Tag Archives: adventure

Sunchasing

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It’s Friday, January 2nd. The sun is sinking slowly through the sky. I’ve set out to catch the sunset yet every view I’m finding is obstructed.

“Will I make it in time?” “Will I miss the sunset?” “How many minutes do I have”

The questions are rushing through my mind.

I come across a gate.

The gate is open so I invite myself in.

I can feel myself getting closer to the sun… There’s a fence– blocking the way down to the water … But it doesn’t meet the ground. I take in my surroundings – no one is around. I slip under the chain links .

“Oh my goodness.”

I take a deep breath. I’m greeted with a view of the city I’ve not quite taken in before. Immediately to my right is the Williamsburg Bridge- a giant in the sky next to me.

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In the distance is a clear shot of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges- parallel to a stunning view of the World Trade Center.

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I can feel the temperature slowly dropping.

I grip my camera.

My hands are beginning to lose feeling. I left my gloves behind for the day. An amateur photographer’s mistake.

But I feel somewhat prepared for this:

I remember back to the first drive on our road trip. It’s sometime between 4 and 430am. David and Kim are just waking up. We are crossing into Virginia – and the sun will be rising soon enough. Without fear- without doubt- and in total agreement we decide that our goal is to catch the sunrise- it’s our first real day all together and we want it to literally start at the crack of dawn. This census also sets the tone for the trip.

At this point, David has switched to the driver seat. I’ve switched to the passenger seat. I’m googling frantically for a spot. “Will we miss it?”

The question echoes in my mind.

We are in Fredericksburg, approaching a battle ground up on a hill…

“That’s the spot,” we all agree. It’s cold then; like it is now. I’ve got a leather jacket on; a silly yellow hat and some sweatpants. But I don’t feel the cold. I feel a sense of pride; a sense of excitement – a sense that warms me up: a sense that keeps me going.

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Now, I’m warming up as I snap photos of the current sunset in New York. The memories make me smile. What’s ahead makes me smile.

The road trip ignited a different perspective in me:

“Breathe.”
“Slow down.”
“Thank the sun.”

Throughout the trip, we came to a common agreement that when we could- we would fight to see the sun set- or rise. We’d go miles out of the way; cross bridges to different states; and wake up just a little extra early to get the brightest start to the day.

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We’d search for wide open space to catch sunset.

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We’d comment on the type of sunrise/set we were watching:

“That’s a scrambled sunrise” I’d say as we watched the light appear just over a mountain in Nooksack Washington. “Scrambled cause you’ve got some clouds here and there but not enough to obstruct your view.” We’d add: “If there were no clouds, it’d be a sunny side up kinda day.”

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No matter what: There were always more sun rises to catch- sunsets to seek – or sometimes miss; and beyond all: there were suns to chase.

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Sunchasing – that’s the adventure – that’s what’s gotten me here- on a bed of loose rocks above the east river, on January 2nd, 2015.

In-between photos, I break to breathe in what I’m watching; to take a moment to appreciate what I’ve searched to be able to see. To be grateful for this opportunity; to cherish that big ball of fire in the sky.

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When the road trip started – I’m not sure I could tell you why the sun rises or sunsets meant so much to me.

It’s been just about two years and I think I’m finally starting to understand it. Because every time I see one now… Every time I go out of my way to comment on if it will be a scrambled, fried or sunny side up kinda day- I think of my friends:

I think of David and Kim waking up in the car and wanting to catch that first sunrise as much as I do. I think of how I don’t get to see them often; how David is in New Mexico- how I am here. How Kim is in Long Island- and how we still don’t get to see one another  often – both due to demanding schedules.

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I think of friends, teachers and family who have moved away. I breathe into the golden rays
and suddenly the sun seems a lot closer- and if that sun can seem a lot closer – then my friends ultimately are always right here with me in a way.

You see, the thing about the sunrise – or the sun set is that it’s a constant reminder that no matter the distance between two people: we are still right here on the same earth; and in the end; that’s truly not all that far after all.

If you’re missing a friend today- if they are just a little “too far away:”

Take a walk; find an open space; take a seat; and breathe in that giant ball of fire.

Go on now, go, chase the sun.

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Finding Middle Ground: Bridging the Gap Between Capable and Breakable

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“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you laugh like that before, Libby. I love it,” David smiles, and looks at me.

It’s early in our road trip. We are somewhere between North Carolina and Louisiana–Kim is driving. David is riding shotgun, and I’m perched up in the backseat, staring out the window—and laughing—no, more precisely, I am giggling. A hearty giggle—the kind where you’ve put aside all of your defenses, your guard is completely down, and you’re completely vulnerable.

