Monthly Archives: July 2013

July Roundup

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It’s been a few weeks since I’ve taken the time to just do a hobby and then focus on it in a blog post. In fact it’s been over a month. So what was the Hobby Hoarder up to all of July that inspired posts about  life lessons and embracing imperfection?

A LOT!

WEEK 1: The Hobby Hoarder kicked off July with a high energy-West African Dance Class that had live drummers! (Alvin Ailey)

WEEK 2: I kept the drum theme alive, as I banged out the second week of July with a class called PoundFIT which utilizes weighted drum sticks and: “is a full-body cardio jam session, combining light resistance with constant simulated drumming. The workout fuses cardio, Pilates, isometric movements, plyometrics and Isometric poses into a 45-minute series. Burn between 600 and 900 calories per hour, strengthen and sculpt infrequently used muscles, and drum your way to a leaner, slimmer physique – all while rocking out to your favorite music!” (PoundFit.com)

WEEK 3: On July 14, I kicked into hobby overload and did a two hobby day: First, I attended my first Improv Everywhere event (the Mp3 Experiment)

Then I attacked my first scavenger hunt which required doing ridiculous poses outside of store fronts!

scavengerhunt

WEEK 4: I balanced the high-energy month with a round of Pilates at CorePilates in Union Square where I very quickly learned just how different Pilates and yoga are from one another as my abs (wait I have those?) screaaamed through most of the workout. The result? A better feeling of strength through my core–and pain with laughter. Totally worth it.

WEEK 5: I rounded out July with my 96th hobby: an upbeat, memorable Masala Bhangra class at Crunch gym with  an amazing teacher named Sarina Jain.

August is looking JUST as jam packed with some pretty amazing activities in store including a stab at the sport of Roller Derby in Bethlehem, Pa, a second skydiving experience, and the chance to ride shotgun in a race car! Trust me, I’ve already set aside time to watch Whip It and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby to mentally prepare for the aforementioned.

What are YOUR plans for August? What have you been putting off doing?
Now’s the chance to do it! Don’t wait. Go. Now.

Remember: “Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something. You got a dream-you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it. You want something. Go get it. Period.” – The Pursuit of Happyness 

 

Embracing Imperfection

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“Our addiction to perfection will kill the artist,” – Rachael C. Smith

This past year I discussed how the only thing I quit was one of my jobs.

Looking back—that’s not true–I also quit something else: I quit trying to be perfect.

 Does that mean I stopped trying to be the best me I could be?

Absolutely not.

 It simply means that I’ve found a new respect for imperfection and that I’ve found a new way to embrace the fact that we will not always be the greatest at what we try.

 Because the truth is that so often we fill ourselves with doubts and fears and worries about trying new things — but not because we simply believe we won’t be able to physically or mentally do something, but because we are concerned that we won’t be able to do something perfectly.

And when we don’t succeed at doing something perfectly, we can often feel guilty or embarrassed and tear ourselves apart. But the truth is that many times we should feel proud just to have tried something in the first place, because LIFE isn’t about being perfect.

It’s about a willingness to be IMPERFECT.

It’s about a willingness to mess up and to learn from our mess-ups.

It’s about a willingness to expose our vulnerabilities—and also a willingness to embrace them.

Life Is about taking on challenges and testing our strengths and testing our limits. It’s about breaking out of our shell and finding out what works for us. It’s about refusing the word no and giving unlimited possibilities to where YES might take us. It’s about throwing perfection out the window—and embracing the fact that just once, or twice, or even many times we might not be the best  and most talented in the room—but at least we are there and at least we are trying.

I didn’t set out on the hobby year to be perfect, though many times I found myself doubting and worrying and scared that I wouldn’t be “perfect” at something new. AND many times, I believed that if I wasn’t perfect at something, I’d be disappointing.  But when I wasn’t perfect—the truth is I wasn’t disappointing—In fact, I was human. My friends, my teachers, and my instructors all accepted my flaws and welcomed them because they wanted to teach me. And because they welcomed the imperfection—I began to welcome it as well.

Once I put the thought behind me that “I had to be perfect”—I really began to give it my all–I really found how much I was truly capable of:

-Getting up on a unicycle with the help of friends.

