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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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I’ve got 99 hobbies…

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AND PAINT YOUR OWN POTTERY IS ONE!

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Elissa is standing on the steps to the 2 train, in Park Slope. I try to hurry her but she is busy sending pictures of the tiny clay dragon she’s just painted to resemble the dragon from Game of Thrones. She reprimands me for rushing her, and giggles, “Isn’t THIS what hobby hoarding is all about? Getting excited about what you are about to do and excited about what you’ve accomplished?”

“Touche,” I laugh back. “You’re right.”

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I met Elissa a little under a year ago when I worked on a new television series for Investigation Discovery. After a few weeks there, Elissa had taken me under her wing. We tagged team stories for our new show, compiled research packets and booked interview guests. Around one month in, Elissa started to check out The Hobby Hoarder project. Then one day she told me she wanted to do a hobby–but a creative one, an artsy one, and so I promised her we could.

Four months later, it was my last day on the show–and we hadn’t yet hobbied! Upset with myself for not scheduling a hobby together before I left on my road trip, I promised her that when I got back–we could do that creative hobby she wanted to do.

A month ago, we met up for a television premiere of an episode of the series we worked on (Deadly Devotion), and I told her that I was coming up on hobby 100, but that we still needed to do our hobby! So we began brainstorming hobbies. Then she had an epiphany–she wanted our hobby to be the 99th hobby — and then joked that I should call the blog post “I’ve got 99 hobbies…”

I laughed. And then promised I would call the post, “I’ve got 99 hobbies.”

The following day, I Googled creative hobbies around the city, and found “Paint Your Own Pottery.” I sent Elissa links and dates we could do it. Finally, we were ready to do the hobby together that we planned so long ago.

 I crossed my fingers that nothing would interfere with our paint your own pottery outing, and except for a small hiccup in having to change the day to one day earlier–nothing interfered at all. Phew.

So just over a week ago, Elissa and I headed to the Painted Pot in Park Slope, Brooklyn for our adventure. Upon arriving at the store, we were immediately floored with all the options of what we could paint.

“Lanterns and kettles, and plates, OH MY,” I exclaimed in my head.

There were also mugs and cups and vases as well as bowls and platters. But that wasn’t it–there were piggy banks–and dragons and elephants–and wizards! The choices of what to paint were endless.

We were in a pottery paradise.

As I searched for the perfect piece of pottery to paint, I imagined directing a spoof of the film “Night at the Museum” called “Night at the Painted Pot,” where all the clay creatures come to life. (A girl can dream).

As Elissa looked through her options, I could see her getting more and more excited. “Should I do this one? Or this one?” And then she saw it–the dragon. “oooh, I could paint this little guy to look like the Game of Thrones Dragon” and before I knew it, she was making her pottery purchase and picking out all the colors she would need.

Then it was my turn. Stuck between a simple plate and a little animal friend–I splurged. I bought the plate and a little tiny elephant, picked out my colors, and quickly got to work. We only had an hour and a half of painting time before the store closed.

As we painted away, I watched Elissa carefully make sure to touch up all the white spots. I could tell that she  was really interested in what she was doing–and like my friends when we went skydiving this past week–it ignited even more excitement in me.

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Before we knew it, an hour and a half had passed–and we were doing the final touch ups on our pottery. Elissa’s dragon was a brilliant green and dark reddish/purple–while my elephant was a mix of baby and sky blue. I’ll be honest–my elephant could stand to see a better paint job–but Elissa’s dragon came out–preeeeetty stellar if I do say so.

The woman came by and told us to just leave our pottery on the table–that she would put it in the kiln over the next week and we could pick  it up after 7 days. Before leaving, I spontaneously started an impromptu photo shoot with our new clay friends.

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As I got a shot of the dragon, Elissa joked, “Yes–that’s the right angle,” first speaking to me–and then to her dragon, “Work the camera.”

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Sad to part with our animals (and my plate), we bid the tiny little lawn gnomes farewell and made our way for the door. Distracted, I began sending Elissa all the shots I had just taken of our statue pottery pieces.

