Anxiety Goals

Leavin’ On A Jet Plane: Part 2 – The Wrap Up

The Goal: Fly across the country by myself

The Why: Confront my anxiety of being in new places without others to fall back on for support 

Fly over Atlanta

Hi friends!

Thank you for sticking around for the conclusion to my California trip experience – if you’re just finding this blog, please head over to Leavin’ on a Jet Plane: Part 1 to catch up.

This last post will focus on my free time on the Central Coast, travel day issues, and my plan now that I’m back home.  If you have any of your own solo travel stories to share, I would love to hear about them in the comments section!

Days 1 -3 Leaving on a Jet Plane: Part 2 – The Retreat!

Day 3 into 4

I was riding the Zen wave after my last group session when I gathered up my luggage and prepared for what I thought would be an easy Uber trip down to Santa Cruz from Scotts Valley (about a 15 minute drive).  Unfortunately, something was malfunctioning with the Uber app and all I saw was a “Looking for drivers” message and no cars in the area map…for almost an hour I tried restarting my phone and resubmitting the request, but nothing worked.  Ok, world – first test of my recently strengthened bravery skills.

I ended up asking one of the 1440 staff for help and I’m not sure what he did, but within 5 minutes I had a driver on his way to get me.  Lesson learned: JUST ASK FOR THE DAMN HELP ALREADY.

My second Uber driver was super nice and very California – a 63 year old vegetarian and daily meditator who visits New York City every few months to visit his elderly mother.  It was a great transition into the “real world”, although my next stop was keeping the peaceful vibe going pretty well too.

It was my first time using Air BnB and my hosts were extremely welcoming, along with with their lovely home.  Private room full of amenities and homey touches, plus an outdoor garden space complete with the perfect spot to get sucked into a book – I could have stayed here for weeks! Unfortunately, I was only there until the next evening so tried to take advantage of my time as much as possible.  At my host’s suggestion, I ended up walking to a traditional Hawaiian restaurant just a few minutes away that served up braised pork, macaroni salad, white rice, AND a sushi roll made with Spam – yep, you read that right.

Plate lunch
Aloha Island Grille, Santa Cruz, CA

Local and organic it was not, but what a delicious way to end the day.  I spent the rest of my night reading outside, doing a little yoga, and journaling before going to bed.  Maybe it was a combination of these things, but I ended up having the BEST sleep I’ve had in months and actually felt rested when I woke up the next day.  I could get used to this!

Day 4

I ventured out early and walked to another restaurant suggested to me about 20 minutes away near the coastline.  The area felt very safe and I had a good time strolling around without any real schedule or agenda.  I popped into Cat and Cloud for a quick breakfast and chai latte, finding out that the barista has a friend in Vermont (“Is that the state with only one area code?”).  In fact, the whole place felt a little like “Burlington by the beach”,

breakfast
Can I have this table please?

so I was pretty happy.  It was an easy walk from there to find my first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, although the clouds and cool air of Santa Cruz in the morning wasn’t encouraging me to take a dip.  There were plenty of surfers there who felt otherwise!  I really liked how there was a wide path along the whole coast for walkers, bikers, and LOTS of dogs.  You could head down to the sand on long staircases built to come down off the cliffs, and I finally was able to at least get my feet in this new ocean.

Dog on the sand
This little guy was just hanging out while his human surfed

 

I spent some time at each spot just taking a few minutes to appreciate where I was and all I was seeing. I brought my journal along to capture any thoughts that may come up, but I still need to practice this more so it becomes a little more natural.  I think we have all gotten more used to sharing our thoughts on social media rather than putting them into something personal and reflective, without any “likes” on the line.  Although I was taking plenty of pictures, I really tried not to use my phone more than to send a quick text back home.  It was much harder to stay away from scrolling when I wasn’t at 1440, but I at least I was trying to be more conscious of my habits.