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-Hanging upside down even briefly at an aerial yoga class.

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-Walking a wire

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-Swinging and flipping off of a trapeze

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And 90 other activities and skills that I never even thought I’d have a chance to try.

So the next time that the worries and doubts and fears fill your mind, and the next time you think you can’t do something because you won’t “look perfect” or because you think you might not BE perfect when you try, I dare you to put those worries and those fears and those doubts behind you—because not only are they holding you back from trying something new, they are holding you back from understanding how wonderful it is NOT to be perfect. I dare you to embrace the imperfection, because what you’ll find out in the end is that you’ll be perfectly okay with being imperfect. 

 

Heat Wave Hobbies

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It’s hot. 

Okay. Let me rephrase that. It’s FREAKING hot.

If you, like me, are in the northeast, you know very well that we are boiling right now. And if you are out in the desert sands of the midwest, you are just absolutely getting scorched this summer.

Let’s be honest, it’s so hot that you are lathering up your body with sun screen even to sit in the house, because you truly, honestly believe that the sun is on a mission to do nothing but scold your skin. 

The easiest way to get through a heat wave may be to sit in front of your brand new air conditioner and breathe with your tongue hanging out like a puppy dog, but it’s certainly not the most productive or more importantly-the most fun way. So I came up with a list of hobbies to help you get through your heat wave woes!  These may not be the most extreme hobbies–but they’ll definitely keep you calm, cool, and comfortable while the sun burns a hole into the earth for five straight days. 

10 HEAT WAVE HOBBIES WORTH HOARDING

1. Learn a New Instrument. While you pump up the AC, take a shot at tuning up a guitar, taking your heat wave frustrations out on a set of drums, or teaching yourself a  folk favorite on  simply a pair of spoons!

2. Make a home movie. Sure, you can lounge and watch YouTube clips all day, but why not take some time to get creative and make your own?

3. Card Games. Any. There are hundreds: Black Jack, Texas Hold ‘Em, War, Slap Jack, Egyptian Rat Scree, Rummy. The options are endless. My favorite is Cards Against Humanity. It’s the grown up version of Apples to Apples and it will keep you and your friends laughing all day long.

4. Heads Up! If you happen to have a smart phone, and somehow managed to make it into your 20’s and beyond without purchasing a single board game, download this game. Ellen Degeneres came up with it and features the charade like game on her show weekly.  While your acting out verbs, humming along your favorite tunes, and doing your best British accent, you’ll completely forget just how freaking hot it really is.

5. Crochet, Knit, Sew. While you’re ducking out of the heat, get started on your winter wardrobe. Knit a new hat. Crochet a blanket, or sew some patches over the holes in your pants! By the time the heatwave is over, you’ll be set with enough ammunition to survive he ice age.

6. Go Swimming at the pool. If you have the courage to brave the heat, at least be smart about it. Head to the NEAREST pool and cannon ball in. Then don’t get out again until you have to go home.

For kicks and giggles–my favorite pool scene ever–from the flick The Sand Lot

7. Build a fort. Sure, it seems a little childish–but who says we can’t act like children once in a while. Gather all your blankets, your pillows, and your other building utensils and get your indoor igloo going! 

8. Edit Photos. Wonder what those photos from your last vacation to the Grand Canyon,  New Mexico, or Utah would look like if you added an HDR filter? Added a bit more red? Or intensified the vibrancy?Go ahead and give it a try. By the end of the day you’ll have an entire second scrapbook of memories.

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9. Take a Class at the GYM–not just YOUR Gym, but ANY gym. To avoid the risk of drowning in a puddle of your own sweat by running outside, hit a gym and see what classes they have to offer for the day!  Look into rebounding, PoundFIT, Pole Dancing, Zumba, Hula Hooping and more!

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10. Have a Smoothie or Ice Cream Sundae Party. There’s no reason to tough out the heat alone and starved. Invite your besties over and cool off together with your favorite smoothie and ice cream recipes. Then double hobby it up by throwing in a game of Cards Against Humanity or a few rounds of Heads Up!

