Tag Archives: NYC

Sunchasing

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It’s Friday, January 2nd. The sun is sinking slowly through the sky. I’ve set out to catch the sunset yet every view I’m finding is obstructed.

“Will I make it in time?” “Will I miss the sunset?” “How many minutes do I have”

The questions are rushing through my mind.

I come across a gate.

The gate is open so I invite myself in.

I can feel myself getting closer to the sun… There’s a fence– blocking the way down to the water … But it doesn’t meet the ground. I take in my surroundings – no one is around. I slip under the chain links .

“Oh my goodness.”

I take a deep breath. I’m greeted with a view of the city I’ve not quite taken in before. Immediately to my right is the Williamsburg Bridge- a giant in the sky next to me.

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In the distance is a clear shot of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges- parallel to a stunning view of the World Trade Center.

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I can feel the temperature slowly dropping.

I grip my camera.

My hands are beginning to lose feeling. I left my gloves behind for the day. An amateur photographer’s mistake.

But I feel somewhat prepared for this:

I remember back to the first drive on our road trip. It’s sometime between 4 and 430am. David and Kim are just waking up. We are crossing into Virginia – and the sun will be rising soon enough. Without fear- without doubt- and in total agreement we decide that our goal is to catch the sunrise- it’s our first real day all together and we want it to literally start at the crack of dawn. This census also sets the tone for the trip.

At this point, David has switched to the driver seat. I’ve switched to the passenger seat. I’m googling frantically for a spot. “Will we miss it?”

The question echoes in my mind.

We are in Fredericksburg, approaching a battle ground up on a hill…

“That’s the spot,” we all agree. It’s cold then; like it is now. I’ve got a leather jacket on; a silly yellow hat and some sweatpants. But I don’t feel the cold. I feel a sense of pride; a sense of excitement – a sense that warms me up: a sense that keeps me going.

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Now, I’m warming up as I snap photos of the current sunset in New York. The memories make me smile. What’s ahead makes me smile.

The road trip ignited a different perspective in me:

“Breathe.”
“Slow down.”
“Thank the sun.”

Throughout the trip, we came to a common agreement that when we could- we would fight to see the sun set- or rise. We’d go miles out of the way; cross bridges to different states; and wake up just a little extra early to get the brightest start to the day.

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We’d search for wide open space to catch sunset.

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We’d comment on the type of sunrise/set we were watching:

“That’s a scrambled sunrise” I’d say as we watched the light appear just over a mountain in Nooksack Washington. “Scrambled cause you’ve got some clouds here and there but not enough to obstruct your view.” We’d add: “If there were no clouds, it’d be a sunny side up kinda day.”

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No matter what: There were always more sun rises to catch- sunsets to seek – or sometimes miss; and beyond all: there were suns to chase.

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Sunchasing – that’s the adventure – that’s what’s gotten me here- on a bed of loose rocks above the east river, on January 2nd, 2015.

In-between photos, I break to breathe in what I’m watching; to take a moment to appreciate what I’ve searched to be able to see. To be grateful for this opportunity; to cherish that big ball of fire in the sky.

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When the road trip started – I’m not sure I could tell you why the sun rises or sunsets meant so much to me.

It’s been just about two years and I think I’m finally starting to understand it. Because every time I see one now… Every time I go out of my way to comment on if it will be a scrambled, fried or sunny side up kinda day- I think of my friends:

I think of David and Kim waking up in the car and wanting to catch that first sunrise as much as I do. I think of how I don’t get to see them often; how David is in New Mexico- how I am here. How Kim is in Long Island- and how we still don’t get to see one another  often – both due to demanding schedules.

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I think of friends, teachers and family who have moved away. I breathe into the golden rays
and suddenly the sun seems a lot closer- and if that sun can seem a lot closer – then my friends ultimately are always right here with me in a way.

You see, the thing about the sunrise – or the sun set is that it’s a constant reminder that no matter the distance between two people: we are still right here on the same earth; and in the end; that’s truly not all that far after all.

If you’re missing a friend today- if they are just a little “too far away:”

Take a walk; find an open space; take a seat; and breathe in that giant ball of fire.

Go on now, go, chase the sun.

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Power Vinyasa Yoga

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Before I jump into my power vinyasa yoga experience, I’d like to share an anecdote with you about the first time I tried another type of yoga class–a hot yoga class–just over two months ago.

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It is very hot

I feel like I am dying.

