Tag Archives: friends

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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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

Curling

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“Did someone call maid service? Cause we’re sweeping up a storm!”

I laugh along with my friend Naomi as we close out our curling lesson at the Ardsley Curling rink with the Long Island Curling team.

I’ve watched curling in the Olympics several times, but I never understood how a sport–could be so intense with just a broom. But after one lesson, it became very clear that the sport of curling is full of strategy, skills, and teamwork. It is much more than just brushing the surface of the ice with the bristles of a broom. No–it’s about understanding how to throw a stone–flick the wrist–and lunge correctly. It’s about listening to your teammates as they yell sweep–or don’t sweep. It’s about paying attention to your skip and knowing where to place the stone. It’s about working together through communication. Like all sports: it’s about hard work, dedication, determination, and a will to want to get better.

At first, I get a little nervous. Just after setting up my video camera, I forget that I am stepping on ice and feel my feet slip out from underneath me. A shame the video came that I had just set up was facing the other way because that would have been an amazing blooper. After gaining my balance, watching Matthew our teacher show us some basics, and seeing my friend Naomi give it a try–effortless, I jumped in. Boom. Right onto my butt again. I come from a family that manages to slip on the one patch of ice on the driveway each winter. Clearly, this wasn’t going to be easy for me–even if Naomi looked like a natural (She did practically live on us her entire life as a professional figure skater though, to be fair)

After regaining my balance once more, I get some tidbits from our instructor, and give it another shot–this time without falling. And then I do it again–and again–and again. Confidentially, I release the curling stone from my hands in a perfect straight line. “I could get used to this I exclaim.”

We move onto sweeping, which is fun and intense. It requires listening carefully to your teammates to know when to sweep and when not to. Sweeping, which I didn’t know is used to keep a stonet moving further—not to make it move faster. You sweep so that the friction makes a better area for the stone to move through.

The Long Island Curling Club was nice enough to let us join a game, and Naomi and I were able to show off our newly found skills as we both placed a stone in the rings. At one point Matt and I have a small conversation about how this became his hobby. He said to me that he didn’t need to try everything–because he found his passion—curling.  And I think that’s an important lesson in this year as well–it’s not always about trying something new–but just about finding something you love and sticking with it. Think about it–when was the last time you continued doing your FAVORITE thing in the world? Probably not as often as you’d like. I admire Matt for having that dedication in his life—especially to a sport that’s so difficult to find, right here in New York City.

As the game came to an end, Naomi looked at me and said “Can we keep doing this as a hobby.”

I smiled and responded: “Naomi, That’s how I feel after everything I try. But—yes–yes we can.”

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Special Thanks
Long Island Curling Club
www.licurling.org

School of Rock & Roll & Friends

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I can’t echo myself enough when I say that the most intimidating moments of my year have not been when I was face to face with creatures of the sea in the shark tank—or in the moment before I was going to jump out of a plane. No, instead the most intimidating moments of this year have been when I have sat down—or stood—with a friend and taken a chance to learn their craft. It’s as if I don’t want them to think I suck—or that I am insulting their craft with how bad I am. But even they were beginners once too—and that’s the part I have to remind myself.

I recently had the chance to sit down with two of my good friends in New York City, on two separate occasions, and learn both of their skills—both of their full-time hobbies—and both of their passions.

I first sat down with Grady who taught me how to pluck four chords on a guitar, and I then sat down with Brandon who taught me how manage a loveable beat on the drums.

I was fortunate enough to meet Grady and Brandon who perform in a band together called Assorted Animals, when I first moved to the city. After getting invited to a party that they were both at, I slowly became more and more integrated into their group of friends, started going to their shows, and enjoying post-show chats and outings.

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After just a few months of living in Manhattan, I was happy to have found such good friends—talented friends.  Due to hectic schedules and the rush of New York City, we don’t get to hang out as much as I’d like, so this was the perfect opportunity to see and spend time with both of them.

As I sat down with Grady, I reminisced on just how lucky I was to have met him—to have this opportunity to learn from him. Patiently and perfectly, he described how to sit comfortably, how to hold the guitar, and how to relax my hands to make for better playing. I remember just once prior to this lesson picking up a guitar, in 7th grade music class, and being incapable of wrapping my head—and hands around the musical beauty.  But now, after less than just two hours, I had gotten the basic four chords down and Grady was playing along with me.  Appropriately, we were playing a slowed down version of “Time of Your Life” by Green Day.

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This past week, when I sat down with Brandon, my patience with the drum set, grew thin. Like trying to figure out a rubrics cube, I could feel myself growing frustrated: I couldn’t get my left hand to work with my right or my right hand to work with my right foot. I felt as though I was a shambles. I’d turn to Brandon and apologize for my inability—and he’d smile and say, ”It’s okay. Let’s just try again.” And so we did—again, and again, and again. “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,” I whispered to myself. “Right hand/right foot, right hand, left foot” and I continued this repetition until I was playing 2 measures—3 measures—4 measures, and at some point I lost count—at some point I lost myself in the music.  And even though we weren’t playing the Green Day hit, as I had with Grady, I still felt as though I was having the time of my life.

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Early in the drumming lesson, Brandon told me that this was his first time ever teaching drumming lesson. My response was simple, “Great! That means you are hobby hoarding as well. YAY!” After our lesson, I told Brandon he should continue giving lessons—that I really enjoyed his time and felt that I had learned a lot. I also told him that this year has given me a way to spend time with people that I don’t often get to spend time with due to harsh schedules and that I was grateful we could work something out. Brandon was grateful too.