And because I remember eating an banana split ice cream sundae every time I watched this as a kid, thought I’d take you back to the good ole days with the theme song of one of the best TV shows ever:

Stay cool at their friends and share your the hobbies you think are worth hoarding during a heat wave!

Choreographing a Better Life

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If someone had told me two years ago that I’d nearly be spinning in circles on my head, swinging around a pole, getting jazzy with it, or frequenting a fitness based Caribbean reggae dance class three-four times a week by the year 2013, i would have laughed in their face. Two years ago, I was the girl who walked out of Zumba classes because she couldn’t follow the steps of the instructor and felt too embarrassed to go on. Two years ago, I was the girl who judged herself against the professional dancers and professional fitness instructors in infomercials who appeared flawless. Two years ago, I was the girl who didn’t give herself a chance to last through a dance class because she had given up before she had even stepped up.

The truth is that long before those Zumba classes, I had deemed myself incapable of breaking it down to a steady beat. I had thrown in the towel. I was ready to enroll in therapy for the choreographically challenged–to stand up and say–no wait–YELL,  “Hello, my name is Libby and I can’t dance.”

What I didn’t realize two years ago was that by not giving myself a fair shot–or the classes themselves a fair shot, I was holding myself back. And the truth is that too often, that’s what we do: We give up amazing opportunities before we even give them a chance, and in the end we only hold ourselves back. 

So what exactly was I holding myself back from? I was holding myself back from learning to love dance–I was holding myself back from learning to love the way my body moves when I just let it–I was holding myself back from being free and I was holding myself back from…well…put simply–I was holding myself back from learning. And I LOVE learning. I always have. 

I recently had an epiphany, and when I say epiphany, I mean a full-on lightbulb popped over the head, type of epiphany.

As I swung left, and stutter stepped right in a class last week, I realized:

“Oh my goodness. Dance has taught me a lot this year…and by a lot…I mean: Dance could be a life coach.” 

The epiphany itself nearly knocked me off my feet.

So after class I decided to sit and compile the five biggest lessons that dance has taught me not just in terms of dance…But also in terms of the bigger picture: Life.  After reading through, I hope you’ll share some of your favorite life lessons you’ve learned through the activities you’re most passionate about.

Here goes:

1. No one is judging you. Well-Okay maybe one person is. And that’s you. But you shouldn’t be. Getting to the class in the first place is something to be proud of. Getting up and out to do ANYTHING you set your mind to is something to be proud of, especially when the weather–or our moods–or our mind is telling us otherwise.

Pole Dancing

2.  There isn’t an exactness to everything you do. In dance, if the teacher is getting her JLO on and you want to get your Beyonce on during a booty shake then by all means get your Beyonce on. Or men if you want to shake it like Michael when the teacher’s getting down like JT–then just do it. Add YOUR flavor. Just whatever you do–own it. Same goes for life: Own EVERYTHING you do–and never–EVER–stop.

3. Do it wrong. So I cheated on this one. I took this lesson from not just dance class but acting class as well. Do it all wrong. We learn from our mistakes. Our muscles learn from our mistakes. And questions are okay – no wait–they are great. Sure, teachers love flash mobs of amazingness but they don’t teach so that perfectionists come in. They teach because they want people to learn, they want people to get excited about being imperfect sometimes, they want people to embrace their passion. Part of the fun of a class –ANY class– is working your way up. Part of the fun of any challenge you take on in life is getting knocked down and feeling the sense of pride in getting back up.

Breakdancing

4. “When you assume. You make an a…” We all know the saying. We can’t judge a class–or a situation in life– before we even step foot in it. Not only does it reinforce any stereotypes or preconceived notions we have about the class/activity/event, but it also holds us back from possibly finding something we are truly passionate about. Prior to the hobby year, not only had I convinced myself that I wasn’t a dancer–but I had convinced myself I wasn’t fit for group  classes at all–that I didn’t fit the “look.” You know the “look” I am talking about–the look it seems that all the people have who participate in infomercials for the latest Zumba videos or aerobics dvds. The men are shirtless and ripped; the women are in sports bras and spandex–chiseled. That belief I concocted from stupid infomercials was wrong. In each and every dance class I’ve participated in this past year, people of all sizes and of all attire are taking part. People of all sizes and all attire are having a really amazing time. I choose to rock my college field hockey shorts and a white T. Cause that’s comfy–and cause that’s me. (And sometimes me –and sometimes comfy is a tiger suit–see last picture on the page).

