Tag Archives: Risk

Moving Forward

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted—and to be honest it had been a while since I had hobbied. 2014 has been an interesting year—between a small biking accident, breaking my hand in April and then spraining my ankle in July, I’ve spent more time on the mend than I have on my feet.

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And I’ll just say it: those four months were really, really difficult.

But they were more difficult than they should have been:

because I chose to let them be.

A good friend of mine is currently reading the book “Dear Sugar,” by Cheryl Strayed. And throughout our trip to Orlando, she went about reading me brief blurbs from different chapters—brief blurbs that affected her and that in turn affected me.

One of those blurbs happened to hit me just before we entered the 165 mile per wind tunnel at iFly Orlando —where I officially broke my hobby hiatus:

“You do not have the luxury of despair.”

Sitting cross-legged on top of a cabinet, I stared at the group of people who were indoor skydiving ahead of us, and I breathed into that thought and repeated it in my head several times:

You do not have the luxury of despair.

 When bad things happen—we are very quick to issue blames of circumstance, to sit and to brood. To over-think. To think all of our issues are worse than those of the person next to us. To fall into traps that “the world is out to get us.” And that “Life is just so not fair.”

The small things become big.

So when each of my physical incidents happened, I went through a series of heightened emotions:

First I was sad—then I accepted it—and by the time I sprained my ankle, I was angry.

But it wasn’t fair to me or the gift I was being granted: the gift of time to sit with myself, time to give my body the break it deserved, and time to heal.

Yes. I said it.

Hurting myself over and over again was a gift.

Through those four months, I learned a lot about myself. I learned how to listen to my body. I learned how to ease back into things. I learned how I deal with injury; I learned about my level of neediness—and selfishness; I learned about how to control my neediness and selfishness; I learned when I am both my worst and best version of myself.

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And above all: I learned how to accept that not everything will always go the way we’d hoped it would—but that’s okay.

 Because no matter what—we have only one option:

 

And that’s to move forward.

 

And what better way to move forward—than to fly:

 Special Thanks
iFly Orlando

Special Thanks
The Albertsons

 

iFly Orlando
6805 Visitors Circle, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 903-1150

 

 

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10 Reasons to Try Something New

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1. You have the opportunity. Take it:  It’s easy to say “I’ll try that tomorrow or the next day,” or “Maybe I’ll do that some day…” but it’s more fun and likely, more rewarding to say “I’ll try that right now.” Make SOME DAY—today.

2. You can make new friends and meet new people: If you’re looking to branch out and make new friends, trying something new or hitting up a group class is the perfect way to find people with similar interests. You never know, you may just find some of your closest friends.

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3. You can overcome a fear: The only way to overcome a fear, is to face your fear. Maybe talking to strangers terrifies you—head to a group class/you’ve never taken before, and see if you can start a conversation with just one person. Or maybe the ocean kind of sort of gives you the heebie-jeebies—head out there with a boogie board and ride the waves!

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4. You may find something you’re passionate about that you may not have known otherwise. If we never gave something a chance, how would we ever know if we were passionate about it or not?

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5. You may surprise yourself: Maybe you didn’t fall in love with what you tried, but perhaps you exceeded any expectation you had going into whatever you tried. In my opinion, we are truly capable of anything–we just have to give ourselves the chance.

6. Trying new things is FUN. You may be stuck in a rut, so what better time than now to break your usual routine: Exercising your soul and your mind and your body are a lot like going to the gym: If you keep doing the same thing every day, life may feel mundane or you’ll start to feel stuck or stagnant. If your days are starting to feel like this, then it’s definitely time to mix up what you’re doing. Don’t keep going through the motions if you have a chance to spice it up.

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7. You may start to feel yourself getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. GOOD.  You may not be perfect the first time you try something new–or the second time you try the activity. Heck, you may feel fully and utterly exposed, but that discomfort, as long as you don’t let it overwhelm you, is what brings the pride when you’ve completed something you never thought you could do or you may have never even thought you would try.


