Tag Archives: Life lessons

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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Finding Middle Ground: Bridging the Gap Between Capable and Breakable

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“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you laugh like that before, Libby. I love it,” David smiles, and looks at me.

It’s early in our road trip. We are somewhere between North Carolina and Louisiana–Kim is driving. David is riding shotgun, and I’m perched up in the backseat, staring out the window—and laughing—no, more precisely, I am giggling. A hearty giggle—the kind where you’ve put aside all of your defenses, your guard is completely down, and you’re completely vulnerable.

I’m happy.

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It’s the first time I remember being this happy in a long time. It’s also the last week of the initial hobby year; the last week of the “giant quest” I had set out to quote, unquote, find myself. The road trip was initially meant to mark the end of The Hobby Hoarder, a kind of non-chalant pat on my own back for the success of making it through the year. What I found was that it actually marked a new beginning; a newfound confidence, a newfound “place” in this world; a newfound feeling of gratification; a newfound belief in the good in this world; a newfound love for life—and for myself.

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It’s been nearly two years since the road trip—and nearly three since I began “The Hobby Hoarder.” In a way, it feels like it’s been a lifetime.

Rachael, an acting teacher and friend of mine, once told me she loves growing up, adding years; because it adds experiences. She also told me she’s had many lives. Three years ago, when she first told me this, I didn’t understand.

But I’m now starting to.

After the initial hobby year, I decided I wasn’t ready to “land” quite yet—or quit the challenges. Besides, now for me, it was all a lifestyle–so when I returned from the road trip, I continued hobbying and trying new things.

Then one day, I stopped. The videos stopped. The blog posts stopped, and the writing stopped. I called it a “hobby hiatus,” a short break. What I refused to call it was, putting the hobby hoarder to rest.

It was April of this past year. I had just gotten doored on my bike. I was in shock and convinced myself I was ok. I went to dance class, and the next day I couldn’t move my neck. Two weeks later I broke my hand; three months later, sprained my ankle; and in October I broke my foot.

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“How could this happen,” I’d ask myself. “I went two years, trying EVERYTHING under the sun—without a single major injury….I haven’t done a hobby in months…how is this possible?”

I lost myself to the injuries. First I was sad—then I was angry. And that giggle my best friend commented on during the road trip two years ago? It was nearly non-existent.

Focusing on the roughness in my own life made me somewhat ignorant to the issues my friends were having. How could I be there for them, when let’s face it, I was doing a piss-poor job of being there for myself?

It’s been just over two months since I broke my foot, and four weeks since the doctor cleared me to lose the boot. Three weeks ago, I went for a walk—a really long one. I cleared my head.

I thought to myself, ‘It would be really easy to write 2014 off like a bike accident—as if the whole year was just one big “doored” accident, a year in which I would walk away from with a sour taste in my mouth but ultimately forget about.’

But the truth is—looking back on it: 2014 really wasn’t bad. It was actually pretty good. What I came to understand, was that even though the injuries significantly knocked me down: they didn’t complete me—the way The Hobby Hoarder didn’t complete me either.

Getting back up—toughening up—flexing my rebound muscle—that’s what became important. Finding the balance between feeling unstoppable and being breakable became it’s own life lesson—one I could have never learned if I hadn’t taken the hobby hiatus.

This year I also came into my own—became more honest with myself, my friends, and my family about who I am and who I want to be. I made new friends, grew closer to old friends and opened up.

Ultimately, I began to accept myself, something I’m not sure I really did in the Hobby Hoarder years—likely because I was so focused on trying to “find myself.”

The truth is if we focus in on trying to find ourselves, we should be aware that we may not love what we find at first.

Acceptance and love then become their own journeys. That’s what I discovered; that’s the life I lived this year.

In the past few weeks, I’ve gone on more long walks. I’ve sat and taken in some serious fresh air. And I’ve debated if I’ve wanted to make any new years resolutions. I normally don’t.

