Tag Archives: pilot

Top 10 Hobbies

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A lot of people ask me what my FAVORITE hobby has been. I usually answer that piloting a plane was my favorite hobby–and that I’ll be looking to earn my pilot’s license after this year. That’s 100 percent true, but ranking hobbies at all is incredibly difficult, because each one has done an incredible job in helping me to overcome fears, build courage and manage both my mental and physical strength. Additionally–for several of the hobbies, friends joined me–and being able to watch some of them overcome their fears was more often more rewarding than anything else. AND one of my favorite parts of the year outside of the hobbies that I did–was watching a friend complete her own challenge: Tears came to my eyes as Rena completed her 100th Bikram Yoga class in under 100 days. What I can’t drive home any more is that it’s not until we try everything–that we realize just how capable we are of anything. I hope that these posts do nothing more than inspire you.

If I had to answer “the top 10” questions, this is how the activities would play out from 10 to 1 (1 being my absolute favorite):

10. Ziplining 

“At 650 feet in the air going that fast, let me tell you something,  you’re not thinking about falling to your doom–you’re thinking about living. You’re thinking about how free you feel–how amazing of an experience you are having, how you don’t want this 3,200 foot zip to ever end, and how your smile is going to be plastered to your face for the next few days after completing this. No, you aren’t thinking about falling–you aren’t thinking about landing–You are indeed doing nothing but living.”

9. Subway Singing / Dancing

“It’s great to see what makes people really crack a smile.”-Grant Ryan

8. Chess

” 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.”

7. Pon De Flo

“Halfway through class, I had a hobby breakthrough: As I began giggling to myself while I messed up another dance move (sorry Heather!), I noticed that I didn’t care if people thought I was America’s next best dancer–I didn’t care if people saw me mess up–and I didn’t care if my right foot accidentally went when my left foot was supposed to. Eventually, I felt tears begin to fill my eyes. I wasn’t in pain–and I wasn’t ready to run out of the room screaming. No, instead the tears had developed because a great amount of pride had come over me. I realized in that moment, that the fears and worries that I had carried with me just 11 months prior had now dissipated completely. While it may sound insignificant when written down, it was one of the highest points of my hobby year, because it had meant that the hobby year was coming full circle–revealing bits and pieces about myself and how far I’d come, without me realizing that it would.”

6. Surfing

“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.”

5. Meditation

I had escaped–I took a quick short vacation, a brief leave from the world. I spent time sitting still in a moment of ultimate calmness. What one could consider a thing of beauty.”

4. Chalking Happiness

“And what I learned most about happiness–aside from where to find it (ahem, again, everywhere): was that much like my chalked out versions of the word: Happiness doesn’t always come in a straight line–in one swoop–or even in one size–but it always, always feels good.”

3. Trapeze

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

2. Hang Gliding & Skydiving (tie)

“I open my eyes back up, and I take in the world around me. I don’t want to lose this feeling–this feeling that nothing can knock me down, this feeling of being able to hold the entire world in my arms and hug her tight–this feeling that I am flying–this feeling that I am living. “

I’ve learned this year that the more you let yourself “just do” the less you try to stop yourself–the more you go with your heart’s desires–the more your fears subside–and the more fun you have. And life is supposed to be about having fun.”

1. Piloting a Plane

I enjoyed piloting a plane so much that I just had to do it twice…There is absolutely nothing more freeing than using the plane to paint the canvas of the world down below.

“No fear. No looking back. No hesitation. I was–and still am–on top of the world.”

“I don’t believe that I’ve ever taken on a challenge of such great magnitude before–one that set me off into the world to tackle my fears, overcome my personal issues, and become an all around go-getter. This flight, now, gave me the time to see that.”

Picture 9

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The Hobby Hoarder Ziplines

The Hobby Hoarder Dances her Pants off

The Hobby Hoarder Flies a Plane

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Top 5 Reasons to Take a Pilot Lesson

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This week marks the year anniversary that I tried one of my favorite hobbies of last year, piloting a plane. I wanted to celebrate that landmark with a post on the 5 reasons you should consider taking a pilot lesson:

  1. There is absolutely nothing more freeing than using the plane to paint the canvas of the world down below.
  2. You can break from the bounds of gravity and soar for just under $150 with the help of Groupon, LivingSocial, Zipit and other online deal sites.
  3. There’s nothing that will beat your fear of flying than getting to sit in the cockpit and controlling the plane yourself. You’ll never say no to a vacation again.

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  4. Sometimes we only get to see our cities and our towns from within. A pilot lesson allows you to really see the veins that make the heart of your city or town beat.  Where do all those rivers lead to? Where do all those train tracks end?

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  5. Because you always said you wanted to.