5. The most important lesson of ALL. Just freaking dance like no one is watching. Please, I beg you. Refer back to number 1: no one is watching. The world is a wide open dance floor just waiting for you to dance on through, to make your art–to make your life.  So go on. Yes YOU…YOU and even YOU.. Dance. Dance. Dance.

subway

Rugged Maniac

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“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”
-Thomas A. Edison

“I didn’t train enough.” “I won’t be able to complete the obstacles.” “What the hell was I thinking?”

It’s a week before my first obstacle course 5k, and I am silently talking myself down.

Just a few months earlier, I excitedly signed up for a race called the “Rugged Maniac” which is “a 3.1-mile course filled with 20+ obstacles designed to push you to your limits!” The obstacles range from crawling underneath wire to jumping barricades, and from dodging swinging tires to swimming through mud pools. When I signed up, I figured it would be much more doable for me than say a 10 mile tough mudder. But suddenly, as I sneak a peek through the full obstacle list, I can feel my optimism sink to pessimism. I turn to a co-worker and tell her, “CRAP. Look at this obstacle. How will I EVER be able to do that?!”

I think about texting my friend Neil and canceling on him. I think about telling him I’d love to still come watch our crew compete, but that I’ll have to sit this one out. At the time, I’m not sure what I’m more concerned about–thinking I haven’t trained enough to tackle a 5k with 20 obstacles–or the thought of possibly holding back my teammates by being unable to complete the course.

Somehow I talk myself out of texting Neil.

“You’ll be okay, Libs. You got this.”

What I’ve learned this past year is that we can often be really good at talking ourselves out of things, but that it takes discipline and strength to remind ourselves that the things we fear doing are often times the most rewarding to tackle.

When the Rugged Maniac rolled around last Saturday, I threw on my race day clothes: black shorts, black tank, yellow glasses and a black bandana. Safe to say, I looked like a bumble bee warrior.

I then laced up my sneakers–an old pair of nikes that I didn’t mind ruining in the mud obstacles–and headed out the door to meet my teammates who had driven up from Pennsylvania. Our team consisted of my good friends and brothers: Neil, Nick, & Ross; and Ross’s girlfriend Martina.

As I climbed in the car, my nerves continued to rumble. I’ve competed in a lot of races–but never have I done one that would test me in such a way as this. Normally, for me, races are a good test of stamina, endurance, and leg power. This race would require more–it would require upper body strength, something I’ve lacked for most of my life. But again, I didn’t want to disappoint my teammates. Each of the brothers and Martina had done a series of tough mudders and longer obstacle courses in the past, so I knew that they were much more prepared for this than me. “I hope I don’t die,” I exaggerated in the car.

Less than an hour later I was standing in line to check our bag for the race. While I patiently awaited my turn to check the bag, I turned to the couple behind me and struck up a conversation. I asked if they had ever done one of these races before. The man looked at me and smiled, “Yep. They are a good challenge. I broke my ankle on the last one I did.”

And that was the end of our conversation.

After I checked our bag, our team of five headed to the start line where we were greeted with our first obstacle–a five foot barricade that needed to be hopped before you could even cross the start line. With the help of Ross, I made it over. “Oh boy. For each of those, I hope you know I’ll need your help.” Ross smiled. “No problem.”

And then it was go-time.

Within moments, we were faced with rolling hills of dirt. Without thinking, I raced up and down the hills. As I reached the last one, I heard a scream and watched as a woman face planted into the concrete below. “Shit. Okay, forget about it and move on,” I sighed to myself.

The five of us continued on through the next series of obstacles which included a military style sprint through tires that were set on the ground. “I can do this,” my confidence grew as I successfully completed the tire challenge without clumsily stumbling. Next up was the flying tires, crawling underneath wire, and more barricades. Ross got down on a knee and helped me climb each of the barricades.

