This week marks the year anniversary that I tried one of my favorite hobbies of last year, piloting a plane. I wanted to celebrate that landmark with a post on the 5 reasons you should consider taking a pilot lesson:
There is absolutely nothing more freeing than using the plane to paint the canvas of the world down below.
You can break from the bounds of gravity and soar for just under $150 with the help of Groupon, LivingSocial, Zipit and other online deal sites.
There’s nothing that will beat your fear of flying than getting to sit in the cockpit and controlling the plane yourself. You’ll never say no to a vacation again.
Sometimes we only get to see our cities and our towns from within. A pilot lesson allows you to really see the veins that make the heart of your city or town beat. Where do all those rivers lead to? Where do all those train tracks end?
It’s nearly been a year since I walked myself down to Occupy Wall Street the morning after the park was raided and the media was blacked out in downtown New York City. I was horrified at the unimaginable thought that people were beat and kicked out of their home at the late hours of the night–without a voice being able to tell what was going on.
After visiting the site, I proclaimed that “no one could take your voice” in a blog post. Several days later, my good friend Laura joined me as we marched with the union across the Brooklyn Bridge to voice our beliefs. So it’s no wonder that the same person who helped me to find my voice during Occupy Wall Street–is the same person who helped me to find my voice during a singing lesson on a Tuesday night.
As a kid, I always wanted to be in the talent show–as a singer. I remember walking up to the mic in 3rd grade, and raspilly singing, “I Believe I can Fly,” pretty terribly. Somehow, I didn’t let it scar me for life–and in 4th grade I convinced a group of four girls to let me sing Celion Dion’s “My Heart Will go On” in auditions for the show. We didn’t get in. But I still sang on. I found comfort in blasting music and vocals in my car when I finally had a license–and singing at the top of my lungs.
And then I discovered karaoke in college—which of course allowed me to choose fun songs–rather than serious songs, and just have a good time. Hello ‘N Sync–Helllllo Spice Girls.
But deep down inside, I’d always wanted to be in plays–in musicals in high school, but I never had the courage to try out–because I knew my voice was no match for the last year’s lead. So I never tried out, and for good reason–I had already convinced myself that I was tone deaf–and when we’ve already preconceived beliefs–they tend to come true.
I never found my voice.
That is until, I headed over to Laura’s apartment and she took the time to teach me correct breathing–explain why I might be nasally–showed me how to find a note–did several vocal exercises–and then took me through the chorus of the popular Michael Jackson song, “Billie Jean.” By the end, I was exhausted–I could feel my vocal chords screaming for a break. But inside my heart was beating quickly. It was a good exhaustion–the kind where you feel like you’ve pushed past a barrier–and exceeded your own expectations–the kind where you’re thankful you had a friend along for the journey.
I had found my voice–at least for that night. Thanks Laura.
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.
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.
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.
I have a vague memory of being a young girl and picking up a small bow and arrow at a Girl Scout Camp. I have absolutely no recollection of shooting the weapon–or hitting a bullseye. If I would have hit a target dead on, I am sure people would still be listening to my bragging. So as far as I am concerned, and as far as my memory serves me–my attempt at archery never happened.
After recently seeing the Hunger Games, a fire ignited within me to go try out archery. Fortunately, within days of wanting to head to the range, a Google Offer went up, and my friends and I were setting up a lesson for half off the normal price. #Winning.
Dressed in a Robin Hood outfit, I stepped to the line, I loaded the arrow, I pulled back, and I released. Bulllllls-eye….Wait no, I think the correct term is Bull S***. With the exception of shooting from a close range, I had no such luck. And for all you Hunger Games geeks: This means the odds were never in my favor–But at least I looked good in the hat.