If you are in the New York City area on Saturday, come on out for a Celebration of Happiness being hosted by The Hobby Hoarder! The only requirement? Wear yellow! (even if it’s just a post it note!) There’ll be karaoke and dancing! Stout has food and drink! So come out and get happy!
Tag Archives: fun
1. You have the opportunity. Take it: It’s easy to say “I’ll try that tomorrow or the next day,” or “Maybe I’ll do that some day…” but it’s more fun and likely, more rewarding to say “I’ll try that right now.” Make SOME DAY—today.
2. You can make new friends and meet new people: If you’re looking to branch out and make new friends, trying something new or hitting up a group class is the perfect way to find people with similar interests. You never know, you may just find some of your closest friends.
3. You can overcome a fear: The only way to overcome a fear, is to face your fear. Maybe talking to strangers terrifies you—head to a group class/you’ve never taken before, and see if you can start a conversation with just one person. Or maybe the ocean kind of sort of gives you the heebie-jeebies—head out there with a boogie board and ride the waves!
4. You may find something you’re passionate about that you may not have known otherwise. If we never gave something a chance, how would we ever know if we were passionate about it or not?
5. You may surprise yourself: Maybe you didn’t fall in love with what you tried, but perhaps you exceeded any expectation you had going into whatever you tried. In my opinion, we are truly capable of anything–we just have to give ourselves the chance.
6. Trying new things is FUN. You may be stuck in a rut, so what better time than now to break your usual routine: Exercising your soul and your mind and your body are a lot like going to the gym: If you keep doing the same thing every day, life may feel mundane or you’ll start to feel stuck or stagnant. If your days are starting to feel like this, then it’s definitely time to mix up what you’re doing. Don’t keep going through the motions if you have a chance to spice it up.
7. You may start to feel yourself getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. GOOD. You may not be perfect the first time you try something new–or the second time you try the activity. Heck, you may feel fully and utterly exposed, but that discomfort, as long as you don’t let it overwhelm you, is what brings the pride when you’ve completed something you never thought you could do or you may have never even thought you would try.
8. Getting out of bed is more rewarding than snoozing all day. Woody Allen once said that showing up is 80 percent of life. You may be tired, but you’ll never know the reward if you don’t give something a shot.
9. Natural Highs. So often, we forget how good “Firsts” can feel. Remember when firsts used to be celebrated? First step—first word? First A+? Now we tend to celebrate only firsts when they seem to be HUGE life happenings: First jobs, first baby, first (only) marriage. Try something new—and each time you do—celebrate a little more. You don’t get a first time, again.
10. Why not?
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve taken the time to just do a hobby and then focus on it in a blog post. In fact it’s been over a month. So what was the Hobby Hoarder up to all of July that inspired posts about life lessons and embracing imperfection?
WEEK 1: The Hobby Hoarder kicked off July with a high energy-West African Dance Class that had live drummers! (Alvin Ailey)
WEEK 2: I kept the drum theme alive, as I banged out the second week of July with a class called PoundFIT which utilizes weighted drum sticks and: “is a full-body cardio jam session, combining light resistance with constant simulated drumming. The workout fuses cardio, Pilates, isometric movements, plyometrics and Isometric poses into a 45-minute series. Burn between 600 and 900 calories per hour, strengthen and sculpt infrequently used muscles, and drum your way to a leaner, slimmer physique – all while rocking out to your favorite music!” (PoundFit.com)
WEEK 3: On July 14, I kicked into hobby overload and did a two hobby day: First, I attended my first Improv Everywhere event (the Mp3 Experiment)
Then I attacked my first scavenger hunt which required doing ridiculous poses outside of store fronts!
WEEK 4: I balanced the high-energy month with a round of Pilates at CorePilates in Union Square where I very quickly learned just how different Pilates and yoga are from one another as my abs (wait I have those?) screaaamed through most of the workout. The result? A better feeling of strength through my core–and pain with laughter. Totally worth it.
WEEK 5: I rounded out July with my 96th hobby: an upbeat, memorable Masala Bhangra class at Crunch gym with an amazing teacher named Sarina Jain.
August is looking JUST as jam packed with some pretty amazing activities in store including a stab at the sport of Roller Derby in Bethlehem, Pa, a second skydiving experience, and the chance to ride shotgun in a race car! Trust me, I’ve already set aside time to watch Whip It and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby to mentally prepare for the aforementioned.
What are YOUR plans for August? What have you been putting off doing?
Now’s the chance to do it! Don’t wait. Go. Now.
Remember: “Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something. You got a dream-you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it. You want something. Go get it. Period.” – The Pursuit of Happyness
On Sunday night, my friend Kim and I appeared on the Live Well Network’s television series Sweet Retreats which asked us to tour three vacation homes and then to choose which one we’d want to come back and vacation in. The episode turned out amazing and you can watch it HERE.