I’m happy.

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It’s the first time I remember being this happy in a long time. It’s also the last week of the initial hobby year; the last week of the “giant quest” I had set out to quote, unquote, find myself. The road trip was initially meant to mark the end of The Hobby Hoarder, a kind of non-chalant pat on my own back for the success of making it through the year. What I found was that it actually marked a new beginning; a newfound confidence, a newfound “place” in this world; a newfound feeling of gratification; a newfound belief in the good in this world; a newfound love for life—and for myself.

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It’s been nearly two years since the road trip—and nearly three since I began “The Hobby Hoarder.” In a way, it feels like it’s been a lifetime.

Rachael, an acting teacher and friend of mine, once told me she loves growing up, adding years; because it adds experiences. She also told me she’s had many lives. Three years ago, when she first told me this, I didn’t understand.

But I’m now starting to.

After the initial hobby year, I decided I wasn’t ready to “land” quite yet—or quit the challenges. Besides, now for me, it was all a lifestyle–so when I returned from the road trip, I continued hobbying and trying new things.

Then one day, I stopped. The videos stopped. The blog posts stopped, and the writing stopped. I called it a “hobby hiatus,” a short break. What I refused to call it was, putting the hobby hoarder to rest.

It was April of this past year. I had just gotten doored on my bike. I was in shock and convinced myself I was ok. I went to dance class, and the next day I couldn’t move my neck. Two weeks later I broke my hand; three months later, sprained my ankle; and in October I broke my foot.

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“How could this happen,” I’d ask myself. “I went two years, trying EVERYTHING under the sun—without a single major injury….I haven’t done a hobby in months…how is this possible?”

I lost myself to the injuries. First I was sad—then I was angry. And that giggle my best friend commented on during the road trip two years ago? It was nearly non-existent.

Focusing on the roughness in my own life made me somewhat ignorant to the issues my friends were having. How could I be there for them, when let’s face it, I was doing a piss-poor job of being there for myself?

It’s been just over two months since I broke my foot, and four weeks since the doctor cleared me to lose the boot. Three weeks ago, I went for a walk—a really long one. I cleared my head.

I thought to myself, ‘It would be really easy to write 2014 off like a bike accident—as if the whole year was just one big “doored” accident, a year in which I would walk away from with a sour taste in my mouth but ultimately forget about.’

But the truth is—looking back on it: 2014 really wasn’t bad. It was actually pretty good. What I came to understand, was that even though the injuries significantly knocked me down: they didn’t complete me—the way The Hobby Hoarder didn’t complete me either.

Getting back up—toughening up—flexing my rebound muscle—that’s what became important. Finding the balance between feeling unstoppable and being breakable became it’s own life lesson—one I could have never learned if I hadn’t taken the hobby hiatus.

This year I also came into my own—became more honest with myself, my friends, and my family about who I am and who I want to be. I made new friends, grew closer to old friends and opened up.

Ultimately, I began to accept myself, something I’m not sure I really did in the Hobby Hoarder years—likely because I was so focused on trying to “find myself.”

The truth is if we focus in on trying to find ourselves, we should be aware that we may not love what we find at first.

Acceptance and love then become their own journeys. That’s what I discovered; that’s the life I lived this year.

In the past few weeks, I’ve gone on more long walks. I’ve sat and taken in some serious fresh air. And I’ve debated if I’ve wanted to make any new years resolutions. I normally don’t.

 But this year I’ve decided it may be a good time to put some out into the world, to plant them, and watch them grow.

There are two.

1. I’d like to find middle ground; between “feeling unstoppable and capable of anything—and feeling completely breakable.” I’d like to find the joy in the difficult moments—as they are happening, rather than in the months after they’ve passed. I’d like to lose retrospect and hindsight. I’d like to smash the rearview mirrors.

2. I’d like to start the hobby hoarder again. But this time around, just as me—regular old Libs. No videos this time around—alright lies—maybe a few. 😉 I’d like to give myself a chance—or perhaps you might call it a second chance, and I’d like to give the hobbies I’ve tried in the past a second chance—and some new ones a first. I’d like to see if there’s things that I’ll see a little bit differently now—that I’ll like a little bit differently, that may not have scared me before—but maybe scare me a little bit now—or things that may have scared me before, but scare me a little bit less now.

When I started the hobby hoarder, I swore life was all about “firsts.” But the truth is life is about more than just firsts–it’s about seconds and thirds too–besides who doesn’t like a second helping? It’s about filling ourselves up with as much as we can until we explode. That’s what I did in the first hobby hoarder year, I filled myself up.

