Tag Archives: adventure

Learning How To Fight

16 Apr

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Greetings dearest readers! I feel terribly embarrassed about my long absence. I confess I’ve only really been busy with work and have no better excuses. An International Woman of Mystery really should have better time management skills! But, I digress.

In any event. I’m resolving to resume regular posting and I promise I’ve got more adventures up my sleeves. In fact, I’m in the midst of planning my next mission and I could use a little input.

See, earlier this year I began working on my list of traits that I needed to cultivate in order to truly become Jenny G.: International Woman of Mystery. One of those proposed traits was to be strong. I explored my fearless side at the shooting range, but my experience there has inspired me to explore other methods of self-defense. After watching movies like Kill Bill and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I find myself gravitating more towards martial arts as a potential way to get strong. It’s something I haven’t, as of yet, explored and I’m wildly curious. What’s more badass than being able to kick through boards?

I’ve rediscovered a love of fitness in the very active community that is Denver. I recently joined a gym-pass subscription service that allows me to take tons of different classes at studios around town and so far, I’ve stuck to the familiar favorites, like yoga and spin. But I can’t help scrolling a little slower every time I see a class options for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muy Thai and Krav Maga. I find these offerings extremely intimidating but also extremely intriguing. What better way to hone some ass-kicking skills?

Thus far I’ve had trouble making it to a class, because I’m overwhelmed by the options. That’s where you come in. I’m giving you guys the opportunity to weigh in and/or share your experiences. Below I’ll give you a couple of options I’m considering and then I’d love to hear what you think.

Option A.) Women’s Self-Defense: Basically exactly what it sounds like. I’ll get a low-down on how to protect myself within my means and maybe bring back some tips. I also like this option, because the class is taught by actual women. Jenny G. is always on the lookout for other strong and brilliant women to be inspired by.

Option B.) Krav Maga Fundamentals: It’s Krav Maga. Enough said. If you are not familiar, Krav Maga was invented for the Israel Defence Forces. According to Wikipedia it is known for its focus on real-world situations and its extremely efficient and brutal counter attacks. And it was derived from street fighting skills. Sounds pretty IWOM to me.

Option C.) Capoeira: I’m taken with the exotic name, as it is. But additionally, capoeira is legitimately exotic. It’s an African and Brazilian martial art and combines music and dance with martial arts. Being that I’m a bit nervous about this whole endeavor, I think music and dance might make this fighting style more my speed.

Option D.) Judo: Judo is known to be a gentler (It literally means “The Gentle Way.”) martial art, which appeals to my sensibilities. That said, judo also sounds pretty intense. Further investigation informs me that most of the defense is done through throws, arm locks, chokes and pins. Am I ready for that?

There will be plenty of time to explore all of these options, in the future, I’m certain. But having lost a couple of weeks, I’m anxious to get back to business and get myself on a mission. The next time an opportunity to attend one of these classes arises, I vow to seize it.

Thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

Ciao,
Jenny G.

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A Perfectly Fine Man

1 Apr

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The sun pierced my eyes through the blinds of my bedroom. I squinted through them, catching the snow-capped Rockies in the distance. There is nothing like coming home to a place you love.

New York was fabulous, and it made me want to explore everything – Denver while I am broke. And the rest of the world when I have the means to travel (thanks to those readers who gave me those travel ideas and tips, by the way; it was quite helpful).

Since I had been at a work conference all weekend, I got to take the weekday off. I rolled over, excited to let the day and city take me where I let it, restricted by no one.

And then I remembered I had a date that night.

Ugh.

After networking all weekend in New York, my stores of social energy were depleted. All I wanted was to walk around aimlessly and daydream, without interference from a schedule.

I so wanted to cancel, but one of my mom’s friend’s daughters had set me up on this date; cancelling would have caused more turmoil for me later with my mother than the inconvenience of going now. With the date looming over my head, inhibiting my full enjoyment of the day because I could only wander so far and do so much, I still managed to walk to a neighborhood I’d never seen and find a used book store with a wide array of travel books. I returned to the apartment, procrastinated, then allowed myself just enough time to throw on some black pumps and red lipstick, grab a trench and head out the door.

