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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.”

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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

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Rappelling

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While I still have a few videos to compile from the trip including hot air ballooning, snow shoeing and an end of trip flying lesson, I thought I would publish this short video clip and post.

Since returning to New York City, I’ve been on the go. I’ve been interviewing for jobs, I’ve been doing stand up, and I’ve been meeting more and more people. Let’s just say I’ve been getting back into the “swing” of things–especially with hobbies–and especially with THIS hobby.

This past Saturday, I headed out to the Hollywood Stunt School in Brooklyn where I had previously taken a high falls class and a trampoline class. However, rather than jump from a 20 foot platform or bounce around a bit, this time I took on the challenge of learning to rappel–which is defined as “the descent of a vertical surface, as a cliff or wall, by sliding down a belayed rope that is passed under one thigh and over the opposite shoulder or through a device that provides friction” (Dictionary.com). In simple terms–it means to scale the side of a wall or mountain–perhaps, like Spiderman.

I learned about the rappelling class when Bob, the owner, posted a photo of him hanging upside down on his Facebook wall.

“I want to do that!” I commented. A week later, Bob announced there was an upcoming class for rappelling. I couldn’t say no! “I want to be Spider-Libs,” I thought to myself, and so I contacted Bob via Facebook and signed myself up.

Before climbing up the ladder, our instructor told us that we would have to appear comfortable enough with the rope, on our first try, to be able to go upside down on a future try.

“I am going to go upside down,” I told my good friend Naomi, who joined me for the afternoon. “That’s why I wanted to do this…I totally am going upside down.” “I’ve rappelled down a rock climbing mountain before. I can totally do this.” My confidence bubbled as I tried to reassure myself that I was ready.

Minutes later, I was climbing to the platform we were to rappel from. And as I gripped each rung of the ladder, I suddenly realized that the last time I had rappelled down a mountain–someone was belaying for me—this time I was on my own. Suddenly the 15-20 feet from the ground felt like 60.

“Are you feeling scared, nervous, terrified at all?” My instructor asked me.

“I’ve got some nerves.”

“What do you think is bringing on those nerves?”

“Just forgot what heights feel like…But I am good. I got this,” I said trying not to appear shaky. “We go down forward first. But I definitely will get to upside down…” I peeked over the edge… “I think.”

 “I’m a tiny bit scared because it is a little higher up than I felt it would be. And I am scared because that’s what happens sometimes when we’re doing something we’ve never done before.”

“So you have respect for fear.”

Respect for fear.

I had never thought of it that way. But over the last year, I think that’s what I’ve learned to have respect for most. Fear is a driving force that allows us to reach our potential–that allows us to find out what we are truly capable of–that motivates us to do more–to be more.

“Why yes. I have a great respect for fear.” I declared.

And then I swung myself out to the wall and slowly made my way down—feet first.

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As I reached the ground, I heard the rest of the class cheering (we did this for each person who completed the task). It felt good. ‘I’m ready for round two,’ I thought to myself while I traded off my harness to the next person in line.

As we began our second rounds, Bob yelled up to the instructor to let some of the people go upside down. I watched as the first woman to try managed to put her body into the perfect inverted pirouette and effortless rappel in a straight line until she flipped back on to the ground.

I could feel my smile widening.

My turn. This time, I climbed up the ladder much more quickly. I listened to my instructor’s directions, shook off the small fears of falling out of my harness or flying into the ground head first, tightened my harness again, and then gave it a shot. Unlike the first girl to gracefully spin her web down the wall, I began literally spinning in circles.

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“Well this is interesting,” I said to myself, before safely making it back to my feet.

“How’d that feel?” asked one of the other works.

“Dizzzzzzying,” I said as I shook myself out of it. “But really, really awesome. I definitely gotta try it again.”

And so I did–this time much more gracefully.

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You can look for me in the next Spiderman movie….

Just kidding.

But you can look for me at the stunt school–I’ll definitely be going back.

Hollywood Stunts NYC
73 West St.
Brooklyn, NY

The Journey

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“And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance–I hope you dance.”