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As the photos began to pop up on her iPhone, our walk slowed to a crawl. “They are so cute…They are the best…” Then she began sending the photos to friends to share what she had done–and how excited she was about what she had done.

And that’s when I tried to rush her–before fairly being reprimanded.

Some people have said that it seems like the project is about being a daredevil. But the truth is–the project is about trying ANYTHING and everything. LIFE is about having an open mind to anything you have the opportunity to try and a willingness to learn. It’s about understanding that even what seems like the most basic of activities/events/hobbies can offer some of the biggest life lessons. This year I’ve learned that, whether you are jumping out of an airplane, piloting an airplane, playing chess in the park with a stranger, building a birdhouse with your mom, or getting crafty with a friend, there will always be a takeaway. And there will ALWAYS be something to get excited about–whether it’s before, during, or after.

Paint your own pottery may not be skydiving–or hang gliding–or something that seems “adrenaline related,” but I can tell you that going to paint your own pottery–and trying it with someone else who also never had tried paint your own pottery before–was extremely eye opening.  

I had forgotten to take in the moment–to really appreciate what had just happened. Because hobbies have become somewhat of a habit (a healthy habit) for me, it’s easy for me to go from “hobby hoarder” mode back to “okay, get home, organize for tomorrow, and sleep” mode. But my outing with Elissa was a good reminder to embrace each and every minute leading up to WHATEVER we are doing, during whatever we are doing, and even the moments after we’ve completed what we are doing. Too often we rush to move on to the next thing–to get things done for whatever we’ve got going on for the next day–and to plan out our next event– but that’s not fair to the present moment–and it’s not fair to ourselves.

Here’s to trying new things–and continuing to get excited about them.  AND here’s to trying new things with good people–and watching them get excited too.

Tomorrow may be hobby 100, but I’m going to breathe in hobby 99 a little longer, because:

“I’ve got 99 hobbies and paint your own pottery is one.” 

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Painted Pot
Park Slope, Brooklyn
$8 Studio Time + Cost of the object

Wall Running & Bungee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You ready?” Angela asked.

“I think so,” I responded.

“You can do this,” She told me.

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

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

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

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

“I feel like Peter Pan,” I yelled!

I added, “Just think happy thoughts.”

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

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

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

Rappelling

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While I still have a few videos to compile from the trip including hot air ballooning, snow shoeing and an end of trip flying lesson, I thought I would publish this short video clip and post.

Since returning to New York City, I’ve been on the go. I’ve been interviewing for jobs, I’ve been doing stand up, and I’ve been meeting more and more people. Let’s just say I’ve been getting back into the “swing” of things–especially with hobbies–and especially with THIS hobby.

This past Saturday, I headed out to the Hollywood Stunt School in Brooklyn where I had previously taken a high falls class and a trampoline class. However, rather than jump from a 20 foot platform or bounce around a bit, this time I took on the challenge of learning to rappel–which is defined as “the descent of a vertical surface, as a cliff or wall, by sliding down a belayed rope that is passed under one thigh and over the opposite shoulder or through a device that provides friction” (Dictionary.com). In simple terms–it means to scale the side of a wall or mountain–perhaps, like Spiderman.

I learned about the rappelling class when Bob, the owner, posted a photo of him hanging upside down on his Facebook wall.

“I want to do that!” I commented. A week later, Bob announced there was an upcoming class for rappelling. I couldn’t say no! “I want to be Spider-Libs,” I thought to myself, and so I contacted Bob via Facebook and signed myself up.

Before climbing up the ladder, our instructor told us that we would have to appear comfortable enough with the rope, on our first try, to be able to go upside down on a future try.

“I am going to go upside down,” I told my good friend Naomi, who joined me for the afternoon. “That’s why I wanted to do this…I totally am going upside down.” “I’ve rappelled down a rock climbing mountain before. I can totally do this.” My confidence bubbled as I tried to reassure myself that I was ready.

