Tag Archives: courage

Pon De FLO DVD

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Pon De FLO DVD

A lot of people ask me if there are any hobbies I have stuck with since starting The Hobby Hoarder. The answer is yes and I am proud to say that one of the hobbies I have kept up with is a Caribbean Reggae dance-based fitness class called Pon De FLO. I’ve noted this before, throughout the blog, but I’ll say it again: I didn’t go to group dance classes for years because I never felt comfortable–I never felt at ease–I never felt like I could do it. That all changed with Pon De FLO.

Many of the dance classes I tried throughout the hobby year were stepping stones in getting comfortable with being in a group dance class. But Pon De FLO quickly became more than a stepping stone–it became a ROCK–Just like the way good friends help us find balance and stability in our lives, Pon De FLO did the same for me–and continues to do the same for me.

I recently wrote about how The Hobby Year helped me to find balance in a world that I constantly felt held down in. This class has played a significant role in finding that balance and in surrounding myself with positive people who continue to help me find that balance. And to be honest, FLO has become more than a once in a while class for me–it’s become a routine, a habit–my go to. I’ve even started scheduling a lot of my hobby nights around the Pon De FLO schedule.

This isn’t your average dance class. The non-verbal cued choreography forces you to build endurance, stamina and strength through 60 or 90 minutes of high energy cardio that includes an abundance of burpees, pushups, sit-ups and squats. Additionally, the class challenges you to escape from everything that’s bothering you, from a day that came with more stress than you expected, and from the negative aspects of life that are just holding you down. FLO asks you to step up, look at yourself in the mirror, connect with yourself, and disappear into dance–to let it all go and for a brief time–just FLO.

 There are only two rules in FLO–just stop thinking–and just keeping dancing.

Beyond the workout, Pon De FLO is a community of positive passionate individuals who WANT to be in class– who love the burn they feel after a burpee song, and crave for the feeling the way their body sizzles after an intense set of pushups. And when the burpees, the pushups, the sit-ups, the squats, and the booty shaking is done, those positive, passionate individuals carry on their friendships with one another outside the studio classrooms.

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Because of the upbeat community of friends I have made through the class, the kick ass work outs, and the positive energy and passion for the dance class fueled by founder Heather Fay, I have found myself absolutely addicted to a group fitness based dance class.

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 Currently, Pon De FLO is based in New York City, but it is the hope and goal of their team to begin expanding the niche dance class nationally and globally.

This past week, the team launched their Kickstarter to fund a professional fitness based DVD so that people all over can do Pon De FLO from the comfort of their own home.

If you have a dollar or ten to spare, I hope you’ll consider donating to the cause–and if not, I hope you’ll spread the word.

AND lastly, if you are in the New York City area, I definitely recommend taking a class.
I’ll even treat you.

 

Pon De FLO might just change your life–I know it has definitely changed mine.

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New York City Dance Parade

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Just a week ago, I mentioned that my pre-hobby anxiety before going to CrossFit was at an all-time high. I was worried what people would think of me, if I would be too weak, and if I would fail miserably. As I noted in the blog post—there clearly had been nothing to really worry about, but that didn’t mean that my pre-hobby anxiety never existed.

However, this week my pre-hobby anxiety was at an all time low. The only thing I felt going into this week’s hobby was excitement—pure and wonderful excitement. This week I was doing something totally novel, totally unique, and totally awesome. This week, I was doing the  7th Annual New York City Dance Parade!

I’ve watched the dance parade a number of times over the last few years. The key word in that sentence is “watched.” I should have never been watching…I should have been shimmying and shaking right along!

And not only was I signed up to do the 7th Annual New York City Dance Parade, I was signed up to break it down with the crew that won my heart on January 6—the Pon De FLO crew!

A note: Prior to the hobby year, I’ve written that dancing for me in public was difficult—especially in group       classes. A long time ago, I deemed myself choreographically challenged and found myself walking out of dance classes: I couldn’t get comfortable. I couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t smile and have fun—when that’s all I wanted to do at all–well get fit–but also–just have fun. During the hobby year I took several dance classes including pole dancinghip-hop, jazz, and tap.  And in June, I took part in a flash mob. Finally—dancing in large groups of people was becoming fun.

Then I took Pon de FLO  at the DANY Studio.  And I had an epiphany—dance wasn’t just fun. It was exciting. It was freeing. For the first time in a dance class, REALLY—the first time—I felt comfortable—comfortable to be me—comfortable to be free—comfortable to FLO!