On the earlier occasion when Grady and I left the studio, I smiled and thanked him immensely. He seemed just as pleased with this lesson as I did. And while walking toward the train, Grady turned to me and said, “I think I want to start teaching more lessons.” And soon after, I received a text message from him saying, “That was great fun and quite inspirational for me as well.”

My intimidation of working with friends was now gone. I could tell that this was just as much an experience for them –as it was for me.

And with Grady’s message I knew, the hobby hoarding—had done as I always hope it will—worked both ways.

228770_1609774177584_1835743_n                                  BRANDON & GRADY July 4, 2011: Courtesy Grady’s Facebook

Brandon and Grady perform in a band called Assorted Animals. Their keyboard/piano/vocalist Laura Fisher can be seen in one of my earlier posts giving me a singing lesson.

Check them out at www.assortedanimals.com

The Need for Speed: Go Karting

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There are few things that have excited me more in life than the moment I drove a car, by myself, for the very first time.

I can remember the rain as it pattered on my windshield before my driver’s test, and how I worried that the conditions would make my test more difficult. And I can remember how I parallel parked perfectly, stopped smoothly at red lights, took turns cautiously—and was handed my driver’s license.  Most of all, I can remember my smile as I dropped off my dad, before heading off to school—on my own—for the very first time.

Prior to piloting a plane, driving a car was the most free I had ever felt. As a teenager, I drove my Saturn SL around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania blasting my music—and singing as loudly as possible. It was my own 90’s karaoke party every-time I turned the key, pulled out of my driveway, and headed to my destination.

But there was something I never felt absolutely comfortable doing–and that was speeding—even if part of me always wished I could. I’m not sure if it was because one of my childhood best friend’s fathers sat me in front of a Nascar race every time I came over, or because I constantly felt a need to be moving at lightning speed—but a part of me had always wished I could drive a race car—just one time around a track. When I scheduled an indoor go kart race with a group of friends at the Grand Prix race track, I realized that this was a stepping stone toward that goal.

As we loaded up our zip car to the race track, I could feel the excitement building–but not just mine–but  our entire group’s. Everyone was ready to race, some maybe even more so than myself.

As I pulled on my helmet, threw on the required neck brace, stepped into the small indie go kart, and buckled my seatbelt,  I could feel my adrenaline preparing to join the race.

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That little car may have only had a speedometer of 40 mph, but as soon as I had the courage to really press the pedal, I felt as though I could move at light speed. And even as my friends passed me, and even though I came in last place–I felt a freedom that I had never felt behind the wheel of my Saturn—or later my Honda CRV. With each turn, I felt more in control and with each acceleration, I could feel my heart beating right along with the echo of the engine. As I completed one lap after another, I breathed into the adrenaline. Again, I was in dead last, but it still felt like a win.

When the race was done, I could tell that our group of friends had enjoyed the race as much as I had.  And I’ll never forget what one of them said as we drove home:

“I gotta say—that first lap was really special—feeling how fast that little car could go—and seeing how it could drift around the turns.”-R. Buckley

I looked out the window and smiled. Robert may not know it—but he just expressed the same feeling that I’ve felt every time I’ve turned the ignition and jump started every hobby or activity that I’ve tried this year—he’s just expressed the feeling that I am hoping to inspire others to feel when they take a dance class for the first time—or jump out of a plane for the first time—or pilot a plane for the first time—or race a go kart for the first time: that something special has just happened—because more than likely, it has.

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Thanks for a great day—David, Rick, Mercedes, David and Robert.

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Grand Prix

333 North Bedford Road

Mount Kisco, New York 10549

On Top of the World

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“I’m through accepting limits–cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change-but till I try, I’ll never know”
-Wicked

The sun is beginning to set over Manhattan, but the plane I am piloting is just rising over Jones Beach. The sky is a mix of blue, red, purple, orange, and yellows too. It’s beautiful.

-Photo taken by Kimberly Manley

I try to reflect on how I got here, 2,000 feet altitude on a pilot lesson that
will take me up the Hudson River, back down the Hudson River, around the Statue of Liberty, up the East River, and back out to Long Island.

The answer is simple. Because I said “Why not?” 

The first time that I ever felt on top of the world, truly on top of the world, I had just reached the top of a chair lift on the side of a mountain in Bolzano, Italy. By the time I reached the top of the mountain, I couldn’t tell you if I was still in Italy or if I had crossed the border into Austria. No one spoke Italian, and everyone seemed to be speaking German. I hadn’t an idea what anyone was saying, but I didn’t care–I was simply on top of the world.

I should have known in that moment how adventurous I was willing to be–but it didn’t hit me then. In fact, it took me until my second flying lesson, on September 23. And to be more exact–it took me until the plane I was piloting was sitting parallel with midtown-Manhattan. 

“This is amazing,” I just kept saying to myself. “Amazing.” I took in the views, I managed the controls, and I reminisced on my first flight, and the year of activities that had taken place behind me–and the rest of the year that would be culminating ahead of me. As the sun continued to go down, my visions only became more clear. Tears even filled my eyes.

-Photo taken by Kimberly Manley

I don’t believe that I’ve ever taken on a challenge of such great magnitude before–one that set me off into the world to tackle my fears, overcome my personal issues, and become an all around go-getter. This flight, now, gave me the time to see that.

I look to the back of the plane, and I see my friend Kim. I ask in the microphone on the headset how she’s doing. I can hear her smile as she says she’s doing great.

And I know in that moment, we were right where we needed to be–on top of the world.

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Special Thanks

Global Aviation Corp.
http://www.globalaviationcorp.net

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

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