I’ve been putting off writing about the experience for a few reasons: 1. I didn’t want to accidentally write something that might spoil the show. 2. I thought reflecting on all of it might be that much easier after seeing it all unfold. So here goes:
When Reality TV became popular (I mean REALLY popular) about four-six years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would never ever go on a reality series that may embarrass me. While the prospect of hosting my own show that spins off The Hobby Hoarder is something I would love to do, being a character on a Jersey Shore spinoff who earns the nickname “Lib-Wow” is just not on my to do list.
So when I first received an email from the casting producer of Sweet Retreats, back in March, I was hesitant. It was the second to last day of our fifty day road trip and we had just gotten done exploring the North End of Boston. After crossing a busy street, I pulled out my iPhone and checked my email. The first email that popped up had “ABC Casting” in the subject line. This—of course, prior to reading the email, excited me. As my friends continued walking briskly, I fell behind and focused on the email.
I scanned quickly through the casting producer’s email, which informed me what the show was about, what I would be required to do, and when the show would take place. However, for some reason, my eyes and my mind ignored all of that and only several key words stood out to me:
“Vacation Homes.” “TV.” “Hamptons.”
Somehow I managed to pair those three key words to equal: “Did I just get asked to participate in the Long Island version of the television series Jersey Shore? The Hamptons?”
I caught up to my friends and told them about the email. They were excited. Me on the other hand, I was slowly growing more and more anxious about saying yes.
“Maybe I should re-read the email…and perhaps, I should go to the link they sent as well…to check out the show??”
As I slowed down and re-read the email, as well as checked out the link, I realized that I had missed all the really important information – the information that would actually intrigue me to want to take part in the show. The casting producer detailed that participants are asked to tour three vacation houses and then choose which one he or she would like to return to and vacation in.
This wasn’t even fine print. She had literally laid it all out for me. I had let my excitement get the better of me. Let’s be honest, I am pretty sure I have something called early on-set excitement–which means that when something out of the ordinary happens, my insides begin going bizerk. I lose my memory momentarily, and just start going through a laundry list of irrational thoughts and questions in my head–I can’t be alone in this, right? I don’t know if early-on set excitement is actually a diagnosis, but I’d like to add it to WebMD.
I thought to myself, “Oh–That’s like house hunters.” Then I re-examined the email one more time. The casting producer went as far as to say, “It’s kind of like house hunters.”
My nerves settled. “I can definitely do that.”
So I emailed back the casting producer and told her I was in. Several days later, the casting producer and I had a quick phone conversation. She told me that the location had changed—and that instead of the Hamptons, I would be visiting the Upper Hudson Valley. She also mentioned that I could bring a friend along to join me. A friend, I thought. Well that’s not fair. I just traveled the country with both David and Kim. I can’t invite just ONE of them. These are my travel buddies, my companions—my family. But I also know from my work experience that a two person cast is much easier on a field producer than a three person cast—and well a four person cast, for a two camera shoot can be, for lack of a better term, hell. I knew I’d have to make a decision—even if I didn’t want to.
Again, my anxiety started to flow. “How do I choose just one person?”
I gave it some time to settle. David was being offered several gigs on NYC based fiction television shows—ones that started before the show would be shooting, so I began to factor that in.
Then I thought, “Well I could just invite someone unrelated to them…” And then I thought, “but I couldn’t picture doing any travel without them at this point.”
A few minutes later, I received a follow up email from the casting producer. They suggested making it a girls weekend.
Phew. Thankfully they made my choice for me.
I asked Kim if she’d join me. She tentatively said yes before confirming a 100 percent yes just a week later. It was set. Kim and I would be traveling to the Upper Hudson Valley for a reality vacation/rental home series on May 20-May 24.
When May 20 hit, Kim and I met in mid-town Manhattan, rolled and carried our luggage to the rental car shop and made our way to the beautiful Hudson Valley—which was comprised of brilliant views of the Taconics and the Berkshires, just east of the New York/Massachusetts border.
The weather forecast called for rain the entire week, but as Kim and I drove into our hotel’s parking lot, the sun was completely shining. Before getting comfortable, we decided to go for a hike.
It wasn’t too far off from our road trip routine: park the car—then go on an adventure. It felt as though we were getting our groove back.
As I breathed in the fresh air, I felt the nerves I had about the days ahead begin to calm. “I freaking love adventures—and this is definitely an adventure,” I thought to myself.
Over the next several days, we visited three amazing homes:
A contemporary farmhouse
A Tuscan-inspired gem
A barn converted into a vacation home @ the Kinderhook FarmStay
Each time we rolled up to a different house, I thought to myself, “Is this real life? Do we really get to tour these houses on national TV—these beautiful, stunning homes?”