I must be dying

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Five minutes later
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I feel like I am sweating out my organs

I look up. Sweat drips off my forehead.

I’m in the safety position which means I’m on my knees. Not one knee. Too worried I’ll tumble over. Two knees.

I don’t feel safe. I feel like I am dying.

The instructor motions for the class to transition to the next posture of 26.

I look at my hands to see how many fingers I have used to count postures. 

I’ve lost count.

I may vomit.

I’m still on my knees.

I try another posture.

Golden.

We’re asked to repeat. And I retreat to my knees. My water is out of reach. I don’t want to disrupt the peacefulness of the class. My internal dialogue is already disrupting my peace. I don’t want to ruin this moment for these practitioners. 

Somehow I manage to sit in the room for the duration of class. There is a pool of water below me. I wonder if it’s possible to drown in my own sweat.

Dizzy. I whisper to myself, “I should have hydrated more. 

I leave the class.

My instructor smiles at me–no wait, I mean, he grins. “Libby, you did great!” He exclaims jubilantly.

 Inside, I am screaming, “Don’t you lie to me–I was like a fish out of water desperately trying to breathe.”

Instead, I try and chirp a positive, “Thanks.”

“You should do it again tomorrow–and the next day…” He responds.

I smile again. “Okay.”

Inside my head, “No thanks.”

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If I had written about my hot yoga experience in anymore words than that, it may have looked a lot like this guy’s post that circled on MindBodyGreen several years ago. Like him, I bought a pass to attend multiple hot yoga classes after my first. That would be great–if I hadn’t spent the money before even stepping into the heat infused room. That was my first mistake. But my bigger mistake was jumping into hot yoga before I had taken much more than a flexibility and stretch yoga class in Ohio during the road trip.

This wasn’t the first time I actually stepped foot into a hot yoga classroom. Last year, I took the time to video my good friend Rena as she completed her 100th Bikram class in under 100 days. But videoing and actually doing the yoga are two totally different beasts. I was unprepared for the struggle I was about to put my body through. I hadn’t drank enough water. I hadn’t attended any basic flow classes that involved difficult postures. Essentially, I had attempted to jump from being young Simba to the Mufasa of yoga far too quickly. I can tell you that, now after taking a hot yoga class, my respect for those who attend this practice on a regular basis has only exponentially grown. Hot yoga s not easy. Not at all.

But despite my disappointing first attempt at a yoga beyond the most basic kind, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let the experience deter me from giving other types of yoga–like vinyasa–a shot. So in order to keep my promise to myself, I headed to my first power vinyasa yoga class at Yoga to the People at St. Marks Place last week–and I couldn’t be more glad that I did:

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It’s not even five minutes into class and I can feel little sweat droplets moving down my back.

But this time something is different. Something is much different.

I can breathe.

I’m not struggling to find air to in a 100 something degree sweat box.

I find my breath.

My muscles loosen.

I’m transitioning from downward dog to salutations.

I’m bending backwards and stretching forward

And while my body feels the stress of the movements, I find myself enter a rhythm.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

I’m still sweating. 

It’s okay.

I’m flowing.

I try not to loose focus.

These men and women at my sides are much more flexible than I am. 

That’s okay.

This is about me. This is about my body. This is about my breathing.

I take a moment to retreat to my safety position.

“You got this Libs,” I whisper. “Keep breathing.” “Stop thinking.”

Inhale. Exhale. Downward dog.

I find shift my way to my left arm and hand and reach my right hand way up toward the ceiling, opening my entire body.

I can feel my body underneath me–all of it–working together. I feel strong.

I return to downward dog.

I flow.

“Now let yourself relax on your back,” I hear the instructor say.

Class is coming to an end. 

I’m not dizzy.

I inhale. I exhale. I can still breathe.

I feel alive.

I’m ready for my day.

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48 Hour Film Project: NYC

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I am staring at the clock. It’s 3:23 AM. Traffic is moving in a very specific rhythm outside. I watch as lights cast shadows through my friend’s living room, and I restlessly try to catch some shut eye. I close my eyes, but like a kid waiting for her birthday, I can’t fall asleep. I’m too anxious. I’m too excited for what’s ahead. We are only eight hours into the 48 Hour Film Project (NYC), a competition that asks groups of filmmakers to create a 4-7 minute short film in under 48 hours. Filmmaking. THIS is the HOBBY and CAREER I moved to New York City for. And while I’ve done much of my own filmmaking and video work–I’ve never ever taken part in a film competition. This is what we call: Awesome. As I open my eyes again and stare at the ceiling, I can feel my excitement only growing with each echo of each car that passes under the bridge outside. We’ve finished our our script, we’ve plotted our shot list, and in three hours we are going to wake up to shoot a movie. And all I am thinking in my head is “Hell. Freaking. Yah.”