Minutes later, I was climbing to the platform we were to rappel from. And as I gripped each rung of the ladder, I suddenly realized that the last time I had rappelled down a mountain–someone was belaying for me—this time I was on my own. Suddenly the 15-20 feet from the ground felt like 60.

“Are you feeling scared, nervous, terrified at all?” My instructor asked me.

“I’ve got some nerves.”

“What do you think is bringing on those nerves?”

“Just forgot what heights feel like…But I am good. I got this,” I said trying not to appear shaky. “We go down forward first. But I definitely will get to upside down…” I peeked over the edge… “I think.”

 “I’m a tiny bit scared because it is a little higher up than I felt it would be. And I am scared because that’s what happens sometimes when we’re doing something we’ve never done before.”

“So you have respect for fear.”

Respect for fear.

I had never thought of it that way. But over the last year, I think that’s what I’ve learned to have respect for most. Fear is a driving force that allows us to reach our potential–that allows us to find out what we are truly capable of–that motivates us to do more–to be more.

“Why yes. I have a great respect for fear.” I declared.

And then I swung myself out to the wall and slowly made my way down—feet first.

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As I reached the ground, I heard the rest of the class cheering (we did this for each person who completed the task). It felt good. ‘I’m ready for round two,’ I thought to myself while I traded off my harness to the next person in line.

As we began our second rounds, Bob yelled up to the instructor to let some of the people go upside down. I watched as the first woman to try managed to put her body into the perfect inverted pirouette and effortless rappel in a straight line until she flipped back on to the ground.

I could feel my smile widening.

My turn. This time, I climbed up the ladder much more quickly. I listened to my instructor’s directions, shook off the small fears of falling out of my harness or flying into the ground head first, tightened my harness again, and then gave it a shot. Unlike the first girl to gracefully spin her web down the wall, I began literally spinning in circles.

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“Well this is interesting,” I said to myself, before safely making it back to my feet.

“How’d that feel?” asked one of the other works.

“Dizzzzzzying,” I said as I shook myself out of it. “But really, really awesome. I definitely gotta try it again.”

And so I did–this time much more gracefully.

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You can look for me in the next Spiderman movie….

Just kidding.

But you can look for me at the stunt school–I’ll definitely be going back.

Hollywood Stunts NYC
73 West St.
Brooklyn, NY

Parkour

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What is Parkour? “In the strictest sense as defined by David Belle, Parkour is the art of moving through your environment as swiftly and effectively as possible using only the human body.” –(Parkour Terminology & Definitions)

In other words? Free running–or being bad-ass and climbing walls, flipping off of buildings–or leaping over objects.

I can barely feel my legs–and I’ve still got a good five to ten minutes left in the parkour warm up.
“Everyone’s going so fast,” I say out loud, as I finish a spider crawl a good 10 seconds behind the 8 men in my class.

One of my classmates turns to me in support, “Go your own pace–this is about you getting better–don’t worry about us.” He smiles a hopeful–and helpful–grin.

We transition from backward spider crawls to front-ward hops. My body feels worn. I stop mid-way to the finish line. I hear my friend Matt begin to cheer me on. Then the other guys join in. Instead of being intimidated or embarrassed by the cheering–I breathe it in.  It’s like being back on a team again.  “I can do this,” I say to myself. “I can get to that finish line.” And I do.

After ten more minutes of warm up–some struggles–and a quick game, Matt turns to me and says, “I don’t think we are supposed to be winded after the warm up.” He’s not trying to mock me. He is tired too. Huffing and puffing, but also laughing, I nod along.

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After refueling, we head back over to the mat for the parkour portion of the class. Now, barely able to feel my legs, I try and mentally prepare myself for what’s to come. Before coming to class, I imagined them teaching us how to step off of walls and do basic jumps. I was wrong.

As Matt and I arrive back over at the mats, we realize that there is a four and a half foot vaulting box sitting in the middle of the floor. My jaw drops and I begin asking myself,  “How the hell am I — at  5′ 2″ — supposed to make it over this thing?” And now every excuse is going through my head as to why I should just stop now: “I think I hurt my legs during the warm up.” “This isn’t for me.”