So when Pon de FLO posted on their Facebook page that they were looking for participants to join for the 2013 New York City Dance Parade, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t want to be cheering from the sidelines—I didn’t want to be restricted by some barricade. I wanted to be shaking my hips, stomping my feet, and breaking it down freely—I wanted to be in the parade, and I wanted it to be with the Pon De FLO troupe.

Prior to the parade, we had two rehearsals. While my opportunities to take the class since first jumping in at the beginning of the year had been limited due to my own scheduling conflicts, the group of men and women ready to move and groove down Boadway was quick to welcome me into their crew, for the parade, with open arms.

As I sat down in our first rehearsal and Heather (Founder of Pon De FLO) started telling us the details of the parade, I felt a smile spread wildly across my face. “This is freaking awesome,” I thought to myself. “FREAKING AWESOME.” I got so excited that when I left rehearsal I started sending texts to people that I hoped they could come out and support. Whether I looked good shaking my hips or I looked ridiculous, I wanted people to know that I was proud of my group and that I was extremely proud of my decision to dance in the parade at all.  I wanted people to want to dance too.

When I woke up on the day of the parade, I woke up with a smile on my face. And as I threw on my Pon De Flo shirt that Heather made for each of us, and as I buckled my fanny pack (yes, fanny pack), I began to two-step through the living room. “Gosh…the power of dance,” I thought. “Whew.”

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Upon arriving at our group’s meeting place, I could feel the positive energy already FLOwing ;). Everyone was decked out in the yellow, purple, and green Pon De FLO gear. Everyone was chatting—smiling—laughing—gearing up. I began introducing myself to a lot of the people I hadn’t met yet, grabbed coffee with a fellow flo-er, and warmed up for the parade by shaking it out to the music that was blasting out of our speakers which sat on top of our sponsor, Wicked Willy’s bike. Gracefully, I swayed my hips with one of my groupies to the sounds of reggae; freely, I busted a move to the sounds of Call Me Maybe as it blared out of a set of speakers. I guess it was Pop-De-Flo momentarily 😉

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Not before long, I bravely took my place in our groups formation. Patiently, we waited to begin moving along the route, and as we turned our first corner onto Broadway, from 21st street—a smile expanded across my face—the same smile that I felt form at the first rehearsal—this one, however, was even bigger. And as we began to choreograph our way towards Astor Place and then St. Thompkins Square, I laughed to myself: “Two years ago, I was sitting behind the barricades, thinking I could never be in the parade. Now look at me—I’m making moves like Beyonce at the Super Bowl.”

The truth is two years ago, I was sitting behind the barricades thinking I would never have the courage to dance in the parade. Sure I’ve danced at parties or at bars/clubs when my friends have gone out—maybe at some karaoke—but never, before this past year, did I believe in myself enough to partake in such magnitude of an event.

Honestly, nothing can describe the feeling of being able to dance so freely down Broadway in New York City. Nothing can describe the feeling of being able to forget what you look like—to forget what other people might be thinking of you; to feel accepted, so quickly, in a group of people who really just met you one night prior. Nothing can describe the feelings and emotions that overwhelmed my stomping feet or my shaking hips, my body—or the feelings and emotions that overwhelmed my heart.

What an amazing parade—what an amazing day.

PonDeFlo

     Photo Courtesy Pon De FLO

Snowmobiling

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“Do one thing every day that scares you,” I whisper this as I slip slide UP a mountain side at Arches National Park on a beautiful afternoon. “Then do one thing every day that terrifies you,” adds my travel mate David.

Arches National Park wasn’t an original stop on our list–in fact, I hadn’t even known it existed. But as David and I reach the top of the mountain side which reveals one of the most beautiful natural arches of the world–I smile. I’m happy to be here. Hiking has always been therapeutic for me–even if I don’t always appear to be the most graceful one scaling the mountain. Something about the way the sun shines off the landscape–and the way the wind blows the dirt–or the leaves on the trees has always had a calming effect on me. Hiking often gives me time to reflect.