Interesting in flying? here are some other hobbies you may want to try as well:
Hang Gliding
Sky Diving
Trapeze

 

Landings

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Tears form behind my eyes as we climb into the tiny aircraft on the last day of our fifty-day adventure. I make sure that my sunglasses are covering my eyes so that my friends can’t see. “It’s not over yet,” I remind myself. “Don’t cry just yet.”
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  On this blog, I’ve written a lot about excitement, about fear, about risk, about joy, about happiness.

But I haven’t written about sadness.

I guess it seems strange that I’d put down a post about “sadness” when writing about something as rewarding as a fifty-day cross country trip, but I promise, it will all make sense.

However, let me first point out that it’s extremely difficult to put into words everything that I felt as we returned to New York City, two weeks ago today. So let me try and do this in a simple, concise manner:

Returning to New York City, from fifty days of continuous stimulating adventure was hard. Going from a fifty-day trip with rarely any sleep, back to the city that never sleeps suddenly felt like going on an exotic trip to a foreign country. As Kim drove me to my apartment, after dropping David off in mid-town Manhattan, I suddenly felt lost in my own home.

And as I arrived back at my place, I felt even more lost. For a few days, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t function. It wasn’t dissimilar to the feelings I had or the culture shock I went through when I returned to America from studying abroad in Italy back in 2008. That semester abroad had been my first real shot at exploring the world, and when I returned to the states–I was devastatingly depressed. I spoke in Italian to strangers, I imagined sprinting through Piazza Navona while I ran in the gym on a treadmill, and I day dreamed of going back and galavanting down the cobbled alley ways. It took me months to readjust. I didn’t want it to take that long back in New York.

But as I continued to mope in my apartment, my mind began to race with questions:

“How will I acclimate back to the city life?”

“When did New York City get so many people?”

“Why is it so loud?”

“Will I make back the money I spent?”

“What will sleeping in my own bed feel like?”

“What will cooking my own food feel like?”

“When did I get so concerned about alone time–I spent a year focusing on me?”

“What happens if my friends in the city have forgotten about me?”

Suddenly I was more fearful of being in a place I recognized, or now seemingly didn’t, than I had been in the new novel nooks of the country that I had gotten to experience, and that was an overwhelmingly strange feeling. Now, the the routine of the train which I’ve written about enjoying in the past, suddenly felt like a nuisance. And don’t get me started on the feelings I had about interviewing for jobs and returning to work.

I actually considered packing up a suitcase–renting a car–and driving off again.

For a few days, I couldn’t snap out of it. Everything I saw reminded me of the trip–of the beautiful world that Kim, David and I had the opportunity to explore full-on. Everything made me think about that freeing feeling of hanging out of the car in the Badlands:

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Of laying out on The Wave in northern Arizona:

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Of waking up early to catch sunrises:

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Of seeing old friends:

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Of quiet.

I asked someone if they often felt sadness when they returned “home” from traveling. Their response was that they had wondered how long it would take the sadness to kick in for me.

Then I let myself cry-a lot. And then I kept crying. –and then I cried some more, texting a friend here or there asking, “How do you cope with sadness?”

I’d felt a large amount of sadness in my life before–but this sadness was different. It wasn’t a depressive sadness. It was it’s own breed of sadness–one that stems from all those other feelings I felt throughout the year: excitement, fear, joy, happinss.

As I wiped away my tears, I wrote another text to another friend: I am okay with this sadness.

I continued, “I respect this sadness.”

It reminded me of one of my favorite Winnie the Pooh quotes:

“How lucky I am to have something, that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Pooh’s right. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are sometimes, when sadness is all we feel.

I looked at the quote one more time and then decided to paraphrase it to match my exact feelings:

“How lucky I am to have had the chance to experience something so wonderful. How lucky I am that the sadness I feel now is because of an overwhelming feeling of joy that I was privileged to feel, that we can all be privileged to feel, if we just let it happen. How lucky I am that the sadness I feel now is because of the world I let myself see, the chances I let myself take. the obstacles I let myself face, the fears I let myself overcome, the challenges I let myself defeat. the life I let myself live. How lucky I am to look back on the moments I lived–with tear drops in my eyes and joy in my heart.” –-Again–I learned to respect the sadness.

Over the days that the sadness had escalated, I told myself that I had to think of returning from the trip–not as an ending–but rather–a transition–but more so as a landing.

So often, we get caught up on the words “ending” and “finale.” But there was nothing final about this trip–this hobby year. Both adventures opened up incredible opportunities for me to learn about myself, to challenge myself. Both adventures allowed me a chance to grow. Both opportunities allowed me to experience meet new people from all walks of life and to build long lasting friendships. Most of all both adventures allowed me to live a life I’ve always wanted to live: one that’s filled with genuine happiness.

