or Sphering

 Okay–even this one is new to me. But I am 100 percent on board. I want to do this–IMMEDIATELY.

3. Base Jumping
Even this 102 year old was looking for a thrill:

4. Bungee Jumping

5. Sky Diving

6. Squirrel Suiting

You may have seen Will Smith’s son do this in the new movie After Earth, but people have been getting their thrill fix off this daredevil activity for years:

7. Stunt Jumping

8. Racing Cars

9. Bouldering

10. Ziplining

Not ready to jump off a cliff with a squirrel suit on? Or dangle above the ground as you try to scale a mountain? Want to feel secure, but still have a thrill? This is the hobby for you:

ziplining

Hot Air Balloon

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“Way up in the air, you’re finally free
And you can stay up there, right next to me
All this gravity will try and pull you down,
but not this time.”
-Owl City

Sometimes the things that mean the most to you, are also the hardest to put into words. I edited this video together several weeks ago, and I’ve watched it each day since, but it isn’t until now that I finally decided to share it on the site. I didn’t know what I could write to do such a memorable moment in our road trip justice. I didn’t want to screw up the memory somehow by trying to go too deep to describe it. The truth is–I don’t think I’ve quite yet processed the trip–or this specific experience–even though today marks four months since the day we had officially hit the road and started our 50 day adventure.

What I can tell you is that when you’re floating so high in the air and you can see so far in the distance, and you’re surrounded by three people who are full of nothing but love for life in the same way that you are, it doesn’t feel like anything can knock you down–it feels like you can float on top of the world, forever.

I’m pretty sure I’m still floating.

Special Thanks
New Mexico Balloon Adventures
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How to Relax Without Being a Lazy Bum

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After someone told me, recently, that I needed to rest–and to give myself a chance to relax, I laughed. And then I realized she was right–I’ve been on the go a lot. The problem is that when I think of relaxing, I think of the terrifying idea of wasting a day lying on a couch, legs dangling over the end, and a bag of chips within reach.

So I got to thinking what are good hobbies to do when you want to relax–but you don’t want to be a lazy bum? I came up with running, drawing, pottery, and dance. While running and dance may seem TOO active to be relaxing, I’ve learned that you can find ways to really “zen out” while doing even the most exhilarating of hobbies. (Lindsey Lewis over at MindBodyGreen even argues this feeling in the article “Why Meditation is Overrated” as she lists 9 activities you can definitely meditate on.)

I then began to wonder–what are other people doing to relax, but to also stay active both mentally and physically? So I took to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and posed a question:

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 10.19.59 PM

The results varied from activities like surfing, which is physical and can remove mental stress (unless of course you are terrified of that ocean like I am), to things I know I need to try– like painting and gardening which give the body a break but still exercises the mind a bit.

Here are some of the responses:

K.M.: “Gardening , it is relaxing and you can see results. Some are immediate but many are gradual little rewards of beauty for steady maintenance and patience. It helps the soul to work with your hands in the earth and with plants. Fresh air , sky and greenery. Also hiking. It’s the nature again, keeps things in life in perspective.”

Robert DeSanti: “I paint/draw pictures of dinosaurs, do tasks in bright colors. I do it cause it’s fun and makes me smile.”

His painting/drawing made me smile too .
Robert_Dino

Julia Ember Ricciardi: “Cooking/baking! Because there is always a delicious pay-off in the end!”

Rachel Miller: “Gardening. I love digging in the dirt and being part of the growing process of plants. Plus the added benefits of adding beauty to the outside space and growing your own food.”

Ashley Castle: “Walking through my neighborhood, wine tasting, journaling.”

 IMG_4885

 Adam Marland: For me, relaxing can mean a couple things. If I’m drained from a crappy work day or something, the goal is to check out mentally AND physically, and that means comfort food, beer, sweatpants, and movie marathon. If I want to relax physically but be engaged mentally, I just drive somewhere pretty and enjoy; a beach, a scenic overlook, whatever. The drive and getting out is as much the reward as the destination. In contrast, if I need to be engaged physically but not mentally, I find activity therapeutic; basketball if im in the city, but a hike or swimming hole are my favorites.”