I spent a few hours just wandering along through the neighborhood and honestly had to stop myself from looking creepy by taking pictures of all the interesting homes and landscaping.  In Vermont we have lawns with grass, but the drought conditions and unique vegetation meant lawns look WAY different than back

Unique plants
So many succulents! 

home.  It was really interesting to notice all the differences and remark on just how diverse our natural world is (and hopefully will continue to be…).

Large flowers
HUGE flowers over the path

All in all, it was a very peaceful but interesting leg of the trip and I got to practice another skill that I often struggle with – letting go of that feeling of not fitting in.  As it turns out, the people in Santa Cruz are way more apt to be walking around in exercise clothes and sneakers than a nice top and jeans.  Soooo I had to quiet that inner voice that says “See, you should have worn something else” whenever I met someone on the street.  Much as I did in the airport security line, I tried to quiet it by reminding myself that I’m not actually the center of everyone else’s universe and I’ll never see these people again, so what does it matter? The only thing I should have been worried about was being dressed too warmly because as soon as noon hits, the clouds all disappear and it is nothing but SUN the whole day!

I wanted to get the tourist experience before I left Santa Cruz, so I took the bus over to the Boardwalk area and I was NOT disappointed! The Boardwalk is full of people, food, rides, shops, and a great stretch of the beach.  I actually didn’t feel out of place being by myself and enjoyed just walking around and taking things in without having to worry about other people wanting to walk faster or ride the rides or wait in line for something I didn’t care about.  I spent a couple hours there total, mostly in a souvenir shop because I can’t decide on anything – another skill to practice!

Boardwalk
A snippet of the Boardwalk

I headed back up to San Jose so that I could spare myself an hour long drive at 3:30 am for my flight the next morning and again had a great Uber driver who was fun to get to know a little.  He was originally from Mexico and had started driving for Uber a few months ago to earn better pay than at his job at a taxi service.  Although he didn’t speak a lot of English, we bonded over country music and scenic roads.  Again, you never know someone’s story so sometimes it pays just to ask!

My last night in California was a mellow one, considering I had walked well over 2 miles during the day and had the sunburned nose to prove it.  On my second Air BnB hosts’

Mexican food
So. Much. Food.

recommendation, I finished out my Food Tour at an authentic Mexican restaurant a short walk away.  I’m not even sure how I managed to eat 3/4 of this chimichanga, but it must have been all that walking or something! After my feast, I headed back to my room at the condo and prepped for my travel day.  I knew my anxiety would be a little higher, but assumed everything would go as smoothly as my first travel day and tried to get a decent night of sleep…neither of those things ended up happening.

Day 5

Everything started out just fine when I got my last ride of the trip over to the San Jose airport, just 5 minutes away.  Security was pretty easy and I had time to eat a regular breakfast at one of the cafes.  My 6:30 am flight left right on time and within about 4 1/2 hours I was officially back on EST and landing in Atlanta, GA.  I thought I had about 2 hours to grab lunch, charge my phone, and get ready for my flight up to NYC.  Then I started getting updates on my Delta app about delays in NYC due to weather…

As it turns out, a storm system over NYC wasn’t moving on and flights to and from JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark were all getting delayed or cancelled.  My connecting flight from JFK to Burlington suddenly went from a 9:15 pm departure to 1:55 am and that’s when the anxiety reallly started ramping up…only to keep increasing when I found out my 4:00 pm flight from ATL wouldn’t be leaving until 8:00 pm.  I’m not proud to say that my response to all these changes was to basically have a breakdown in the middle of the airport.  Oh, but what about all that meditation and journaling I just spent 4 days doing? Yeah, that was right out the window when the stress response kicked in.  I went right back to my old habits of obsessively looking up flight changes (which my JFK to BTV flight did at least 6 times), scrolling through Facebook, Googling “what happens if you miss your connecting flight”, and seeking comfort from people back home. In short – I was a mess.

