Tag Archives: inspiration

Never Have I Ever (Until Now): The Prologue

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Five years ago, this last week, I set off on a journey that I never anticipated would change my life in such an incredible way. The goal was to try 52 hobbies in 52 weeks. At the onset, I had intended to write a book compiling the experiences and sharing them. I wasn’t sure at the time if the book would be a quirky coffee-table accessory or if something else might evolve. As it turns out, I never published the book, but I did write most of it. Over time, I’ve gone back to it, time-and-time again. With the five year anniversary of the project, I’ve decided that it’s time to start sharing it: One chapter at a time.

Never Have I Ever (Until Now) – The Prologue

Find your passion and run with it. Don’t look back. Thank the people who call you crazy–anyone who’s crazy enough to pursue their dreams is strong enough to achieve them too.

An Intro

“You really need to quit something,” My supervisor tells me as she walks by my office door. “You’re taking on too much.”

My supervisor is right–I’m taking on a lot.

It’s January of 2012. I’m an associate television producer for the City of New York who has recently, in her free time, started writing and performing stand up comedy, perfecting her drawing skills, training for her second half-marathon, and doing photography with a digital SLR. And now I am signing myself up for an acting workshop.

My day planner is filling up faster than a doctor’s office during flu season.

My mom would tell you that I was just as active as a kid as I am when my supervisor tells me that I need to quit something. When I was younger, I played field hockey, baseball, soccer, basketball, and softball. I’d attempted the clarinet, I’d tip-toed through a ballet class, I’d sailed in a lake, I’d canoed across a pond, and I kayaked down a river. My parents would rush me from one athletic practice to another; from one gym and on to the next. I was relentless. I never stopped.

But then I grew up, and my willingness to try new things suddenly came to a halt. For several years, I was in a funk. I had fallen into depression and I had forgotten how to live life fully and completely. I would say that I wanted to try something and then I’d never try it. I’d fear failure or judgment from my peers. And instead, I’d mope on my couch about how I’d never be good at anything. I’d lost my sense of wonder. I had lost my yearning for learning new things. I had lost my smile, my laughter, my sense of joy. I had concerned myself so much with destinations that I had forgotten that what really mattered was the journey.

With the new activities, the stand up comedy, the drawing, the photography, and the acting, I felt that I was finally opening myself up to a life that I had been letting slip to the way side. And now, suddenly, I felt as though the progress I was making with the activities was being threatened as my supervisor told me that I needed to quit something.

I didn’t want to quit anything. I didn’t want to limit my life to going to work, coming home, cooking (or getting take out) and going to sleep. I didn’t want to experience living solely from the couch in my artist loft.

So instead of heeding my supervisor’s advice, in February of 2012, I set out on a yearlong quest in the hope of navigating my way to a life that extended beyond my 9-5 job and beyond the sadness I had sulked in for years. I decided that in opposition to quitting anything, I instead wanted to try one new activity or hobby each week for an entire year.

I started to brainstorm names for the quest and came up with “The Hobby Hoarder.” I used my lunch to draw logos on blank pieces of paper and to write lists of hobbies or activities that I could try that I had never tried before. I hadn’t even started the project and I was beaming with excitement.

Over the next couple of weeks, I continued to brainstorm on the year, and began telling people what I was going to do. As I sat down to coffee with a friend, she said, “So you are going to live like you are dying.”

My eyes brightened. “No. I’m going to live like I am living!”

The truth is that I don’t believe we should live as if we are dying. Instead, I think we should live each day as though it’s one of our firsts: full of excitement and ambition, full of curiosity, full of fear, full of imagination, and full of wonder, full of an openness toward whatever comes our way—that’s right—we should live each day like it’s our first.

For so long, I had forgotten what firsts felt like. When we are young, our firsts are celebrated with smiles and applause and sometimes balloons. First step. First word. First hit in tee-ball. First A+. But somewhere between the time we share our first kiss and the time we hit our twenties, we lose our thirst for the sensation we feel when we experience something for the first time. Firsts can make us realize what we are passionate about: Maybe you’ve never taken a dance class before but when you do you figure out that you’re meant to be the next Beyonce. Maybe you’ve never swung from a trapeze before, but that first time you do, you realize you’re meant to be in the circus. Or maybe you’ve never piloted a plane before, but then you do and you discover that you were always meant to fly.

Firsts can make life worth living. But when we hit a certain age, it’s almost as if we forget to let ourselves experience those firsts. We get caught in “Busy traps” (NyTimes) and “life takes over.” But that’s not true. Life doesn’t take over: Work takes over—financial restraints take over. Think about the last time someone asked you to do something and you said you couldn’t. What was your excuse? If you’re without children was it work? Was it money? Life clearly does not take over. If anything, life takes a backseat ride.

Too many times, we get so caught up in our daily routines and our jobs that the only thing we concern ourselves with when we get home is kicking back.

