Tag Archives: fearless

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

CrossFit

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You’d think after a year of hobbying, I would be immune to pre-hobby anxiety and intimidation. The truth is I’m not. But that’s a good thing. It means I am still exercising my mind and my muscles. It means I am still continuing to be challenged. It means I am still taking everything that I am trying–just as seriously as all those things I tried when it was simply just a project. I am still attacking life and taking chances. I am still living.

This week my pre-hobby anxiety was high. I’d signed up for a private one-on-one CrossFit session. For those that aren’t quite sure what that means–here’s one of CrossFit’s own videos:

Intense right?

I grew up playing sports and I even played Division 1 field hockey. I’ve dabbled in the Insanity workouts on my own time and I’ve trained for and completed two half marathons. But at all cost, I have avoided going to a personal trainer–or really letting others see me train. So the thought of letting someone train me–in addition to having a good friend standing by to help video–induced a lot of anxious feelings.

I began to think to myself:

“What if I fail? What if I am just too weak? There will be a lot of FIT people there–what will people think of me? I’m flabby and big boned–do I really belong?”

I went as far as texting my friend who does CrossFit on the regular to confide in her about my feelings.

She responded quickly:

“Google articles on being nervous for CrossFit. No one’s there to judge–everyone has to start somewhere.” -CF

She was right. So I took a breath, and I asked myself one more question:

“Why are YOU doing this?”

I gave that question a moment to sink in. I surely wasn’t doing it for all those people who would be at the CrossFit center working on their own fitness-just as they weren’t going to be doing their pull ups for me.

And then it came to me:

“I’m doing this because I can. I’m doing this because I said I would. I’m doing this because deep down inside, I know that the things that intimidate me most–are the things that are most worth facing. I’m doing this because I WANT to do this, not for anyone else–but for me–My health. My body. My life.”

I kept repeating all these answers in my head as I headed over to the Black Box on 28th Street. As I exited the elevator I walked into what appeared to be a factory of fitness. There were rings hanging from the ceiling, free weights, bar bells, kettle bells, and pull up bars everywhere. I watched as people all around the gym fiercely worked out. I watched as their muscles flexed and their sweat dripped. I could see determination in their eyes–in their focus. Instead of intimidating me the way that I had imagined it would, it motivated me.

“I can do this,” I whispered to myself.

I walked over to my coach and introduced myself.

“Hi Kyle, I’m Libby.”

He shook my hand.

“You ready?” he asked.

“Let’s do it,” I said with a new found confidence.

“Great, let’s start with a warmup. 30 seconds of jumping jacks, lunges, and 30 seconds of mountain climbers.”

I felt my muscles waking up, and the first drop of sweat fall from my brow.

Ninety seconds later, I was so focused on myself and my breathing and my own workout ahead that I had already forgotten that the gym was filled to capacity with all the other CrossFit participants. This was solely about me and my body–and about bettering myself–not anyone else.

Following the warmup, Kyle, my instructor, told me that next up would be a 10 minute repetition round–I would be doing sets of 15 squats, 10 kettle bells, and 5 pushups. The goal was to see how many rounds of this cycle, I could do and also to maintain a consistent time for how long each round took.

As I took on the first round, I felt strong. But as I transitioned into my second and third, I could feel the fatigue setting in. My arms shook, my legs wobbled, my movements slowed. But I pushed through. I didn’t let the word “can’t” enter my brain. Like the Little Engine That Could, I just kept saying, “I think I can, I think I can.”

And I did.

In ten minutes, I completed five rounds–most at around 2  minutes and 15 seconds. Kyle gave me a high five. “You moved well. Your first round was fast–because your muscles were strong. But the consistency of the last four rounds was really what we are looking for–great job!”

I took a sip of my water and I smiled.

“But we aren’t done,” he added. “We’ve got one 90 second round to go–90 seconds of burpees.”

Burpees involve a combination of a squat, a pushup, and a jumping jack.

They are kind of hell.

“90 seconds, that’s it Libs, you got this,” I cheered myself on.

That was quite possibly the longest 90 seconds of my life. As I dropped to the ground, and pushed myself back up, I could feel my body working, the sweat dripping, my heart racing. With each burpee, I felt my muscles ache. “30 seconds Libs, you’re almost there…Drop, push, Jump. 15 seconds…10…Come on…Don’t stop.”

“AND TIME!” Kyle yelled.

I picked myself up off the ground, and I raised my arms over my head. I glanced around the gym. The anxiety that I had felt just the night before was now totally gone. I smiled.

I breathed in an enormous feeling of positive self-esteem, while my legs shook with fatigue.

And I thought to myself:

“This is why I do these things. Because of THIS feeling afterwards. This feeling of accomplishment–of success. This feeling is the most rewarding feeling of all.

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Special Thanks

CrossFit NYC
Joshua Newman
Kyle Smith
http://www.crossfit.com

Special Thanks
Ashley Castle
http://www.travelwithcastle.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Hobby Hoarder Overcomes a Fear: Stunt Jumping…Falling

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When I was six, my brother climbed trees in the backyard. Fearless, I followed–until one day I fell out of a tree. That was the end of tree climbing–and falling for a long time.

As a freshman on the field hockey team at the University of Rhode Island, we were told that we would have to do a trust course with our teammates. The trust course involved a 10-15 foot wall that we would all have to get over–as a team. At the time, I was a bit heavier than I am now–and a bit more helpless. As I went to get over the wall, I slipped from my teammates’ hands–and fell to the ground from about 8 feet high. It shook me up for a bit.

Okay–not just for a bit–for five years.

On the morning of June 23, I overcame my fear of free-falling as I took a leap — or fall –of faith off a 30 foot platform at the Hollywood Stunt School in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. As I felt my feet leave the ground, I thought to myself “This isn’t too bad,” and as I landed in the air bag below, over and over again, I breathed huge sighs of relief. “No broken neck — no broken back — no fears — no nerves — no looking back. No freaking problem.”

But I think I’ll still leave the movie stunt jumping to the professionals…

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Hollywood Stunt School
Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Special Thanks

Michael Bonner
TakeBacksProductions.Tumblr.Com

&

Naomi Hine

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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