 But this year I’ve decided it may be a good time to put some out into the world, to plant them, and watch them grow.

There are two.

1. I’d like to find middle ground; between “feeling unstoppable and capable of anything—and feeling completely breakable.” I’d like to find the joy in the difficult moments—as they are happening, rather than in the months after they’ve passed. I’d like to lose retrospect and hindsight. I’d like to smash the rearview mirrors.

2. I’d like to start the hobby hoarder again. But this time around, just as me—regular old Libs. No videos this time around—alright lies—maybe a few. 😉 I’d like to give myself a chance—or perhaps you might call it a second chance, and I’d like to give the hobbies I’ve tried in the past a second chance—and some new ones a first. I’d like to see if there’s things that I’ll see a little bit differently now—that I’ll like a little bit differently, that may not have scared me before—but maybe scare me a little bit now—or things that may have scared me before, but scare me a little bit less now.

When I started the hobby hoarder, I swore life was all about “firsts.” But the truth is life is about more than just firsts–it’s about seconds and thirds too–besides who doesn’t like a second helping? It’s about filling ourselves up with as much as we can until we explode. That’s what I did in the first hobby hoarder year, I filled myself up.

So life isn’t just about firsts. It’s about second chances and new beginnings; and starting over. It’s about finding balance-and middle ground. Ultimately, life is about jumping-flying-embracing potential impact- and taking off again. It’s about looking deep inside yourself and asking what you need – right here- right now, so you can be the better person- the best version of yourself tomorrow. And then doing that again each day- cause we can only attack one day at a time. Baby steps. Stepping stones. Lilly pads. Until we feel rock solid.

This year, whether you’re starting over; attacking a new challenge; or giving a part–or parts of your life a second chance–I wish you luck and I wish you love for 2015. Cause at the end of the day that’s all we’re really searching for… The capacity to love ourselves – and in return to love and be loved by others. Here’s to the new, to the fresh starts, to the new beginnings, and to the second chances.

Happy New Year!!!

You Can’t Sleep on Your Talents

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It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to audition for a TV Talent show, so when I discovered that America’s Got Talent would  be holding auditions on the west side of Manhattan, I knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to head to the audition and at least give myself a shot. So on Saturday night and Sunday morning, I prepared 90 seconds of stand up comedy material,  set my alarm for 6:30am, woke up, signed my electronic release and made my way over to the Mercedes complex where 90 people were already in front of me. I could FEEL positive energy swirling everywhere. People were singing, taking photos with impersonators, doing magic tricks, playing their guitars and chatting amongst one another about the day ahead. I sipped calmly on my coffee and struck up a conversation with a couple of people standing around me. We went back and forth quizzing each other on what one our talents were and how we thought we’d do. Then someone who was auditioning asked me why I love stand up comedy. And I said that’s easy:

“I love stand up comedy because I just really enjoy having the opportunity to bring joy to the lives of others. If I can make other people laugh, then I’ve had a good–no–great day.”

The person smiled at me and we continued chatting a bit before the line was eventually released to check-in.

Due to a confidentiality clause in the paperwork that I signed, THAT’s about all I can share with you about the audition process–that and of course the fact that 

On Sunday, November 17, I auditioned for America’s Got Talent.

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So rather than detail what happened after I got through the registration line, I thought I’d share SIX positive life lessons I took away from auditioning for a TV Talent Show.

1. Show up.
You can’t sleep on your talents, your dreams, your aspirations or your opportunities. The biggest mistake you can make when it comes down to giving yourself a shot, going on stage and performing, trying something new or going to an audition is physically not being there.  AND no matter the way the performance went, audition or first time trying something went–OR no matter the way you think the performance, audition, or activity went, be proud of yourself for giving it a shot, for maybe stepping out of your comfort zone–but especially for just stepping out of bed to get wherever you are going. Because let’s be honest, getting out of bed to be somewhere can often be the hardest part. 