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An IWOM Takes NYC

27 Mar

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My apologies for being away, darlings. The International Woman of Mystery has been busy. I wish I could say I was out exploring the pyramids of Egypt of skiing the Swiss Alps. Alas, it hasn’t been quite so exciting. However, I did recently take a business trip to New York City, which has left me feeling inspired.

The trip was unexpected. I got a call from one of my bosses late on a Thursday asking if I could be in the city to attend a weekend conference. At first I was a little annoyed by the last minute request, but then it occurred to me that I’ve never actually spent much time in New York. Nor had I ever traveled there alone. It seemed liked the perfect excuse to take Jenny G. on a little impromptu adventure.

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Where To Go in 2016

20 Mar

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In college, there was this girl on my floor who got to go to Paris for spring break. She returned with a scowl, complaining how “disgusting” Paris had been.

“It’s nothing like you see in the movies,” she described. “It’s filthy and gray and touristy. There are thieving gypsies, it smells like urine everywhere, and the men are creeps.”

At the time I wondered if it was just her. She seemed like one of those dull, entitled people who never had to explore the world because it was handed to her. She was constantly disappointed, except when she was drunk and dancing.

On the other hand, I was one of those people who imagined that the reason things weren’t going more perfectly in my life was because I wasn’t in Paris. Movies like Sabrina and Amelie enchanted me. They made me believe I would find love, and myself, in Paris. I took French throughout high school and college and imagined how different life could be when you started your morning at Café de Flore (Hemingway’s Parisian hangout) with a café and pain au chocolat. Paris was going to change my life in lovely ways.

And then I met Mr. Poison who said Paris was terrible. But he loved America so that’s where we traveled. To his credit, he enlightened me to the merits of our own vast and diverse country, taking me to places like Austin, where we danced to live music all night long and ate the spiciest food I’ve ever had. Once, we drove to the Badlands of South Dakota, where we listened to Radiohead as we drove into a thunderstorm. We went to Chicago, where we walked from Wrigley Field to Grant Park, eating and drinking our way five miles south to Lake Michigan.

Finally, when we were planning our wedding, we talked about going international, and he set his sights on Tokyo. I wanted to go there, but not for our Honeymoon. I wanted to go somewhere more relaxing and romantic, like Tahiti.

Without his influence, I am now realizing the total freedom I have to travel anywhere in the world that I want. I just need the money to get there. A year of saving and I think I can do it.

Instinctively, I return to my dreams of Paris. But then I think about how much I’ve changed and wonder if my first international experience should be to the place on which I’d hung all my dreams.

While Paris is arguably one of the world’s great cities – so I’ve heard – I can’t help but acknowledge how much the movies make us see things much better than they are in real life. I’ve built up that city so much in my mind that there is no way it will be as fabulous as I’ve imagined it. The last thing I want to do is set my expectations so high that I guarantee myself disappointment. Besides, I’m a new woman now. My dreams should reflect that.

Today it’s cold in Denver, having snowed all day yesterday. I’m curled up under a blanket, and I’ve decided that today is the day I will plan my first international trip.

Here’s what I’m reading and watching right now for inspiration. Feel free to join and leave me some comments on where you think I should go.

“52 Places to Go in 2016”

Every year, the New York Times publishes its list of 52 places to go. Engaging ambient video and grand photography entices you to dive right in and buy a ticket. I can’t say I’m inspired by every locale on this list – the Democratic Republic of Congo is an odd suggestion – but there are many that have captured my interest. Should I go to Coral Bay, St. John? Mozambique? Vinales, Cuba? Guadaloupe? Road of the Seven Lakes, Argentina? Uruguay? Tamil Nadu, India? St. Helena? Barcelona? Mosel wine country? Pyeongchang, South Korea? Kansia, Japan? The possibilities are seemingly endless.

Check out the list here.

