Diagnosis: Anxiety

Anxiety Always

Anxiety Always (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know that feeling in your stomach that makes your muscles clench but you don’t have a real stomach ache from eating too much and you don’t have a virus? That’s where anxiety starts for me. I’m literally writing this blog while having an anxiety attack and honestly, it’s not that easy to remain focused. Part of me thinks about throwing up but I’m trying to be calm, trying to breathe until I can’t do this any longer. I know you guys understand. That’s why I love blogging, for the people who read my blog. If you can’t relate to anxiety, I’m sure you can relate to other things I write about, humor, Pop Cop, my love of Food, Chocolate, Pizza (fine, with jam but only if the pizza is too dry) some of the ailments: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and having the energy of a dying tick. Actually, an ailing tick may have more energy than I do. I forgot a few other ailments like Imbalalnce and such but it’s pathetic enough as it is, I won’t bore you with more details. I bore myself as it is.

My husband and I are (and I hate these words) “empty nesters.” We’re also in the “sandwich generation” another over popular phrase that is used ad nauseum. Basically we are a married couple, we just celebrated twenty-five years of marriage and both our adult children are in college. I have my mom who is still alive and my husband has both parents alive and they still play tennis. Amazing.

Like many people my husband just got laid off from his job a few days ago. That’s stress provoking, people. He works doing computer stuff which is what I basically call it but it’s something like Software Product Development Management. I know nothing about it but if you do or know someone who might be able to help can you please have them get in touch with me?  I’ll send it to him and it would really be an act of incredible kindness, no matter where you live. In any case, I can’t change things, I try not to worry about them and in the end, things will turn out the way they are supposed to turn out.

About a week ago I had the mother of all anxiety attacks when my son turned 21, my husband lost his job and my mother, who was a little sad because all her friends were moving, decided that maybe she should consider moving too. It was a long day and a tough weekend.  We all know I’m not very good at change especially three changes in one day but after 24 hours I was much better. Breathe in, breathe out. Maybe that meditation class was worth the money after all.

I’m trying to do the best that I can, even writing this all down has helped me become last anxious. Having my dog Lexi, literally lying on my legs so I can’t move, her face close to me, makes me happy. From a crazy, wild puppy she has become an affectionate, loving girl dog. She knows that I need to lie down a lot and when I am home, she jumps up on the bed and cuddles with me.

The anxiety has lessened. I know there will be moments of panic but from now on, we have to take it step by step. I give thanks for what we still have. I will try to keep reminding myself of that, whatever happens will happen. Worrying about it won’t do me or anyone else any good. There’s a reason for everything and now we wait.

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Plinky Prompt: Traveling

The final TWA logo

The final TWA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Tell us about the farthest you’ve ever traveled from home. Down Under.
    • Up, Up And Away….
    • Being the daughter of an airline employee we flew often and for free. We were young and of course, we didn’t appreciate flying to other countries. We went to see Oma and Opa in Vienna, Austria or our (wicked) step-grandmother in Israel. Didn’t everybody visit their grandparents during Spring break?
      Airline employees lived a different life, we flew stand-by, so we never knew if we would get on a flight until the very last moment. My father would cross his arms into a triangle and we knew that was the meaning for “a cliff hanger” or a very close call, a “a very flight.” We had been thrown off planes or “bumped” before.
      My father worked for TWA and his best friend for Pan Am, and the rivalry was fun and real. We flew to France, Israel, the former Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Germany, Rome, Italy, an island off of Greece, a fishing village in Portugal.
      Years later, when I met my husband, we traveled too, some on frequent flyer miles to Hawaii and to Australia, and later on to France for our miserable, cold and rainy honeymoon.
      We were so lucky, as children, to have had those experiences in the days when flying was actually fun.
      Now, flying is a brutal experience, if we have to fly, we go. But, it is not like the old days where you would get excited to fly and look forward to the trip. In the old days, my sister and I HAD to wear matching sweater and skirt sets. I remember the buttons on them were like ceramic balls. The suits were identical, except for the color. We were NEVER allowed to wear anything less fancy, it just wasn’t done. Back then, you also got dressed up to go to the theater.
      We appreciated the traveling we did back when we were children and teenagers, because once we were 21 and the free tickets abruptly stopped, we missed them even more.

    11fp - Trans World Airlines Boeing 727-231; N8...

    11fp – Trans World Airlines Boeing 727-231; N84357@FLL;30.01.1998 (Photo credit: Aero Icarus)

     

On Public Speaking

Sweet

Image by dyobmit via Flickr

Mr. Bluestone’s Class, seventh grade

The first time I had to speak publicly was in seventh grade in front of my science teacher, Mr. Bluestone and the class. I remember I did it on the TWA 747 and I practiced for hours and hours, for days, weeks. My dad, who worked at TWA at the time, brought home a 747 model jet for me to use. I practiced my speech on my dad endlessly and he was patient and kind.