8. Getting out of bed is more rewarding than snoozing all day. Woody Allen once said that showing up is 80 percent of life. You may be tired, but you’ll never know the reward if you don’t give something a shot.

9. Natural Highs. So often, we forget how good “Firsts” can feel. Remember when firsts used to be celebrated? First step—first word? First A+? Now we tend to celebrate only firsts when they seem to be HUGE life happenings: First jobs, first baby, first (only) marriage. Try something new—and each time you do—celebrate a little more. You don’t get a first time, again.

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10. Why not?

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.

The Art of the Travel Mate(s)

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***As the road trip has come to an end–there will be a series of posts involving hobbies accomplished; places seen; lessons learned; and an over-encompassing post of it all–but for that post–whew, I’ll need a few days to reflect. For now–here’s a little post about choosing the right Travel Companions.**

As my mom clicks through my photos of the trip, she comes across a picture of David in his red Florence hat staring off into the Badlands.

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She sees me smile as I remember that day silently in my head. She continues to scroll and comes across a photo of Kim standing with her back to a giant tree in the redwood forest, her arms out at her sides. I giggle, again, remembering that moment of the trip.

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My mom turns to me and says, “And you are all still talking?”

A cheerful grin spreads across my face, “Yep. Still talking.”

Prior to leaving on the trip, a lot of people asked me who I thought would be the one to throw off the balance of the squad. I couldn’t come up with an answer so most of the time I joked-“Well..I have a feeling by Seattle Kim and David will be best friends–and I’ll be standing on the side of the street under some big gray sky with two duffle bags holding my thumb out.”

Clearly, that didn’t happen. And although, we had our moments of tiny bits of conflict, we all handled it in a mature – simple – way, by retreating to our cell phones or our books for a few moments of silence before blasting out another song to sing and dance along to.

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Travel companions are the most crucial part of any journey.  Sometimes, when you need alone time–you’ll still need to be in some vicinity of them–including the backseat of the car. It’s important to concern yourself with the travel mates you choose before you worry about what path you’ll take, where you’ll stop, and what mountains you hike–or else the entire trip itself will feel like an uphill battle. If you choose the right people to travel with–then the right path will unfold on it’s own–there won’t be a wrong way.

And the truth is, you’ll know very early on in a trip if it’s going to work out or if you are going to have to turn around after you sit down for your first cup of coffee. I can’t tell you what the signs are of this–because I just know that if you gel, then you gel, and if you don’t gel–well then the trip will start off in hell. Some ways to approach travel mates in general? Avoid selfish words: “My plans,” “My trip,” “It’s my decision.” Remember–if you are going to tackle an adventure with other people–then it’s always “our.”

With that being said: I couldn’t be more grateful for my two travel-mates, David and Kim–who didn’t know one another until a month before we took off. Of course, because they didn’t know one another, I knew that there was a risk involved, but I went along with it anyway–because in my heart of all hearts I had good feelings that it would all work out.

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David is one of my best friends in the city–whom I had met on the side of the street while he working on White Collar a year and a half prior. It wasn’t til 8 months later that we really began hanging out and getting to know one another. What developed was a beautiful friendship that involved many weekends filled with laughter, karaoke, serious chats, and dinner parties. I remember one night even telling David, “Please don’t move away–ever.” A few weekends later, we decided to go sky diving together. That weekend, I invited David to join me on the road trip adventure- and a few weeks later, he texted me to say that he definitely was in–that if he didn’t do it now, he wasn’t sure when he would. I knew David would appreciate this trip just as much as me by that simple statement.

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I met Kim during my acting class last spring. At our first class together, Kim told me she worked in publishing, and I told her that I was working on a book–but that I was hesitant about where the book would go because of the lower number of hits on the site (at that point) and because well I really hadn’t started writing the drafts yet. She asked me if I had read the book, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. I told her I hadn’t–and then she summed it up quickly for me–telling me that what many projects will see is a steady stream of low numbers–and then suddenly–something will tip the scales and numbers will rise exponentially.

