31 Days of Awesome

www.31daysofawesome.com

On Day 31 (the milestone is here!!) I found myself on a large floating vessel docked on the Hudson River looking out onto the Statue of Liberty.
How did I end up here?
I took a chance.  On impulse.
Walking by a marina during lunch time, I noticed a couple individuals on a gorgeous boat.  We exchanged waves and smiles.  There were introductory hand gestures, sign language and awkward giggling.
A minute later I decided that life was too short not to run over and make some new friends.  And run I did (ok it was more like a trot in heels and a pencil skirt, mobility was limited).
We shook hands.  We gave our 1-minute life stories.  We planned a possible rendezvous on the yacht (my people will meet your people).
Thus, on this 31st experience, I learned loud and clear what I suspect I’ve been learning all along: 1) life is too short not to live in the moment and go with experiences that are presented and 2) you never know what the day will bring.
I met some incredibly interesting and nice people.  I spent time aboard ship!  I got a totally different perspective on New York from the water. I Learned about film-making, poetry, new technology and the latest Kardashian issues (I had no choice in the matter).
As I stood out on the deck, I thought about my journey thus far on these first kick-ass 31 days.  It’s amazing all the experiences I’ve had just by doing what I love (dancing), experiencing my own culture (Russian events) and letting loose and relaxing (spa anyone?).  Who would have thought when I awoke (late as usual) on this “typical” work day that I would end up discussing the art of film-making aboard a beautiful ship.
There’s a lot more to come… but for now:  I raise my glass of white wine to the journey.
Definitely Awesome.

On Day 31 (the milestone is here!!) I found myself on a large floating vessel docked on the Hudson River looking out onto the Statue of Liberty.

How did I end up here?

I took a chance.  On impulse.

Walking by a marina during lunch time, I noticed a couple individuals on a gorgeous boat.  We exchanged waves and smiles.  There were introductory hand gestures, sign language and awkward giggling.

A minute later I decided that life was too short not to run over and make some new friends.  And run I did (ok it was more like a trot in heels and a pencil skirt, mobility was limited).

We shook hands.  We gave our 1-minute life stories.  We planned a possible rendezvous on the yacht (my people will meet your people).

Thus, on this 31st experience, I learned loud and clear what I suspect I’ve been learning all along: 1) life is too short not to live in the moment and go with experiences that are presented and 2) you never know what the day will bring.

I met some incredibly interesting and nice people.  I spent time aboard ship!  I got a totally different perspective on New York from the water. I Learned about film-making, poetry, new technology and the latest Kardashian issues (I had no choice in the matter).

As I stood out on the deck, I thought about my journey thus far on these first kick-ass 31 days.  It’s amazing all the experiences I’ve had just by doing what I love (dancing), experiencing my own culture (Russian events) and letting loose and relaxing (spa anyone?).  Who would have thought when I awoke (late as usual) on this “typical” work day that I would end up discussing the art of film-making aboard a beautiful ship.

There’s a lot more to come… but for now:  I raise my glass of white wine to the journey.

Definitely Awesome.

On Day 30, I found myself at a Russian rooftop concert wildly dancing in circles and singing along with other Eastern-European vodka-drinking twenty somethings.
Upon first glance, you’d think that I attend these types of events frequently.
Not true.
Although I hailed from the Soviet Union, I rarely find myself gravitating towards the youth of my Ukrainian past.  There are several reasons for this.  One is that I was a small child at the time of our arrival to the Land of the Brave.  Another is that my parents never pushed me to necessarily hang out with other former Russian/Ukrainian children.
Nevertheless, one important lesson was learned here: you can take the girl out of the Russian-Jewish land but you cannot take the Russian-Jew (culturally speaking) out of the girl. There’s nothing I can do (believe me I’ve tried).  The only thing left to do is have a drink and sing along.
I went with it.  I clapped, I abused wine, I swooned at the music of my parents generation (which I still love).  The highlights are as follows:
We danced (as previously mentioned) holding hands in circles, kicking our feet up, turning from side to side (let’s be honest, if you’re at a Jewish event and you’re not running around in a circle, you’re lost.  Leave and find the correct address)… if you’ve been to a bar mitzvah, you know what I’m talking about.  All we needed was an MC handing out inflatable toys for best kick and I would’ve been in middle school heaven
We drank vodka like it was water (and chased it with watermelon) and made sure to toast to family, friendship and being together …  le’chayim! (means: To Life… Yes, I looked up the spelling)
We spontaneously burst into song recalling famous Russian songs and rhymes… one particularly loved one about birthdays.  The band started singing along as well and we all swayed to the music as one bonded group, as if we’d all known each other for years.
There was hilarity, there was wine, there was fruit, there was bonding of sorts, song, dance, laughter and vodka shots.  As we stood there on this rooftop overlooking Manhattan, I felt surprisingly and yet totally predictably… at home.
Awesome.

On Day 30, I found myself at a Russian rooftop concert wildly dancing in circles and singing along with other Eastern-European vodka-drinking twenty somethings.

Upon first glance, you’d think that I attend these types of events frequently.

Not true.