Sarah Steeland: “Would have to be surfing for sure” (She even shared one of her awesome doodles to show)!

surfing sarah steenland

R.G.M.: “I love to hike around Turkey Mountain, a local spot with oodles of walking, biking and horse trails … just 3 miles from my house. And my favorite indoor hobby is photo editing. I can play with one pic for hours!”

Grant Ryan: “I have three said hobbies when I want to relax but not be lazy, the first is obvious, running – it might not sound like relaxing but its very zen to me, it clears my mind and eases my stress. No music, no phone, just a pair of sneakers and a road! The second is cooking, I love to create, and i find it artful and soulfully stimulating – it relaxes me in a different way, not so much zen as it is just adult play. Lastly I like to take a glass of red wine, and a new book and let my mind drift to worlds impossible – it might sound lazy, but I find it to be mental excersise and an escape from reality. I can literally go anywhere with the turn of the page. Wine isnt always necessary, but it definaltey relaxes me and it stimulates my creativity for hobby #2.”

Grant Ryan

Bekah Eaton: “Mudding!”

Emelie Samuelson:  “Slacklining, crocheting, or hiking.”

Joe Cicala: “I go to book stores and hang out in the cookbook section. Cooking at home is also relaxing. And at work when I make pasta and when I butcher and cure meat. That’s my zen time. I completely zone out and let my mind wonder.”

Jason Schneider: “I like to play Bass. I learn new songs and feel like I’m being productive/getting better at something, even though I’m just messing around playing music.”

A.M.: “WII Just Dance”

Hannah Brencher: “Is it possible to make gratitude into a hobby? If that be the case then gratitude has been my hobby for a while now. When I want to relax, but not be a lazy bum, I create care packages, and make cards, and just make things for people in my life that matter most to me. I roam the aisles of Target for little gifts or spend the afternoon writing letters “just because.” There is an indescribable feeling that comes from pouring myself onto people I love that never makes me feel lazy but leaves me feeling completely refreshed and relaxed. My hobby is also a remedy.”

PhotoCredTiffanyFarley (15)

Photo Credit: Tiffany Farley

Celeste Headlee: “I have a strong sense of guilt whenever I sit down to watch “Mad Men” or “Downton Abbey” because I can hear my mother’s voice in my head saying incredulously, “Are you just going to sit there?” So, I have a whole host of hobbies that I can do while I’m seated. One of my favorites is needlepoint and cross stitch and I especially love the complicated variety that take months to complete.”

Tammy Tibbetts: “Reading in Central Park, Yoga for Runners class at Jack Rabbit NYC, and watching Mindy Project with my friend Erin to name a few!”

Maitland Ward Baxter: For sure yoga. Pretzeling myself helps me de-stress. #theflexibleshallnotbebentoutofshape

How about you–What are YOUR favorite hobbies to do when you want to RELAX but don’t want to be a lazy bum?

Here’s one of my drawings from when I want to relax–but I don’t want to be a bum…

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 10.24.45 PM

48 Hour Film Project: NYC

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I am staring at the clock. It’s 3:23 AM. Traffic is moving in a very specific rhythm outside. I watch as lights cast shadows through my friend’s living room, and I restlessly try to catch some shut eye. I close my eyes, but like a kid waiting for her birthday, I can’t fall asleep. I’m too anxious. I’m too excited for what’s ahead. We are only eight hours into the 48 Hour Film Project (NYC), a competition that asks groups of filmmakers to create a 4-7 minute short film in under 48 hours. Filmmaking. THIS is the HOBBY and CAREER I moved to New York City for. And while I’ve done much of my own filmmaking and video work–I’ve never ever taken part in a film competition. This is what we call: Awesome. As I open my eyes again and stare at the ceiling, I can feel my excitement only growing with each echo of each car that passes under the bridge outside. We’ve finished our our script, we’ve plotted our shot list, and in three hours we are going to wake up to shoot a movie. And all I am thinking in my head is “Hell. Freaking. Yah.”

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It can be very lonely in New York City–especially when you first move here.

 I moved to New York City in January of 2010, and I can remember, very vividly, two months into my move, walking out of my internship, calling my best friend on the phone, and crying to her for an hour about how lonely I was–how I didn’t know if I could make it here–how I wanted desperately to be able to make friends who were creative, who were ready to collaborate, who were passionate, who were looking to make things happen–BIG things–earth shaking things-friends who were ready to take on the world as if it were Mount Everest and fight hard earned battles to make it to the top.