I could feel myself starting to breathe heavier, and I told the team that if they needed to get ahead–they could, and not to feel bad, that I would catch up.

Neil looked at me and laughed. “Libs. Our team name is Libsters > Hipsters. If we leave you behind, the hipsters win. That’s not going to happen.”

I laughed. I was grateful to be with a team for a race like this. I knew that their support would get me through the series of obstacles that we still had yet to complete including a rope climb over a slanted barricade, 100 yards of hurdles, endless ladder like barricades, a balance beam and several mud pools.

In an hour’s time we closed in on one of our final obstacles: crawling tunnels–which required us to slide through a downhill tunnel, crawl through a pool of mud, and then pull ourselves up via rope through an uphill tunnel.

Screen Shot 2013-07-06 at 11.19.57 AM-Photo Credit: Rugged Maniac

As I went to climb through the uphill part, I could feel my feet losing their grip in the tunnel. A woman had already started her ascent through the tunnel, and put her hand up out in front of her. “Here, push off of my hand, you got this,” she shouted.

With a little push, I got myself through the tunnel and out into the open. My teammates were patiently awaiting. “You good Libs?” I looked at the woman who had just helped me complete the last obstacle, “Better than good. Let’s do this.”

Within fifteen more minutes, we made it to our final obstacle: “A sui-slide” which was a giant inflated slide into a pool of mud. But before getting to take the plunge, we’d have to climb to the top which included an inclined barricade that would need be to climbed with the help of a rope; an inclined net, and another laddered barricade. My teammates asked me if I would be good. Confidentially, I said yes. As I looked up, I remembered something that my good friend David told me during our road trip. “Do one thing every day that scares you. And then do one thing every day that terrifies you.” I was definitely living out this mantra.

I grabbed a hold of the rope and started my climb. However, unlike the last roped incline I tackled, my feet were now covered in slick  mud. Several steps from the top of the incline, I could feel my feet begin to slip out from underneath me. Holding the rope tight, my body banged against the wall. I managed to pull myself back up to my feet and give it another attempt–again slipping. Nick was waiting at the top. He reached out his hands grabbed me. Ross met him, and grabbed my other hand. “Don’t worry Libs, we aren’t gonna let you fall.” As they started to pull I kicked my legs. And with one more tug, I was over the first part of the uphill obstacle.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I regained my composure.

I really did have the best teammates a girl could ask for.

But before the guys could let me get too sentimental for them helping me, we all climbed the final two parts of the uphill battle before having the chance to  hit the sui-slide.

As we crossed the finish line, I felt a giant burst of pride.  “That was awesome,” I cheered. Neil laughed at me.

It was just another reminder that sometimes the biggest obstacle we will face is “just doing it” in the first place.

Special Thanks, Neil, Nick, Ross & Martina

PRE RACE
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POST RACE
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Reality TV Show: Sweet Retreats

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Kim and LibsFinal

On Sunday night, my friend Kim and I appeared on the Live Well Network’s television series Sweet Retreats which asked us to tour three vacation homes and then to choose which one we’d want to come back and vacation in. The episode turned out amazing and you can watch it HERE.

I’ve been putting off writing about the experience for a few reasons: 1. I didn’t want to accidentally write something that might spoil the show. 2. I thought reflecting on all of it might be that much easier after seeing it all unfold. So here goes:

When Reality TV became popular (I mean REALLY popular) about four-six years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would never ever go on a reality series that may embarrass me. While the prospect of hosting my own show that spins off The Hobby Hoarder is something I would love to do, being a character on a Jersey Shore spinoff who earns the nickname “Lib-Wow” is just not on my to do list.

So when I first received an email from the casting producer of Sweet Retreats, back in March, I was hesitant. It was the second to last day of our fifty day road trip and we had just gotten done exploring the North End of Boston. After crossing a busy street, I pulled out my iPhone and checked my email. The first email that popped up had “ABC Casting” in the subject line. This—of course, prior to reading the email, excited me. As my friends continued walking briskly, I fell behind and focused on the email.

I scanned quickly through the casting producer’s email, which informed me what the show was about, what I would be required to do, and when the show would take place. However, for some reason, my eyes and my mind ignored all of that and only several key words stood out to me:

“Vacation Homes.” “TV.” “Hamptons.”