I continue staring at the box–and then I make a motion as if  I am going to attempt to clear it. And then I stop myself.

My instructor watches me as I indecisively go back and forth between going for it and not going for it. He walks over to me. “Libby, part of parkour is seeing an obstacle and just figuring out how to get over it–any way possible.”

He’s right. — Of course he’s right, he’s my instructor. And naturally, as a writer, I begin comparing what he has just said to me about parkour — to life. I think about the past year and how I made my way over, under, and around all my obstacles—how I didn’t let fear stop my perseverance, dedication, or determination–how I took on fear on a number of occasions and for lack of a better term–kicked its ass. Why I am even so fearful now–at this exact moment–I’m not sure–as the worst that can really happen is that I don’t make it over the vault–in which case of course, I’d get back in line and try again.

Matt is clearing the vault in what seems like an effortless manner.

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I thank my instructor for the push–and accelerate toward the vault. Right foot up. Left hand down. Right hand down. Left foot up. Jump down.

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It doesn’t look graceful. And it’s not quite exactly what I am supposed to. But I make it over the vault and in that single moment my confidence surges from a 2 to a 7. I whisper to myself, “Don’t look at the top of the mountain Libs–look at all the parts you need to get there.”

My confidence stays high and I go to jump the vault again–this time in what feels more like one swift motion. And then again–and again–and again. Though to be honest, sometimes, it feels as though I am going in such slow motion that my parkour name could be “Freeze Frame.”
DSC00133 The others are moving quickly through the vaults–the jumps–the moves–but I am taking my time.

I remind myself that this is my first time attempting this sport and that it’s just fine that I am still getting down the basics while others are twisting and turning themselves over one–even two boxes.

With each jump, I can feel myself exponentially getting better–I can feel myself getting more comfortable with the approach, the jump, and the landing. And I can feel myself smiling as I watch the others land their trick moves–my friend Matt gain some serious air–and my instructor cheer everyone on.

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A young girl joins our class toward the end and as we are taught one last move (one that asks us to hold ourselves up on a wall spiderman style) she watches a bout of doubt appears on my face. She yells to me, “Believe in yourself.”

The doubt diminishes–and I am now overwhelmed with courage. I reach one leg out–grip my hands to wall, and lower myself into the Spideman like position. I am supposed to count to ten, but I make it to 2.5. My classmates–turned teammates–cheer.

By the time class is over, I feel exhausted. Parkour to me feels like it should be called parksore–and my legs are ready to come out from beneath me. As we go to pack up our things, my friend turns to me and thanks me for inviting him–he says that he had a lot of fun and that it was a great pick me up–for a down day. I smile and thank him for joining–for seeing what hobby hoarding is all about (Which is pushing through mental challenges–overcoming fear–mixing up daily routines–and challenging oneself).

As we walk out of the gym, I glance back at the mats and think to myself: We may not have done every move perfectly–but we did get one part of class right. We believed in ourselves.

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Photos Courtesy of Elyse Mueller
http://www.elysemueller.com

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BKLYN BEAST
bklynbeast.com

Happiness

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“If you want to view paradise–simply look around and view it
anything you want to–do it!
want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.
There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.”

The Willy Wonka words echo off my computer as I awake on Saturday morning. However, in my head, I am changing the words–I am swapping out paradise, and slotting in Happiness. Because if you want to view happiness–I believe we can all look around and view it.

And Saturday, I was going to make sure of it.

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As I wake up, on Saturday, I say to myself, “Today–is an important day. Today, I am completing my 52nd hobby.” For anyone who has been following along, you’ll know that my original goal for this project turned lifestyle was to try 52 new hobbies in 52 weeks. About two months ago that goal changed–My new plan is to finish at least one hobby a week for 52 weeks, ending with a road trip across the country in February. But that doesn’t mean my 52nd hobby isn’t a significant one. In fact, it’s one of the ones that means the most to me–because it’s a sign of achievement–even if my new goal is to exceed it.

“Anything you want to, do it” plays through my speakers, and I smile.