So life isn’t just about firsts. It’s about second chances and new beginnings; and starting over. It’s about finding balance-and middle ground. Ultimately, life is about jumping-flying-embracing potential impact- and taking off again. It’s about looking deep inside yourself and asking what you need – right here- right now, so you can be the better person- the best version of yourself tomorrow. And then doing that again each day- cause we can only attack one day at a time. Baby steps. Stepping stones. Lilly pads. Until we feel rock solid.

This year, whether you’re starting over; attacking a new challenge; or giving a part–or parts of your life a second chance–I wish you luck and I wish you love for 2015. Cause at the end of the day that’s all we’re really searching for… The capacity to love ourselves – and in return to love and be loved by others. Here’s to the new, to the fresh starts, to the new beginnings, and to the second chances.

Happy New Year!!!

Skydiving: Round 2

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It’s midnight. I’m wide-eyed and my mind is racing. “Tomorrow,” I think. “Tomorrow I am skydiving again.” My mind continues, “Do I really want to skydive tomorrow?” “I got sick the last time I went skydiving, and that wasn’t so pretty, but I still had an amazing time, and well tomorrow I’m sure…I’m sure I’ll still have an amazing time…” I hear noises from another room of the house I am staying at in Rhode Island.

“We’re going skydiving tomorrow!!!!” I hear my friend Lauren shout. Then tap, tap, tap. She comes running out of her room and pushes my door. “Libby! We are going skydiving tomorrow.” I hear her giggle again and tap, tap, tap, back to her room. I smile. I swing my legs out of the bed and I walk over to the room Lauren and her friend Kat are staying in: “Getting excited I ask,” with a grin on my face.

They both nod happily, and then begin to ask me questions about my first experience. I tell them everything, from the preparation, to the boarding the plane, to the jump. I tell them we won’t die (hehe) and that it will be a lot of fun, that they are doing something brave and awesome and amazing. I watch them get excited all over again, and then I excuse myself to go to sleep. As I lie back down, I can hear them still chatting–their voices an octave higher than they usually are. I wonder if they’ll sleep at all, but their excitement calms me.

The truth is that I wasn’t sure I wanted to skydive so soon after my first experience last year.  I knew I wanted to try it again, but I wasn’t positive this was the right time. However, a new friend of mine, Danny had expressed interest in going on an adventure so after deciding against a bungee jump trip to Canada, I told him we could go skydiving. A few other friends of mine were also interested in joining–and they were located in Rhode Island, so I made us all a reservation up at Skydive Newport. When I went to meet Danny, I was nervous about the weekend. I didn’t know Danny all that well and if he wasn’t super excited–I knew it would be difficult to get through another skydive, since it hadn’t been my top priority. Safe to say–Danny was super excited, and the moment we saw each other in Penn Station, I felt waves of positive energy. “This is going to work out just fine,” I thought to myself.

It’s now 1:00am and I am drifting in and out of sleep. I can hear the girls still chit chatting away about the jump in the morning. Danny is asleep downstairs on a couch. But I can feel the energy still buzzing around me. And even if skydiving wasn’t exactly my first choice for a hobby to repeat right away, I am now suddenly overwhelmed with excitement myself–not for me jumping, but for my friends who have never jumped before. THIS is what I love about the hobby hoarder project–going on adventures with others, listening to their excitement, and having the opportunity to see others be completely open to trying something new and taking risks and challenging themselves.  “Tomorrow is going to be awesome,” I tell myself as I fade into a deep sleep.

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When we wake up in the morning, we’ve got an hour drive to Newport. As we drive, Danny turns to me, “I’m so excited. I just want to jump now.” I smile. Again, THIS is what excites me about hobby hoarding.

We arrive at Skydive Newport, sign away our lives, empty out our wallets, watch a safety video and then head outside to take our turns jumping out of an airplane. Lauren and Kat go first. They’ve opted to wear the jump suits and are hopping up and down with joy. Not before long, they disappear onto an airplane with their tandem instructors. A group of us watches as the plane takes off and they disappear into the higher altitudes of the sky–the buzzing engine allows us to follow where they are. Ten minutes pass and we watch as two specks fall through the sky. Less than a minute later we see the shoots pulled one each of the jumpers. “Ah I just want to jump now,” I proclaim, almost surprised to hear it come out of my mouth.