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It can be very lonely in New York City–especially when you first move here.

 I moved to New York City in January of 2010, and I can remember, very vividly, two months into my move, walking out of my internship, calling my best friend on the phone, and crying to her for an hour about how lonely I was–how I didn’t know if I could make it here–how I wanted desperately to be able to make friends who were creative, who were ready to collaborate, who were passionate, who were looking to make things happen–BIG things–earth shaking things-friends who were ready to take on the world as if it were Mount Everest and fight hard earned battles to make it to the top.

What I’ve learned from that loneliness is a lesson in persistence, and in patience, and in passion.

I realized that I couldn’t make these friends that I was seemingly struggling to find if I didn’t put myself out there, if I didn’t take an initiative to start and to create myself. This city is comprised of 8 million people–I can’t break down the stats for you on where they are all from–or how they all got here, but I can safely say that many of these people are searching for a light in a tunnel that leads to success–a light in a tunnel that may perhaps lead to a Broadway Stage, or a credit on a feature film; a light in a tunnel that may lead to a sold out concert at SummerStage or a part in Shakespeare in the Park; a light in a tunnel that leads to a metaphorical pot of gold symbolizing that all dreams did indeed come true.

I knew that within those eight million people, amidst all of the skyscrapers, all of the Broadway shows, and all of the chaos of the city that these people were out there. I just had to be very clear that I too was one of these dreamers.

And then it happened.

I made a good friend through my internship, who could see my passion and my drive as I shared my latest projects and or films with her. She could also see my willingness to put myself out there and to openly express my interest in “making it” in order, not to be famous, but rather to make an impact on another person’s life.  And so she introduced me to many of her friends in the Big Apple.

She, herself, was a young makeup artist who was working on TV shows and movies. And her friends? Young cooks, young  chefs, young musicians, young actors, young filmmakers, young producers, young directors, young writers, younger performers, young singers. Most of them worked shifts at Ruby Tuesdays to pay the bills. But what stood out more than anything to me, was that like me–they were all dreamers. And they still are.

Since that first year of living in New York City, I have maintained many of the friendships I have made with these friends. And I am proud of that. I have seen each of them do amazing work. I’ve seen dreams transition to realities–and I’ve seen passion and persistence and patience, all the things I needed in order to make these friends, play out in extremely rewarding ways.

Our conversations extend from general “How are yous?” to endless banter, debates and smiles over all things creative.

“You liked that movie? But it didn’t have this, this or this….” and “But his acting in this was far superior to his acting in…” “I just think he should have never made that film.”

I always wondered when I’d get the chance to sit down and work with some of the people I connected with when I first moved here.

That answer was this weekend, for the 48 Hour Film Project, in which a team of 14 of us, organized by my good friend Kim, took on the aforementioned challenge to create a 4-7 minute film in just 48 hours.

On that team were  6 individuals from that initial group of friends that I forged friendships with founded on a common love of film, television, and theatre. On that team were also 7 individuals that I had never had the pleasure to meet before–but who I can’t imagine not surrounding myself with again.

Each team must enter with a team name, and when the festival kicks off each team must select at random a genre. After the genre is chosen, EVERY team must then make sure that they include three specific details within their film: a specific character, a prop, and a line (Genres differ but specific details remain consistent for all teams). All of this is noted here.

Our Team: Ruby Squared Productions
Our Genre: Dark Comedy
Character: Cat or Cam Dean–an ad executive
Prop: Trophy
Line: When do you expect her?

In less than 48 hours, we scripted, we crafted, we envisioned, we executed, we edited, we composed, we exported, and we delivered a 6:30 minute dark comic film; a 6:30 minute film that gave us all a little reminder why we came to New York, why that patience and persistence in pursuing our passions mattered and what we are truly capable of when we take on a challenge and attack it together, and lastly a little reminder what happens when the talking stops and the making of films starts: Magic.

In his book, Here is New York, E.B White writes: “There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.”

