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Chasing Mavericks

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I wasn’t supposed to be there–at the Far Rockaways. I wasn’t supposed to be doing a hobby at all that day. If this were still just a “project” –and not what I now deem a lifestyle–I would have fulfilled my quote with shark diving at the beginning of the week. But that’s not the case. I had booked two hobbies for the week–and I couldn’t have been more excited. However, I wasn’t supposed to be double hobbying with surfing–I was supposed to be in Pennsylvania–jumping out of a plane.

Less than 24 hours before my scheduled skydive, I received a call that my trip was postponed due to low clouds. It only took me several moments to visit a surf school website in New York, text the owner, and sign up for a class. I didn’t need to replace skydiving–but I felt compelled to.

Sometimes when one cloud covers–another wave of opportunity will present itself–quite literally–and metaphorically here, of course.

I admit—while putting my wetsuit on (initially backwards), I questioned if this was a bad idea–if just signing up for a surf lesson without thinking was really something I should have done. For a couple minutes–I decided it wasn’t. And then for a couple more minutes–I still believed it wasn’t. I wasn’t sure I would even have the courage to walk into the water–but I didn’t have a choice. After a brief sand lesson, our instructor had us stepping into the frigid waters of the Atlantic with the boards in hand.

And not before long I was getting pummeled by waves.

I should preface this by saying that I am terrified of ocean water–I see going into it as an unfair heavyweight battle where the little guy is well below the size of the big guy–and the knockout comes quickly–almost instantly. When I was little, a life guard saved me from the under-toe on some family vacation which paralyzed any positive thoughts I could have about ocean water and what could happen if I went in. During a trip to Bermuda, my mind was changed briefly as the water’s beauty and delicacy seduced me. But upon returning to the East Coast waters, my fears began to loom again.

After the first wave knocked me down on Saturday, I regained my composure, briefly, and I declared the ocean the champion. And instead of raising an arm in victory–it knocked me out again.

I cleared the hair from my face, and said a myriad of things to myself, “Well this was not my best idea.” “I should probably leave the water now.” “I should be jumping out of a plane today–not getting my ass kicked by some personified piece of nature.” Yet, I continued walking out to my instructor who was positive that after a few minutes of learning to stand on the board–on the sand–I’d be able to make progress on the water.

“Hop on that board.”

“Now?!”

He laughed at me.

Silly me–he meant just get on and lay down–not HOP. And of course he meant now. I struggled to get on the board, but after a second try I was up.

“Okay, now sit.”

So like a trained pup, I sat.

“Good. Now lay on that board. Move back a few inches. What’s going to happen is I am going to tell you to paddle…then I’ll push the board forward, and yell “Up.” When I yell up, You stand.”

“Easy,” I said, thinking to myself that I was more likely bound to go face first into the sand at the ocean bottom.

“Paddle, Paddle, Paddle…..” commanded Joel.

I rushed to paddle. But I didn’t know how fast or how slow I should be paddling. What if I didn’t get enough speed? But before I had time to readjust any of this, Joel yelled, “Up,” and I attempted to push myself to my feet.

BAM

Knocked out.

I covered my head so that if the board went flying it wouldn’t truly knock me out. I stayed underwater a second more, and resurfaced  before another wave crashed into me, and another one–and another one. And then finally, I found my balance, and realized that throughout those continuous wipeouts–something had happened. I had lost my fear. I was still here. I was still breathing. And I had gotten back up on my own. Bonus point for overcoming fear.

Even still, the ocean was now ahead of me by a score of at least 6 Hits.

Ocean 6: Libs: 1

I had a major comeback to accomplish. I stayed resilient and walked back out to Joel. “How’d that feel?”

“Really freaking good!” I exclaimed. “Nothing to be scared of. I’m really happy I tried to stand.”

Joel smiled, and pushed me out again. And as my two feet landed on the board I slipped off backwards.

Bam.

Knocked out.

Back up.

And out to Joel again.

“I’m going to get this,” I said to him.

I was set on earning more points during this battle with the Atlantic.

And then, with a magnitude of paddling, a swift push from Joel, and a command of “up,” I felt myself make it to my feet. Suddenly, it was like the rest of the water, and the beach, and the sky had disappeared–and it was just me on this foam board, flying. What was only a few mississippi seconds–felt like a beautiful lifetime.

As I surfed closer to shallow waters, I splashed off the board and was congratulated with a nose and mouthful of salt  water. When I surfaced–I fist pumped into the air, and yelled “I did it.” Joel looked at me and smiled from a distance, though I’m not sure he actually heard me with the crashing white waters. But it didn’t matter. I didn’t do this for him–or for anyone else–I did this for myself.