In the end, I spent over 6 hours at the Atlanta airport and besides having stiff muscles and a lighter wallet, I wasn’t in any serious catastrophe.  That’s something my therapist mentioned once – “Is it a problem or is it a catastrophe?”.  People with anxiety tend to leap to a catastrophic mindset where whatever is happening that is unpleasant, inconvenient, unexpected, or negative turns into THE WORST THING EVER.  So I tried to remind myself that I would get home eventually, but the long days of schlepping my luggage around and not sleeping in my own bed were wearing on me.

I spent the entirety of the 2 1/2 hour flight in Panic Mode over the very real likelihood that I would miss my last flight and have to spend the night in NYC.  I ended up looking at hotel listings, sleep options at the airport, and even Greyhound bus tickets that could get me back to Vermont faster than waiting overnight for a flight.  I was frustrated when the in-flight WiFi wasn’t strong enough to update my Delta app every 5 seconds, even though every time I did check it, it still said 11:00 pm departure.  When the plane touched down, I only had 30 minutes before the scheduled departure, and seeing as I was in the 35th row, I wasn’t going ANYWHERE for at least another 15.  As I stood in the tiny row waiting for anyone to start moving, I was panic-texting Brian and my Mom about how I wasn’t going to make the flight and didn’t know what to do.  With 10 minutes to spare, I was that person sprinting through the airport with my luggage, even over the moving walkways which I typically am PETRIFIED of.  When I got to my gate, I didn’t notice many people around and thought they must have already prepped to leave.  At that minute, I heard a young couple asking if anyone else was going to Burlington and I immediately felt a surge of hope.  I’m sure those people felt a surge of “this woman is unstable” as I ran over to them, sweaty and sleep deprived, and joined in the Vermont-bound group.  It turns out that Delta had moved the flight last minute to leave at 11:40 pm and I could finally take a deep breath (and run to the bathroom…).  I did manage to run through a meditation session on my phone while the plane was getting ready to head out, but I was a little disappointed in myself for not using that as a resource throughout the day.  It showed me that I really can’t change everything from just a few days away and that my nervous system still has a mind of its own.  The important thing is I landed in VT, was greeted by Brian, and was able to sleep most of the next day away 🙂

Back in VT…

So now what?

It’s really easy to feel like you’ve made progress in a retreat that is set up for personal growth and reflection or in a city where you don’t nobody so there aren’t any expectations.  I knew it would be a challenge to keep up with things like daily meditation (still not there), yoga (working on it), journaling (once or twice?), and time in nature (that I have managed, weather permitting!).  But the overall takeaway from my trip was a new guiding phrase: “Just Show Up”.  That’s what I did when I was nervous to meet my group mates, take the drumming class, or sign up for this thing in the first place.  I wanted this trip to be a stepping stone where I could say “Hey, I DID manage to fly across the country by myself, so doing ______ isn’t so bad”.  Most people would find it easier to make a doctor’s appointment than flying across the country alone (and only on your second air travel trip ever) without this experience, but what can I say – I’m a hands on learner!

So I’m moving forward through my goal list and other opportunities in general by just showing up and seeing what happens.  It’s still hard for me to quiet the voice of perfectionism, but remembering that mistakes are ok AND expected is something I’m continuing to practice.  To help me out, I try to think back to the drumming circle at 1440, where one person’s “mistake” was meshed into the collective sound so that you couldn’t even tell it had happened – the community had your back.  I’m working on strengthening my unique communities and relationships and finding more people to connect with through shared interests and activities.  If I can do that in 2 1/2 days with total strangers 2500 miles from home, then why not here?

Until next time and the next goal!

 

 

Anxiety Goals

Leaving on a Jet Plane: Part 2 – The Retreat!

The Goal: Fly across the country by myself

 

The Why: Confront my anxiety of being in new places without others to fall back on for support

 

Selfie by waterfall

 

Hi all!