What I’ve learned from that loneliness is a lesson in persistence, and in patience, and in passion.

I realized that I couldn’t make these friends that I was seemingly struggling to find if I didn’t put myself out there, if I didn’t take an initiative to start and to create myself. This city is comprised of 8 million people–I can’t break down the stats for you on where they are all from–or how they all got here, but I can safely say that many of these people are searching for a light in a tunnel that leads to success–a light in a tunnel that may perhaps lead to a Broadway Stage, or a credit on a feature film; a light in a tunnel that may lead to a sold out concert at SummerStage or a part in Shakespeare in the Park; a light in a tunnel that leads to a metaphorical pot of gold symbolizing that all dreams did indeed come true.

I knew that within those eight million people, amidst all of the skyscrapers, all of the Broadway shows, and all of the chaos of the city that these people were out there. I just had to be very clear that I too was one of these dreamers.

And then it happened.

I made a good friend through my internship, who could see my passion and my drive as I shared my latest projects and or films with her. She could also see my willingness to put myself out there and to openly express my interest in “making it” in order, not to be famous, but rather to make an impact on another person’s life.  And so she introduced me to many of her friends in the Big Apple.

She, herself, was a young makeup artist who was working on TV shows and movies. And her friends? Young cooks, young  chefs, young musicians, young actors, young filmmakers, young producers, young directors, young writers, younger performers, young singers. Most of them worked shifts at Ruby Tuesdays to pay the bills. But what stood out more than anything to me, was that like me–they were all dreamers. And they still are.

Since that first year of living in New York City, I have maintained many of the friendships I have made with these friends. And I am proud of that. I have seen each of them do amazing work. I’ve seen dreams transition to realities–and I’ve seen passion and persistence and patience, all the things I needed in order to make these friends, play out in extremely rewarding ways.

Our conversations extend from general “How are yous?” to endless banter, debates and smiles over all things creative.

“You liked that movie? But it didn’t have this, this or this….” and “But his acting in this was far superior to his acting in…” “I just think he should have never made that film.”

I always wondered when I’d get the chance to sit down and work with some of the people I connected with when I first moved here.

That answer was this weekend, for the 48 Hour Film Project, in which a team of 14 of us, organized by my good friend Kim, took on the aforementioned challenge to create a 4-7 minute film in just 48 hours.

On that team were  6 individuals from that initial group of friends that I forged friendships with founded on a common love of film, television, and theatre. On that team were also 7 individuals that I had never had the pleasure to meet before–but who I can’t imagine not surrounding myself with again.

Each team must enter with a team name, and when the festival kicks off each team must select at random a genre. After the genre is chosen, EVERY team must then make sure that they include three specific details within their film: a specific character, a prop, and a line (Genres differ but specific details remain consistent for all teams). All of this is noted here.

Our Team: Ruby Squared Productions
Our Genre: Dark Comedy
Character: Cat or Cam Dean–an ad executive
Prop: Trophy
Line: When do you expect her?

In less than 48 hours, we scripted, we crafted, we envisioned, we executed, we edited, we composed, we exported, and we delivered a 6:30 minute dark comic film; a 6:30 minute film that gave us all a little reminder why we came to New York, why that patience and persistence in pursuing our passions mattered and what we are truly capable of when we take on a challenge and attack it together, and lastly a little reminder what happens when the talking stops and the making of films starts: Magic.

In his book, Here is New York, E.B White writes: “There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.”

Here’s to the settlers that I had the brilliant opportunity to work with this past weekend:
Alex Zingaro, Brandon Jacobs, Brandon Opel, Brandon Pro, Chris Grady, Kimberly DiPersia, MaryLynn Suchan, Matt Van Vorst, Megan Magee, Nate Smith, Robert DeSanti, Sean Gallagher, and Shannon Kendall.

And here’s to being patient, persistent, and passionate.

Here are some stills of the production process:

IMG_1779Photo Credit Megan Magee

IMG_1796Photo Credit Megan Magee

IMG_1792Photo Credit Megan Magee

sound Photo Credit MaryLynn Suchan

PreproPhoto Credit MaryLynn Suchan


RoofPhoto Credit MaryLynn Suchan

AND basically how we all felt after:

mattPhoto Credit Shannon Kendall

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