Tag Archives: adventures

Never Have I Ever (Until Now): The Prologue

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Five years ago, this last week, I set off on a journey that I never anticipated would change my life in such an incredible way. The goal was to try 52 hobbies in 52 weeks. At the onset, I had intended to write a book compiling the experiences and sharing them. I wasn’t sure at the time if the book would be a quirky coffee-table accessory or if something else might evolve. As it turns out, I never published the book, but I did write most of it. Over time, I’ve gone back to it, time-and-time again. With the five year anniversary of the project, I’ve decided that it’s time to start sharing it: One chapter at a time.

Never Have I Ever (Until Now) – The Prologue

Find your passion and run with it. Don’t look back. Thank the people who call you crazy–anyone who’s crazy enough to pursue their dreams is strong enough to achieve them too.

An Intro

“You really need to quit something,” My supervisor tells me as she walks by my office door. “You’re taking on too much.”

My supervisor is right–I’m taking on a lot.

It’s January of 2012. I’m an associate television producer for the City of New York who has recently, in her free time, started writing and performing stand up comedy, perfecting her drawing skills, training for her second half-marathon, and doing photography with a digital SLR. And now I am signing myself up for an acting workshop.

My day planner is filling up faster than a doctor’s office during flu season.

My mom would tell you that I was just as active as a kid as I am when my supervisor tells me that I need to quit something. When I was younger, I played field hockey, baseball, soccer, basketball, and softball. I’d attempted the clarinet, I’d tip-toed through a ballet class, I’d sailed in a lake, I’d canoed across a pond, and I kayaked down a river. My parents would rush me from one athletic practice to another; from one gym and on to the next. I was relentless. I never stopped.

But then I grew up, and my willingness to try new things suddenly came to a halt. For several years, I was in a funk. I had fallen into depression and I had forgotten how to live life fully and completely. I would say that I wanted to try something and then I’d never try it. I’d fear failure or judgment from my peers. And instead, I’d mope on my couch about how I’d never be good at anything. I’d lost my sense of wonder. I had lost my yearning for learning new things. I had lost my smile, my laughter, my sense of joy. I had concerned myself so much with destinations that I had forgotten that what really mattered was the journey.

With the new activities, the stand up comedy, the drawing, the photography, and the acting, I felt that I was finally opening myself up to a life that I had been letting slip to the way side. And now, suddenly, I felt as though the progress I was making with the activities was being threatened as my supervisor told me that I needed to quit something.

I didn’t want to quit anything. I didn’t want to limit my life to going to work, coming home, cooking (or getting take out) and going to sleep. I didn’t want to experience living solely from the couch in my artist loft.

So instead of heeding my supervisor’s advice, in February of 2012, I set out on a yearlong quest in the hope of navigating my way to a life that extended beyond my 9-5 job and beyond the sadness I had sulked in for years. I decided that in opposition to quitting anything, I instead wanted to try one new activity or hobby each week for an entire year.

I started to brainstorm names for the quest and came up with “The Hobby Hoarder.” I used my lunch to draw logos on blank pieces of paper and to write lists of hobbies or activities that I could try that I had never tried before. I hadn’t even started the project and I was beaming with excitement.

Over the next couple of weeks, I continued to brainstorm on the year, and began telling people what I was going to do. As I sat down to coffee with a friend, she said, “So you are going to live like you are dying.”

My eyes brightened. “No. I’m going to live like I am living!”

The truth is that I don’t believe we should live as if we are dying. Instead, I think we should live each day as though it’s one of our firsts: full of excitement and ambition, full of curiosity, full of fear, full of imagination, and full of wonder, full of an openness toward whatever comes our way—that’s right—we should live each day like it’s our first.

For so long, I had forgotten what firsts felt like. When we are young, our firsts are celebrated with smiles and applause and sometimes balloons. First step. First word. First hit in tee-ball. First A+. But somewhere between the time we share our first kiss and the time we hit our twenties, we lose our thirst for the sensation we feel when we experience something for the first time. Firsts can make us realize what we are passionate about: Maybe you’ve never taken a dance class before but when you do you figure out that you’re meant to be the next Beyonce. Maybe you’ve never swung from a trapeze before, but that first time you do, you realize you’re meant to be in the circus. Or maybe you’ve never piloted a plane before, but then you do and you discover that you were always meant to fly.