I remember being in the class, Mr. Bluestone first asked for volunteers and he said, if no one wanted to volunteer he would just pick randomly. The classroom was absolutely quiet, albeit the sound of us all breathing nervously.

All of a sudden, my hand shot up and I decided to volunteer and “get it over with” basically my philosophy in life now as a grown-up.

I went to the front of the class and to the podium, I had practiced so much that the information was like that of a soothing lullaby sung by a mother to her newborn. I finished my presentation, showed my TWA model and finished speaking. There was silence in the room until Mr. Bluestone stood up and said to the class:” well, well, well.” Now, I was frightened. He continued to say that “by being first I had set the bar really high and that other presentations would be compared to mine.” I got an A plus and it gave me the confidence throughout my life to know I can do it; know your material really, really well, find your confidence and strength and speak. Jump at the chance to go first,  you can do it and you can do it really, really well.

Dedicated to Mr. Stuart or Stewart Bluestone, wherever you are.

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Happy Birthday Daddy

Wiener Schnitzel

Image via Wikipedia

November 13th is my dad’s birthday, he would have been 88. He passed away almost 9 years ago but the pain on holidays, birthdays, Father’s Day, is the same raw pain as the day he died.  It’s a pain that is hard to describe for people who have never lost a parent. Believe me, I know.

Instead of wallowing in depression this year I am going to try to remember and honor the man I loved so dearly. His blue-gray eyes, child-like qualities, generosity, pep-talks and his warmth. I miss the soft yet sturdy hugs as if a limb of my own had been amputated. I miss the familiar smell of his after-shave cologne that he sprayed with enthusiasm. My dad and I were very similar; he and I had an amazing connection and a strong emotional bond. We thought alike and we completely understood each other. The day he died, my heart was gauged with intense pain, my heart missing an essential beat.

My dad and I had so much fun together when I was younger. We traveled to  Vienna, Austria, where my grandparents lived. We ate sugary-sweet meringues that were shaped like delicate white swans and sipped hot chocolate with “schlag”  (whipped cream). We ate exploding red-berry sweet and sour tarts in Viennese cafes. My grandmother would fry up her famous wiener schnitzel,  served with plump lemon wedges every single night.

I was in first grade when my mom couldn’t come to open school day but my dad came. I think he was the only father in the class and I was so proud, so happy that he was there. I remember sharing my milk and cookies with him and I felt so important. At a shared birthday party with a friend he surprised me by coming home from work early, sneaking into the party like a secret surprise. It was a joy so innocent and so intense that I remember the feeling to this day. I was shocked and delighted as I wrapped my arms around his tall legs like a clinging, furry animal. Back then dads’ weren’t as involved in their children’s’ lives as they are today but he always had time for me; his little one, his mouse, his baby.

We had adventures, the two of us. My mother worked a great deal, she traveled the world being a tour director and translator. One night my father and I went out to a Spanish restaurant and sipped sangria, with glistening, beaming chunks of bright oranges and green apples bobbing in the rich, red wine. We toasted people we knew with every sip we took. The more we sipped the stranger the toasts were. I remember we toasted a wall -paper hanger guy that never showed up to our house, people we barely knew and random people from the past.

We went to the bagel store together, early on a Sunday morning and the store was closed. However, the fresh, warm, doughy bagels had already been delivered to the store in huge paper sacks. My dad happily took some and we left, an experience a teenager doesn’t forget! We would go grocery shopping at a huge Pathmark store with my mom and he and I would find the biggest size jars of silly things: three-pound troughs of peanut butter and dill pickles, tubs of mandarin oranges and hide them in the cart as a joke. My mother would roll her eyes and shake her head, clearly not amused, but my dad and I would laugh hysterically. Often, there would be open boxes of cookies or candy and we would help ourselves to free samples. Back then, we weren’t worried about poison or germs or anthrax.

My father spent his entire life working for TWA,  getting free airline tickets for our family.  My father, mother, older sister and I flew to: France, Greece, Portugal, Israel, Switzerland and Germany. First class seats were a mere eight dollars extra but that was a lot of money years ago and a very special treat.

This Saturday on my dad’s birthday my husband and I are going to visit my mom and take her out for lunch, we don’t want her to be alone. I know that spending the day with my mom would make my dad very happy.  He loved my mom more than anyone else in the world. Later, that night, my kids and I will remember him with his own, signature and messy concoction, “Papa’s game”: a “mixture” containing  little bits of everything that is leftover on our plates and in our glasses, swirled together with a spoon and a smile. This year, I will toast to his memory.