Time slows down for us in the spectator booth as Lauren and Kat float to the ground. I cross my fingers hoping they loved it–hoping no one got sick the way that I did the first time–and hoping the first things out of their mouth will be something like “That was amazing,” or “I just want to go again right now.” They start briskly walking over to us and I can very clearly make out giant smiles on their faces. Lauren runs over to her Dad and gives him a hug yelling how much fun it was. THen she comes over to me and gives me a hug, thanking me for planning the trip–exclaiming how much of a high she is now on. Kat does the same.

“Success,” I think. “Just their smiles right now mean this trip is a success.”

Danny and I are next.

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We follow our tandem instructors into a small five person airplane. I’m much calmer than I was the first time I went skydiving. I wasn’t scared when I went the first time, but I can remember my adrenaline rushing, I can remember just wanting so badly to jump out of the airplane for such a free feeling. And I can remember it all happening so fast that I got sick on my own adrenaline. This, right now, is a different experience. I feel the plane leave the ground and I look out the window.  The sky is void of any clouds and the water down below is reflecting a beautiful blue. The Newport Bridge stands out and I watch as the houses get smaller down below. This view is stunning.

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My instructor tells me we are getting close to jumping altitude and asks me to put on my goggles. I do. He tightens them. I take a look over to my friend Danny. He’s ready. I can tell. His tandem instructor pops open the door and they begin making their way toward the edge. Before I know it, Danny has disappeared out of the airplane, and now it’s my turn. Nicky, my instructor, and I move toward the edge of the plane.

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He tells me to go out a little further and I oblige, smile for the camera and then feel ourselves flip out of the airplane. Unlike my first jump, the world seems to slow down. Free fall feels less intense and I actually take in my surroundings. I’m present. The adrenaline hasn’t taken over my body, and it’s kind of an incredible feeling. I’m breathing easy. I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe the first time I jumped out of an airplane.

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Fifty seconds later, Nicky pulls the chute and I feel ourselves abruptly slow down. He instructs me to take off my goggles. I’m in awe, still as I take a moment to breathe in the fresh air. “Gosh. This is beautiful. I feel as though I can hold the whole world in my arms.”

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Again, I feel present. The parachute ride feels a lot less intense than the first one I did. This time, the instructor allows me to control the direction of the shoot. This time, I don’t get sick. “I’m flying,” I say to Nicky. “I’m really flying.”

As we come in for landing, I giggle with joy and Nicky and I exchange high fives.

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And then I cross my fingers for Danny’s reaction. “I want to do it again,” he says. I laugh. I kind of do too.

 We run over to our friends in the spectator booth. I look at everyone and proudly exclaim, “I didn’t vomit this time!” They all laugh and we hug it out–excited about the feat we’ve just accomplished, the adventure we’ve just gone on, the chance we’ve just given ourselves to embrace life and the opportunities we are granted. My friends thank me again for setting it up–and I thank them for being up for it–and for getting me to be up for it again too–and for getting me excited all over about it again.

That’s what life is about–getting excited, and about being open to trying new things and being open to trying things again and seeing how the experience differs. It’s about taking off or jumping (literally and metaphorically) and knowing that life’s accidental blessings will catch you. It’s about going on the adventures we’ve always said we wanted to. It’s about living the life we’ve always said we wanted to. So remember–beyond all the fears you feel when you set out to try something new or when you decide to take on a challenge,  get excited—and embrace the opportunities. And most of all–when you do decide to jump (literally and or metaphorically), don’t forget to just enjoy the view.

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Special Thanks

Skydive Newport

Roller Derby

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For two years of college, I played Division 1 field hockey. In April of 2008, my team was eliminated from the university due to severe budget cuts.  Some of my teammates decided to transfer, I went abroad, and one of my teammates decided that she wanted to play rugby. The women’s rugby team was comprised of some of my closest friends in college and their toughness and dedication to the sport was contagious. After returning from abroad, I spent many of my weekends traveling to go watch their matches. I had become somewhat of a women’s rugby team groupie. But as much as I admired their toughness and dedication, each time they asked me if I’d join the team, I’d still respond with a tremendous no.

And there was one reason why. When it comes to big–I mean BIG bruises,I’m a cryer. And if anyone knows the sport of rugby, they know that it’s not a sport you can get knocked down and cry in.

Even though field hockey was also intense and a bit of a contact sport (when the ref turned her back), it didn’t intimidate me the same way that rugby did. Maybe it was that I had played field hockey for eight years and I understood the game–or maybe it was because each time I saw my rugby friends they had new bruises–new BIG bruises. Whatever it was, I had made a very firm decision in college not to join the rugby team even though I had more respect for my friends who played than anyone could imagine.