The Hobby Hoarder Dances her Pants off
I want to thank each of you with all my heart for the endless support with The Hobby Hoarder project–for taking me seriously–for seeing my potential–and for believing in me. I want to thank you for giving me constructive criticism and positive feedback. I want to thank you for following along–watching the videos, reading the posts, and sharing the site. I want to thank you for being you.

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost a year ago now that I sent out the first email describing what my intentions for the year were. It’s hard to believe that I am officially on week 52.
As I look back on the year–I reflect on the transformation of the quest. How it went form gimmicky –to serious–and how it went from a project to a lifestyle.pole dancing
I hope that if you get anything out of any posts that I’ve shared–it’s that we are truly capable of anything–that we can take advantage of every opportunity we have–and succeed–no, wait–exceed expectations. Most of all, I hope that you’ve felt inspired–that you want to take on the world–that you want to dig the bucket list out of the sand and start checking things off the list.
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When the sun rises tomorrow, I won’t be in New York City anymore. I’ll be somewhere in Virginia on the first leg of the final chapter of The Hobby Hoarder year: a cross country round trip road trip.  I’ll be somewhere reflecting on everything I’ve put my mind to this year–everything I gave a chance–everything that gave me a chance–I’ll be somewhere reflecting on …well… everything.
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As certain chapters begin to close, it’s easy to confuse “closing” with an “ending.” But just because this is the final chapter–to the first hobby year–it does not mean it’s the end–in fact, it’s really just the beginning.
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This road trip is the culmination of a year that has helped me to build confidence–to meet people–to overcome fears–to say yes and to never look back–to live without regret–to take chances–to refuse the word no–to lose the words can’t and impossible–to see the glass as half full, as opposed to half empty–to focus without distraction–to be passionate again–to love endlessly–and to live relentlessly. This road trip is a symbol of going with the heart–and never looking back. This road trip–is the only way I could see celebrating this quest–extending this quest–and living it out as a lifestyle–rather than a project.
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Four months ago, when my most recent job asked me what my availability would be post-new year, I told them that as of February 1, I had something booked. When they asked me how booked it was? I told them that it was 100 percent booked–even though they were looking to extend me past that date. After work I called my mom and told her what I did. At first she was confused why I’d turn down a job extension. I responded by saying that, “When you get the chance to sit it out or dance–you dance.–And I love dancing.”  And then I added, “What would be a more epic way to mark the year than a cross-country road trip?”
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There was dead silence on the other end. But I could tell she understood. And a month later I knew for a fact, that not only did she understand but that she and my dad 100 percent supported me, as she and my dad offered to me take one of their cars across cross-country. We’ve since chosen a different car for several reasons, but I knew in that moment–what I’d known for quite a while–that my parents were just as passionate about this project as I was. I’ve been very fortunate to have parents who support my crazy ideas. I couldn’t be more grateful for their continuous pride in my endeavors and for them believing in me and all of my decisions. I know that I’ve driven them nuts over the years.

On the same night that I called my mom, I texted my good friend Kim (who’s joining on the road trip), and told her what happened. She asked if I was okay with my decision…and I responded very simply. “Of course. If not now–then when? I would regret NOT going on this trip–and I don’t want to have regrets.

Toward the end of November, Kim and my friend David both reached out to me to tell me that they were definitely in for the road trip–David would take a break from working–as well as Kim. When I asked David why the definite answer–he responded by telling me that he wanted to spend more time with friends–and that NOW’S the time to do it.David also took a chance when he came skydiving with me in November:
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Kim, on the other hand had told me very early on that she was interested in joining (before making a solid decision months later). Her reason? “I want to do it, because I know that when you say you are going to do something, you are going to do it.”

