Gifts of Adventure

20130504-233933.jpgOne of my very dear friends has a travel photography blog, and it’s amazing. Her talent and fearlessness constantly inspire me and I am moved by her passion and commitment. She travels, camera in hand, to Bhutan, Botswana, Morocco and other remote and exotic places exquisitely documenting her journeys and combining two of her passions.

Although I’m not ready to go on safari tomorrow, her adventures have inspired me to explore ideas that tap back into passions I have set-aside because they weren’t practical and deconstruct the barriers, fears and confines I have erected because…well, because I did. This is what I uncovered…

Tuning Out Judgement: I was late to dance class–literally and figuratively. I was ten when I went to my first class–beginner jazz–but as soon as I did I loved it. I loved the combinations, I caught on to the strange names they were using (plié, demi-plié, pas de bouree) and, a few years later, decided to try a ballet class. Everyone said that’s where you learned the fundamentals: balance, grace, posture… so I went. I was no ballerina. I was barely getting by in jazz class, but in ballet, my teacher made an example of me…of what NOT to do. How NOT to stand, bend, jump, turn, point, breathe basically (I’m not embellishing, well maybe a little)…and so I stopped. Not just ballet but dancing altogether. Don’t get me wrong, I did “gym dance classes” and always did yoga, but it’s not the same as a “dance class.” So I decided to do some experimenting…
When my husband and I married we started ballroom dancing and it was like being reborn. I remembered why I loved it all over again. Fred Astaire offers American, Latin-American, International Style, and Exhibition/Theatre Arts dances. My personal favorite is the cha-cha, but that’s just me.
Getting in touch with ones’ sensual side isn’t always a no-brainer either. The S-Factor has locations in New York, San Franciso, Los Angeles, Encino, Costa Mesa, Chicago and Houston and once the shock-value has worn off, you will be amazed at the work-out, the catharsis and the love and support from the instructors and fellow students. They also have parties packages which looks super fun.

Heights of Terror: I have a fear of heights. It hit me around 25 and got to be totally irrational and crippling–anxiety would strike when I would step into an elevator, forget about an airplane. It’s gotten much better–regular elevators don’t freak me and I can deal with airplane travel in an aisle seat–but I still cannot manage ladders, roller coasters, glass encased elevators or anything where I can see the distance from the ground. These ideas sound like a fun and adventurous way to try to challenge a fear of heights.
Trapeze and Aerials
Trapeze School (locations in New York, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Puerto Rico) offers classes in flying trapeze, static trapeze, silks, rope & more. They also do parties, events & team-building workshops. Aerial Trapeze Academy in Palm Beach also has silks, flying trapeze, aerial yoga and more. OM Factory in New York has Aerial Silks and Yoga programs with locations in Union Square and the Fashion District. Night Flight Aerial in Portland, OR and Aerial Silk in Atlanta, GA both offer private lessons and classes for all levels specializing in aerial and circus arts including silks, trapeze, hoops, rope and straps.
Skydiving Lessons can help you find a “drop zone” almost anywhere in the continental US. Sky Dive The Ranch has services for first-time and advanced divers and has teams in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. On the West Coast? Sky Dive West Coastal California has dive teams in Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Facing High Tide: I’ve always loved the water, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. What has always awed me is the majesty of the ocean, and going head-to-head with a wave seems like such a feat of bravery.
Aqua Surf School has locations in California, Hawaii and Florida. Summer’s coming, and on Long Island Skud in Surf has a surf camp, surf lesson and standing paddle programs too.

Fear of the Unknown: I’m not exactly a wallflower. As a kid, I spent many summers going to theater camp, had a part in most of my high school plays and even went to classes at The Neighborhood Playhouse and Lee Strasberg (not at the same time). That said, putting myself “out there” doesn’t come naturally to me and although I could embrace the premise of improv (ex: always say “yes,” there are no mistakes…just opportunities) some of the conditions (mainly having no control, having to trust someone you may not know) scared the hell out of me. It might be fun (depending on how you define ‘fun’) to go back and see if I’ve changed… or if I am willing / able to change and embrace the unknown.
Improvolution, a NYC studio founded by a Groundling alum, once a month offers a three-hour Intro to Improv class to find out what all the fuss is about. Laugh Out Loud, located in Schaumburg, IL has classes for every level and all types of improv from sketch to musical improv. UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) has classes in LA and NYC. Want to see UCB in action? You can go to one of their shows and check it out. Or there’s always stand-up, American Comedy Institute in New York has workshops, coaching and more advanced programs — full disclosure: my Dad did this in 1993 and he had a blast.

Related Links:
Gifts That Encourage Courage
Gifts For Resetting and Recharging
Gifts That Say Congratulations
Giving Back: Gift Shopping For Good

Photo Credits
Lead Image: Surfing Girl courtesy of federico stevanin/
Sexy Dance courtesy of pichart99thai/
Surfer courtesy of M-Pics /
Copyright: Stage / keren-seg /


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