Firsts can make life worth living. But when we hit a certain age, it’s almost as if we forget to let ourselves experience those firsts. We get caught in “Busy traps” (NyTimes) and “life takes over.” But that’s not true. Life doesn’t take over: Work takes over—financial restraints take over. Think about the last time someone asked you to do something and you said you couldn’t. What was your excuse? If you’re without children was it work? Was it money? Life clearly does not take over. If anything, life takes a backseat ride.

Too many times, we get so caught up in our daily routines and our jobs that the only thing we concern ourselves with when we get home is kicking back.

But that’s not how life’s supposed to be—not at all. Life is supposed to be enjoyable. Life is supposed to be full of challenges—and then exceeding our expectations of those challenges. Life is supposed to be full of fear and overcoming that fear. It is supposed to be about saying I’d love to do that and then actually doing it. Surprisingly life is supposed to be about living.

I hope that before you continue reading this book, you’ll step away. You’ll grab a pen and a paper—and you’ll start writing down everything you want to try this year—that you’ll make your own quest—to live.

And if you haven’t stepped away yet, and have disobeyed my only wish, then welcome! Strap on your seat belts, make sure your seats are in their upright position, understand that the only emergency exit is to live your own life—and that it’s now time to take flight. Literally.

All Aboard.

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Happy New Year: The Year of Positive Energy

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HAPPY NEW YEAR

I can be a bit superstitious when it comes to New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day activities–I tend to believe that what happens on this particular night and this particular day can set the tone for an entire year. Last night, I knew that all I really wanted to do–aside from be with good friends–was dance. When we reached our second bar for the night, still fully clad in my scarf, my jacket, and vest, I began to feel the rhythm. My feet moved, my hips swayed, my head bobbed, and slowly I made my way to the biggest opening on the dance floor, stripping off my vest, my jacket, and my scarf. The Dance With Somebody Who Loves Me song came on and I continued to move losing myself in the music. I forgot there was anyone else even there at the moment. I felt at home in my dancing. A few moments later, a girl who had been dancing in the space earlier jumped in–and began dancing with me. I saw this at first as a challenge, but then it became poetic as we moved off one another’s spins, two steps and plies. I felt the energy as the people around us continued to watch with joy in their eyes. When the song ended, our dance with one another did too, but our smiles lasted long after. And as I stood with my friends, the woman approached me and said “Thank you for that…You have so much energy—positive energy. Your positive energy really got me out there to just let go like that. THAT made my night. So thank you.” I smiled and repeated the words “Positive Energy” back to myself. That’s EXACTLY how I want to set the tone for the new year–full of positive energy.

This morning I woke up hoping to carry that positive energy through my day by heading out to the Polar Bear Swim in Coney Island where I rang in the new year last year. Unfortunately, a nasty head cold kept me from making my way back out there today, but I did make it out to a Trooper Fitness Bootcamp class (for the first time!) in hopes of sweating out this gross fever and working out this cough.

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After leaving the bootcamp class, I felt a natural high from the workout but from also still finding a way to make the most of a day where I may have stayed in bed otherwise.

When I got home, I decided to take a poll to see how others brought in the new year, how they set their own tone. I’ve shared their New Year’s adventures below–check them out and then SHARE YOURS!

Lucas Gold (Second Time)
Polar Bear Swim – Asbury Park, NJ

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Suzanna Cameron and Tony Esper
First time Polar Bear Plungers: Coney Island, NY

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Michelle Pierson Young of Michelle at Play
p90x: “Not to brag but it feels better than a hangover”

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Hannah Brencher & Tammy Tibbetts
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park, NYC & Letter Writing
Each year Hannah and Tammy write letters to themselves to open the following year (SO COOL!)

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Jennifer Romanelli & Prince Brathwaite of Trooper Fitness
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park, NYC

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Laura Jaxheimer, Yoga Instructor
Brought in the new year doing what she’s passionate about: Yoga.