We also got to meet an incredible crew of people including our field producer Maureen, two camera men Brian and Eric, a sound man, Zach, a PA Trudy, and last but certainly not least the host of television series, Rene Syler. Part of me was eager to tour the houses, but another part of me was excited to meet the production team. Since I work in TV, I am always interested in meeting people who are as passionate about the field as I am. The crew did an amazing job in making sure the shoot ran smoothly (despite threatening thunderstorms each day), and in making sure we continued to feel comfortable throughout the week. Kudos to them.
In regards to the houses, there were pluses and minuses to each of the homes—but something I adored about each was the remoteness. As a New Yorker, it’s very rare to experience silence. In the past, I would have told you that my favorite places to visit are big cities. But the road trip reminded me how nice space is—how nice the escape can be—and how nice it is to just sit down and hear nothing but nature—or in the most remote of locations—just your own heart beat. Each of these places offered a significant mix of the sounds of nature and silence.
(Spoiler alert). In the end, Kim and I both agreed that the barn converted into a vacation home at the Kinderhook FarmStay was the perfect pick for us. To be honest, I knew it before we even walked inside. I was absolutely in love with everything I saw as we pulled up. I even couldn’t help but to exclaim, “Holy cow!–No really, holy cow…there’s cows and sheep and chickens–OH MY-this is really freaking awesome.”
During our tour, we learned that the Kinderhook FarmStay offers 1200 acres of land, an assortment of activities to do right outside the front door, and screen doors/windows that face east (Meaning we could just wake up and watch the sunrise from our bedrooms). Additionally the farm is novel and unique in that it has no interior walls through the three main rooms, yet still manages to offer the privacy you may be looking for when on vacation with the help of drop down curtains. In the show, I went as far as to say I could probably write a whole book about the barn experience. That wasn’t an exaggeration—I definitely could.
This Kinderhook FarmStay isn’t a place to just stay so you can experience the existing towns surrounding it—the Kinderhook FarmStay is itself a destination to experience.
It’s been over a month since we shot our episode of Sweet Retreats, and I can’t help but to think about the farm, Luci the cow that I had the opportunity to milk, the crew that I had the chance to meet and work with, and the time that I got to spend with one of my best friends whom I now consider family (I mean come on, if you survive a fifty day road trip with someone AND a reality show—they’ve got to be family)! What an incredible opportunity—an incredible memory. And to think–What if I had said no?
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 dancing, hip-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.”
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 😉
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.
Photo Courtesy Pon De FLO
In New York City—it’s not every day that a stranger tells you that they have faith in you—or that they believe in you—or that they even want to sit down and chat with you—even for a few moments. I can attest to this—because I often try to sit down and talk to strangers.
So when all of this happened–on a Friday night in Union Square, you can imagine my surprise, and my joy over it.
The truth is, I wasn’t expecting to sit across from a man in the middle of the park. I had another hobby planned for the week, but upon discovering that the original hobby wasn’t going to happen, I decided to try something more relaxed, novel, and New Yorky—so I headed to the park, found a chess player who didn’t have an opponent, and sat down.
“Can we play?” I asked.
He rolled his eyes at me. “I guess.”
I wondered why he was so upset. I clearly hadn’t done anything wrong yet—except appear to be a novice who didn’t know the difference between a knight and…well a horse….
I sat quietly for another moment, hoping he wouldn’t ask me to leave.
“I’ve been waiting here for an HOUR for my friend. An HOUR. I HATE waiting,” he said as a distraught look overcame his eyes.
“I hate waiting too. It means people don’t value other people’s time. I’m sorry that happened to you.”
He rolled his eyes again.
“I mean it,” I said. “Waiting sucks.”
He smiled. “Waiting does suck.”
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Good. David, my name’s Libby. Nice to meet you,” I smiled and held out my hand. He shook it.
“How much is this lesson going to cost you?” He went on.
I smiled. “I’m not sure, but there’s an ATM over there…and”
“Now we’re talking.”
And then before I knew it, he was teaching me the first eight moves to make on a chessboard. He was lifting pawns…sliding knights…building a moat—I mean…setting up opposition. Let’s just say he was doing his thing.
“This is how I teach my 8 year old son. You got it? Good. Now show me the first 8 moves you can make on a board.”
I went to move a piece.
“No,” he sternly objected. “Not right.”
Reminder to self—don’t pick an intellectual hobby when you’re looking for something calm.
I tried again.
“Good. You’re a quick learner.”
Now try another move…
“Can I tell you something?” I stuttered.
“I am playing chess tonight because I am doing this project, where I try one new thing a week—for the entire year…”
“Well then let me ask you something,” He said, shifting the attention, and smiling. He lowered the volume of his voice.
