This summer is all about trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone. To do that, I’ve adopted a “say yes to anything” mantra. I figure if an opportunity presents itself, I’ve got to take it, right?
There’s been a couple of things I’ve been saying I want to do for a while now but as life happens, we often push these things, however big or small they may be, to the bottom of the list, putting work, family obligations and everyday “life” first and sometimes forgetting to embrace the extras.
Every since my childhood trips to Cali, one thing I’ve always wanted to do is learn to surf. At (nearly) 33, I realize I may be a bit too late and gravity is probably not on my side. While I was once a gymnast (I swear!) I’m not sure I’ve retained much from my leotard days except for decent flexibility and nice calves (no modesty here…).
Especially after my ill-fated snowboarding debacle (I was truly one with the mountain – as in, I was face-down on the mountain for 95% of the time…), I’ve realized I may be getting too old for my whimsical, wishful list of hobbies I want to start. But I digress…
A few months ago, I wrote an article on SURFSET Fitness, a new workout program done entirely on a specially designed indoor surfboard and funded by Shark Tank – one of my favorite shows. I took a class at Floortime Studios as part of my reporting and thought it was pretty darn cool. When I saw they were offering a summer bootcamp to both get in-shape and take a group surf-lesson at the end, I signed up and will finally be checking off the learn to surf (or at least “get up on a board”) box on my never-ending life to-do list.
I’ve completed 11 classes so far and am hooked. I plan on signing up for the next session and really whipping my butt into shape. It’s an amazing total body workout including cardio and strength work and I am definitely working harder than I ever did before at the gym or on my casual jogs by the beach. Stay tuned to hear about my actual ocean-time happening in a few weeks – hopefully I’ll live to tell the tale!
So what will I say yes to next? I don’t know…try me! 🙂
No, I’m not a Mrs., but I am an official RI resident again – with license plates to prove it! After somehow managing to survive more than a year in Newport without a vehicle of my own, I recently purchased my first car after more than 5 years as a car-less city dweller.
Still set in my urban ways, I had no problem walking to the store, taking the train into Boston or home to NY, and even daring to ask if we can “call a cab” when heading out. (You can’t, in case you were wondering there are maybe two cab companies in RI…). I relied on the kindness of my boyfriend and friends for rides (thanks guys) and walked anywhere I could. I only lived about a 5-minute walk to a grocery store, drug store, yoga studio, coffee shop, etc. and just up the hill from the entire downtown Newport scene, even the beach was less than a mile walk away. I didn’t think twice about walkin’ it, but after a year as “the girl without a car,” I resigned to the fact that a car of my own was inevitably in my future.
I should probably mention that in terms of my job, I am lucky enough to work from home for the most part, only having to go on assignments, to meetings or to an office once a week or so. Because of this, I found a car not completely necessary, and although I love being back in little Rhody, maybe a small part of me was still clinging to the notion of being a city girl…
The lifeline of my NYC car-free existence was my trusty Zipcar membership and when I found out Newport had recently been added as a Zipcar city, I was even less inclined to buy myself wheels. Gas, insurance, EZ pass and even a beach pass included? Yes, please! During the summer months there were cars at a nearby hotel only a few blocks from my apartment but when summer ended and I got the unpleasant surprise that my cute little summer ride was being moved to Salve Regina (the university in Newport that it about a mile or two up the road from me), I knew the time had come.
After a few not-so-fun shopping trips to find said car, which sidenote*, you should never do with your longterm live-in boyfriend whom you are not married to, I took the plunge and am now considered a normal Rhode Islander, meaning that I drive to get my morning coffee, even though there are at least 5 places totally walkable…
I guess there’s no turning back now, so cue up that Rhody fight song!
*Because invasive and pushy sales people will find a way to ask you if you are married/why you aren’t married/whether you plan on getting married and claim it’s to find you some sort of married person discount. But, in defense of this awkwardness, I did in fact receive a $500 discount due to the fact that my not-husband/live-in boyfriend lease’s a competitive vehicle. Yay for living in sin!
Remember as a kid when you had to recap your summer in those first hazy still kinda summer/not quite fall days of school? Well, yeah, I’m bring that back on the blog today and as I attempt to explain my 3(ish) month blogging hiatus. My sorry excuse can be best be summed up by the three simple words SUMMER-IN-NEWPORT because basically, yeah, I’ve been out enjoying it (as well as writing about it on other blogs and publications) and thus, my poor little blog has severely suffered. Here’s a quick recap of my summer, which is sadly coming to a close. More to come, promise!
“How I spent my summer vacation”
-Moving to a new fabulous apartment (and hosting a tour of friends and family now that we have guest accommodations!)