End of day score?

Ocean: A lot  –  Libs: Smiles

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Special Thanks
New York Surf School
surflessonsnewyork101.com

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“You can’t go anywhere in neutral”

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Our introduction to motorcycle teacher looks at us: “You can’t go anywhere in neutral.” I laugh. Metaphors are everywhere.

When you get knocked down, the oldest lesson in the world is to get back up again. Since the season is just about over at Mountain Creek, where I crashed the downhill mountain bike over Labor Day, I had to find a way to get back up on a bike–even if it wasn’t the same bike. Since that little crash, I’ve been even hesitant in getting on my own bicycle. The trails at Mountain Creek are taken care of–and the roads in New York City are terrifying on a bicycle. Has anyone seen Premium Rush? or Paper Boy? I think I’ll stick to the safer bike paths–which I just haven’t had time to get to between hobbying–and more hobbying.

Even still, when it comes to bike riding, I’ve felt a bit stuck in neutral. I often look at Miss Penny Lane, the Paperback Rider (my red beauty of a bicycle that yes I have given a name), and sadly apologize for not taking her out more. Unlike a dog, she has no way of showing her sadness, but I know that those drooping handlebars are saying much more than just  “You left me in the wrong position.” They are really just saying, “You left me.”

So it was time to get back on a bike–even if it wasn’t Miss Penny Lane–the Paperback Rider. Last Saturday, I headed to the Motorcycle Safety School in Brooklyn with my Living Social Deal in hand. Our instructor introduced himself, allowed us to introduce ourselves, we watched a short video and then we shook hands with the clutch on a motorcycle.

Bad.Ass, I thought out loud. My co-riders smiled at me. This was going to rock.

We barely picked our feet off the ground, but we did go from neutral to first gear, and from one end of a parking lot to another. “This is awesome,” I laughed out loud, thinking how I had sadly written motorcycle riding and driving off during my freshman year of college when I wrote about the dangers of it for a writing class. “I could do this forever,” I added to my thoughts.

It felt good to switch gears.

The truth is–you can’t go anywhere in neutral. You have to switch gears–pick your feet off the ground–and feel the wind in your face. There’s no looking back–only ahead–at the wide open road.

I believe I see a twinkle in my eye

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Special Thanks
Motorcycle Safety School
ridemss.com

The Hobby Hoarder Zips Away: Ziplining

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3, 2, 1: Zip Awayyyyy

Fearless.

Once you do standup comedy–nothing seems scary anymore–not flying a plane, not having knives thrown around you, and DEFINITELY not ziplining from tree to tree  650 feet above the ground at speeds of 50-60 mph. No, sir. (That is of course until I do stunt jumping next week–yikes).

When the tour guide asked who wanted to go first, I didn’t even think twice. I raised my hand, volunteered my friend and myself, walked the plank so to say and was off on my way. At 650 feet in the air going that fast, let me tell you something,  you’re not thinking about falling to your doom–you’re thinking about living. You’re thinking about how free you feel–how amazing of an experience you are having, how you don’t want this 3,200 foot zip to ever end, and how your smile is going to be plastered to your face for the next few days after completing this. No, you aren’t thinking about falling–you aren’t thinking about landing–You are indeed doing nothing but living.

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New York Zipline Adventure Tours
www.ziplinenewyork.com 

The Hobby Hoarder Heads to the Sky: Pilot Lesson

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Music by: Suzy Sellout

For the first time in my life, my head was in the clouds–and I was completely okay with it.

Shaking. Palms sweating. Thoughts racing through my mind. I don’t usually get nervous, but moments before lifting off the ground in a small airplane–that I was piloting, nerves suddenly were flowing through my veins. My adrenaline pumped, and I could feel my heart beating straight out of my chest. There was no looking back now–I was about to pilot a plane…and that’s freaking awesome.

As I felt the plane leave the ground, I stayed focused on the details my co-pilot/instructor, Nicholas had told me: When it reaches 60, pull back a bit, stop, and stay still.

Golden.

Now reaching peak altitude, I took a moment to look out the window and take in the view of the beach, the neighborhood houses, and the open sky ahead. I smiled–a big wide grin like the cheshire cat. I was flying a plane–I was really flying a plane. It was a symbol of something much larger though for me. I was really making things happen. I AM making things happen–and that’s what this year is all about: No fear. No looking back. No hesitation. I was–and still am–on top of the world.

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Global Aviation Corp.
http://www.learn2flyny.com
http://www.globalaviationcorp.net
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www.missionsmallbusiness.com ,
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