Chef’s Table

Netflix created this TV-documentary series that follows one world-renowned chef per 45-minute episode. Each episode tells the origin story of a chef who has perfected his or her craft, by way of a cinematic escape into some of the most remote and beautiful places in the world. Wouldn’t that be a fun way to travel – chasing down the world’s best chefs? Should I go to Sweden, Australia, Italy, or Patagonia?

Check out the show here.

-Jennifer

Cooking With a Vengeance

2 Mar

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The email for my assignment requests that I bring two things on my next mission. One of them is a set of knives. And the other? An apron.

Jenny G.: International Woman of Mystery, is about to finish what she started. I am headed for my very first cooking class.

A few weeks ago after some misadventures in my own kitchen, I decided it was time to get proactive and improve upon my somewhat non-existent cooking skills. As it turns out, cooking classes are becoming more popular in Denver, so I was able to locate a plethora of options pretty quickly. There was some heavy debate around pasta and pastry lessons , but I ultimately deemed those options more harmful than helpful. I stumbled across a Healthy Japanese Cooking workshop and registered before I could talk myself out of it.

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Casino: Take Two

9 Feb

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I’m sitting at a buffet table wearing a chic cocktail gown, engrossed in a mound of crab legs, laughing like a madwoman in a room full of senior citizens wearing Hawaiian shirts, or fleece vests. (Dear reader, a few of them are even wearing Hawaiian shirts with fleece vests.) At some point in my travels I made a gross miscalculation.

Now it’s up to me to remedy it.

After washing my hands of greasy butter, and chocolate sauce from the frozen yogurt machine, I’m also ready to wash my hands of this entire mishap and just go home. But an International Woman of Mystery would never be so easily deterred. It’s a Saturday night. I’ve braved weekend traffic on 1-70 to get here. I’ve still got $25 and I’m wearing a fabulous dress. Ocean’s Eleven, it is not, but something good must come of this.

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Mission: Be Stylish

4 Feb

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I’m sprawled out on the floor of the Mystery Abode living room, surrounded by piles of gathered intelligence. I stare at the pages scattered on my floor with a furrowed brow. I know the answer lies in here somewhere. I just have to find it.

In a small black notebook, I scribble notes for myself. Observations to take with me, into the field. A jumbled report on seasonal colors, hemline lengths and silhouettes. Accessories and fabrics. I’m on a hunt. A mission, if you will. Jenny G: International Woman of Mystery is going dress shopping.

A funny thing has happened since moving to Denver. Despite the International Woman of Mystery’s innate desire to exude personal style, it seems a bit of the opposite has happened. I’ve fallen into the attire trap that is Midwestern casual. I’ve assimilated to the ways of jeans and t-shirts and mismatched layers of warmth. It’s an easy mode to default to, by virtue of cold winter days and a local culture that accepts it as the norm. However, if I want to persist in my transformation to worldly ingénue, I’ll need to up my fashion game.

So here I am, armed with old back issues of my favorite fashion magazines and a couple of Pinterest boards. Determined that I will find some new adornment to set the tone. My means are somewhat modest. Most of my extra income these days is being socked away in the travel fund. Exotic adventures on the distant horizon, I thought I might try to find some local inspiration instead. The IWOM’s arsenal is a multifaceted one, but by my estimation, it should include one truly great dress. I’ll choose the outfit and then surely adventure will follow.

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Mission: Be Fearless

1 Feb

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Bang!

The noise shatters the air.

The sound of a gunshot is unmistakable. In real life, it’s much louder than in the movies.

I’m at a shooting range in an unfamiliar part of town. A client of my marketing firm learned I was in Denver and invited me to a “Ladies Shooting Event.” One part networking, one part gun safety and target practice.

I’d only ever been shooting once, with my father and Alek, in a secluded field. Our father showed us how to hold a rifle and shoot at old bottles and cans on a fence. It was fun, I guess, but I hadn’t held a gun since then. And I was afraid, because, well, to me, guns = death.