“Today I am going to complete my 52nd hobby,” I breathe of relief.

***Never doubt a dream, always move forward…Like the song says…
Anything you want to do…Do it.***

But though my excitement for hobby 52 is high on Saturday, my will to go out and do it is quickly hampered as I wake up and see that it’s cold–and gray–but not just cold and gray–it’s pretty much a frigid apocalypse outside with gusting winds up to 50mph and snow flurries pleasantly beginning to fall. I struggle. It would be the perfect day to stay in bed–all day, to get dressed at 5pm and eat cereal for all three meals in my pajamas. But I had made a plan–and that plan included to complete my 52nd hobby, by traveling to each of the five boroughs and chalking the word happiness. I groggily got out of bed and decided that this was better than chalking happiness when the weather is perfect–because in the case of clear skies, people are likely to already feel happier. This was my time to spread happiness–even if the weather was threatening otherwise.

It took me no more than 7 hours to complete my trip to each borough and tattoo the word happiness into the sidewalk of each.

It took me no more than 7 hours to etch happiness right outside my doorstep in Brooklyn. It took me no more than 7 hours to experience the excitement of families going on the Staten Island Ferry and having an amazing view of Manhattan. It took me no more than 7 hours to witness the wealth of joy outside the doorstep of my favorite chocolate shop in Manhattan, as a homeless man approached me and thanked me for the happiness.It took me no more than 7 hours to clear my negative image of the Bronx and leave a positive message behind. And it took me no more than 7 hours to make my way to Queens and chalk happiness into a park that I once danced happiness into–just two years ago.

The truth was–that in each borough– It took me no more than moments to see that even though I was physically spreading the word happiness–it was all around me. It was in the faces of children who’d never been on a boat. It was in the faces of those who told me they had nothing but still felt joy. It was in the faces of those walking through streets of the Bronx—and it was in the faceof the child who stood up on the subway seat and peered out the window on an above ground train heading to Queens. It was in the taxi driver who got me from downtown Manhattan to Grand Central. It was in the cappuccino that I drank mid-morning. It was in the face of the man with his child who strolled past me on Fordham Road. It was in the skateboarders who skated through the park while I finished my last borough tattoo. Happiness was truly–everywhere.

And what I learned most about happiness–aside from where to find it (ahem, again, everywhere): was that much like my chalked out versions of the word: Happiness doesn’t always come in a straight line–in one swoop–or even in one size–but it always, always feels good.

Here’s to 52 hobbies–and many, many more. and here is to happiness. Cheers.

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Finding Balance

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I imagine that learning to walk must have been the scariest moment of my life to date, even if I never formed a memory of it. Tiny feet pattering–a bruised baby bum–a dizzying disaster. Thank goodness, that as children, we have a hand to hold, and someone to help us back up.

As I cross the wire set up at the Trapeze Loft, I suddenly feel like a child again, as I desperately reach for a hand to hold.

“You can let go,” I say as I grasp Debra’s hand tighter. We laugh. At this point, she’s not holding my hand at all. I am squeezing her thumb with all my might. “I swear I’ll be fine if we just let go,” I forcefully say as I finally go to release her hand. I then yell, “Wait, no–not ready.” I can’t fathom the baby jumble that came out of my mouth as I learned how to walk for the first time.

I feel my hips sway back and forth. My arms wave, almost violently. “Wooooooah,” “ahhhhh” are some of the reactions coming out of me.

My instructor walks away.

“Where are you going?”

Debra adds that people get it best when she pays no attention.

She’s right–but not just for wire walking–but for life as well.

Even if someone’s not literally holding our hand–if they are near by, we know we can reach for them to help us back up. but if no one is around. Well then, it’s up to oneself and only oneself. Debra sits across the room chatting away. It’s only up to me now–and my two feet.

I race quickly–one foot at a time. I’m falling from one side to the other–saving myself and catching myself from an invisible doom below. It doesn’t look graceful–but neither does life at most points.

Either way, I am learning to walk on my own–the most important lesson there is.

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Special Thanks
Debra Chilcott
The Trapeze Loft

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