She said, “Don’t worry. You’ll see a tipping point.”

We had only known one another a few moments, but I was grateful for this instant sort of belief in my project–even if she didn’t know very much about it.

In contrast to my friendship with David which involved many weekend movie outings, dinners, and game nights, Kim and I had just a few coffee dates–and taken a flying lesson together– before I invited her to join me on the final hobby of the year–the road trip. Our coffee dates had involved some of the best conversations I had in years–about the world, the way people connect, and life.

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The night before Thanksgiving, Kim called me and said she was 100 percent in for the trip.

Again, at this point the two had never met. Like David, I knew Kim would have a great appreciation for whatever we explored on the trip. I crossed my fingers that their ability to appreciate the world around them would created a trio of triumph by the beginning–and end–of the trip.

Then–as earlier mentioned–one month before take off, we all sat down in David’s apartment, and began plotting out a route. When we tell people about that meeting, we describe it in two ways.

1. Serious: Planning meeting.

2. Slightly Joking: Final Judgement

With my fingers crossed, neither of them came to me to say “I can’t travel with the other.” Phew–I wiped the sweat off my forehead.

And thank goodness they both came along.

We hadn’t even stopped for our first coffee break when I knew it would work out. As we drove over the Virginia state line, we all pointed out that the sun would be rising soon and that we should look up a good spot to catch it. As David drove the second leg of the first route, I began Googling based on the city we were approaching: Fredericksburg. Fortunately, a list of locations and images popped up on my search right away. “On to Fredericksburg Battlefield,” I declared. Collectively, we had made our first agreement on the road.

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And from there everything continued to flow effortlessly.

Buy a pack for the top of the car? Yes, Yes, Yes.

Then agree to never use it after Colorado? Yes, Yes, Yes.

Stop and enjoy all the food we could? Yes, Yes, Yes.

Wake up at the break of dawn in Memphis to catch a stunning sunrise? Duh

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Stop at a field in Carlsbad, NM and breathe in a brilliant sunset? Why wouldn’t we?

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Fed Ex all the books on Tape back to NYC that David and I were so excited about? Probably for the best.

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Pay a little extra for safety in a small town of Arizona? Yes, Yes, Yes.

Spend 6 hours at a place called the Wave and lessen our time at the Grand Canyon? –Of course. To us, it was living in the moment.

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Buy two Bieber CDs and make them two of the most played albums in the car? Yes, Yes, Yes.

And that was just into Los Angeles. We still had half a country (and parts of Canada) to agree on–and for the most part, we did.

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And then– a month and a half into the trip, as we reached Ohio, I came across a 5k that would take place after returning to NYC, that I wanted to sign up for –one in which the racers get to compete on the JFK runway. I tickled with excitement and that excitement carried over as David and Kim decided that they wanted to join as well. With groggy eyes, I smiled. I’m not sure I had the opportunity to really express to them in that moment how happy I was that they wanted to do the run too. I knew up until that point we were all getting along great, but to know that we had already made it through one month and a half of a trip in severely close quarters with one another–and that we were already making plans to spend time together after–well that thrilled me in a little kid kind of way.

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Throughout the journey, Kim and David pushed me to challenge myself–David on the ice at Arches National Park and Kim in her eye opening statements about how the world looks–how home looks; they both challenged their own selves and one another, and they each embraced the trip with as wide of open arms as I did. Our quarrels, though few and far between came only in the moments that I would expect them to: during times of exhaustion; hunger; and too close of quarters for a bit too long. It was very clear along the way that our journey–though, only limited to just under 2 months, could have gone on much longer–and I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything.

Thanks Kim–Thanks David.

IMG_3227Photo Credit: Kimberly Manley

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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!–

Swimming with Sharks

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

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

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

“Not likely.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Camden Aquarium
1 Riverside Drive
Camden, New Jersey

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:

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