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As we take pictures under the arch, that we’ve just masterfully climbed to, I feel like I finally have some time to think about the moments I’ve spent on the trip so far–the moments that were unplanned–and the moments that were planned.
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Snowmobiling had always been planned–but like climbing up a slippery side of a mountain, it also instilled a bit of fear in me. The last time I tried to tackle a ski mountain–it was on a down hill mountain bike–and I had crashed the bike. And the last time I had ridden on anything similar to a snowmobile was in the summer of 2006, when I went jet skiing for the first time. Despite having the opportunity to try and drive the jet ski, I declined and enjoyed the ride as a passenger the entire time.

This time was different. This time I would be taking the driver’s seat first. This time, for the most part, I would be in control and in charge for safely getting us up an 11,000 foot mountain in Colorado–and back down.  As I turn the key, I take a deep breath. I look at David, who is going to start out driving the other mobile, and he grins. He’s ready for a thrill. I ask Kim, who’s on my mobile, if she’s ready–and she is. Our tour guide takes off–I press the throttle with my thumb–and we are off.

Not before long, the sun is brightly shining off the snow, we’re soaring past trees, taking tight turns, and zooming up a valley of hills. The terrain changes from turn to turn going from a two lane snow-way to a narrow steep section bordered by giant trees whose arms seem to reach out to attempt and grab us at times.  And as we reach a clearing–it feels as if we could be flying–without wings attached. My nerves are gone–This is freaking awesome.

After a brief moment of making sure the tour group is all together, I ask Kim if she’d like to take the driver’s seat. We swap positions. But before we even make it around our first curve, we manage to drive the mobile through a three-foot wall of snow sending the snowmobile just feet away from toppling on top of us. Kim and I fall off the mobile and land in a pool of powder. Kim and I look at each other, David rushes over to us, and I begin to giggle. “You okay, Libs?” Kim asks.

I giggle again. “I’m good–but how do we get this snow mobile out of here?”

After a five minute dose of a 7 person effort to dig out a path for the snow mobile–we are back on track. And instead of being scared-I am excited to get back on. This mountain–this trek to the Continental Divide is meant to be conquered–much like the icey trek to the top of Arches National Park just a couple days later.

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It’s now been just a few weeks since both the snowmobiling adventure and the Arches National Park Hike–and again I am having time to reflect as I snow shoe around the side of one of earth’s greatest natural wonders: Crater Lake Park. As I ungracefully hike–falling down once in a while, my friend Adam reminds me that “Fear is a habit.” And he’s right. Fear is only what we let it be and only how controlling we let it get.  Fear is unintentionally-intentional-it becomes a choice. If we let every fall scare us–if we choose to let fear over-ride our courage–then our ability to find out what we are truly capable of will always be fogged. And the earth and life is a lot more beautiful when we can see clearly. And I can safely say that I’m happy to be seeing life so clearly (even if it’s through my yellow sunglasses many of the times 😉  ).


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Pon De FLO

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“You made it through!”

My new friend Jimmy laughs and takes a sip of his water as our Pon De Flo class comes to an end. I giggle, “Yes I did. That was a lot of fun!”

As some may remember, I kicked off the year by taking two group dance classes–pole dancing and hip hop.

On both occasions, I brought a set of nerves with me. With pole dancing, I was hoping to overcome difficulties accepting my self-image, and with hip-hop I was just trying to overcome the fear of being judged in a group setting. The truth is that prior to this year, group dance classes scared, for lack of a better term, the shit out of me. On a scale of 1-10, my fear of group dance classes ranked around an 8 or 9. To put that into perspective–when i jumped out of an airplane, my fear level was around a 1.5.

I always worried that I’d be judged for stepping the wrong way in Zumba–or for not wearing the right “dance attire,” (please see jazz dance to see what I mean). So if my friend, Tory of LIfe Vest Inside, had suggested the dance craze Pon De Flo before this year, I am pretty sure my response would have been “Pon De NO!” But instead, I jumped at the opportunity for another dance class.

(Sidenote: Pon De FLO is a combination of Caribbean and reggae dance that requires a willingness to have fun!).

As I arrived at Ripley Grier for the 3:00 class with Heather Fay, I didn’t think twice. I slid off my sweat pants to reveal my Princeton field hockey shorts and grabbed a spot on the floor. I looked around and noticed that this class had attracted a great diversity of people. There were men. There were women. And there were people of all sizes, smiling and getting prepped for the next hour and a half of high energy dance. ‘People must really love this,’ I thought to myself. And for a few minutes, I decided to mingle with some of the veterans.