It’s been a little over a week since I returned home from my Big Solo Trip – sorry if I kept you in suspense! Besides just having to get back into “real world mode”, I’ve been busy trying to decide how I wanted to approach writing about my experience. Not to be too dramatic, but there are a lot of things I couldn’t even begin to describe because the sights, sounds, and feelings are intangible (or let’s be honest, sound a little goofy). I also don’t want to fall into the “female finding herself” trope whereby it looks like I had some grand epiphany (set to swelling inspirational music, obviously) and now am a completely different person.  Undoubtedly, I learned things about myself through the whole experience and had to leave my comfort zone many times, both important reasons why I wanted to do this kind of trip in the first place. But to me, this trip is a catalyst for further change in the longterm and I still have a lot of work to do to reach my 29 other goals.  It all started with booking this trip, so I’m excited to share my experiences and hopefully inspire some of you to take a leap past your comfort zone as well.

In this post, I’ll be focusing on my time at 1440 Multiversity in Scotts Valley, CA.  I also spent time in Santa Cruz and San Jose, which I’ll be discussing in my next (hopefully shorter!) post.

Day 1

If you happened to read my departure day post, you know things got going in the early morning of August 10th (3:30 am EST to be specific).  Maybe it was getting all my packing done ahead of schedule, having gone through the experience of airport security already, or just a mark of the work I’ve been putting in the last few months, but I was surprisingly relaxed the morning of.  I didn’t get much sleep (as is common whenever I have something big to wake up for) and I still felt like I was missing something (turns out I only brought ONE hair tie…), but I wasn’t an anxious mess when Brian dropped me off.  As I talked about in the last post, I definitely had my share of fumbles during security, which usually ratchets my anxiety up considerably.  This time around, I tried paying attention to my fellow travelers in a way that wasn’t in relation to me…if you have anxiety, you probably understand that it is actually a pretty self-centered condition to have.  In this mindset, literally everyone is spending their time paying attention to and making judgements about what you’re doing/saying/wearing/thinking/etc. – you really are the center of the world.  I had to get it in my head that nobody really cared what I was up to as long as I wasn’t interrupting their own ability to get through security.  It helped to remember that I am, in fact, NOT everyone else’s top priority.  This will come in handy later on in the trip and is still a skill I’m practicing!

As for the actual flying process, I truly did not feel anxiety higher than maybe 2/10.  I actually have found that I prefer flying to being in a car and generally feel pretty safe on the plane.  I also HAVE to sit in the window spot because I do notice my nerves revving up when all the windows are shut – maybe a slightly claustrophobic issue? Either way, I had picked window seats for all of my flights and was lucky to have good row mates who didn’t seem to think it was crazy that I spent a good deal of time taking pictures of the sights below.

Burlington from air
Burlington, VT Waterfront

 

Although it was a long flight, the time went by pretty easily and I landed in San Jose, CA around 12:00 PST (new time zone woohoo!).  I had a couple hours to kill before I could check into 1440 Multiversity so grabbed some lunch and prepped for the next step in the journey: getting an Uber.  Now, I’ve used Uber a couple of times before but always with someone else to do the actual work and keep me company in the car.  My anxiety level went up to about 4-5/10 as I thought about leaving the little bubble of the airport.  Eventually, I decided to grab the blank journal I brought with me to write out my anxious thoughts and make a to do list of my next actions.  When it came time to actually book the Uber, it was quick and easy.  My driver was a little quiet, but once I pushed the conversation a little bit (it was a 45 minute trip after all), I learned he had been a respected pediatrician in Moscow and that his first language is actually Farsi.  He told me about his family in the U.S., how he has the worst English of them all but is trying really hard to get better, and that his grandkids barely have an accent because they were born here.  I don’t think he understood what “Vermont” or “New England” are, but he didn’t need to; we had a pleasant (if a little awkward) chat and wished each other well when he handed me over to the 1440 staff.  Lesson learned: Put yourself out there and get talking!