But that’s not how life’s supposed to be—not at all. Life is supposed to be enjoyable. Life is supposed to be full of challenges—and then exceeding our expectations of those challenges. Life is supposed to be full of fear and overcoming that fear. It is supposed to be about saying I’d love to do that and then actually doing it. Surprisingly life is supposed to be about living.

I hope that before you continue reading this book, you’ll step away. You’ll grab a pen and a paper—and you’ll start writing down everything you want to try this year—that you’ll make your own quest—to live.

And if you haven’t stepped away yet, and have disobeyed my only wish, then welcome! Strap on your seat belts, make sure your seats are in their upright position, understand that the only emergency exit is to live your own life—and that it’s now time to take flight. Literally.

All Aboard.

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“What are you waiting for?”

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Two years ago, I sat in front of my computer enthralled in a TED Talk by Matt Cutts on “trying something new for 30 days.”

During the talk, he discussed how he rode his bike to work for thirty days in a row. He then challenged his audience to find their own 30 day challenge, something that was realistic and achievable.

He posed the question, during the challenge, “What are you waiting for?”

I pondered his question. And also asked myself one more question, “What can I do for thirty days?”

I shrugged my shoulders. Then I spotted a blank piece of paper with a pencil sitting on top of it. And then I drew a picture. In that moment, I committed to a 30-day challenge where I intended (and did!) draw one new picture each day for thirty days.

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 If I said that this TED Talk didn’t have something to do with The Hobby Hoarder Quest I’d set out on only five months after watching Cutts speak for the first time, I’d be lying.

This TED Talk re-opened my eyes to the possibility of changing my life through setting my own realistic and achievable goals. For a while, I had stopped doing that—had stopped trying new things—had stopped feeling motivated—had stopped challenging myself.

 Over the years, I have accumulated a TED Talk collection in my web browser history that I continually go back to when I’m searching for a spark of inspiration.

If you aren’t sure what TED is—it’s a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. TED believes “passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimate the world.” So they’ve “Built a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.” (Ted.com)

Today, I thought I’d share ten of my favorite inspiring TED Talks in hopes you’ll feel a spark of inspiration as well.

All of the talks listed below and more can be found at www.ted.com

What are you waiting for? Starting watching! (Oh and please, if you have a favorite TED Talk—share it in the comments—I’m always curious to see what other people are watching J  )

1. Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days

 “So here’s my question to you: What are you waiting for? I guarantee you the next 30 days are going to pass whether you like it or not, so why not think about something you have always wanted to try and give it a shot for the next 30 days.”

 2. Aimee Mullins: The Opportunity for Adversity –

“There is adversity and challenge in life, and it’s all very real and relative to every single person, but the question isn’t whether or not you’re going to meet adversity, but how you’re going to meet it.”

 

 3. Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnarability

“We must believe we are enough: “Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”


4. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

“Aren’t you afraid you’re never going to be able to top that? Aren’t you afraid you’re going to keep writing for your whole life and you’re never again going to create a book that anybody in the world cares about at all, ever again?”

5. Ric Elias: The 3 Things I learned While My Plane Crashed”

“Brace for impact. // I challenge you guys that are flying today, imagine the same thing happens on your plane — and please don’t — but imagine, and how would you change? What would you get done that you’re waiting to get done because you think you’ll be here forever?”

6. Richard St. John: Success is a Continuous Journey “When we stop trying—we fail”

“I learned that success isn’t a one-way street. It doesn’t look like this; it really looks more like this. It’s a continuous journey. And if we want to avoid “success-to-failure-syndrome,” we just keep following these eight principles, because that is not only how we achieve success, it’s how we sustain it. So here is to your continued success.”

 7.  Ron Gutman: The Hidden Power of Smiling

“The good news is that we’re actually born smiling. // Smiling is one of the most basic, biologically-uniform expressions of all humans.”

8. Larry Smith: Why You Will Fail to have a Great Career

“You’re afraid to pursue your passion. You’re afraid to look ridiculous. You’re afraid to try. You’re afraid you may fail. Great friend, great spouse, great parent, great career. Is that not a package? Is that not who you are? How can you be one without the other? But you’re afraid.

And that’s why you’re not going to have a great career, unless — unless, that most evocative of all English words — unless. But the unless word is also attached to that other, most terrifying phrase, “If only I had … ” “If only I had … ” If you ever have that thought ricocheting in your brain, it will hurt a lot.

So, those are the many reasons why you are going to fail to have a great career, unless … unless.”

 
9. Caroline Casey: Looking Past Limits

Do you know how much of us all pretend to be somebody we’re not? And you know what, when you really believe in yourself and everything about you, it’s extraordinary what happens // We are extraordinary, different, wonderful people.”

 10. Steve Jobs: How to Live Before You Die

I’m cheating here—cause it’s not technically a TED Talk, but the first time I ever saw it—was when I was carusing the TED website—so I’m counting it:

 “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever–because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”

Haiku Mania

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Credit: Sarah Steenland

After taking part in the Guerilla Haiku Movement, I put out a challenge to HH readers, Facebook friends, Twitter followers and the universe to write and share haiku! And while I mentioned I’d pick and post the top 5, it was just too hard. Check out all these awesome haiku I received! And if you feel inspired (and you will)– share your own!