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I want to hear from you! What’d you do to kick off the New Year just the way you wanted to?

Dog Sledding

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123 Dogs.

That’s more dogs than there have ever been in a Disney movie.

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When we signed up for dog sledding, I had no idea what to expect–and a dog farm with 123 dogs never even crossed my mind. Sled with 12 dogs attached and a musher–maybe, but 123 dogs? No way. What an amazing surprise.

As we drove up a small road to Dog Sled Adventures Montana–just a few miles west of Glacier National Park, I saw a dog peek it’s heads out from behind some trees “There’s a dog!” I yelled.

“There’s a circle of them I continued.” And then I realized we were surrounded my dozens of man’s best friends. In my head I began singing, “Here a dog–there a dog, everywhere a dog, dog, dog.”

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I turned to David–and I could just see his eyes light up, his heart bubbling with excitement. If the doors would have been unlocked, I am positive that he would have jumped out before the car had pulled all the way in.

We were entering dog paradise.

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While making our final turn up the snowy driveway, Jeff, the owner, greeted us with a giant smile. I knew he must take the dogs out a lot –and that his business must be booming–by his wind burnt face which made his smile glow even more.

Before we even got on the sled, Jeff took us around the dog farm and introduced us to ALL of the dogs. Again–David’s face lit up–and even my soul danced a bit too. As we met more and more dogs, I began to get more and more excited–“These guys really want to do this!” I thought to myself as another dog snuggled up to my leg.

Not before long David, Kim and I were cozying up to one another in a three person sled. While we got ourselves in order, we could hear all the dogs howling.

It felt like we were getting ready to take our marks and race–the dogs were lined up like fans at a sporting event.

I imagined the huskie to my left yelling in a deep authoritative voice: “Stay safe out there young ones.”

And the young hound dog barking: “Have fun!”

We watched as the rest of the dogs jumped up and down with as much as excitement as we felt in our now bundled bodies.

And then…WE WERE OFF!

“Woooo,” we all screeched out a bit, before hitting a few bumps on the first couple of turns.

Moments later, after hitting the first few solid bumps– “By the way–it’s a little bumpy at the start,” our young musher told us as I felt my brain hit the top of my head. “But it won’t be like that for long.”

And he was right–sooner rather than later–we were smooth sailing around turns–up hills–down hills–and through the forest, stopping occasionally for a pee or poop break (for the dogs of course–even if sometimes they didn’t want to stop!). Once in a while we’d endure another bump–but more often than not we were giggling gratefully.

“This is amazing,” I thought to myself.

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As we rode right along, I took in the views of the forest, the green that was still poking out from some of these Montana trees. I shielded my eyes from the sun as it ricocheted off the fluffy fresh flakes on the ground. And I took in the fresh smells of winter (even if they were intermingled with wiffs of dog soot). I felt Kims hands on my shoulders–and though I couldn’t see hers or David’s face for most of the ride, I could feel the energy of their smiles bouncing off the barks of the branches. After watching the videos back–I knew my feelings were right on. Each of us had smiles on that could have spread from one side of national forest we were riding through, to the other.

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The ride lasted approximately an hour–and as we approached the dog farm on our return, a chorus of dogs cheering us on, again, could be heard.

It was as if they were all yelling “Go team–go team–go team.” “Get out and play, get out and play.”

While we climbed out of the sled, the dogs continued to call to us.

We exchanged high fives with our musher and then took another tour of the dog farm–making sure to give all the pups a friendly farewell.

After saying our goodbyes, Jeff treated us to hot chocolate, cookies and conversation. I watched his eyes as he told stories about the dogs; as he relived his early sleigh rides; and as he spoke about the dogs as his family–and not just his company. I could see the passion growing as he continued to tell us truthful tales of the past. His eyes twinkled with each detail. He’s the kind of guy that you know wakes up before his alarm each day–and gets excited about it–the king of guy that you know–is genuinely happy. The kind of guy you are grateful to have met. The kind of guy that I know I am grateful to have met.

What an amazing adventure.

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Special Thanks

Dog Sled Adventures Montana

http://www.dogsledadventuresmontana.com

 

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