1440 Entrance
Entrance to 1440 Multiversity

The first thing I noticed when I got to the 1440 campus is how GORGEOUS everything is – the redwood trees, unique landscaping, modern rustic decor, walking paths, etc.  The second thing was how nice the staff members are and how comfortable they made me feel.  My guide showed me a detailed campus map, gave suggestions for hiking spots, and let me know the general schedule for my program.  As a Discovery Weekend participant, I was to see a sampling of what 1440 offers with the overall goal of “discovering” something new about myself.  After checking into my private room (small but cute!) and doing a thorough review of the schedule (as per usual), I could feel my fatigue setting in, along with the nervousness of leaving what was now my “room bubble” to see what was to await me.  I decided to start with a casual walk around the main campus to orient myself with the map, snap some pictures, and maybe jump into a class offering.  So that’s what I did!

Sanctuary Building
Sanctuary Building 
Main Walking Path
Walkway over the brook
Fossil in wall
One of many fossils on campus!

The class offering before dinner was a Qi Gong introduction that ended up being in the outside amphitheater.  I had done a similar class many years ago so it wasn’t a new concept, but I did enjoy the way the instructor discussed energy and movement; plus it was a great way to move around after a cross-country flight!

Dinner was next up and let me tell you – that food was AMAZING! Everything was either grown on site or at local farms, mostly organic, and served with a great deal of care and attention to detail.  Did I mention it was also buffet style and you could eat as much as you wanted?

First meal
First meal on campus: Roast duck with veggies and rice and a berry dessert with matcha powder and veggies – so delicious! 

Meal times in a new place are inherently anxiety-inducing and I wasn’t sure if I should try to find a random spot with others or just take some time to enjoy a meal by myself.  I noticed there were many others eating solo and I decided to challenge myself to be comfortable with being alone.  I figured there were so many sights and sounds to take in and I wanted to focus on the tastes of my food, so took a spot at a lovely wood table at the edge of the porch.  Most of the meal time was just fine, but I ended up calling home to check in with my Mom and let her know I was doing well.  So I didn’t necessarily do what I intended, but I was still happy with myself for letting it be okay to eat alone AND trying not to just mindlessly scroll on my phone to make me feel less awkward.

We had a couple welcome sessions scheduled, but I was honestly too tired to attend.  At that point, I had been awake for roughly 18 hours and the extent of my traveling caught up with me.  So, instead of joining the social activities, I took the opportunity to soak in the 101 degree Fahrenheit outdoor infinity tub overlooking the redwood forest (no pics because I didn’t even bring my phone!) and went to bed by 9:00 PST.  While I didn’t push through in terms of socializing, I truly felt like it was what my body needed and I was happy with myself for listening to my needs and practicing self care.

Day 2

Considering the time change, it was no surprise that I was up EARLY – 4:00 am PST to be exact.  I was hoping for a really great night’s sleep, but that unfortunately didn’t happen.  Now, I am NOT a morning person, so being up before dawn wasn’t my favorite way to start the day.  However, I took advantage of the early wake up to attend a meditation session across campus.  As with qi gong, I had done meditation before and have been trying to incorporate it into daily practice with only occasional success (it is one of my 30 goals though!).  The instructor, Bill, was great and helped explain the science behind meditation and mindfulness and how it can be used to reduce stress related conditions and sharpen focus.  Did you know that long-time meditators have brains that are an average of 7.5 years younger than their non-meditating counterparts? Seems like a good enough reason to me to start making my daily goal a reality!

After meditation, we had a delicious breakfast that I also flew solo for.  I was enjoying paying attention to my food and trying to keep the mindfulness practice going through my meal (meditation isn’t just sitting on the floor with your eyes closed!), but also getting nervous about the next scheduled activity: a group session for Discovery Weekend that didn’t come with a description.

Now, because I didn’t go to the opening session the night before, I was super anxious about joining the group.  What if people thought badly of me for not going? What if friendships had already started to form and I was left out? What if there was something we needed to bring that I didn’t know about?  I told myself I could just NOT go and have to deal with knowing any of those answers, that would be the “easy” option after all.  However, I made myself walk towards the meeting spot and told myself I would just check out what was happening and I could leave if I needed to.  Anxious people always need to have an exit strategy, even if it’s just an illusion to make us feel better…what, we’re complicated!