So recently, when a member of the Two Rivers Roller Derby team from New Jersey/Pennsylvania reached out to me and offered me a chance to be an honorary member for a day, I froze. Roller Derby, like rugby, involves a lot of contact–A LOT of contact. The women and men who play roller derby are tough. They endure hip checks and shoulder checks; they take on big hits, and they risk getting thrown off their skates each second of play. Basically, like rugby, the sport doesn’t have room for cryers after a big hit. It only has room for the skaters who want to be there, who can handle getting knocked down, and who are ready to get hit again only seconds later. I hesitated before I responded to the member of the Two Rivers team and I started an internal dialogue with myself.

“Libs…you can’t say no. It’s kind of your rule.” –“No, no but rules are meant to be broken.” — “Come on you know you secretly want to…” And before letting my other half respond with something negative, I typed an email out to the Two Rivers Derby girl saying I’d absolutely love to try roller derby, that it had been on my list for a while (it had been–in order to get over that fear of being intimidated by these contact sports), and that I would make it work with my schedule in New York City to make it back to Pennsylvania and test out the waters.

Leading up to the roller derby experience, some of my friends in New York warned me to be careful, and my co-workers created a text code for if I broke any bones:  “Text me 511 for a broken leg and 411 for a broken arm…” All the build up was making me itch with nervousness. Part of me really didn’t want to do it–but I’m not one to cancel.

But less than two months after receiving my invite to come out and try the sport, I had picked out a roller derby name (The Yellow Rimmed Nightmare) and I was lacing up a pair of quads at a small-town roller rink on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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Photo Credits: Aubrey Van Wyk

As the team stepped into contact drills, I watched nervously chewing my mouth guard.

One of the coaches asked two people to come out to form a block and one person to be a jammer. As this happened–I began to ask questions.

“Block? Jammer” What do these words means????

It was then that I picked up the basics of the game–the BASICS:

In roller derby, five people from each team are on the rink at a time. One person is called a jammer–He or she can score. Three people are blockers–and one is the pivot. (A pivot directs the blockers–guides the pack). The jammer’s goal is to lap the blockers of the opposing team. You do this by breaking through their blocks, getting around, or jumping over them. You can’t elbow/push,  but you can hip check/shoulder check etc. For each lap after the first initial breaking of the block–you get a point. There are two 30 minute halves in which the team plays a series of 2 minute rounds. After 2 minutes, there’s a 30 second break to sub players on or off: then you go 2 minutes again, until the half is over.

After getting my mini lesson in the goal of Roller Derby, I continued to watch. One of the girls then turned and asked me: “Are you scared?”

I faked it: “No. I’m good. No worries.”

She smiled and said “Good!”

Then I added “No. I lied. yes. I’m scared.”

She laughed.

I continued to bite my mouthguard.

“You’ll be okay,” one of the girls called over to me.

“Could you see it in my face?” I asked

She smiled: “Ha-Yah, but don’t worry –you’ll be fine.”

And I was.

I managed to make it through the night of practice without falling and without bruises–and most importantly without shedding any tears. In fact, I ended up leaving that night wanting to play more–wanting to be back in the rink–or on a field playing any team sport. For a good amount of time since the field hockey team got cut in 2008, five years in fact, I’ve strayed pretty far from the team sport train. I’m not sure if it’s because it was too painful to lose the one sport I worked for, for most of my life at that point, or because I was ready to taste other adventures–but this felt good. It felt good to be skating circles around a rink with a constant push of positive reinforcement as I completed one lap after another during the endurance part of the evening. And it felt even better to give pounds and high fives when others did well, and it felt the best when I had the opportunity to cheer the women on the following night as they played hard in an open scrimmage.

The truth is: we can spend our whole life being terrified of something that we haven’t given a chance–or we can have the courage to say we are going to do something–and then have even more courage to go out and do it–and then realize just how much we were missing all along. 

IMG_8134Photo Credit: Aubrey Van Wyk

Two RiversPhoto Credit: Jessica Kolnos

Special Thanks

Two Rivers Roller Derby Team

http://www.tworiversrollerderby.com

Reality TV Show: Sweet Retreats

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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.

KimLamb

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.

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
beautifulballoonco.com

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Landings

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

But I haven’t written about sadness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why is it so loud?”

“Will I make back the money I spent?”

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

“What will cooking my own food feel like?”

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

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

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

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

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

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Of laying out on The Wave in northern Arizona:

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Of waking up early to catch sunrises:

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Of seeing old friends:

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Of quiet.

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

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

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

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

I continued, “I respect this sadness.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what’s the best part about landing?

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

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