Here’s to the settlers that I had the brilliant opportunity to work with this past weekend:
Alex Zingaro, Brandon Jacobs, Brandon Opel, Brandon Pro, Chris Grady, Kimberly DiPersia, MaryLynn Suchan, Matt Van Vorst, Megan Magee, Nate Smith, Robert DeSanti, Sean Gallagher, and Shannon Kendall.

And here’s to being patient, persistent, and passionate.

Here are some stills of the production process:

IMG_1779Photo Credit Megan Magee

IMG_1796Photo Credit Megan Magee

IMG_1792Photo Credit Megan Magee

sound Photo Credit MaryLynn Suchan

PreproPhoto Credit MaryLynn Suchan


RoofPhoto Credit MaryLynn Suchan

AND basically how we all felt after:

mattPhoto Credit Shannon Kendall

CrossFit

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You’d think after a year of hobbying, I would be immune to pre-hobby anxiety and intimidation. The truth is I’m not. But that’s a good thing. It means I am still exercising my mind and my muscles. It means I am still continuing to be challenged. It means I am still taking everything that I am trying–just as seriously as all those things I tried when it was simply just a project. I am still attacking life and taking chances. I am still living.

This week my pre-hobby anxiety was high. I’d signed up for a private one-on-one CrossFit session. For those that aren’t quite sure what that means–here’s one of CrossFit’s own videos:

Intense right?

I grew up playing sports and I even played Division 1 field hockey. I’ve dabbled in the Insanity workouts on my own time and I’ve trained for and completed two half marathons. But at all cost, I have avoided going to a personal trainer–or really letting others see me train. So the thought of letting someone train me–in addition to having a good friend standing by to help video–induced a lot of anxious feelings.

I began to think to myself:

“What if I fail? What if I am just too weak? There will be a lot of FIT people there–what will people think of me? I’m flabby and big boned–do I really belong?”

I went as far as texting my friend who does CrossFit on the regular to confide in her about my feelings.

She responded quickly:

“Google articles on being nervous for CrossFit. No one’s there to judge–everyone has to start somewhere.” -CF

She was right. So I took a breath, and I asked myself one more question:

“Why are YOU doing this?”

I gave that question a moment to sink in. I surely wasn’t doing it for all those people who would be at the CrossFit center working on their own fitness-just as they weren’t going to be doing their pull ups for me.

And then it came to me:

“I’m doing this because I can. I’m doing this because I said I would. I’m doing this because deep down inside, I know that the things that intimidate me most–are the things that are most worth facing. I’m doing this because I WANT to do this, not for anyone else–but for me–My health. My body. My life.”

I kept repeating all these answers in my head as I headed over to the Black Box on 28th Street. As I exited the elevator I walked into what appeared to be a factory of fitness. There were rings hanging from the ceiling, free weights, bar bells, kettle bells, and pull up bars everywhere. I watched as people all around the gym fiercely worked out. I watched as their muscles flexed and their sweat dripped. I could see determination in their eyes–in their focus. Instead of intimidating me the way that I had imagined it would, it motivated me.

“I can do this,” I whispered to myself.

I walked over to my coach and introduced myself.

“Hi Kyle, I’m Libby.”

He shook my hand.

“You ready?” he asked.

“Let’s do it,” I said with a new found confidence.

“Great, let’s start with a warmup. 30 seconds of jumping jacks, lunges, and 30 seconds of mountain climbers.”

I felt my muscles waking up, and the first drop of sweat fall from my brow.

Ninety seconds later, I was so focused on myself and my breathing and my own workout ahead that I had already forgotten that the gym was filled to capacity with all the other CrossFit participants. This was solely about me and my body–and about bettering myself–not anyone else.

Following the warmup, Kyle, my instructor, told me that next up would be a 10 minute repetition round–I would be doing sets of 15 squats, 10 kettle bells, and 5 pushups. The goal was to see how many rounds of this cycle, I could do and also to maintain a consistent time for how long each round took.

As I took on the first round, I felt strong. But as I transitioned into my second and third, I could feel the fatigue setting in. My arms shook, my legs wobbled, my movements slowed. But I pushed through. I didn’t let the word “can’t” enter my brain. Like the Little Engine That Could, I just kept saying, “I think I can, I think I can.”

And I did.

In ten minutes, I completed five rounds–most at around 2  minutes and 15 seconds. Kyle gave me a high five. “You moved well. Your first round was fast–because your muscles were strong. But the consistency of the last four rounds was really what we are looking for–great job!”

