The Miracle of Human Flight. (in the digital age)

flight

I went on a business trip.

Yep. Like a big girl.

I know you’re not surprised, since I’ve blogged about my flying adventures before.

This time was different though.  I didn’t make a lobster roll spread on my way to Los Angeles by taking up a full row and laying out my condiments (shamelesssss) and I didn’t creatively procure free alcohol (it was weird).

I participated in the miracle of human flight in a different way and I got pretty excited.

Are you guys familiar with Louis C. K.?  I apologize if this question is akin to me asking if you’ve heard of Miley Cyrus. DUH. (Unfortunately) (although that “We Can’t Stop” song – pretty catchy).

Anyway. Louis C. K. Comedian. Hilarious. Sometimes takes it too far. But mostly dead on funny.

A few years ago he was on Conan’s show and ranted for a fantastic bit that has come to be known as “everything is amazing and no one is happy,” during which he recounts how freaking awesome it is – this invention of human flight (among other things) (and rants on humans in general).

(if you haven’t seen it, then you HAVE TO watch this clip. It’s the funniest shit ever. Click here. Or here. Or HERE.)

That’s how I felt.

Not only was it a gorgeous day for flying.

BUT I used the internet today. On board.

Not only was I 38,000 feet in the air, but I could TELL MY FRIENDS ABOUT IT.

In real time.

So I did.

I emailed my brother, my aunt, my boyfriend, my cousin, 10 of my co-workers, my grandma, several managers, my dad, and my hair stylist (ok my former hair stylist).

I realize in-flight wifi isn’t new. But it actually worked this time. And I actually felt like using it instead of taking some me time/had to dial-in (something about work).

I was totally going weeeeeeeee. (My row companion LOVED it. JK. But I did have an interesting convo with him that I’ll save for my next post. YUP. It’s a two-parter.)

Anyways, IT WAS AWESOME!

Advertisements

Does My Bamboo Stick Make Me Look Fierce?

martial arts weaponry stickfighting

This week I got intimate with some sticks.

Bamboo sticks.

Full disclosure.  Last week a new startup called Vimbly reached out to me about experiencing something new. Vimbly finds activities, classes and date ideas in New York City, Seattle, Maui, Las Vegas and Chicago and compiles them in one place. They asked me to try out their system and engage in the activity of my choice.

I’ve actually never accepted any type of sponsorship before this.  Nothing until this felt like it was aligned with my blog or mission.  (Thanks for reaching out – gardening company and tattoo equipment re-seller – I can’t wait to introduce the self-airbrush kit to the blogging community)

However, new experiences, pushing the comfort zone and knocking things off my personal bucket list?

I’m game.

I browsed my options and thought seriously about laughing my ass off at an off-Broadway show, taking a glass-blowing class or learning to DJ.  But what really caught my eye was the list of martial arts and self-defense classes.

I’ve ALWAYS wanted someone to show me how to kick some ass. And since this opportunity allows me to try anything (in Vimbly reason), I immediately committed to the Filipino martial art of Weaponry Stick-fighting.

Now, when I say I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, I didn’t know what to expect.

So when I got to class, took off my shoes and was introduced to the other three long-term members of this semi-private class – Richie, Ryan and Matt – who have each spent years with bamboo stick in hand and was given the following demonstration… I thought – WELL OF COURSE.

My first partner was Ryan, a tall 20-something who quit his job and started his own law firm so that he could have the flexibility to practice stick-fighting as often as possible.

so, NO BIG DEAL.

I’ll use my ballet-influenced figure skating maneuvers to my advantage.

Really tall Ryan: do you want to attack first or defend?
Me: I would like to trade in this bamboo stick for a real sword.
Really tall Ryan: okay I’ll attack first.
Me: sir who is in charge – any qualms with my arrangement here?
Me: no?
Me: OK.

The good news is that Ryan didn’t take my head off.

We started class by going through five attack maneuvers in standstill, then we added footwork, then we did the same with defense techniques.  We tried these attack/defend moves on each other then added footwork, allowing us to fight while moving back and forth, attacking and defending with our bamboo-swords.

By the end of class, I had figured out the entire coordinated fighting dance.  I was able to perform the attack and defend movements in correct sequence with the correct footwork.

The build-up of the class alleviated any intimidation.  As with anything that appears difficult, breaking down the movements makes it extremely manageable.

I love new experiences because there’s nothing to lose.

From the moment I took off my shoes and walked through the door, nothing else was on my mind.  I left work, stress, busy schedules and deadlines in my neon pink sneakers and injected effort and excitement into my bamboo stick (still petitioning for real swords).