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2. Cockiness vs Confidence vs Positive Thinking
Cockiness is bad.
Confidence is good.
And Positive Thinking is better.
And there is absolutely a difference between having confidence and staying positive. Positivity will attract other positive people to you. If you stay bright and you keep a smile on your face–other positive people will flock to you. Trust me, you don’t want to be waiting for an audition (for anything) with an orb of negative energies surrounding you the entire time.

3. Passionate people are just more interesting.
Having passion is more interesting than having experience. Being a passionate person about life and the joys of your hobby or your talent is much more interesting that simply a resume of experiences. You can have a lot of experience in something, but if if you don’t come off as interested and passionate about your craft–then it just won’t matter. Through auditioning for the show I had the opportunity to meet a mix of both experienced and passionate people. I got bored very quickly with people just rattling off their resume of comedy clubs they’ve performed at, but felt very enthralled in the conversations where people spoke with an excitement–a drive–a passion.

The experienced people might get jobs or interviews–but the passionate ones change the world.

4. Be the best you that you can be.
Whether it’s five people you are up against or 1 million people you are up against whether it be in an audition or for a job opportunity–the ONLY thing that matters in the audition room or in the application process is how you do–not them. You can’t control how someone else will perform under pressure. You can ONLY be the best version of yourself when it’s time to step up to the plate.

5. Know yourself better than anyone else.
At the audition, after someone overheard me say I did comedy, he asked if I could do any impressions. I said I can do one impression pretty perfectly–myself. The more I’ve thought about that statement, the more meaning it has taken on. Be sure that before you try to do the impression of someone else in order to impress others–that you know one person better than anyone else in this world–and so that if anyone asks you who you can act most like–you can be honest and proud to say the best impression you can do–and the person you know better than anyone in this world is…yourself.

6. Let others inspire you.
Share your stories and your talents with others–and also let others share their stories and talents with you.
You never know–Someone might just inspire you.

 

I’ve got 99 hobbies…

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AND PAINT YOUR OWN POTTERY IS ONE!

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Elissa is standing on the steps to the 2 train, in Park Slope. I try to hurry her but she is busy sending pictures of the tiny clay dragon she’s just painted to resemble the dragon from Game of Thrones. She reprimands me for rushing her, and giggles, “Isn’t THIS what hobby hoarding is all about? Getting excited about what you are about to do and excited about what you’ve accomplished?”

“Touche,” I laugh back. “You’re right.”

——————-

I met Elissa a little under a year ago when I worked on a new television series for Investigation Discovery. After a few weeks there, Elissa had taken me under her wing. We tagged team stories for our new show, compiled research packets and booked interview guests. Around one month in, Elissa started to check out The Hobby Hoarder project. Then one day she told me she wanted to do a hobby–but a creative one, an artsy one, and so I promised her we could.

Four months later, it was my last day on the show–and we hadn’t yet hobbied! Upset with myself for not scheduling a hobby together before I left on my road trip, I promised her that when I got back–we could do that creative hobby she wanted to do.

A month ago, we met up for a television premiere of an episode of the series we worked on (Deadly Devotion), and I told her that I was coming up on hobby 100, but that we still needed to do our hobby! So we began brainstorming hobbies. Then she had an epiphany–she wanted our hobby to be the 99th hobby — and then joked that I should call the blog post “I’ve got 99 hobbies…”

I laughed. And then promised I would call the post, “I’ve got 99 hobbies.”

The following day, I Googled creative hobbies around the city, and found “Paint Your Own Pottery.” I sent Elissa links and dates we could do it. Finally, we were ready to do the hobby together that we planned so long ago.

 I crossed my fingers that nothing would interfere with our paint your own pottery outing, and except for a small hiccup in having to change the day to one day earlier–nothing interfered at all. Phew.

So just over a week ago, Elissa and I headed to the Painted Pot in Park Slope, Brooklyn for our adventure. Upon arriving at the store, we were immediately floored with all the options of what we could paint.

“Lanterns and kettles, and plates, OH MY,” I exclaimed in my head.