-Day-tripping to Block Island (and swimming in the bluest water around at the “secret” Mansion Beach)
-Rocking out at the Newport Folk Festival and a Zac Brown Brand show
-Hanging at Easton’s Beach in the locals section (AKA to the left of the “Meat Sticks”)
-Telecommuting from my newly minted home office or my favorite coffee shop in town Empire Coffee and Tea on Broadway
-Exploring the rest of Rhode Island (meaning I “crossed the bridge” and went “off Island”) and finding new favorite spots in Jamestown, East Greenwich, Watch Hill and Narragansett
Turns out, I’m a wuss. Also? I’m not one of those people who could go on a digital detox or whatever the kids are calling it these days. I have now confirmed that the internet (particularly social media) is my lifeline to the outside world and the way in which I get 99% of my news and information. What confirmed it? 39 LONG HOURS WITHOUT POWER!
Snowstorm Nemo hit little Rhody hard and left the entire Aquidneck Island (Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth) without power starting Friday evening with some people going as long as four or more days without. Hat’s off to those people, truly.
I’ll break it down for you with a rough timeline:
Approximately 10pm Fri night: Power goes out for 5 minutes, I freak out, power goes back on, I tweet about it.
Approximately 10:20 pm Fri night: Power goes back off…and stays off. I tweet about it…and cry a little.
10:27pm: I text my mom frantically. I check Twitter frantically. I tweet to National Grid.
Sometime between 10:27 and 1am: – I fall asleep dreaming of waking up to the harsh light of my bedside lamp the TV blasting.
Saturday 5am-ish: I wake up…COLD. My boyfriend rolls over and mumbles…”did the power go out?” (he’d slept through the whole thing, bless his soul)
Saturday – timeline hazy due to lack of heat, light, TV, hot coffee, etc: I find out through Facebook that one bar in town is open and serving food and possibly one hotel is serving free coffee. We proceed to bundle up as there is no way in heck we are staying in our apartment where the thermostat has already reached 46 degrees. We head out and head to the Hotel Viking, where they’re serving coffee and a “cold lunch”, there’s no heat. We leave for greener pastures because at this point we are still hopeful there’s some magical oasis of heat, TV, coffee and bacon and eggs. We head to Benjamins which, as per Facebook, IS in fact the only bar open in town at this point. They’re PACKED and getting a table to be served food seems unlikely. We decide to trek on, now hopeful there’s other places around. We arrive at the Newport Marriott with high hopes. Turns out they DID have a generator but it broke. They’ve got bigger problems too because they’re hosting Reebok for some big wig type conference. There’s no heat although it feels warmer than our apartment. We spot some staff cleaning up and ask if their restaurant is open. They say no and we must look pretty defeated because they sneak us behind some curtain and offer us what’s left from their morning buffet. They tell us “everyone’s gotta eat today” and I understand in a miniscule way what it must feel like to be homeless or hungry and have to depend on people’s good will. I appreciate the gesture immensely and accept the coffee while my boyfriend, not one to turn down food, enjoys a sandwich, leftover salad and some sort of soup. I again have an epiphany about myself realizing that I declined the food because I wasn’t really in the mood for questionable looking deli meat, wilted salad greens and mystery soup but realize after the fact what the expression “beggars can’t be choosers” truly means. If this was my reality every day (no warm home, limited food source) I’d have to be grateful for whatever I could get and not chose what I eat on my own freewill.
From here, the day seems like five and we go on to return home to warm up in our car, charge our cell phones, head to the local Stop & Shop (which is open, sorta, and resembles the zombie apocalypse) and add my friend and her pup to our tribe. Eventually we found out that a friend’s parents on the other side of the island has power and another friend has gas heat and some food. We are lucky, and we enjoy a warm meal and a toasty home then head to our friend’s parents for a warm bed. By the time we return to our apartment early Sunday afternoon our power is back and I’ve learned about a hundred life lessons. Here’s the highlights:
1) As the boy scouts said, always be prepared! We were not, at all. We thought that wine, ingredients for chili and homemade pizza, and a flashlight would get us through but we didn’t truly prepare for the reality of no heat, no cooking source or refrigeration, etc.
2) Cell phones (particularly iPhones) really are the greatest invention of our time and were literally my lifeline. If I hadn’t been able to text friends and family, make quick calls and check social media sites for information on what was opened, when and where power would be restored, etc, I really don’t know where we’d have ended up. (I’m sure we would have made it through ONE night sleeping under a ton of blankets but damn, at the time, I really didn’t think I would. It was COLD and we didn’t even have many extra blankets….which brings me back to lesson 1, always be prepared!)