The meeting spot was another outdoor amphitheater-style space called the Cathedral, which was built around the Mother Tree – a 1,200 year old redwood tree that was a “must visit” according to my initial guide person.  I decided to head down to the tree by myself and then see how I felt about sticking around for the session.  Depending on your relationship with nature, this may sound entirely reasonable or entirely psychotic, but I felt an ENERGY from being around the Mother that is indescribable – almost like a sudden boost to my inner strength.  I had been told that touching the tree is a right of passage at 1440, and in doing so I could see why.  Connecting with the tree while staring up (and up and UP) at the tree top and thinking about what that one tree had been around to witness was overwhelming.  Given the terrible forest fires going on just a couple hours north, it held particular significance and relevance.  I can’t explain how or why, but being around that tree gave me courage and I walked into the group session with my curiosity outweighing my fear.

Mother Tree
First attempt at capturing The Mother Tree (surrounded by her “babies”)
Mother Tree touch
Grateful

As it turns out, I had absolutely nothing to be afraid of – the people who were also doing the Discovery Weekend were some of the nicest and most welcoming I’ve ever met.  In fact, one of our guides greeted me with a warm hug when I introduced myself to the group and instantly put my mind and body at ease.  When I explained why I needed to skip last night’s session, everyone seemed very understanding and impressed that I had travelled so far to get there.  The rest of the session pushed me out of my comfort zone through partner activities and personal reflection, but the setting felt very safe and I felt myself loosening up as the couple hours went on.  After some private time to journal as we saw fit, we wrapped up with a silent hike through the redwoods towards the main campus.  Have you ever tried walking in silence with a group of people? It feels so strange at first, especially to someone very aware of awkward silences like me! I think it was a challenge for everyone, but ended up being a very mindful and almost meditative practice – plus that hike definitely got the blood pumping and ready for lunch!

Lunch is served!
Lunch is served!

It turns out we would be preparing our own lunch in the Teaching Kitchen, an industrial kitchen with pretty much anything you could want (that row of stand mixers was like staring at the sun).  We worked in small groups to prepare three recipes using the food grown on site or locally, led by a great registered dietitian named Jocelyn.  In the end, we had a DELICIOUS meal of zoodles (zucchini noodles, spiralized by us!) with fresh made pesto (no cheese or olive oil, somehow more delicious than usual!), dairy free ricotta, and tomatoes, with an avocado chocolate pudding for dessert.  Thank goodness we went home with the recipes! Jocelyn did a great job of giving us nutritional information for everything we made and answered any questions we may have had.  As a health coach, I found it really great to hear from another “balanced” nutrition source about current diet trends and the need for individualized strategies.  We also got to walk around the onsite garden, which I am very jealous of…someday!

After some free time to just read (and nap), I took a surprisingly intense yoga class and had another delicious dinner, this time with my group mates.  Then came the activity I was the most nervous about when I browsed the agenda: Interactive Rhythm Session.

I had no idea what these 90 minutes would entail exactly, but I knew I had that familiar mix of “This sounds really cool” and “I shouldn’t go because I don’t know what to do” thinking that oftentimes ends with me choosing to follow the advice of the second statement.  However, I had to remind myself what the whole point of this trip was – getting OUT of my comfort zone and proving to myself that not being “perfect” at something is ok.  It helped that by this time I had made friends with my group mates and everyone was expressing a little apprehension about giving the class a try.  With that in mind, I made myself walk into the class, sat behind a djembe (traditional drum from West Africa), and got ready to make some music.

I can’t overstate this enough – IT. WAS. AWESOME.

Our instructor, Jim Greiner, was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and set such a feeling of safety and fun.  He emphasized the communal history and role of drum circles and how music is a universal language that human beings are hardwired to connect to.  His sessions focus on 3 Cs: Communicating, Cooperating, and Celebrating – not something you see in your daily life these days, right? All were present in this session and it only got better as we all loosened up.  Sitting turned into standing, which turned into dancing, which turned into laughing, and ended with a pretty magical moment where over 50 people stopped playing simultaneously with just one cue.  One man in the audience said the drum session was the first time he’s felt happy in as long as he can remember – that was a pretty powerful thing to hear.  It reminded me how much I used to enjoy playing music and especially doing so with a group of people.  I remember journaling that night before bed about wanting to find classes when I returned home, so maybe that can be added to the goal list!