Although I hailed from the Soviet Union, I rarely find myself gravitating towards the youth of my Ukrainian past.  There are several reasons for this.  One is that I was a small child at the time of our arrival to the Land of the Brave.  Another is that my parents never pushed me to necessarily hang out with other former Russian/Ukrainian children.

Nevertheless, one important lesson was learned here: you can take the girl out of the Russian-Jewish land but you cannot take the Russian-Jew (culturally speaking) out of the girl. There’s nothing I can do (believe me I’ve tried).  The only thing left to do is have a drink and sing along.

I went with it.  I clapped, I abused wine, I swooned at the music of my parents generation (which I still love).  The highlights are as follows:

  • We danced (as previously mentioned) holding hands in circles, kicking our feet up, turning from side to side (let’s be honest, if you’re at a Jewish event and you’re not running around in a circle, you’re lost.  Leave and find the correct address)… if you’ve been to a bar mitzvah, you know what I’m talking about.  All we needed was an MC handing out inflatable toys for best kick and I would’ve been in middle school heaven
  • We drank vodka like it was water (and chased it with watermelon) and made sure to toast to family, friendship and being together …  le’chayim! (means: To Life… Yes, I looked up the spelling)
  • We spontaneously burst into song recalling famous Russian songs and rhymes… one particularly loved one about birthdays.  The band started singing along as well and we all swayed to the music as one bonded group, as if we’d all known each other for years.

There was hilarity, there was wine, there was fruit, there was bonding of sorts, song, dance, laughter and vodka shots.  As we stood there on this rooftop overlooking Manhattan, I felt surprisingly and yet totally predictably… at home.

Awesome.

On day 29 I put away my cell phone, put on a cotton pink “uniform” and spent 9 hours sweating, relaxing and channeling serenity at the Korean Spa.
A friend invited me along under the pretense that it would be “amazing” and that this special spa had become one of her favorite pastimes.  I had no idea what I was in for…
I also had no idea I could exist in the New York area without my cell phone(s) and doing virtually nothing but relaxing for 9 hours.
I’m happy to report that we went into the spa at around 4pm and did not emerge (skin soft and body and soul rejuvenated) until 1:00am.
Let me share the important highlights:
This is no ordinary spa.  It’s culturally a traditional Korean experience.  You pay admission up front.  You put on a large over-sized comfy uniform. You put away your stuff.  You enter 40,000 square feet of lounge areas, food areas, saunas, steam rooms, jacuzzies, showers and scrubbing areas (more on this later)
Each Sauna (shaped like a Smurf’s dream house) has different beneficial holistic properties.  Basically you sweat your buns off while revitalizing “Inner energy” and cleansing the skin
This facility boasts a “BULHANJEUNGOAK” sauna: dome shaped smurf house of doom used in Korean culture for 500 years to heal different illnesses where the floor is made of yellow soil and the temperature is 200 Celsius.  You read that right.  They bake eggs in there (and sell them).  Consider it the Olympics of sauna-ing.  5 minutes in that hut and you’ll take care of detoxification for the next year
You’ve never been washed or massaged until you’ve had the scrub/massage experience at a Korean spa.  Let me break this down succinctly: modesty is not an option; you may lose 2-3 layers of skin; showering may not be required for a couple days after (you’re THAT clean!!!)
We chatted about nothing important for 7 hours (2 of them involved skin removal in the buff), we ate yummy food, we drank fresh made juice, we laid on huge beds and watched Olympic coverage, we took naps in infrared rooms, we jaccuzied and cooled off in a cold pool.  Putting away worries, stresses and text messaging responsibilities for the equivalent of a work day was brilliant.  and glorious.  and… AWESOME.

On day 29 I put away my cell phone, put on a cotton pink “uniform” and spent 9 hours sweating, relaxing and channeling serenity at the Korean Spa.

A friend invited me along under the pretense that it would be “amazing” and that this special spa had become one of her favorite pastimes.  I had no idea what I was in for…

I also had no idea I could exist in the New York area without my cell phone(s) and doing virtually nothing but relaxing for 9 hours.

I’m happy to report that we went into the spa at around 4pm and did not emerge (skin soft and body and soul rejuvenated) until 1:00am.

Let me share the important highlights:

  • This is no ordinary spa.  It’s culturally a traditional Korean experience.  You pay admission up front.  You put on a large over-sized comfy uniform. You put away your stuff.  You enter 40,000 square feet of lounge areas, food areas, saunas, steam rooms, jacuzzies, showers and scrubbing areas (more on this later)
  • Each Sauna (shaped like a Smurf’s dream house) has different beneficial holistic properties.  Basically you sweat your buns off while revitalizing “Inner energy” and cleansing the skin
  • This facility boasts a “BULHANJEUNGOAK” sauna: dome shaped smurf house of doom used in Korean culture for 500 years to heal different illnesses where the floor is made of yellow soil and the temperature is 200 Celsius.  You read that right.  They bake eggs in there (and sell them).  Consider it the Olympics of sauna-ing.  5 minutes in that hut and you’ll take care of detoxification for the next year
  • You’ve never been washed or massaged until you’ve had the scrub/massage experience at a Korean spa.  Let me break this down succinctly: modesty is not an option; you may lose 2-3 layers of skin; showering may not be required for a couple days after (you’re THAT clean!!!)