But. As an International Woman of Mystery, I felt hard-pressed to turn down this invitation to learn a new skill. Shouldn’t every aspiring action hero at least know their way around a weapon?

I thought this would be a great opportunity to see if I was cut out to be an Olivia Benson, G.I. Jane or Sarah Connor, chasing down serial rapists in dark alleys or nabbing the villain with a single, swift shot. Or maybe I’d be like Agent 99, toting a pistol in my stylish trench and looking fabulous in a beret. I listened to rap music. After all, who among us hasn’t ever secretly wished they could advise someone: tell it to my nine.

I thought about Constance Kopp. In Girl Waits With Gun, Constance never actually desires to fire a gun at someone. But by learning to shoot, she acquires a sense of security, which then translates into a new sort of confidence. She doesn’t have to shoot to kill, to feel powerful. She simply knows that she is. I thought maybe my shooting experience would go something like that.

And yet, I still felt afraid.

Sometimes, when something scares you, the only way through your fear is to face it. Sometimes the only way to defeat an enemy is to put yourself in their shoes and try to understand them better. For this reason, I decided I would go shooting.

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Mission: Be Zen

21 Jan

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Do you ever have days, dear reader, where city life just grinds you down? As Jenny G.: International Woman of Mystery, I pride myself on stamina, but I confess, there are days when it wears on me. Sometimes it’s the traffic. Or the parking. Or the weather. The constant noise and pace. The unyielding energy of commerce and construction can, at times, feel like it’s closing in on you.

It’s been one of those weeks. My dalliances in Vail proved somewhat of a debacle, but after a few days of contemplation, it was time to exercise some mind over matter and move on. Get back to work on my mission at large. As I looked at my recent list of traits to try to cultivate, one in particular called to me: it was time to find some Zen. And it couldn’t  have come a moment too soon.

The class takes place on a Wednesday night at the meditation center’s headquarters downtown. It’s a mere mile from my home, so I decide to walk, but quickly regret it. Being a pedestrian in this city can be a death-defying feat sometimes, in itself. Throngs of distracted drivers making their evening commutes nearly clip me in the crosswalks. Skateboarders in Civic Center Park yell random obscenities. A brisk wind blows in my face and chaps my ears. At last I stumble, numb and disgruntled, up the steps into the center.

It amazes me sometimes, what we can bring into our lives by simply putting intention out into the universe. I recently experienced such serendipity after making a list of traits I wish to cultivate in my transformation. A few days after noting my need for Zen, I was out in the neighborhood and happened upon a local meditation center. I was in a hurry that day, but I grabbed a flier and told myself it might come in handy. When I looked at the flier later, I noted a promising opportunity: a class simply called “Learn to Meditate.” I signed up immediately.

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Living On A Whim: Part One

17 Jan

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It appeared that I was in a European village. The brick streets wound through narrow passages, and wooden balconies hugged the condos above. A Swiss flag waved in the distance. Ski shops abounded, and there was a clog shop over there. White lights hung over an ice rink. It was almost international.

But I wasn’t in Europe. I was in Vail, just 100 miles from Denver. I was here on a whim, a practice in spontaneity.

You might ask why I need to practice living spontaneously. I am, after all, the girl who fled 2,000 miles in the middle of the night to a city she’d never been to.

That was the first time in my life I ever acted so boldly.

Until that night, I couldn’t make any decisions on a moment’s notice. I felt paralyzed unless I had time to ponder every decision, carefully weighing every implication of every action. I planned and planned and planned, and left nothing to chance.

In retrospect, I see how much I pondered myself out of doing anything fun, mostly because I was too afraid – too afraid to trust that things would work out. Too afraid to simply let go. There were tangible fears too, like my fear of heights, and I was too uncomfortable with that fear to ride it out.

When Mr. Poison dumped me, something snapped. Some long buried instinct rose to the surface and took over. I didn’t think of consequences. It was exhilarating. Once I felt that, I knew I wanted to feel it again, and I’ve been searching for it ever since.

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