“Have you ever slept with a black man before,” He began to laugh hysterically—as did I, before responding—“Not this week.”
We laughed together and I told him he should try stand-up.
“Naw…not for me.”
“Well then come to a show sometime,” I responded, as I told him that I do stand up.
“You do stand-up” he said. And we continued to converse while I slowly (kind of) learned some new tools for the next time I sat down in a chess match.
And just as we were finishing our lesson, one of his friends came along.
“Man—meet Libby—she’s a comedian. She’s going to be famous one day. I am going to see her on Comedy Central…she’s funny. She’s going to be a star. People aren’t going to believe me when I say I know her.”
I don’t know what made him say this—I don’t know what energy was in the air—but I do know it made me smile—a big smile. He didn’t even know me—and he believed in me.
Let’s just say—he didn’t check a mate that night with his joke—but he did indeed open my eyes—and my heart.
The truth is, when a stranger has faith in you—after only moments of knowing you—it is an incredible feeling—and it makes you wonder how you’ve ever doubted yourself.
Disclaimer: Title of this blog post is based on song “Bruises” by Train.
Ski mountains have always been a bit terrifying for me. The first time I tried to go down something other than the bunny hill, in 6th grade, I fell so hard that my skis popped off. I decided that this was the moment that instead of going down the hill–I’d walk back up it and straight into the lodge. After a dinner full of persuasion, my best friend had me back out on the mountain in no time.
A year later, my brother broke his arm and leg skiing.
And the following year, I took a tumble down a black diamond that had all my co-skiiers questioning how I’d ever survived the fall without breaking my neck. I laughed and said, “Let’s do it again.”
Even still, ski mountains are kryptonite to me. Smiling, I can take on any hill, but inside all my organs are twisting.
When I signed up for downhill mountain biking–I really didn’t know what I was getting in to. A Twitter follower had suggested it–and had suggested the perfect place as well. I reached out to Mountain Creek Bike Park and they were ecstatic about having me come out for a trial lesson and run on the mountain.
When I told my friend what I’d be doing, his response was: “Oh that’s awesome! You know it’s like a ski mountain right?!”
“Like a bunny hill though, right?”
“No–a ski slope.”
Oh…Right…I’ll be fine.
As I approached Mountain Creek Park on Sunday afternoon, I could feel myself bubbling with both anxiety and excitement.
I suited up, met my instructor Jon–and headed outside for a quick tutorial on the basics. Following our flat ground lesson, Jon took me to the lift–and said it was time to head up to the top of the mountain. Again, my insides bubbled. I remained calm and continued to talk to Jon along our ride.
We pulled our bikes off the lift-hopped on and headed toward the green hill. As we approached, I smiled and said to myself “Libs, you got this.” And then we were off. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought to myself. After a few turns, a couple of stops, some high fives, and a short glance at a double – black diamond- that Jon has taken a ride down before–we took off for our next couple turns.
“Oh god. Oh Jesus. Oh God. Oh Jesus” (that was the most the holy man had heard from me in a long time). With each bump, my “oh Gods” became more frequent. As I came around a turn I began to lose control, my feet came off the pedals, and I came off the side of the bike as it fell to the ground. ‘Deep breath,’ I thought to myself as Jon asked me “what happened?”
“I hit the breaks too hard and I panicked.” That was the easy answer. But within moments, I was back on the bike, ready to take on the next challenging turns…I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.
And then it hit me–no not a lightning bolt–but instead my own bike.
As I went over a rocky area, I lost control of the bike, and took a turn persay–without taking a turn, sending me off track. As I tried to stop myself I felt my butt fall behind the seat–and as the breaks eventually caught, I felt the bike seat jam directly back into my groin muscle and–babymaker–aka pelvic bone. Pain immediately swelled over the lower half of my body. Jon came over and helped me to get out of this unpleasant situation….and I attempted to walk it off.
Realizing I couldn’t really lift my leg–I began to tear behind my helmet. “Just give me a moment. I got this…” But I didn’t. The pain didn’t subside, and the movement in my leg, due to the crushed muscle, was limited–My bike ride was over.
Jon understood. But my disappointment level was high. I do a really good job of laughing and smiling about things–even when I am experiencing multiple levels of pain-and frustration–but really I just wanted to curl up in a ball. The thought of physically not being able to get back up was just as painful as the bruised pelvic bone I’d have for the rest of the day.
Even still, there is a lesson in this. We’re not invincible–I’m not invincible. And it’s these falls–and these bruises that teach us about our pain tolerance–both mentally–and physically. It’s these falls and these bruises that teach us about the risk–in taking risks. And most of all, it’s these fells and bruises that give us something to go back and conquer later. This won’t be my last time at Mountain Creek Bike Park. I still have unfinished business to attend to.
What the professionals look like doing it: