Tag Archives: Libs Segal

Swimming with Sharks

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“How much will it hurt if someone gets bitten by one of these sharks?” I ask one of our shark experts.

“It would just feel like a lot of pressure–it wouldn’t be “painful” really. But people have to worry for infection after getting bitten by a shark.”

“How likely is it that one of us will get bitten?”

“Not likely.”

I continue quizzing our instructors for a bit, with a smile on my face. Part of me is joking around, and the other part of me is serious. I mean–I am about to jump into a tank full of sharks!

But the truth is–I am not scared at all. A lot of people ask me how I feel before I dive into the more extreme activities–and honestly–I feel fine. It’s the more intimate–1 on 1’s that get me.

To me, jumping out of a plane (as I am doing this coming weekend–pending hurricane Sandy doesn’t destroy my plans), or swimming with sharks–is much easier than sitting down–or standing with a good friend and taking a lesson. I am much more intimidated by the talent driven hobbies than I am by the thrill seeking ones. At first this may seem surprising, but because the number one fear in the world–over dying–is public speaking, I get it.

As humans, we want to be accepted, we don’t want to be judged poorly, and we want to succeed at everything we try–I know I do. But if there’s anything this project has taught me–it’s that the only person judging us most times–is oneself.

At this current moment, with sharks swimming below me–I really just can’t wait to jump in.

I pull on my wetsuit, throw on my snorkel, and wait for my cue to duck underwater and take a look. When I finally do, I am amazed. I can see sharks swimming in the distance. And then I spot one swimming our way. He looks like he’s smiling. I laugh to myself. The laughter causes a small leak in my mouth piece, so I surface momentarily–causing me to laugh at myself again. I readjust and reenter the water. A fish flashes across my face–and then another one. And then from the side I see a shark with a nose shaped like a saw swimming toward our way. He’s waving his serrated edges back and forth as if he knows food is near. Our instructors pull us back until the shark is out of harm’s way.

We go back below. A shark comes toward me, and I imagine speaking to it.

“Hello Mr. Shark.” I quote Little Red Riding Hood, “How big your teeth are, Mr. Shark”

“All the better to eat you with, my dear.”

I laugh to myself, this time keeping my mouth on my snorkel. “Good thing sharks can’t really talk–and good thing this isn’t the rising action in a fairytale.”

But it is–it’s the rising action in my project–or what we should just refer to as my life.

I sit back in the shark tank and continue to take in the view. I ask myself how I got here–in a tank full of sharks.

“Easily,” I answer. “All I had to do was say yes.”

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Camden Aquarium
1 Riverside Drive
Camden, New Jersey

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Checkmate

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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.

 “David.”

 “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.

 “Yes…”

 “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.

“Okay…”

 “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.

Checkmate.

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

Bruises, Blood, & Smiles – Learning to Get Back Up: Skateboarding

 

Falling can be terrifying. It can be accelerating. It can be painful. It can lead to fear. It can lead to injury. And it can lead to pride.

On the evening that I headed out to Williamsburg to take a skateboarding lesson with my good friend Michael Bonner,a sense of pride overwhelmed me. As the skateboard began to slip out from underneath my feet, I felt my arms flare, and then my body hit the ground–hard. With little hesitation, I got back up, threw on a helmet, and hopped back on the board. Moments later, the board came out from underneath me again–and I went kaboom. Still–I got back up–and tried it again.

Life is all about taking the hits–getting a little bruised here and there, and then coming back–leaving the past behind and standing on two feet. I hate to be cliche–but if you fall off the horse–then get right back on it. And that’s exactly what I did–with bruises, blood–and smiles.

 

 

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Special Thanks
Michael Bonner
takebacksproductions.tumblr.com

Greg Payton
www.c3stories.com

An Update, a Thank You, & a Challenge

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Ciao readers, followers, acquaintances, strangers, and stumble-uponers:

Thank you. Thank you for every pass-by, every read, every click, every motivating comment. Thank you for supporting me. I am happy to announce that on July 24th, I hit the halfway mark of my yearlong quest to become a professional amateur and completed my 26th NEW hobby (activity)—two weeks ahead of schedule. I guess you could say I’ve been on a Hobby High!

In New York City, it is extremely difficult to find a significant other who will stick around for much more than one or two dates—and with each of these significant others we learn something new about ourselves. On February 17, I began my one year love fest with activities—and what I’ve found now, one half of the way through the year, is that I am much more content “getting around” than I ever was standing still.

Since starting the Hobby Hoarder project, I have become more confident, more ambitious, and more versatile as a blogger, vlogger, writer, and speaker. In taking on so much, I have actually become even more focused than I ever was. I have become less judgmental of myself. I have stopped using the word can’t. I have developed new friendships with people who now join me on my adventures, want to document them, or really just want to hang out on the weekends. I have found that I am more open and willing to activities that I never imagined myself trying–like Jedi Light Saber training–or samurai sword fighting–or stunt jumping–or break-dancing—or pole dancing.  And for the first time since picking up a field hockey stick in 8th grade, I have felt passionate about something–and that’s what living life is all about–passion.  Most important, I’ve learned that my adventure is much bigger than ME just trying to do something new – it’s about inspiring others to do something new too.

And honestly, you’d be amazed at how much you can do when you try something new every week. You really become incapable–of being incapable.

This year has taught me, thus far, that time is short but full of opportunity. So often, in the past, I found myself whispering “I want to do “that” some day” about a whole lot of “thats” and then never doing any of them. Now I am.

Additionally, this year, so far, has been about human interaction–meeting new people each week–hearing stories–spreading their stories–and building new relationships. I have found many times that the hobbies I am trying–are made that much more enjoyable because of the people I am meeting and spending time with.

In the past I found myself following a routine of waking up, working out, going to work, eating, and going to bed. And then by the time the weekend would roll around–I didn’t want to do anything–but sit–and then complain about how I accomplished nothing all weekend. I don’t think I am the only one who’s done this–repeatedly. And who the heck decided that work days should be 9 to 5 anyway? Why is it that living has become such a rare hobby in itself?

Here’s where I call on you:

 If you have a hobby—have tried something new—or are dying to do a new activity, reach out to me—send me a video—a blog post—photos—whatever, and I’ll feature YOU on the site. I want to know what OTHERS are doing. THAT’S what this is all about—pushing ourselves to try new things, take risks, and jump without knowing where we will land.

I challenge you to start your own quest–and try something new: Remember- we can fly anytime we want, because life’s accidental blessings will be there to catch us. Nothing like a bit of sweet serendipity.

Ciao for now,

Libs

The Hobby Hoarder

The Hobby Hoarder Goes Kaboom…I mean…Does Stand Up…Paddle Boarding

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Looking back at the video–I now have a really thorough understanding of why it was so difficult for me. How terrible can someone’s form be? Look at me all hunched over–like I am ready fall flat on my face–which I do. But what do you do when you fall down? You get back up–and that’s exactly what I did. And after managing to get back up on my feet, I took in the view, paddled against and with the current, and smiled brightly. For once, the water felt like home.

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Manhattan Kayak Company
Pier 66
http://www.manhattankayak.com

The Hobby Hoarder Takes a Lesson in BeatBoxing

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Bow-Chicka-Wow-Wow

If there’s anything I love about New York City, it’s the spontaneity of life. You can be walking down 5th Avenue and have an urge to play chess, go stunt jumping, or walk the Brooklyn Bridge–and then be able to do ALL OF IT in one day. So it doesn’t surprise me that when I woke up last week and thought to myself, “All I want to do is beatbox this week,” that I was able to make it happen–with the help of Grey Matter BBox.

What a lot of people don’t know is that each time I meet someone new for these hobbies–activities–I get a little bit nervous. It’s hard to gauge through an email, a tweet, or an information box on a website how welcoming people are going to be to an entire lesson being shot on video–or how each person will be as a teacher. I’ve been very fortunate so far that most of the instructors or teachers for each hobby have been totally into the project and willing to be a part of it. But, this time, especially, Grey Matter was by far one of the most laid back, kindest, and most generous teachers I have had over these last six months. And he taught Justin Bieber how to beatbox–that’s pretty sweet…

And like I said–there’s nothing I enjoy more than the spontaneity of New York City. Check out Grey Matter as he performs across NYC with other talented New Yorkers:

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Grey Matter

@GreyMatterBBox

Facebook.com/GreyMatterBBoxNYC

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