We chatted about nothing important for 7 hours (2 of them involved skin removal in the buff), we ate yummy food, we drank fresh made juice, we laid on huge beds and watched Olympic coverage, we took naps in infrared rooms, we jaccuzied and cooled off in a cold pool.  Putting away worries, stresses and text messaging responsibilities for the equivalent of a work day was brilliant.  and glorious.  and… AWESOME.

On Day 28, I took my inspiration to the pool.
I’ve been glued to the tv screen over the past week… watching the Olympics.
The athletes inspire me, they remind me of my own young Olympic dreams once upon a time and their stories make me believe that anything is possible.
Having found myself in a hotel with a pool open 24/7… I watched the end of the olympic coverage, fished out my suit from my bag… and did laps at around midnight.
Truth is, I had a little stint as a future olympic swimmer at the age of 11.  I’M KIDDING.  I couldn’t have been slower on that swim team.  Fortunately, my figure skating coach at the time told my mom that figure skaters couldn’t be swimmers (different muscle groups yada yada yada)… SO that short lived dream ended quickly.
But as mentioned before… I still love swimming. 
And aside from the fact that hotel staff thought I was crazy (it’s open 24/7 for a reason!!), I lapped around doing the breath stroke happily.
Awesome.
Day 27’s awesome is about organic living.  Organic food.  Organic kindness. And organic friendship.
By organic I mean: without toxins or chemicals, in the case of food; without agenda, in the case of kind strangers; and straight fun with a good friend.
This week I indulged in a simple, healthy and organic meal with ingredients from local farms, was comforted on a bumpy flight by a stranger and celebrated a friend’s kick-ass promotion with some wine and a feast.
The restaurant?  - The Fat Radish (NYC) (I may have come close to trying everything on the menu)
The flight?  - A bumpy one heading south from New York.  (recently I’ve become a weeee bit of a nervous flyer)… add on some storms and a holding pattern over our destination, and I was ready to strap on a parachute and finish the job myself.  Fortunately, the individual next to me sensed my tense composure and went to lengths to distract me: ask me questions, drink some vodka with me and listen to me recount my life story…
The celebration?  - involved lots of laughter, an empty bottle of wine, a feast of great (Italian) proportions and some seriously great gelato (and some new friends). Naturally.
Awesome.
On Day 26 of Awesome, I found myself art-studio-hopping in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood with a friend (and artist).
The event: 2012 Chelsea Art Walk; a showcase of “Chelsea’s summer art exhibitions, galleries and art spaces.”
We were on a quest to find inspirational and interesting work.
Mission accomplished:
Ultra Violet Studios hosted a “self-portrait” exhibit, inviting guests to take photos through baroque “self-portrait” mirrors with the tagline “You are real — you are not real — but enjoy your illusion.” 
Interesting concept.
We decided that in fact we are OK with our illusion.  Plus, taking pictures through mirrors is too much fun.
Awesome.

Day 25: “Rustic” living is the key to rejuvenation.

Let me revise the definition of rustic here and add a caveat:  I have spent many a childhood trip sleeping in a sleeping bag.  BUT.  In this particular case, I ventured outside of the city to a friend’s home.  This beautiful setting came complete with zero cell phone service, chickens and a very large garden that one could use to open a restaurant.

I appreciated the serenity. 

We picked raspberries, laid on hammocks, ate fresh veggies from the garden, engaged in conversation with hens, swam, went on walks and rode bikes while surrounded by spectacular views. 

I had almost forgotten how much I used to love bike-riding.  Around 7th grade, I traded in bike-riding for rollerblading and the rest is history.  Getting back out there hit the spot and I am happy to report was excellent exercise. 

Getting away from it all?  Awesome.


On Day 24 I joined a friend and 4 other amazing women whom she wanted to introduce for a very tasty meal. 
The company was truly Awesome and the food was a close second (roasted artichoke with truffle oil and parmesan is my new obsession).
This idea, although done informally here, to invite friends from different walks of life to dinner to get to know each other, is highly recommended.  I left the restaurant smiling, having just added four fantastic women to my circle of friends. 
The dinner solidified the following anecdotes: The world is small (I’ve learned this over and over but it’s always surprising!), you can never have too many mentors and some good laughs over some cocktails really are the best medicine.
Truly awesome night.

A Note…

I wanted to add a quick thought before I proceed with the initial 31 days of Awesome.  When this project began, I was aiming to find exciting activities and engage myself as much as possible with new experiences.

While I am still engaging in new activities, this journey has taught me that Awesome is also about finding the great things in everyday and learning that simple ordinary experiences can be AWESOME and leave you with a glow.

More than anything, connecting to yourself during your everyday is about the journey. I think I learned this lesson early on as an athlete.  My time on the ice everyday, pounding through programs and practicing jumps was my favorite part of the sport.  Competing was excellent.  But the journey to get there was the reason I pushed myself.

Looks like the same principles apply to your everyday life.  Enjoy the journey!