There were also mugs and cups and vases as well as bowls and platters. But that wasn’t it–there were piggy banks–and dragons and elephants–and wizards! The choices of what to paint were endless.

We were in a pottery paradise.

As I searched for the perfect piece of pottery to paint, I imagined directing a spoof of the film “Night at the Museum” called “Night at the Painted Pot,” where all the clay creatures come to life. (A girl can dream).

As Elissa looked through her options, I could see her getting more and more excited. “Should I do this one? Or this one?” And then she saw it–the dragon. “oooh, I could paint this little guy to look like the Game of Thrones Dragon” and before I knew it, she was making her pottery purchase and picking out all the colors she would need.

Then it was my turn. Stuck between a simple plate and a little animal friend–I splurged. I bought the plate and a little tiny elephant, picked out my colors, and quickly got to work. We only had an hour and a half of painting time before the store closed.

As we painted away, I watched Elissa carefully make sure to touch up all the white spots. I could tell that she  was really interested in what she was doing–and like my friends when we went skydiving this past week–it ignited even more excitement in me.

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Before we knew it, an hour and a half had passed–and we were doing the final touch ups on our pottery. Elissa’s dragon was a brilliant green and dark reddish/purple–while my elephant was a mix of baby and sky blue. I’ll be honest–my elephant could stand to see a better paint job–but Elissa’s dragon came out–preeeeetty stellar if I do say so.

The woman came by and told us to just leave our pottery on the table–that she would put it in the kiln over the next week and we could pick  it up after 7 days. Before leaving, I spontaneously started an impromptu photo shoot with our new clay friends.

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As I got a shot of the dragon, Elissa joked, “Yes–that’s the right angle,” first speaking to me–and then to her dragon, “Work the camera.”

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Sad to part with our animals (and my plate), we bid the tiny little lawn gnomes farewell and made our way for the door. Distracted, I began sending Elissa all the shots I had just taken of our statue pottery pieces.

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As the photos began to pop up on her iPhone, our walk slowed to a crawl. “They are so cute…They are the best…” Then she began sending the photos to friends to share what she had done–and how excited she was about what she had done.

And that’s when I tried to rush her–before fairly being reprimanded.

Some people have said that it seems like the project is about being a daredevil. But the truth is–the project is about trying ANYTHING and everything. LIFE is about having an open mind to anything you have the opportunity to try and a willingness to learn. It’s about understanding that even what seems like the most basic of activities/events/hobbies can offer some of the biggest life lessons. This year I’ve learned that, whether you are jumping out of an airplane, piloting an airplane, playing chess in the park with a stranger, building a birdhouse with your mom, or getting crafty with a friend, there will always be a takeaway. And there will ALWAYS be something to get excited about–whether it’s before, during, or after.

Paint your own pottery may not be skydiving–or hang gliding–or something that seems “adrenaline related,” but I can tell you that going to paint your own pottery–and trying it with someone else who also never had tried paint your own pottery before–was extremely eye opening.  

I had forgotten to take in the moment–to really appreciate what had just happened. Because hobbies have become somewhat of a habit (a healthy habit) for me, it’s easy for me to go from “hobby hoarder” mode back to “okay, get home, organize for tomorrow, and sleep” mode. But my outing with Elissa was a good reminder to embrace each and every minute leading up to WHATEVER we are doing, during whatever we are doing, and even the moments after we’ve completed what we are doing. Too often we rush to move on to the next thing–to get things done for whatever we’ve got going on for the next day–and to plan out our next event– but that’s not fair to the present moment–and it’s not fair to ourselves.

Here’s to trying new things–and continuing to get excited about them.  AND here’s to trying new things with good people–and watching them get excited too.

Tomorrow may be hobby 100, but I’m going to breathe in hobby 99 a little longer, because:

“I’ve got 99 hobbies and paint your own pottery is one.” 