Somehow I managed to pair those three key words to equal: “Did I just get asked to participate in the Long Island version of the television series Jersey Shore? The Hamptons?”

I caught up to my friends and told them about the email. They were excited. Me on the other hand, I was slowly growing more and more anxious about saying yes.

“Maybe I should re-read the email…and perhaps, I should go to the link they sent as well…to check out the show??”

As I slowed down and re-read the email, as well as checked out the link, I realized that I had missed all the really important information – the information that would actually intrigue me to want to take part in the show. The casting producer detailed that participants are asked to tour three vacation houses and then choose which one he or she would like to return to and vacation in.

This wasn’t even fine print. She had literally laid it all out for me. I had let my excitement get the better of me. Let’s be honest, I am pretty sure I have something called early on-set excitement–which means that when something out of the ordinary happens, my insides begin going bizerk. I lose my memory momentarily, and just start going through a laundry list of irrational thoughts and questions in my head–I can’t be alone in this, right? I don’t know if early-on set excitement is actually a diagnosis, but I’d like to add it to WebMD.

I thought to myself, “Oh–That’s like house hunters.” Then I re-examined the email one more time. The casting producer went as far as to say, “It’s kind of like house hunters.”

My nerves settled. “I can definitely do that.”

So I emailed back the casting producer and told her I was in. Several days later, the casting producer and I had a quick phone conversation. She told me that the location had changed—and that instead of the Hamptons, I would be visiting the Upper Hudson Valley. She also mentioned that I could bring a friend along to join me. A friend, I thought. Well that’s not fair. I just traveled the country with both David and Kim. I can’t invite just ONE of them. These are my travel buddies, my companions—my family. But I also know from my work experience that a two person cast is much easier on a field producer than a three person cast—and well a four person cast, for a two camera shoot can be, for lack of a better term, hell. I knew I’d have to make a decision—even if I didn’t want to.

Again, my anxiety started to flow. “How do I choose just one person?”

I gave it some time to settle. David was being offered several gigs on NYC based fiction television shows—ones that started before the show would be shooting, so I began to factor that in.

Then I thought, “Well I could just invite someone unrelated to them…” And then I thought, “but I couldn’t picture doing any travel without them at this point.”

A few minutes later, I received a follow up email from the casting producer. They suggested making it a girls weekend.

Phew. Thankfully they made my choice for me.

I asked Kim if she’d join me. She tentatively said yes before confirming a 100 percent yes just a week later. It was set. Kim and I would be traveling to the Upper Hudson Valley for a reality vacation/rental home series on May 20-May 24.

When May 20 hit, Kim and I met in mid-town Manhattan, rolled and carried our luggage to the rental car shop and made our way to the beautiful Hudson Valley—which was comprised of brilliant views of the Taconics and the Berkshires, just east of the New York/Massachusetts border.

The weather forecast called for rain the entire week, but as Kim and I drove into our hotel’s parking lot, the sun was completely shining. Before getting comfortable, we decided to go for a hike.

It wasn’t too far off from our road trip routine: park the car—then go on an adventure. It felt as though we were getting our groove back.

As I breathed in the fresh air, I felt the nerves I had about the days ahead begin to calm. “I freaking love adventures—and this is definitely an adventure,” I thought to myself.

Hike

Over the next several days, we visited three amazing homes:
A contemporary farmhouse
A Tuscan-inspired gem
A barn converted into a vacation home @ the Kinderhook FarmStay

Each time we rolled up to a different house, I thought to myself, “Is this real life? Do we really get to tour these houses on national TV—these beautiful, stunning homes?”