I’m pretty sure there were times where I looked like Monica on that episode of Friends where she tries to learn to tap dance (OK no one is THAT bad), but it felt good to be out of my comfort zone for an evening.

Plus, now I’m prepared the next time I’m summoned for a duel or I need to protect myself and I have a bamboo stick.

Awesome.

Home-Running it Through the Bucket List

chicago sport and social softball

Number 11 on my bucket list this summer was to join a summer sports league.

I put it on my bucket list because I’ve never actually joined a recreational sports team for young professionals.  I’ve seen many a group walking around sporting ZogSports or Chicago Sport and Social Club t-shirts… and really wanted one.

There are a host of excuses for why in the 6 years post college I have not yet participated.  I’m busy.  I’m a figure skater (i.e. not a soccer/football/baseball player).  None of my friend groups have ever organized a team.  Games are held in inconvenient locations.  The last time I played football in fourth grade I was tackled and couldn’t feel my body for a bit.  The other girls have more experience.

Basically, I’ve been too chicken-shit.

Time to amend this issue.

This summer I’ve joined a Chicago Sport and Social Club softball league with about 20 of my co-workers (read: public humiliation is even more fun when carried to the workplace).

And today was the first game.

Today was also, conveniently, the hottest day Chicago has seen this summer.

Let the shirt-soaking fun begin.

I took a cab found my way to the field and joined everyone for beers warm-ups.

I quickly found out that laying low wasn’t in the cards.  Turns out league rules state that each team must have at least 4 girls on the team at all times, 4 girls in the outfield and must rotate a girl batter every two players. (I haven’t decided how I feel about this gender equality driven rule-book as of yet).

Either way…we had 5 girls.  I had to woman-up and learn fast.

I started the game as the Center-fielder.  By the grace of some guardian angel, the other team’s first line-up couldn’t hit a ball the size of a kickball had some trouble and struck out quickly.  I had another beer with my teammates/coworkers and prepared to bat for the first time.

Everyone started to cheer me on as I went up.  I swung once and missed and then got a walk to first.  I was pretty psyched.  We struck out shortly after, but I was starting to get the hang of it.

My next turn at center-fielder, I was the recipient of a giant welt on the side of my knee stopped a ball hurled straight towards me and was able to get it to the second-base in time to hear “out” called on the other team.

At some point during the game the other team started to kick our ass play really well.

Any judgment passed in the beginning of the game flew straight out the window (lesson learned).  This team didn’t have matching uniforms, seemed disorganized and had one member with an artificial leg.

You’d think the score would have at least been close.  NOPE. (I will refrain from divulging the actual score)

We lost.

I’m pretty sure that bystanders couldn’t tell the difference though.  We immediately began toasting and drinking beers on the field and continuing the hyper excitement of the past 2 hours.

After on-field drinks, we moved the matching t-shirt party to a local bar where we toasted to our next game.

Playing with a team of coworkers/friends/new team members at sunset on a summer day was Awesome.

Looking forward to next week’s game.

Lean In and Get Over It

inspiration

Last week was rough.

I was in the midst of working hard (showing off my tan) in my third day back in the office since my Greek odyssey, when I was unexpectedly cast in a commercial for everything-that-Sheryl-Sandberg-leans-in-about.

An unexpected altercation with a female superior left me blind-sided and wondering why certain individuals feel compelled to push others down.

It was a blow.

It was surreal.

It shook me up a bit.

I needed to bounce back. Shrug it off. Stop caring. Look the other way. Forget about it.  Look on the bright side.  Accept the nature of the business (thanks dad).  Learn a lesson.

I took the advice.  I took some deep breaths.  And I went back to re-centering myself in much the same way that started this blog:

Remembering things I love to do (big and small)… and doing them.

Over the past few days I have pushed my physical boundaries by going back to the dance room, this time in the form of the make-your-muscles-shake Bar Method.  This class kicked my butt, but left me feeling accomplished.

Also – I can’t remember the last time I did 40 push-ups.  7th Grade Gym?

bar method

I took my love of tea and the belief that anything can be solved over a hot pot to the Drake Hotel, where a friend and I hashed life out over a tradition known as high tea.

We each had about 5 pots of tea and took some liberties with the butter-on-scone action.  We might not be cut out for Pride and Prejudice the sequel, but we left feeling uplifted (and hydrated).

high tea

I frolicked, danced and swam with friends and family.  This involved seeing my cousins, experiencing a Chicago Beer festival and enjoying the budding Chicago summer on my rooftop.

pool

And I did some shopping.