Day 3

All good things must come to an end, and so did my time at 1440.  I started the day with a gentle yoga class and yummy breakfast before heading to our last group session.  Again, this will probably sound crazy (or “woo-woo” as some would say), but this group session had a transformative feeling about it.  In silence, we all walked single file through the campus labyrinth, a stone path on the edge of the forest.

Labrynth
Anyone else reminded of “Westworld”?

Jim was back to lightly drum a steady beat as we had time think and reflect on our own paths up until this point and where we might take our lives when we reach the “center”, whatever that meant for you.  I won’t lie – I was skeptical about all this at first.  But as I stepped forward, I got surprisingly overwhelmed with emotion thinking about the literal and figurative steps I had been taking to get there.  Here I was 2500 miles away from home, with a group of people who were total strangers 48 hours earlier, feeling comfortable enough to share my experiences and struggles.  As a group, we each discussed how the one word we wrote down at the beginning of the program related to us now.  The word I chose to work towards was brave and I was certainly feeling much braver than when I started.

If you’ve made it this far – congrats and THANK YOU! Stay tuned to read about the next two days of my trip in Part 2 – The Wrap Up!

 

 

Anxiety Goals

Leavin’ On A Jet Plane: Part 1.5

The Goal: Fly across the country by myself

The Why: Confront my anxiety of being in new places without others to fall back on for support 

Well friends, the time has come – it’s TRIP DAY!

Besides being a bit sleep-deprived, I’m actually doing pretty well as I sit and wait for my boarding time. I made sure to pack as early as I could yesterday to avoid last-minute panicking and other than forgetting extra hair ties (which are always in abundance when you DON’T need them, amiright?) I think I’ve got everything taken care of. Unlike many people, the actual flight doesn’t bother me at all – it’s the logistics of knowing what to do and when. As I mentioned in the first trip post, a lot of my social anxiety is rooted in being worried I’ll do something “wrong”, “awkward”, “embarrassing”, or make it obvious that I’m a newbie. So as expected, I made some goofs going through the security line, but you know what? So did almost everyone else around me! (I’m looking at you, guy trying to fly with full sized bottles of olive oil – I get it, but read the rules, man!)

Something I’m hoping to gain from the trip is a better ability to let go of worrying so much about making a fool of myself, or at least raising the bar for what that constitutes. Nobody there knows me at all, so why worry? Maybe I’ll be “that girl who face planted from tripping on her own feet”, but at least that’ll be a fun story for people to tell!

I will be trying to stay off my phone as much as I can once I get to California, but will definitely take lots of pictures that I’ll share in my next post. In the meantime, I’ll be doing a lot of waiting around and trying to snag a nap when I can – wish me luck!

-Amanda

P.S. Special shoutout to Brian for driving me to the airport at 3:30 am. He really is a keeper.

Anxiety Goals

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane: Part 1

The Goal: Fly across the country by myself

The Why: Confront my anxiety of being in new places without others to fall back on for support 

Plane pic
Flying over the Atlantic Ocean in January 2018

So here’s the thing – I just took my first flight EVER at the age of 28. Yep, I did not go on the foreign language club trip in high school, no studying abroad in college, not even a spring break on some party island (although you probably wouldn’t have been able to pay me to do that last one #nerdlife).  Given that I know babies who had been on more flights than me, I tended to shy away from offering up that piece of information when conversations would turn to travel:

“Oh I know, isn’t TSA such a drag?”

“That’s true, not much room in those seats!”