The flying lesson that I posted a video of on this piece may have been the final day of the travels, but to use that word “final,” just seems wrong.  That last day  gave me a chance to look back on not only the trip with two of my best friends, but also on the year that I said “yes” to–the year that allowed me to overcome my fears, to tackle things I never thought I could–the year that allowed me to live life in an abundantly, exciting way. The year that went from a project–to a lifestyle. The year that was my navigation to true happiness.

That my friends is not an ending. That my friends is much bigger than an ending–and much more rewarding. That my friends, is what I call a landing.

And what’s the best part about landing?

Getting to reflect–Getting to refuel. And getting to take off again soon.

Skydiving

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“Close your tired eyes-Relax and then-Count from one to ten-and open them-All the heavy thoughts will try to weigh you down-But not this time-Way up in the air-You’re finally free”-Owl City

If I had told you that jumping out of a plane was on my original “52 hobbies in 52 weeks” list, I’d be lying. But after piloting a plane–and realizing how free I felt way up in the air, I knew I had to take the dive–the sky dive that is–and see what it really felt like to spread my wings and “fly.”

And it felt amazing.

 

David and I first booked our skydiving adventure to happen a couple weeks ago, but after Hurricane Sandy came through, we had to reschedule twice. And it’s a good thing we did. We were fortunate enough to jump on a day in Mid-November with well above average temps: 70 degrees.

As we arrived at Endless Mountain Skydivers, I could feel my smile brighten. “This is it. We are going to jump out of a plane today…and that’s pretty effin spectacular,” I thought to myself.

Not before long, we were watching a safety video, suiting up and heading into our plane. There was no turning back now–not even just to pee (the harnesses had us strapped in for good).

As the plane began to climb to it’s peak altitude, I felt my heart begin to beat with excitement. I watched the world get smaller below–the houses now just little boxes, the airport just a set of white crosses in a field. I took a breath. This is the part where I should probably be writing an in depth acknowledgement of the jitters that one feels right before they take a dive through the sky; or the part where I should be explaining that I was becoming fearful of the worst–but the truth is, I wasn’t. I’ve learned this year that the more you let yourself “just do” the less you try to stop yourself–the more you go with your heart’s desires–the more your fears subside–and the more fun you have. And life is supposed to be about having fun.

As the plane began to climb higher and higher, the more I wanted to do this. And the more times that my camera guy asked me if I was nervous, the less-nervous, I became. This was just another stopping point on my journey–that could only propel me ahead. What happened next is as clear to me as the sky outside of the plane:

 

I take a look out the window–I slide on my goggles, I wiggle my jaw, the door opens to the plane, I flash a smile at the camera–and then suddenly–we are free-falling. As we drop quickly, I can feel my adrenaline beginning to pump wildly. I grin as the cold air rushes past us. “I’m flying…I’m really flying,” I think to myself.  “I’m free, I”m free.” The fall is only 40 seconds long, but it’s the biggest rush I’ve ever had. As the world below, begins to get a little bigger down below, so does my smile. I feel like I am holding the whole world in my arms. 

As our free-fall reaches it’s climatic end, my instructor pulls our parachute sending us briefly back up into the sky, before floating down to the ground. I begin to feel a little motion sick as the adrenaline continues to rush through my body. My adrenaline is screaming at me, “You’re nuts–you’re nuts, you’ve gotten me all riled up. Even I can’t handle this.” I don’t let my illness ruin the experience. This is truly one of the greatest days of my life. 

And the truth is that this has been the greatest year of my life. And the adventure itself has been like one big skydiving trip. With each new hobby that I’ve tried, I’ve experienced a sensation of free-fall: including all the fears, all the anxiety, all the excitement, all the happiness, and all the utter joy. Every week–I feel like I have the whole world in my arms–and that’s a pretty amazing feeling.

I can’t wait to see where the rest of the year takes me.

 

 

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Special Thanks
Endless Mountain Skydivers

 

 

Song in video:

Owl City
Shooting Star
–No copyright infringement intended!–

On Top of the World

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“I’m through accepting limits–cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change-but till I try, I’ll never know”
-Wicked

The sun is beginning to set over Manhattan, but the plane I am piloting is just rising over Jones Beach. The sky is a mix of blue, red, purple, orange, and yellows too. It’s beautiful.

-Photo taken by Kimberly Manley

I try to reflect on how I got here, 2,000 feet altitude on a pilot lesson that
will take me up the Hudson River, back down the Hudson River, around the Statue of Liberty, up the East River, and back out to Long Island.

The answer is simple. Because I said “Why not?” 

The first time that I ever felt on top of the world, truly on top of the world, I had just reached the top of a chair lift on the side of a mountain in Bolzano, Italy. By the time I reached the top of the mountain, I couldn’t tell you if I was still in Italy or if I had crossed the border into Austria. No one spoke Italian, and everyone seemed to be speaking German. I hadn’t an idea what anyone was saying, but I didn’t care–I was simply on top of the world.

