Summertime rocks in my world because the slower pace always allows me more bandwidth to broaden my creative skills.
One of my main goals for this summer has been to up my video production skills as I prepare to add video journalism and other forms of video content creation to my creative arsenal.
It's been amazingly easy so far to find affordable opportunities to learn the basic tech and techniques surrounding shooting and editing. I even learned how to fly a drone! Meetup groups and Apple Store classes have gone a long way towards providing creative support and expanding my expertise. It's all been super fun and all the workshops have either been free or crazy cheap, which is always a nice bonus.
After just a couple of Apple Store workshops, I not only got a lot more familiar with the iPhone's video and editing capabilities, but I also started to learn to look at the city in a much more focused way. This led to my first assignment to myself, which turned out to be an homage to New York City's street food scene. I produced this "quick and dirty" style, with just the general idea that I wanted to cover food trucks -- no shot list, no storyboard, no narrative arc, not a lot of time to shoot, and I edited the whole thing on my phone. Shooting and editing this short piece was a blast, and I can't wait to dig in again soon with my next New York City-themed short. Coming soon! Stay tuned!
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Street Food Fantasia...and sorry if it makes you hungry.
I recently went on an amazing two-week adventure in Europe. What made it amazing is not as obvious as you might think. Yes, I saw beautiful sights, ate delicious local cuisine, and savored that sense of freedom and perspective one experiences far away from the day-to-day cares and concerns that typically feel sooooooo important. But it was the totality of the trip, and all the creativity and diligence I invested in planning it, and what I learned (and re-learned) about myself by traveling solo that brought the greatest joy and rewards.
This isn't the first time I'd been a solo traveler. The first time I traveled alone was on a 10-week backpacking trip through Europe in my mid-20's. All that I had available for guidance and communications back then was a dog-eared Let's Go book and an AT&T phone card: no cell phone, no social media, no widespread internet in those days. And certainly no WiFi. Email existed, but I wasn't an early adopter.
That backpacking odyssey helped to shape a core part of me. While the overall trip went really well, some things happened to me that were less than ideal, or I made less than ideal choices that got me into a couple of less than ideal situations, and I had to figure my way out of them, language barriers and all.
And I did. And everything turned out fine. I learned how to adapt when a plan falls through. That there's no point in getting upset. You can always figure out a Plan B, C, D, E, or F, and then you just make the best of that new plan. And more often than not, that Plan C or Plan F? It often turns out to be just as good -- or maybe even better -- than Plan A would have been.
I've traveled solo to some foreign places since that epic backpacking adventure. However, the last time was back in 2010. A weeklong trip to Paris, a city where I've traveled numerous times over the years, and have some command of the language. So, as this latest trip finally approached, despite my previous travel experiences, I was admittedly a little anxious. I was going to be staying with family in Vienna, so I knew I had support there, but for the other two legs of my trip -- Budapest and Prague -- I knew no one, and certainly didn't know the languages.
And, again, everything turned out fine (even with a handful of mishaps along the way). Better than fine.
Like my backpack excursion all those years ago, I planned everything on my own. But now, with cell phones, the internet, social media and email, everything was a lot simpler this time around. Although, there is also a lot more information out there to sort through, so it's easy to get overwhelmed. I soon learned to do research up to a point, and then just make a choice, and be okay with the results -- end of story. (Another traveling lesson that will now apply to other areas of my life!)
Perhaps the most surprising thing I discovered about myself on this trip was that I am not addicted to travel. I thought there would be a good chance that I'd be despondent when I got back to New York City. But when I arrived home, despite all the experiences I will remember for a lifetime -- I was really glad to be home. Glad to get back to my life, my family, my friends and all the mysteries and messes that lie ahead.
I love travel and experiencing new adventures -- especially on my own. This trip reminded me of that. I've begun making a list of cool places around the world I've never been to, and I plan to visit at least one new place every year. Just knowing that I have the freedom and fortitude to travel solo, if and when I choose to, well, that was this trip's most valuable souvenir.
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