A Perfect Day at the Afropunk Festival

We all have our version of what constitutes a perfect day. That image can change given where we are in our life at any given time. Since I’m  committed to logging at least 10,000 steps daily,  a perfect day for me is sharing an active outdoor adventure somewhere visually interesting with people I love. With that as the criteria, Saturday was a perfect day. I went to the Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn with my friends Ruth LaFerla and Deb Mitchell.

Related Post: Me and my Fitbit

It came about by accident. Ruth and I had gone to the movies on Friday night. She told me she was going to the festival the next day for a story she was going to write for the New Yorks Times Style Section where she has worked for the last 15 years. When she heard me gasp, she asked if I wanted to come along making it clear that I’d be on my own since she’d be working.

Early Saturday morning, I got a call from Deb, a TV producer and social media guru, who has been guiding me through the blogosphere. She told me she was going to Brooklyn for the day. When I asked what she was doing, she said she was going to the Afropunk Festival to do a story for her blog. Hello, party time!!

The Afropunk Festival had its beginnings 11 years ago in a small lower eastside club. It is now held at Commodore Barry Park in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and is a two-day affair of black arts, music and culture that draws a daily audience of more than 30,000. This year’s headliners included Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, and Lauryn Hill.

Shopping for sunglasses at Afropunk. Deb Mitchell, Diamond (Exclusives Eyewear), Marian Rivman, Ruth LaFerla.
Shopping for sunglasses at Afropunk. Debbie Mitchell, Diamond (Exclusives Eyewear), Marian Rivman and Ruth LaFerla.

When Ruth, Deb and I arrived, we let out a collective OMG!!!  What struck us were the creative fashions and style and the overwhelmingly good vibe of the festivities. Afropunk is the visual equivalent of a delicious, exotic smorgasbord. We didn’t know where to feast our eyes first. I zeroed in on women’s faces. Camera shy that I am, I loved how confident they all were as I pointed my iPhone in their direction.

Related Post: Camera Shy In a Selfie World

Deb and I hung out together while Ruth went off to meet the photographer she would be working with. Despite the throngs of people, in yet another coincidence, Deb and I ran into Ruth hours later as we were ready to head back home. The three of us collapsed in a cab. We couldn’t stop talking about what a perfect day it had been.

In case you’re wondering, I logged my 10,000 steps and then some.

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A Walk Across the Hudson River

In designing the plan for my pre-70th birthday summer shape-up, I knew that I had to move more. I was becoming sedentary and isolated; I needed to nip those behaviors before they became more entrenched.

For years, I had followed the American Heart Association’s recommendation that everyone should aim for 10,000 steps a day for overall health and to decrease the risk of heart disease. This summer seemed like a good time to reintroduce the 10,000 Steps habit back in my life.

New York is a great walking city, and I’ve enjoyed logging steps in Central Park and along the Hudson River. But, I could do more than walk the streets of New York. Logging 10,000 steps a day was an opportunity to have mini adventures and reconnect with friends.

I did just that last week when I took the train to Poughkeepsie, New York and walked across the Hudson River.

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The Walkway over the Hudson is the longest (1.28 miles), elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. Since opening as a state park in October 2009, millions of visitors have enjoyed the unparalleled views from this bridge that was built for freight trains after the Civil War.

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The Mid-Hudson Bridge and the beautiful Hudson Valley

My companion for this adventure was my old friend Didi Barrett, who is now a member of the New York State Assembly representing parts of Duchess and  Columbia Counties.

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New York State Assemblymember Didi Barrett and Marian Rivman

Didi and I met years ago when I was starting out in public relations, and she was a staff writer for US magazine. Our business relationship quickly turned into a friendship. While raising her two children, Didi was a community activist and a leader of not-for-profit organizations. At an age when most people are afraid to take on new challenges, Didi was elected to the New York State Assembly in a special election in March 2012 and re-elected to a full term in November 2012.

She is a passionate advocate for her constituents. We were stopped by people several times as we walked back and forth across the river. They wanted to ask about the latest legislation or to discuss problems in their towns. I watched with pride as my old friend gave each of them her full attention.

I’m looking forward to more adventures with more friends as I Countdown to 70…and Life Beyond. Marian Rivman

Me and My FitBit

Marian Rivman always wears her FitBit and her WORD Inspire
Marian Rivman always wears her FitBit and her Intent Project word INSPIRE

As my 70th birthday loomed large in the September horizon, my intention for this summer was to devote my time and energy to getting my body, mind and spirit in shape for that milestone. I intended to walk more, eat less, drink plenty of water, have check-ups with my doctor, dentist, financial consultant and spiritual advisors. In short, I was going to get my shit together.

Ah, but we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Would I keep the commitments I made with myself??

There were good days and not so good days. People may think of me as a human road runner, but my couch potato, ice cream and carbohydrate loving self-lurks just below the surface.

Several friends suggested that I get a FitBit to help me keep track of my steps, food intake, calorie output and water consumption. They said the device was helpful and kept you ‘honest’. I resisted until one of my FitBit using friends was hit by a car as she was crossing the street. She went flying through the air and spent the next ten hours in a hospital emergency room where she was checked head to toe. She was badly bruised, but nothing was broken.

When I spoke to her the next morning, I assumed she would take to her bed for a couple of days to recover. Wrong!! She had her FitBit on and was going out to run errands and log steps. She did 10,000 steps a day, every day. No excuses, no exceptions.  Now that was the commitment and motivation I craved. I ordered a FitBit the minute I hung up the phone.

It’s now been 30 days since I strapped on my FitBit; it has become my BFF. I wear it all the time. Unfailingly, I’ve met or surpassed my daily goals. I’ve lost weight, increased my stamina, and am looking more toned. I’ve been feeling so self-empowered that I even started this blog.

There’s a whole community of ‘FitBitters.’ It’s commonplace to have people point to mine as I pass them on the street and have them give me a thumbs-up or a high-five, and I return the gesture. My new fun activity is planning when and where I’m going to log my 10,000 steps.

For the record, I have ZERO connection with FitBit. I’m just in love with mine.

Hope you will continue to follow me on my Countdown to 70. Marian Rivman.