Splish Splash Splush Whoosh Wash
Raining water this way comes
Drip Drop Pitter Pat
-Connor Tenant

Whenever I’m sad, 
I think of avocados. 
Joy comes back to me.
-Rachel Kerry

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-Nina Cowley

Rises over fields
Light washes my eyes and skin
Sun warms and welcomes
-Julia Ember Ricciardi

Mother of two girls
Early mornings, up at night
Smiles make it worthwhile
-Jessica Ruhle

Morning coffee mouth
sends the sun into orbit,
sugar-paints the moon.
-Laura Fisher

A cat a day keeps
hearts renewing themselves and
all hair ties missing.
-Laura Fisher

Muay Thai early morn
Punch and kick and sweat it out
Become sexy hot
-Julia Menn

Orwells prying eye-
(now) big brother left unchecked
little brother sees
-John Hayden Brady

I Swim bike and run
70 miles is my threesome
I race for boston!
-Grant Ryan

“Es o si que es”
It is what it is, mom says 
“Es o si que es”
-Kimberly Manley 

To travel is to
exchange Home for another
not of your making.
-R.G.M

I munch at the leaves
From the sweet boughs (the) gums provide
What is that below!

SarahSteenland.jpg-largeCHAINSAW?!
-Haiku and Photo Credit: Sarah Steenland

Everything is green–
even the rain in the trees.
It’s June, the best month
-Carolyn SegalGood is good to share
Spreading sunshine brings more sun
Let’s do it today
-Shannon Murray Martinforgot

Haiku rules
asked google for the answer
thank you internet
-Molly McGaughey

Smiling is more fun
than frowning about the mud
so play in the rain
-Molly McGaughey

I like this a lot
to write is to worry not
keyboards sing to me
-Molly McGaughey90 Days of Joy
Spreading happiness to all
Changing lives for good
-Rebecca Kopec

Fear, don’t hold me back
You are a weighted falsehood.
Look what I can do.
-Melissa Caminecci

Do I want too much?
Inside, dim fluorescent lights 
The sun’s warmth beckons
-Melissa Caminecci

Lying on the couch
Looking forward to summer
I drift off to sleep
-Alana

You are my hero
I’m jealous of your awesome
So glad I met you
Emelie Samuelson

Go to spin class now
You’ll be happy that you did
Ice cream for dinner
-Kimberley Cameron

Fear and doubt are myths
Cling fast to inspiration
Faith writes its own song
-Carrie-Rachel Dean

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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.

Picture 33

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Photos Courtesy of Elyse Mueller
http://www.elysemueller.com

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BKLYN BEAST
bklynbeast.com

The Hobby Hoarder Interviews Herself

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I thought compiling two of the same interviews in two different styles would be fun–so here goes. Pick your poison:

And style 2:

During the second week of January, I came up with the quest to become a professional amateur. On February 17th, I did the first hobby. Now four months later, I conduct a special edition interview–with myself. 1/3 of the way there…Not too shabby.

If there’s anything people should get from this interview, it’s that we all should stop just sitting around. We all should just get out there and do something–whether it’s finger painting, unicycle riding, or piloting a plane–we need to take advantage of everything this world has to offer. You never know–you may just find something you are extremely passionate about, and there’s no harm in that.

The Hobby Hoarder – Guest Edition: Rena Unger

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DISCLAIMER: As someone who is on a quest to become the professional amateur, by completing 52 hobbies in 52 weeks, I believe that it is absolutely beautiful to watch and support other people try new things and or complete their own challenges. Every now and then I will post videos and or stories from other amazing individuals who are taking advantage of all that life has to offer (cue cheesy music, and my big proud grin). Please contact me with your stories/ and or your hobbies @ thehobbyhoarder@gmail.com or tweet me @LibbySegal.

Rena Unger Completes 100 Bikram Yoga Classes in Less than 100 Days: That’s kind of a big deal!

“Stretch more, Libby.” I can hear the echos of my field hockey trainers lecturing me on my lack of flexibility. Generally, when I am asked to stretch, I whine like a little girl. To use a throwback cliche–my muscles are tighter than spandex! This might explain why I have always been so intimidated by yoga classes. I’ve always felt like Gumby’s horse–rather than Gumby! But when I headed to Bikram Yoga East Harlem to support my good friend Rena Unger, as she completed her 100th Bikram class in less than 100 days, I was completely in awe of the workout–In fact, within moments, I sweated myself into a puddle  Hot yoga is clearly no easy task, and I admire anyone who has had the courage to flex themselves into a pretzel in that type of heat–let alone 100 times in less than 100 days. What a challenge–what an accomplishment.

And the truth is life should be about challenging yourself, aspiring to do BIG things, and inspiring others. On June 3, Rena did all 3. And I feel very fortunate to have been included on her journey. Here’s to 100 more.

Cheers

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Bikram Yoga East Harlem
4 East 116th Street

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