I took a sip of my water and I smiled.

“But we aren’t done,” he added. “We’ve got one 90 second round to go–90 seconds of burpees.”

Burpees involve a combination of a squat, a pushup, and a jumping jack.

They are kind of hell.

“90 seconds, that’s it Libs, you got this,” I cheered myself on.

That was quite possibly the longest 90 seconds of my life. As I dropped to the ground, and pushed myself back up, I could feel my body working, the sweat dripping, my heart racing. With each burpee, I felt my muscles ache. “30 seconds Libs, you’re almost there…Drop, push, Jump. 15 seconds…10…Come on…Don’t stop.”

“AND TIME!” Kyle yelled.

I picked myself up off the ground, and I raised my arms over my head. I glanced around the gym. The anxiety that I had felt just the night before was now totally gone. I smiled.

I breathed in an enormous feeling of positive self-esteem, while my legs shook with fatigue.

And I thought to myself:

“This is why I do these things. Because of THIS feeling afterwards. This feeling of accomplishment–of success. This feeling is the most rewarding feeling of all.

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Special Thanks

CrossFit NYC
Joshua Newman
Kyle Smith
http://www.crossfit.com

Special Thanks
Ashley Castle
http://www.travelwithcastle.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Need for Speed: Go Karting

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There are few things that have excited me more in life than the moment I drove a car, by myself, for the very first time.

I can remember the rain as it pattered on my windshield before my driver’s test, and how I worried that the conditions would make my test more difficult. And I can remember how I parallel parked perfectly, stopped smoothly at red lights, took turns cautiously—and was handed my driver’s license.  Most of all, I can remember my smile as I dropped off my dad, before heading off to school—on my own—for the very first time.

Prior to piloting a plane, driving a car was the most free I had ever felt. As a teenager, I drove my Saturn SL around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania blasting my music—and singing as loudly as possible. It was my own 90’s karaoke party every-time I turned the key, pulled out of my driveway, and headed to my destination.

But there was something I never felt absolutely comfortable doing–and that was speeding—even if part of me always wished I could. I’m not sure if it was because one of my childhood best friend’s fathers sat me in front of a Nascar race every time I came over, or because I constantly felt a need to be moving at lightning speed—but a part of me had always wished I could drive a race car—just one time around a track. When I scheduled an indoor go kart race with a group of friends at the Grand Prix race track, I realized that this was a stepping stone toward that goal.

As we loaded up our zip car to the race track, I could feel the excitement building–but not just mine–but  our entire group’s. Everyone was ready to race, some maybe even more so than myself.

As I pulled on my helmet, threw on the required neck brace, stepped into the small indie go kart, and buckled my seatbelt,  I could feel my adrenaline preparing to join the race.

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That little car may have only had a speedometer of 40 mph, but as soon as I had the courage to really press the pedal, I felt as though I could move at light speed. And even as my friends passed me, and even though I came in last place–I felt a freedom that I had never felt behind the wheel of my Saturn—or later my Honda CRV. With each turn, I felt more in control and with each acceleration, I could feel my heart beating right along with the echo of the engine. As I completed one lap after another, I breathed into the adrenaline. Again, I was in dead last, but it still felt like a win.

When the race was done, I could tell that our group of friends had enjoyed the race as much as I had.  And I’ll never forget what one of them said as we drove home:

“I gotta say—that first lap was really special—feeling how fast that little car could go—and seeing how it could drift around the turns.”-R. Buckley

I looked out the window and smiled. Robert may not know it—but he just expressed the same feeling that I’ve felt every time I’ve turned the ignition and jump started every hobby or activity that I’ve tried this year—he’s just expressed the feeling that I am hoping to inspire others to feel when they take a dance class for the first time—or jump out of a plane for the first time—or pilot a plane for the first time—or race a go kart for the first time: that something special has just happened—because more than likely, it has.

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Thanks for a great day—David, Rick, Mercedes, David and Robert.

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Grand Prix

333 North Bedford Road

Mount Kisco, New York 10549

Chasing Mavericks

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I wasn’t supposed to be there–at the Far Rockaways. I wasn’t supposed to be doing a hobby at all that day. If this were still just a “project” –and not what I now deem a lifestyle–I would have fulfilled my quote with shark diving at the beginning of the week. But that’s not the case. I had booked two hobbies for the week–and I couldn’t have been more excited. However, I wasn’t supposed to be double hobbying with surfing–I was supposed to be in Pennsylvania–jumping out of a plane.