3) Having people you can rely on is important. I had a minor breakdown in which I realized that my closest family member was in Boston, which is pretty close but wasn’t nearly close enough at the time. While I have some friends in town I was really very lucky to have somewhere to go and realized that although I’ve always been the type to move places and make new friends, there’s something to be said for having lots of family and friends and a close-knit support system nearby.
And now to bring it full circle…
When I was first asked to be part of IBM’s Social Influencer Think Tank and told that I’d be sharing my idea of smarter commerce, I had a million things in mind. There are so many times that social media and technology tools have enriched my life, got me jobs, got me on TV, connected me with family and long distance loves, and so much more, but after experiencing the smallest taste of a crisis situation, my belief in the power of social media was reinforced 1000%.
Over the next month I’ll be sharing plenty more stories of how social media and the latest technology has bettered my life, from the big to the small. And now I ask you friends, how has it bettered YOUR life? Please share your stories with me here in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #MYSMARTERCOMMERCE.
PS, Special thanks to Frank, Joanie, Jedi, Heather, Steve, Allie, Kathleen, and the Hunt Family; the Newport Marriott for their hospitality; and What’s Up Newport and The Newport Patch for their great coverage and information for getting me through my first New England Blizzard.
I’ve always been more of a wannabe yoga enthusiast, going just enough to sorta know what warrior pose is, but not nearly enough to do a head stand or not wobble during tree pose.
My fascination with yoga began years ago way before it was so popular when a doctor I was seeing suggested I check it out as an alternative to drinking, back when I was just another mono-infested college student who refused to heed the docs warning of no alcohol for a month despite the fact that my skin and pupils had turned a lovely shade of yellow…
Over the years I’ve gone on yoga kicks buying a 10 session pass here and there or attending classes at my gym, and I usually list it as an interest/hobby due to my desire to have cool and unique interests beyond “reading, writing and music” but my point is I’ve never been as devout a yogi as I could be…
Once, back in NYC I was somehow enticed by a damn Groupon or something to try a Bikram yoga class and am still horrified to this day about it. The class is a hazy and sweat-infused memory but the subway ride home remains crystal clear. It was winter and I had worn a puffy coat over my yoga gear. I was so hot and sweaty after class that I just could NOT bring myself to put my coat back on the entire ride home so I braved the subway from the East Village to the Upper West Side (changing lines no less) as a hot mess in my yoga gear holding my coat and wondering if my body temperature would ever return to normal. It did, but I learned my lesson loud and clear, hot yoga was certainly not “my thing…”
Fast forward to present day, where my yoga options are extremely limited due to the fact that Newport has only a few studios and my lack of car leaves those options even slimmer. This past summer I went to a Yoga in the Park session at Ballard Park – a great nature sanctuary off Ocean Drive. That was nice. The class was beginner to say the least but I still felt all connected to the universe afterwards. Since then however, I’ve been waiting for my next yoga opportunity. The gym I attend has classes but they’re never at the right time and plus I’m always a bit skeptical of “gym yoga.” For some reason I find gym classes more focused on doing the movements and getting in a workout but they lack the spiritual experiential part of yoga that’s my favorite part. No soft music, no soothing narrative and no story-telling.
Most of my yogi friends in town attend Newport Power Yoga which is just a short walk from my apartment. I was skeptical of this “power yoga’ thing because it sounded sneakily like Bikram (shudder). Upon further research on their website and at my friends word that it wasn’t so bad I decided it was time to check it out. I attended my first class this past Friday and really loved it. It was a community class so it was open to all levels and the room was set at “moderate heat and steam to get the body loose.” It was hot, yes, but somehow it didn’t bother me (which is strange considering I’m that girl visibly sweating through my blouse in the winter if the heat is too high at a bar…). Somehow even though the class was PACKED and I was thisclose to my neighbors mats, I found the class to be just what I was looking for. I sweat out of every orifice (did you know your ankles can sweat?!), but I swear, it was actually a lot more pleasant than it sounds. The class focused on breathing, strength and balance but the best part for me was something the instructor said at the end of the class. He was talking about how for 50 mins you just show up, give it your best and escape from your everyday thoughts and worries. I realized when he said this that my mind had been completely clear for the entire class. I had been so busy focusing on my breath and following the moves that I literally hadn’t had one other thought for the whole class. For me, this was groundbreaking. I am physically incapable of shutting my mind off. I lie awake at night thinking of the absolute most ridiculous things (just ask my boyfriend if you need further proof) so to have even a 1 hour escape is nothing short of a miracle.
If you’re like me and are looking for that perfect yoga experience to keep your interest and build both your soul and your strength, I’d highly recommend the Newport Power Yoga experience or something similar. One other great thing about the class is that not only was it a lower cost community class (so that yoga can be accessible for people regardless of their financial situation) but this particular class (and every Friday at 7pm) was actually donation based and all proceeds go to a different local charity.