*Emphatically nodding head and widening eyes to show both empathy and understanding* (I’m very well-versed in this tactic)

Like most things that are just expected of a person, being someone who had not had the experience of flying left me with a lot of embarrassment – it didn’t help that when I did confess to my lack of flying I was often met with “WAIT, you have NEVER been on a PLANE?? How is that even POSSIBLE??”.  Cut to me just shrugging my shoulders, mumbling “Yeah I don’t know umm just haven’t had the chance to?”, and feeling like I was not cultured enough, fun enough, rich enough, or interesting enough. 

  The truth is, I always had the desire to fly, but a combination of family influence, social anxiety, and financial roadblocks got in the way.  In high school, I wanted to go on the trip to France and Spain that literally ALL of my close friends were on, but my parents weren’t comfortable with me flying from a safety standpoint (did I mention my mom is 66 years old and has never flown?).  I had big ambitions of going abroad in college, but when I was accepted on a weeklong service trip to Belize, I got scared of what the experience might entail and gave up my spot.  As a post-grad, I never seemed to have the money to go on more than weekend trips that were a car ride away, and at that point not having done it was making the reality of doing it seem much less possible (this happens to us in a lot of cases, unfortunately).  Long story short – I wasn’t ever really afraid to fly itself, I just had let other factors take over.  Until I decided late last year that I wouldn’t let them anymore.    

My first flight was to the Dominican Republic for our friends’ wedding (hey, Werlins!).  Again, I wasn’t really nervous for the flight, but the process around it: How do I check a bag? Where do I give my ticket? What happens if I get super clumsy and awkward in security and they think I’m nervous because I’m planning something terrible or that I’m on bath salts or something? Basically, how do I not let people know that I haven’t done this before?

In the end, everything went very smoothly and was not nearly as stressful as I anticipated.  It really helped that I had my boyfriend Brian there to help me relax – without making it look like I NEEDED help, of course (yeah, we have a lot to unpack there).  The trip was great and definitely made me realize how much I had missed out on over the years.

Alright, so now you’ve gotten the long winded backstory, let’s settle in on the present… 

A few months ago, I was in the midst of doing a lot of this self-reflecting, soul-searching, Mel Robbins-reading stuff when I came across a place called 1440 Multiversity.  A yoga instructor I really admire had posted about doing a guest lecture there on her Instagram and seeing as I had no idea what it was, I decided to do a little more research.

In short, I was blown away by the beautiful location, holistic wellness approach, and opportunity to learn new things through daily yoga classes, meditation, nature hikes, guest speakers, cooking workshops, sustainability practices, and community.  Oh, and it just happened to be in Santa Cruz, California…completely across the country from where I am in Vermont.

Now, I’ve done this before – find something online that looks cool, research the crap out of it, debate with myself about if I should do it, and eventually overanalyze it so much that I have no chance of saying yes.  Approximate time spent: 87,385 hours per idea.

This time around, I paid attention to what I initially felt when I saw their website: excitement, energy, and “YES! This is exactly what I need!”.  As I signed up for a Discovery Weekend and reserved my room, I decided I would figure out the details later. In a rare event, I let my initial feelings make the choice instead of rationalizing, analyzing, and logisticalizing (not a word, but shouldn’t it be?).

So that brings me to today, which is exactly 4 Fridays away from when I fly out in the wee hours of August 10th.  My anxiety is currently not being too rambunctious, but from experience I know to expect the 2-3 days prior to be very challenging.  That’s when all the final planning happens and I start wondering if this is really such a good idea…which was already decided by my slightly-healthier mind months ago.  I plan to draw on the strategies I’ve learned through counseling and my yoga practice (as well as reminders from all of you!) to get me through.  I’m still a little scared about flying alone, but I have chosen to focus on all of the evidence of solo travel being an empowering learning experience, especially for women.  I’m excited to see a new ocean, wander through the Redwoods, meet likeminded people, eat great organic food, practice yoga in a beautiful setting, and seeing that I CAN do something way out of my comfort zone.  

I will be writing about my experience during the trip in Part 2 and do a post-trip wrap up in Part 3.  If you’ve ever taken a big trip by yourself, please let me know how it went in the comment section!

Thanks for reading!

-Amanda