Less than 24 hours before my scheduled skydive, I received a call that my trip was postponed due to low clouds. It only took me several moments to visit a surf school website in New York, text the owner, and sign up for a class. I didn’t need to replace skydiving–but I felt compelled to.

Sometimes when one cloud covers–another wave of opportunity will present itself–quite literally–and metaphorically here, of course.

I admit—while putting my wetsuit on (initially backwards), I questioned if this was a bad idea–if just signing up for a surf lesson without thinking was really something I should have done. For a couple minutes–I decided it wasn’t. And then for a couple more minutes–I still believed it wasn’t. I wasn’t sure I would even have the courage to walk into the water–but I didn’t have a choice. After a brief sand lesson, our instructor had us stepping into the frigid waters of the Atlantic with the boards in hand.

And not before long I was getting pummeled by waves.

I should preface this by saying that I am terrified of ocean water–I see going into it as an unfair heavyweight battle where the little guy is well below the size of the big guy–and the knockout comes quickly–almost instantly. When I was little, a life guard saved me from the under-toe on some family vacation which paralyzed any positive thoughts I could have about ocean water and what could happen if I went in. During a trip to Bermuda, my mind was changed briefly as the water’s beauty and delicacy seduced me. But upon returning to the East Coast waters, my fears began to loom again.

After the first wave knocked me down on Saturday, I regained my composure, briefly, and I declared the ocean the champion. And instead of raising an arm in victory–it knocked me out again.

I cleared the hair from my face, and said a myriad of things to myself, “Well this was not my best idea.” “I should probably leave the water now.” “I should be jumping out of a plane today–not getting my ass kicked by some personified piece of nature.” Yet, I continued walking out to my instructor who was positive that after a few minutes of learning to stand on the board–on the sand–I’d be able to make progress on the water.

“Hop on that board.”

“Now?!”

He laughed at me.

Silly me–he meant just get on and lay down–not HOP. And of course he meant now. I struggled to get on the board, but after a second try I was up.

“Okay, now sit.”

So like a trained pup, I sat.

“Good. Now lay on that board. Move back a few inches. What’s going to happen is I am going to tell you to paddle…then I’ll push the board forward, and yell “Up.” When I yell up, You stand.”

“Easy,” I said, thinking to myself that I was more likely bound to go face first into the sand at the ocean bottom.

“Paddle, Paddle, Paddle…..” commanded Joel.

I rushed to paddle. But I didn’t know how fast or how slow I should be paddling. What if I didn’t get enough speed? But before I had time to readjust any of this, Joel yelled, “Up,” and I attempted to push myself to my feet.

BAM

Knocked out.

I covered my head so that if the board went flying it wouldn’t truly knock me out. I stayed underwater a second more, and resurfaced  before another wave crashed into me, and another one–and another one. And then finally, I found my balance, and realized that throughout those continuous wipeouts–something had happened. I had lost my fear. I was still here. I was still breathing. And I had gotten back up on my own. Bonus point for overcoming fear.

Even still, the ocean was now ahead of me by a score of at least 6 Hits.

Ocean 6: Libs: 1

I had a major comeback to accomplish. I stayed resilient and walked back out to Joel. “How’d that feel?”

“Really freaking good!” I exclaimed. “Nothing to be scared of. I’m really happy I tried to stand.”

Joel smiled, and pushed me out again. And as my two feet landed on the board I slipped off backwards.

Bam.

Knocked out.

Back up.

And out to Joel again.

“I’m going to get this,” I said to him.

I was set on earning more points during this battle with the Atlantic.

And then, with a magnitude of paddling, a swift push from Joel, and a command of “up,” I felt myself make it to my feet. Suddenly, it was like the rest of the water, and the beach, and the sky had disappeared–and it was just me on this foam board, flying. What was only a few mississippi seconds–felt like a beautiful lifetime.

As I surfed closer to shallow waters, I splashed off the board and was congratulated with a nose and mouthful of salt  water. When I surfaced–I fist pumped into the air, and yelled “I did it.” Joel looked at me and smiled from a distance, though I’m not sure he actually heard me with the crashing white waters. But it didn’t matter. I didn’t do this for him–or for anyone else–I did this for myself.

End of day score?

Ocean: A lot  –  Libs: Smiles

________________________________________________________________________________

Special Thanks
New York Surf School
surflessonsnewyork101.com

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.

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