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Painted Pot
Park Slope, Brooklyn
$8 Studio Time + Cost of the object

Believe in the Possible

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Later this week, I’ll be posting an update about my 99th hobby–an evening of paint your own pottery. And in less than two weeks I’ll be writing up the experience of trying 100 new things–in less than 100 weeks. This “project” started out as simply that–a project–a quest to try 52 new things in 52 weeks. But had I known how the challenge  would expand my life, I may have set the hurdle of completing that many hobbies a little bit higher to begin with. Maybe I would have said 75 hobbies–or maybe I would have started out with 100 hobbies. But that’s the best part about challenges–we can’t predict what their outcome will be–what they will truly mean to us at the end–or what lessons they will present–or hardships–or triumphs.  

Would I tell EVERYONE that they should try 100 new things in 100 weeks–or less? No. But would I tell EVERYONE to challenge themselves? To set out on a goal–and to watch themselves exceed that goal? Absolutely. Maybe you don’t want to try 52 new things in 52 weeks–or 100 in less than 100 weeks–that’s COOL--It’s a kind of a crazy goal–(and crazy goals are good too), but maybe you want to try one new thing this month–or even just this year. Maybe you want to dedicate time to reading one new book every few weeks–or exercising three times a week as opposed to simply one or two. Maybe you want to train for that marathon you’ve always talked about. Or maybe you want to start that photography business or take a photo of the sunrise every morning. Maybe you want to travel the world–or meet every person who is still alive. Maybe you want to try a new dance class each day of the week or maybe you want to write the next best screenplay or enter that 48 Hour Film Project and win it. Maybe you want to produce a web series or write six new jokes for your stand up comedy gig. Maybe you want to take the baby steps toward jump starting your first business (a salon? a restaurant? a tour guide company?) Or maybe you want to just start saying yes a little bit more. GREAT. Whatever it is-Go Do It. Get out of your comfort zone and believe in yourself. This “project,” though gimmicky, maybe at first, was never about me trying  52 or 100 new things–it was about challenging myself and then inspiring you to want to challenge yourself, to refuse the word no–to break out of your shell–to believe that you could step up to the plate against Randy Johnson, and smash the ball out of the park.

When it comes to the challenges you want to take on–full force–don’t doubt yourself. Never doubt yourself. Because the truth is–no one else is. And if for some reason they are, step up and prove them wrong because no matter WHAT they say–you are capable of anything.

And I mean that. I mean that more than anything in the world. No matter what your challenge is–you are capable of exceeding your expectations of that challenge, and no matter what your dreams are–you are capable of achieving them.

SURE sometimes your dreams may seem out of reach- or “too big” or  too”impossible” to conquer. It may feel like EVERYTHING is working against you. BUT when the walls are closing in – when gravity is pulling you down – you’ve gotta fight to believe- to believe in all you’ve worked for – to believe in those dreams you’ve been reaching for so brilliantly- to believe in yourself – and to believe in the possible. Because it’s easy to say that anything is possible -to preach it to someone who is struggling or to internally tell yourself that “you can do anything”- but to BELIEVE it – and I mean to REALLY believe that anything is possible -well that – that takes a special person -that takes someone who will push those walls back – who will defy gravity and who will prove to you that indeed- ANYTHING is possible. So whether or not today is your day – or this week is your week – this month your month or this year your year – don’t get down. Do not let your dreams go. Keep your head up. Believe in the possible.

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July Roundup

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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?

A LOT!

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!

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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 

 

Choreographing a Better Life

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If someone had told me two years ago that I’d nearly be spinning in circles on my head, swinging around a pole, getting jazzy with it, or frequenting a fitness based Caribbean reggae dance class three-four times a week by the year 2013, i would have laughed in their face. Two years ago, I was the girl who walked out of Zumba classes because she couldn’t follow the steps of the instructor and felt too embarrassed to go on. Two years ago, I was the girl who judged herself against the professional dancers and professional fitness instructors in infomercials who appeared flawless. Two years ago, I was the girl who didn’t give herself a chance to last through a dance class because she had given up before she had even stepped up.