“Get ready to sweat a lot,” said one. “You’ll definitely get hot,” added another. “Just go with the flow,” mentioned Jimmy.

Before I knew it we were flowing right along. “Left, right, left, right, shimmy, left, right, left, right, shimmy.” I kept reciting what Heather was doing in front of the class, in my head. I moved my hips every which way, bounced my booty, and waved my arms. About a quarter of the way through the class, Heather told everyone to move up a bit because the people in the last row didn’t have room. As a member of the last row, I joked, “It doesn’t matter, it’s not like I know what I am doing quite yet anyway.” My back row companions laughed along with me. Just a year prior, I’d be too scared to even speak to another person in a group dance class. Now I was making friends.

A few minutes later, when a step caused us to turn around, forcing me to suddenly be a part of the front row  of the class, I momentarily panicked. However, instead of losing my composure, I just began to bust a move and hope it was right. I can definitely tell you this much: It did not look graceful–but it didn’t matter: It was very easy to see that no one was judging me–not even myself.

I didn’t realize this of course until half way through the class when I had an epiphany–or a hobby breakthrough: As I began giggling to myself while I messed up another dance move (sorry Heather!), I noticed that I didn’t care if people thought I was America’s next best dancer–I didn’t care if people saw me mess up–and I didn’t care if my right foot accidentally went when my left foot was supposed to. Eventually, I felt tears begin to fill my eyes. I wasn’t in pain–and I wasn’t ready to run out of the room screaming. No, instead the tears had developed because a great amount of pride had come over me. I realized in that moment, that the fears and worries that I had carried with me just 11 months prior had now dissipated completely. While it may sound insignificant when written down, it was one of the highest points of my hobby year, because it had meant that the hobby year was coming full circle–revealing bits and pieces about myself and how far I’d come, without me realizing that it would.

After clearing out my eyes, I came back to the present moment and realized that the moves were much faster now. I laughed some more. “Just keep dancing like no one is watching, Libs,” I thought to myself. Then I shook it out. “This feels pretty freaking good.”

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http://www.pondeflo.com

All that matters is that you jump: Trapeze

“All that matters is that you jump.”

One of my trapeze instructors whispers this to me as I am suddenly about to swing off a platform that feels as though it is miles from the ground.

I take a deep breath, bend my knees and then leap-I leap for my fears of heights- for my fears of falling- I leap for my friends – for proving that my last turbulent experience dealing with heights hasn’t held me back- and I leap for myself. And I soar- like a bird. I feel the air rush past my face. I hear for my commands from below. Legs up. See my hands. Let go. Look for Brooklyn. Enjoy the ride. And boy was I enjoying the the ride.

I listen for my commands again– Legs down, and “up,” which in trapeze lingo means… Drop.

“Awesome,” I proclaim and I get giddy about trying it again.

Trapeze was one of the greatest activities I’ve tried this year. Joined by good friends, I knew that this was the best way to kick off a Saturday morning. And not only was it fun–but it taught me a great lesson as well.

“All that matters it that you jump.”

The words continue to echo.

A metaphor flashes before my eyes.

Every day asks us to jump- to make a choice.

We can either stand still or make a change. It may not literally mean a jump from the sky- but it could rather be as simple as a phone call to an old friend, or family member we’ve lost touch with. It could be taking a new job–or having the courage to ask for a raise at your current one.

In the end, all that matters is having the courage to jump.

Amy

Lindsay

 Rena

 Christine

Special Thanks
Brent Hankins

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Trapeze School New York
TSNY
http://www.trapezeschool.com

The Hobby Hoarder Sits Still: Meditation

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“You were so still. I couldn’t believe it. My first time, I was allll over the place,” – Meditation Participant.

Why I became this woman’s focus during this time for self-reflection, I am still trying to figure out. But what she should know is that both my feet painfully fell asleep and I couldn’t have moved abruptly even if I wanted to.

Meditation.

I chose to do meditation this week because on Sunday, April 15, I will be running a half-marathon, and as someone who has often webMD’ed herself into a coma, due to clumsy experiences, I believed that any physical activity outside of walking and running would be a terrible–awful–no good idea. Sitting still is normally not an option for me–my friends in Pennsylvania often tell me that it makes sense that I ended up in NYC, because I never rest. And when I told my mom I was doing something calm, her response was: “Well that’s not like you.”