In the form of a “shopping party” that a friend happened to win that came with champagne and discounts.

(Yes, I’m secretly Cher Horowitz)

(And Celine Dion plays while I’m finding myself at the mall)

shopping finding yourself

At some point during the shopping extravaganza, while trying on dresses with my best girls to the inspiration of Kelly Clarkson appropriately playing in the background, I turned my defeat into mental power.  Re-energized from doing what I love and enjoying my favorite people, I felt calm and empowered.  I remembered the inspirational women I’ve been lucky to have in my life.  I thought about the fact that I too can say that I am a strong, ambitious and passionate woman.

And I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

I actually think it’s Awesome.

The Running Path

chicago path

I started running outside this week.

As mentioned in previous posts, I really started running last year.  Previous to that time, I ran because I was a) forced by figure skating coaches b) wanted to beat my brother c) wanted to beat the boys in gym class (this is true).

As I’ve matured (loose term), running has become a great way to get in a short workout, be outdoors and push my competitive needs.

Ever since I moved to the Windy City, all I’ve heard about is the famed lakefront path.

This is no exaggeration and I have a sneaky suspicion that anyone who has spent more than 35 minutes in Chicago will attest to this.  I have heard about running outdoors by the lake from my dad (he was on a work assignment in Chicago once…decades ago), from former co-workers overseas and from friends who spent a hot second doing an internship out in the Miwest.

This week I got to experience it for myself.

Chicago enjoyed warm temperatures for a whole 72 hours.  And I took advantage.

I mapped out a course and figured out how to cross the lakeshore highway (tricky underground tunnels!).

I set out running through the streets, meandered through heavy traffic on Michigan Ave and finally made it to the path where my fellow runners were.

I joined the rhythm of the other runners, turned up the volume on David Guetta’s Night of Your Life and aimed for North Avenue Beach.

Running right along the sand and the lake with no guard rail is an experience.  It reminded me of why I loved lake Michigan so much as a child and why I love it so much now: it looks like an ocean.

When I reached the tip of the bay where the beach curves and sets out in the other direction, I stopped running and turned around.

The view was incredible.

Awesome.

chicago

For the Love of Role-Modeling

skating coach

This past week, a younger co-worker asked to shadow me at work;

I was offered the opportunity to coach a group of figure skaters ages 6-8;

I was assigned a prospective candidate to interview for my college.

My plate was pretty full and little sleep was had (nothing new)…

But I threw myself into each experience.

And in the process remembered how much I adore mentoring, coaching and passing on wisdom (used loosely here).

Each separate event had me deep in preparation.  I outlined appropriate questions to ask an ambitious high schooler, considered work tasks most interesting and even went on the United States Skating Association website to look up basic skills I may have forgotten (I admit it).

The result was worth the effort.

Offering work advice left me feeling humbled.

Speaking to a high school student determined to surpass insurmountable life obstacles was inspiring.

And helping to mold a new generation of athletic character in the form of 6 and 7 year olds…

Was just plain Awesome.

Let the Sun Shine in

skating

Today the sun came out.

Literally and figuratively.

Yes.  It was the coldest day Chicago has seen in 2 years.  And Yes. It felt like hypothermia was upon me after3.4 minutes out the door.

But.  The sun was shining.

So.

I indulged in this mood lifter by having myself a serious me day filled with fitness.

Although January is usually a hard month for me, for some reason, the winter, in particular, this year is hitting me hard.

Given the fact that I was born and raised in Eastern Europe, grew up in Michigan, went to school on a frigid mountain and spent the entirety of my life figure skating (summers too)… you’d think this was all routine by now.

Not this winter.

I’m shocked every time I go outside and it isn’t 70 and I stare at people who are dressed in anything less than Eskimo-wear.  Secretly I’ve been hell-bent on pretending I’ve never experienced cold while plotting to run away to the other side of the equator.

What I needed today was to indulge myself in the kind of days I love most.  The kind of days I used to have during the summers when my coach would pick me up at 5am for a day’s worth of stretching, working out and off-ice and on-ice training.

Today I pushed myself to remember all those moves that muscle memory ingrained for two decades.

I know I’ve written before about going back to the ice.  Today I felt more confident and trained as if I’d never left.

I thought of nothing but the task in front of me.

It. Felt. Great.

After practice I took the train an hour back downtown for some pilates and yoga where I crunched, stretched and zen-ed through the adrenaline I had left.

By the 7th downward dog, I was exhilarated and exhausted all at the same time and felt like I’d found my center.

I ended the day by watching my favorite show with some tea.

And honey.

And some chocolate.

Awesome.