And  Kim happened to join me for my second pilot lesson:
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The truth is that too often we say we are going to do something–and then we don’t. We find excuses, create a bucket list and bury that bucket in the sand never to be found. I wasn’t going to make excuses for this trip–for this year–and I was happy to see that my friends weren’t ready to make excuses for things they wanted to do either. It’s important to recognize the things that we dream of doing–the things that we want to do with all our heart–and then actually go out and do them.
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When the sun rises tomorrow–I won’t be in New York City. No. I’ll be right where I’m meant to be–on the road–taking it all in. I’ll be kicking off a two month road trip with two of my rocks–David and Kim, and WE’LL be making our way to the beaded streets of New Orleans–the line dancing floors of Texas–the White Sands of New Mexico, the skies of Albuquerque, the waters of the west, and the mountains of the north. We’ll be dancing to 90’s music, singing as loud as we can in the car–and going through audio books galore–(don’t believe me?…..:
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Throughout the trek, we will be hobbying away, spreading happiness–and hopefully some luck (hehe)–giving thanks, and going with the wind. Most of all– we will be living life–and that’s pretty freaking awesome. I hope you’ll follow along –and hey–maybe even call to tag along. The road’s big enough for all of us.
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Cheers,
The Hobby Hoarder
trip

Finding Balance

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I imagine that learning to walk must have been the scariest moment of my life to date, even if I never formed a memory of it. Tiny feet pattering–a bruised baby bum–a dizzying disaster. Thank goodness, that as children, we have a hand to hold, and someone to help us back up.

As I cross the wire set up at the Trapeze Loft, I suddenly feel like a child again, as I desperately reach for a hand to hold.

“You can let go,” I say as I grasp Debra’s hand tighter. We laugh. At this point, she’s not holding my hand at all. I am squeezing her thumb with all my might. “I swear I’ll be fine if we just let go,” I forcefully say as I finally go to release her hand. I then yell, “Wait, no–not ready.” I can’t fathom the baby jumble that came out of my mouth as I learned how to walk for the first time.

I feel my hips sway back and forth. My arms wave, almost violently. “Wooooooah,” “ahhhhh” are some of the reactions coming out of me.

My instructor walks away.

“Where are you going?”

Debra adds that people get it best when she pays no attention.

She’s right–but not just for wire walking–but for life as well.

Even if someone’s not literally holding our hand–if they are near by, we know we can reach for them to help us back up. but if no one is around. Well then, it’s up to oneself and only oneself. Debra sits across the room chatting away. It’s only up to me now–and my two feet.

I race quickly–one foot at a time. I’m falling from one side to the other–saving myself and catching myself from an invisible doom below. It doesn’t look graceful–but neither does life at most points.

Either way, I am learning to walk on my own–the most important lesson there is.

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Special Thanks
Debra Chilcott
The Trapeze Loft

“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

All that matters is that you jump: Trapeze

“All that matters is that you jump.”

One of my trapeze instructors whispers this to me as I am suddenly about to swing off a platform that feels as though it is miles from the ground.

I take a deep breath, bend my knees and then leap-I leap for my fears of heights- for my fears of falling- I leap for my friends – for proving that my last turbulent experience dealing with heights hasn’t held me back- and I leap for myself. And I soar- like a bird. I feel the air rush past my face. I hear for my commands from below. Legs up. See my hands. Let go. Look for Brooklyn. Enjoy the ride. And boy was I enjoying the the ride.

I listen for my commands again– Legs down, and “up,” which in trapeze lingo means… Drop.

“Awesome,” I proclaim and I get giddy about trying it again.

Trapeze was one of the greatest activities I’ve tried this year. Joined by good friends, I knew that this was the best way to kick off a Saturday morning. And not only was it fun–but it taught me a great lesson as well.

“All that matters it that you jump.”

The words continue to echo.

A metaphor flashes before my eyes.

Every day asks us to jump- to make a choice.

We can either stand still or make a change. It may not literally mean a jump from the sky- but it could rather be as simple as a phone call to an old friend, or family member we’ve lost touch with. It could be taking a new job–or having the courage to ask for a raise at your current one.

In the end, all that matters is having the courage to jump.

Amy

Lindsay

 Rena

 Christine

Special Thanks
Brent Hankins

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Trapeze School New York
TSNY
http://www.trapezeschool.com

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