But after this week, I think that calmness should definitely be added into my life on a more frequent basis–and conquering calmness as well–because it is clearly difficult for me–seeing as my feet fell asleep only minutes after beginning the first meditation. Our guide had even told us that the first thing we need to get right is our seat. Sigh. Fail.  Pins and needles flowed through my toes.

“Stay calm,” I cautioned myself. “You don’t want to ruin the ambience, the stillness of the room. Don’t move an inch.” And so I sat the way I would when I was a child so my parents wouldn’t know I was awake which means I held my breath. My focus was no longer on the beaming light or diamond that our guide was telling us to breathe into. My focus was now on the fact that I couldn’t move. As I maneuvered my feet quietly and carefully, I fell back into the guide’s voice. Calmness returned as I focused on a bright beam of light shooting out of my head and then a tiny diamond directly in front of my closed eyes.

After then being asked to see someone who annoys us–and have compassion for that person–we were told to open our eyes for a brief moment, reflect on what just happened and then go back into meditation.

Soon, the other students and myself were told to envision a mentor of ours, someone we look up to, someone who’s guidance leads us. Someone who’s wisdom motivates us. I instantly chose someone to see–to speak to–to listen to. And not before long I was spreading that guidance to people all around me–imagined people all around me: Telling them to attack whatever life brings them full on. Telling them that making mistakes was okay–that sometimes the things we think we are doing most wrong–are actually being done extremely well. Through meditation, I told the world that we could do whatever we wanted to do–like one big cliche. But it felt great.

I became lost in my mind–my thoughts far, far away from me. Now it was just me–no thoughts, no worries–no moments of necessary clarity. I lost sensations in my body parts and I floated. I disappeared–in the best way possible.

I became the sky, the sun, the moon, and Mother Nature, and I embraced the world. And I held her tight…and I kissed her, and I breathed her in, and felt at peace–if even just for a moment. And then I returned to the chaotic room that was filled with noises of construction outside the window, the aroma of burning candles, and the warm feeling of an accepting place. I had escaped–I took a quick short vacation, a brief leave from the world. I spent time sitting still in a moment of ultimate calmness. What one could consider a thing of beauty.

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I did my meditation at The Three Jewels in Manhattan, New York, where they have volunteers come in and lead guided meditation from 8am to 9am each weekday, and on 7:00pm on Fridays, Venerable Phuntsok provides guided meditation.  There is no fee associated with the guided meditations, but donations are suggested.

Mats, pillows, and seating is provided, and comfortable clothing is absolutely encouraged.

According to The Three Jewels “Meditation” website, “Meditation sessions are based on several types of Tibetan meditation practice. These forms of meditation above all include Ton Len. Many of these meditations emphasize the importance of giving love and needs and taking others suffering. other meditation practices that are taught include Mahamudra and Heart Sutra meditations, which examine the nature of mind and objects.”

From one newbie meditator to another, it’s pretty amazing. Check it out for yourself:

The Three Jewels
61 4th Ave.
New York, NY
 

The Hobby Hoarder Gets her Dance On: Hip-Hop

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What does it mean to be choreographically challenged?

I’d say it means walking out of a Zumba class twice–yes that did happen. I’ve been a bit choreographically challenged since I was born. My parents always brag about me saying my first word when I was only six months old–but I’ve found I rarely–if ever–have heard them brag about my first steps. I bet I crawled until I was six.

It’s not just choreography that I couldn’t ever keep up with–it’s all forms of movement.

During a game of Truth or Dare at an 8th grade birthday party, I was humiliated as I was dared to show my “dance moves” on a chair.

“You can’t just hump the chair.” All the girls laughed at me. At the next school dance, I shook it off, and attempted to show that I truly could dance. The result wasn’t so hot. My, now best friend, laughed and said “It’ll take some work.” “Just don’t hump. Work it like this.”

I had no idea what I was doing. The word “grinding” was what my teeth did in the middle of the night.

Horrified, it took me years to feel comfortable enough to even “dance like no one was watching again.” And it took this hobby project, and two failed Zumba attempts to get back on the “choreography wagon.”

So on Tuesday February, 21 I headed to Dance New Amsterdam for an introductory hip-hop class. And it’s safe to say I think I found my rhythm–thanks to instructor Jonathan Lee.

You watched the video–what do you think?

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Meet Jonathan Lee–My instructor
Dance New Amsterdam

Dance New Amsterdam
280 Broadway
Manhattan, New York

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