What I Miss About Childhood

Up, Up And Away

Trans World Airlines (TWA) Boeing 747-100

I miss the innocence of being a child. When you are little you think that your parents can handle all of life’s problems. When I was a child we boarded airplanes continuously since our father worked for TWA. My sister and I had to dress up in matching blue skirts and sweaters, I remember the buttons felt and looked like small rocks. The only feeling we had, since we were flying non-rev, (subject to space) was perhaps annoyance that we may not get on the flight we wanted. We would have to wait for another flight at the airport which could take hours. At that time it seemed like a tragedy. Now, we fear terrorist attacks, bombs exploding, emergency landings and even birds in the sky. We take off our shoes, we go through security; everyone looks suspicious. Back then we dressed like we were going to the opera, now people wear jeans and sweat pants on the airplane, myself included. I would give anything to have that innocence back; I wouldn’t even complain about wearing a sweater set that identically matched my older sister’s.There is no way of making up for that loss of innocence; after 9/11 the world as we had known it, changed forever.

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The Message

I don’t know how to begin to write this, other than with a hushed voice,  barely a whisper. It is something so important to me and something I believe in, even though I know many will scoff.  I don’t really care, I know what I have felt, seen, heard, experienced. I have felt the chills go up and down my arms, tiny hairs sticking straight up. Others, like me, will rejoice in the affirmation that they are not “imagining things” that “it’s not a coincidence.”  What we know, those of us who believe, cannot be swayed. It is a gift for us, from the other side.

After my father died in 2002 I was lost, overcome by grief and had never felt the breaking of my heart in such a literal way. Life, as I knew it, had ended. No more pep-talks from my dad, no more nurturing hugs, no more inside jokes. My dad had lived his life as a company man, working for TWA airlines for most of his life, well over forty years. He loved TWA, volunteered to be a flight attendant when there was a flight attendant strike; flew to Chicago for milk when there was a milk strike in NY to feed my sister.  He volunteered for anything TWA related; he was not a pilot although sometimes I think he thought he was.

A few days after the funeral, in the bitter, frosty cold, I finally dragged myself out of the house just to get some fresh air. I needed a destination so I drove to a thrift shop a few towns away that I had liked to go to in the past. I walked in, looked around, saw nothing of interest and walked out again. On my way in there was a clear pathway, no litter, no clutter, no loose pieces of paper, nothing. On my way out of the thrift shop not fifteen minutes later I walked down three steps and saw a bright, red, plastic wrapped luggage tag. It said TWA on it. I knew that was a sign from my dad and I crumpled up and cried right there on the pavement. I was overcome yet thankful for the message, he was still with me and I knew he always would be. I carry that card, to this day, in my pocketbook.

I had received messages from my dad, given to me by others, for example the lovely and talented Roland Comtois, a  psychic who channels messages from the dead to the living.  In fact, a message was waiting for me, written down by Roland, before I even appeared at his event. Also, I had felt my father while I was sitting at my children’s school recitals and there would be a rush of wind out of no where.  I knew Dad was watching. Admittedly, the messages, throughout the years became less frequent but to this day, when I need my Dad the most, he is there. I believe this to my core and while my mom gets scared by these stories, I get comforted.

Two weeks ago we drove our daughter to sleep away camp in Connecticut. On the way there I noticed the car ahead of us whose license plate was 222-TWA. I gasped and eagerly showed my husband who is definitely a skeptic. He smiled and I knew that he didn’t believe the way I did but it didn’t matter. “Hi Dad” I whispered. Just nights before I prayed for my dad to be with us; my husband has been unemployed since September and I have been sick with an auto-immune disease for 3 years. I told him, “Mom is really worried” which was true and he always had been so protective of my mom. “We need your help, Dad. Please.”

We dropped our daughter off, and kissed and hugged good-bye leaving her in the arms of her friends she hadn’t seen in a year. There was a lot of happy squealing and shouts of joy, a good time for parents to leave, knowing that she was happy.

The drive home was uneventful except for my husband excitedly shouting “Look at that car!”  I turned my head to the side and right in front of us was the license plate 888-TWA.  My husband became an instant convert,  knowing that the number 8 was a special number between my father and I since I was a little girl. “Thank you Daddy” I said, trying to figure out what the message was.

The pep-talk I had been missing was right in front of me. The glass of water, for me had always been “half empty” but for my dad it had always been “half full.” I used to over-worry everything and now, as my Dad once instructed, “just try to be in neutral” and I was trying, with a grateful smile above. My prayers had been answered, he was letting us know that he was there, he had heard us, he would help.

The lights in our bedroom, on the right side, go dim for hours at a time, and then they come back on later, this has been happening for three weeks now. The bulbs don’t burn out, they just have this pattern, day in and day out, night and day.  For some people it could be explained by a loose circuit. But to me, it’s my father staying in touch and winking.