We also got to meet an incredible crew of people including our field producer Maureen, two camera men Brian and Eric,  a sound man, Zach, a PA Trudy, and last but certainly not least the host of television series, Rene Syler. Part of me was eager to tour the houses, but another part of me was excited to meet the production team. Since I work in TV, I am always interested in meeting people who are as passionate about the field as I am. The crew did an amazing job in making sure the shoot ran smoothly (despite threatening thunderstorms each day), and in making sure we continued to feel comfortable throughout the week. Kudos to them.

sweetretreats4Photo Credit: Maureen Tait

In regards to the houses, there were pluses and minuses to each of the homes—but something I adored about each was the remoteness. As a New Yorker, it’s very rare to experience silence. In the past, I would have told you that my favorite places to visit are big cities. But the road trip reminded me how nice space is—how nice the escape can be—and how nice it is to just sit down and hear nothing but nature—or in the most remote of locations—just your own heart beat. Each of these places offered a significant mix of the sounds of nature and silence.

(Spoiler alert). In the end, Kim and I both agreed that the barn converted into a vacation home at the Kinderhook FarmStay was the perfect pick for us. To be honest, I knew it before we even walked inside. I was absolutely in love with everything I saw as we pulled up. I even couldn’t help but to exclaim, “Holy cow!–No really, holy cow…there’s cows and sheep and chickens–OH MY-this is really freaking awesome.”

During our tour, we learned that the Kinderhook FarmStay offers 1200 acres of land, an assortment of activities to do right outside the front door, and screen doors/windows that face east (Meaning we could just wake up and watch the sunrise from our bedrooms). Additionally the farm is novel and unique in that it has no interior walls through the three main rooms, yet still manages to offer the privacy you may be looking for when on vacation with the help of drop down curtains. In the show, I went as far as to say I could probably write a whole book about the barn experience. That wasn’t an exaggeration—I definitely could.

This Kinderhook FarmStay isn’t a place to just stay so you can experience the existing towns surrounding it—the Kinderhook FarmStay is itself a destination to experience.

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LibLamb

It’s been over a month since we shot our episode of Sweet Retreats, and I can’t help but to think about the farm, Luci the cow that I had the opportunity to milk, the crew that I had the chance to meet and work with, and the time that I got to spend with one of my best friends whom I now consider family (I mean come on, if you survive a fifty day road trip with someone AND a reality show—they’ve got to be family)! What an incredible opportunity—an incredible memory. And to think–What if I had said no?

KimsEdit        Photo Taken by Maureen Tait; Edited by Kimberly Manley.

Motivational Soundtrack: Heather Fay

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“I feel so high – Like if I could fly
I feel so free – so free to be me
I wanna go up – I wanna get down
This feeling can’t stop – So put your hands up
I said put your hands up!”
-Machel Montano

A lot of people ask me if there are any hobbies that I have stuck with post-initial hobby year. The answer is, “Yes–a few.” And in fact, the one I’ve returned to the most is the fitness-based Caribbean reggae dance class called Pon De FLO And there are three simple reasons why I keep coming back:

 The freedom to be free and to dance, the kick-ass music, and last but certainly not least–I find myself coming back to the class because of the supportive and upbeat founder and teacher of Pon De FLO: Heather Fay.

But Heather is not just the Pon De FLO founder, instructor, and choreographer–she is a bright and motivational force, inspiring her classes of newbies and pro-floer’s to leave the negative vibes at the door, to stop thinking and to just dance. There is doubt in my mind that her vibrant energy and positive attitude is what keeps not only me but a number of her students coming back for MULTIPLE classes each week.

pondefloheather

Last week, when I asked “hobby coaches” to submit a motivational song for a blog post, I knew I had to ask Heather. But when I asked her–Heather didn’t submit just one song–she submitted a whole album of them.

She told me that her list of motivational songs could go on and on and then added why the songs motivate her:

“These songs motivate me because they all have the underlying motivation of living for today, enjoying life, and being true to yourself.”

She continued:

“The songs are also a reminder that no matter how hard life gets or how bad someone hurts you, you can dig deep within yourself and push forward because right when you feel you want to give up and throw in the towel–is when your story is born.”

What do you think? Are any of these on your motivational soundtrack? I know they’ve definitely been added to mine:

“Waiting for the End” – Linkin Park

“Written in the Stars” – Tinie Tempah ft Eric Turner

“Move Along” – The All-American Rejects

“Just like Heaven” – The Cure

“Living on the Edge” – Aerosmith

“Fly so High” – Machel Montano

“Simple Song” – Konshens

“Advantage” – Machel Montano

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