I should have known in that moment how adventurous I was willing to be–but it didn’t hit me then. In fact, it took me until my second flying lesson, on September 23. And to be more exact–it took me until the plane I was piloting was sitting parallel with midtown-Manhattan. 

“This is amazing,” I just kept saying to myself. “Amazing.” I took in the views, I managed the controls, and I reminisced on my first flight, and the year of activities that had taken place behind me–and the rest of the year that would be culminating ahead of me. As the sun continued to go down, my visions only became more clear. Tears even filled my eyes.

-Photo taken by Kimberly Manley

I don’t believe that I’ve ever taken on a challenge of such great magnitude before–one that set me off into the world to tackle my fears, overcome my personal issues, and become an all around go-getter. This flight, now, gave me the time to see that.

I look to the back of the plane, and I see my friend Kim. I ask in the microphone on the headset how she’s doing. I can hear her smile as she says she’s doing great.

And I know in that moment, we were right where we needed to be–on top of the world.

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Special Thanks

Global Aviation Corp.
http://www.globalaviationcorp.net

If you can make it here: My First Audition

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I moved to the city nearly three years ago, and while I call it “home,” I’m not quite sure I ever went through my official initiation– that is until this past weekend, when I attended my first audition.

Now. I should stop for a moment. I have many, many friends here in the city who are actors and actresses, and in no way, shape, or form am I attempting to take away from their hard work and effort—by calling auditioning a hobby—because for most all of them it isn’t. Auditioning is serious business and leads to amazing opportunities.  More closely, auditioning resembles job interviews—Ideally, you only go to one of those every so often.

But this audition was a bit different. Unlike my friends who have practiced, rehearsed, and memorized their lines, I had to do nothing other than be myself and hope for the best.  I auditioned for a game show—which is quite a bit different than auditioning for a television pilot, series, indie or feature film. It’s about auditioning for a chance at having fun—and winning money. And that’s a hobby I could really get used to!

Now your big question. What game show was it? … Wheel of Fortune? Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Jeopardy.

Nope.

A brand new one—that features a hypnotist. This audition was for a game show pilot—which seemed even cooler. How awesome would it be to be the first contestant on the next big show!?

And even though the audition wasn’t for my future Emmy or Oscar winning role—I still got nervous. “What if I say something embarrassing while I am hypnotized?” What if I can’t be hypnotized?” “What if I DO get picked for this game show pilot?!” “What if I do win money?!” “What would I use the money on?!”  (That answer is easy—more hobbies—and traveling).

While I can’t dive too much into specifics—because I truly don’t know any part of the show other than the fact that someone tried to hypnotize me, I can tell you that the experience of applying—and finding out that they wanted me to even come in and audition at all was exhilarating in itself. I consider that the first win of it all.

My friend, Adam, who is on his own journey, travels the country, and runs the site We Own The Moment, came along with me—and I believe he said it best when he explained that it’s amazing how many opportunities there are to do something like this every day in New York City.  And he’s right–there are SO many opportunities. I began to question myself. Why hadn’t I done this sooner? Why hadn’t I auditioned for ANYTHING sooner?

I could go into the psychology of why I hadn’t—but for now I think I’ll just start focusing on the present which involves a stack of casting calls…because hey…why the heck not?

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In honor of the theme of hypnotism, I thought I’d include the recent Joseph Gordon-Levitt skit from SNL:

The Hobby Hoarder Heads to the Sky: Pilot Lesson

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Music by: Suzy Sellout

For the first time in my life, my head was in the clouds–and I was completely okay with it.

Shaking. Palms sweating. Thoughts racing through my mind. I don’t usually get nervous, but moments before lifting off the ground in a small airplane–that I was piloting, nerves suddenly were flowing through my veins. My adrenaline pumped, and I could feel my heart beating straight out of my chest. There was no looking back now–I was about to pilot a plane…and that’s freaking awesome.

As I felt the plane leave the ground, I stayed focused on the details my co-pilot/instructor, Nicholas had told me: When it reaches 60, pull back a bit, stop, and stay still.

Golden.

Now reaching peak altitude, I took a moment to look out the window and take in the view of the beach, the neighborhood houses, and the open sky ahead. I smiled–a big wide grin like the cheshire cat. I was flying a plane–I was really flying a plane. It was a symbol of something much larger though for me. I was really making things happen. I AM making things happen–and that’s what this year is all about: No fear. No looking back. No hesitation. I was–and still am–on top of the world.

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Global Aviation Corp.
http://www.learn2flyny.com
http://www.globalaviationcorp.net
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