The truth is that long before those Zumba classes, I had deemed myself incapable of breaking it down to a steady beat. I had thrown in the towel. I was ready to enroll in therapy for the choreographically challenged–to stand up and say–no wait–YELL,  “Hello, my name is Libby and I can’t dance.”

What I didn’t realize two years ago was that by not giving myself a fair shot–or the classes themselves a fair shot, I was holding myself back. And the truth is that too often, that’s what we do: We give up amazing opportunities before we even give them a chance, and in the end we only hold ourselves back. 

So what exactly was I holding myself back from? I was holding myself back from learning to love dance–I was holding myself back from learning to love the way my body moves when I just let it–I was holding myself back from being free and I was holding myself back from…well…put simply–I was holding myself back from learning. And I LOVE learning. I always have. 

I recently had an epiphany, and when I say epiphany, I mean a full-on lightbulb popped over the head, type of epiphany.

As I swung left, and stutter stepped right in a class last week, I realized:

“Oh my goodness. Dance has taught me a lot this year…and by a lot…I mean: Dance could be a life coach.” 

The epiphany itself nearly knocked me off my feet.

So after class I decided to sit and compile the five biggest lessons that dance has taught me not just in terms of dance…But also in terms of the bigger picture: Life.  After reading through, I hope you’ll share some of your favorite life lessons you’ve learned through the activities you’re most passionate about.

Here goes:

1. No one is judging you. Well-Okay maybe one person is. And that’s you. But you shouldn’t be. Getting to the class in the first place is something to be proud of. Getting up and out to do ANYTHING you set your mind to is something to be proud of, especially when the weather–or our moods–or our mind is telling us otherwise.

Pole Dancing

2.  There isn’t an exactness to everything you do. In dance, if the teacher is getting her JLO on and you want to get your Beyonce on during a booty shake then by all means get your Beyonce on. Or men if you want to shake it like Michael when the teacher’s getting down like JT–then just do it. Add YOUR flavor. Just whatever you do–own it. Same goes for life: Own EVERYTHING you do–and never–EVER–stop.

3. Do it wrong. So I cheated on this one. I took this lesson from not just dance class but acting class as well. Do it all wrong. We learn from our mistakes. Our muscles learn from our mistakes. And questions are okay – no wait–they are great. Sure, teachers love flash mobs of amazingness but they don’t teach so that perfectionists come in. They teach because they want people to learn, they want people to get excited about being imperfect sometimes, they want people to embrace their passion. Part of the fun of a class –ANY class– is working your way up. Part of the fun of any challenge you take on in life is getting knocked down and feeling the sense of pride in getting back up.

Breakdancing

4. “When you assume. You make an a…” We all know the saying. We can’t judge a class–or a situation in life– before we even step foot in it. Not only does it reinforce any stereotypes or preconceived notions we have about the class/activity/event, but it also holds us back from possibly finding something we are truly passionate about. Prior to the hobby year, not only had I convinced myself that I wasn’t a dancer–but I had convinced myself I wasn’t fit for group  classes at all–that I didn’t fit the “look.” You know the “look” I am talking about–the look it seems that all the people have who participate in infomercials for the latest Zumba videos or aerobics dvds. The men are shirtless and ripped; the women are in sports bras and spandex–chiseled. That belief I concocted from stupid infomercials was wrong. In each and every dance class I’ve participated in this past year, people of all sizes and of all attire are taking part. People of all sizes and all attire are having a really amazing time. I choose to rock my college field hockey shorts and a white T. Cause that’s comfy–and cause that’s me. (And sometimes me –and sometimes comfy is a tiger suit–see last picture on the page).

5. The most important lesson of ALL. Just freaking dance like no one is watching. Please, I beg you. Refer back to number 1: no one is watching. The world is a wide open dance floor just waiting for you to dance on through, to make your art–to make your life.  So go on. Yes YOU…YOU and even YOU.. Dance. Dance. Dance.

subway

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