Taking Control of my Anxiety

Day 24 – March SOLSC

I’ve always battled with anxiety since I was a young girl.  Always a worrier.  Always an over thinker.  Always nervous.  As I got older, I guess I learned coping strategies and while I would worry or get nervous in different situations, I was able to work through them.  I was able to keep going.  It never really held me back or disrupted my life.  I did well in school and went away to college – sure I was homesick and had moments of anxiousness, but I “plowed” through.

Then in 2006, my dad passed away suddenly and unexpectedly 4 months before my wedding.  This caused my anxiety to ramp up to a new level.  My worries became magnified.  I worried about something happening to my mom, or my brother, or my then fiancé, or anyone I cared about.  I was afraid to be alone because I just worried and worried.  Seeing a therapist helped and I was able to get my anxiety under “control.”

I now know, it was probably never under real control.  I just learned how to push things aside and either block out feelings or suppress them.  I’m not even really sure how I was able to keep myself going.

This January, I had my first ever panic/anxiety attack.  My heart was racing and I couldn’t calm down.  The more I noticed that my heart was racing out of nowhere, the more I panicked.  I was convinced that something was wrong with my heart (my dad died from a massive heart attack).  I spent the day in the emergency room hooked up to heart monitors and getting blood work done.  All tests came back normal – nothing wrong with my heart.  Just my anxiety.

This was my wake up call.  Time to start taking care of myself instead of just everyone else.  Time to start making myself a priority and to stop saying “I just don’t have time,” or “it’s just too expensive.” After the panic attack, I followed up with a new doctor who has me on the right track.  I’ve joined the gym and got myself hooked up with an amazing trainer.   She’s teaching me (aka torturing me) about muscle groups, strength training, and endurance.  She’s simply amazing!  I now work out 4-5 times a week (and my husband does too)!  We finally started to prioritize and realize that both of us should be taking better care of ourselves.

I wish I didn’t have to have a panic/anxiety attack in order to make self-care a priority, but maybe it’s the push I needed.  I’ve learned that it’s ok to be selfish sometimes.  I feel better than I’ve ever felt before.  I’m happier – have more energy.  I’m probably a better mom, wife, and teacher too.  We even signed up for The Bronx Zoo 5K run next month.  A lot of good has come out of a bad, scary event in my life.  It’s never too late to start taking care of yourself!

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I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!  Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community.  A place for us to grow together as writers. 

Ode to Coffee

Day 23 – March SOLSC

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Ode to Coffee

Oh coffee,

you make my mornings just so lovely,

so complete.

Your aroma fills my apartment with happiness

and I just can’t wait until you’re done brewing.

Oh coffee,

that first sip just makes my heart skip a beat.

You’re so warm and delicious.

With each sip you send joy throughout my entire body.

Oh coffee,

you just make me smile –

Every. single. day.

I’d be lost without you!

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I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!  Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community.  A place for us to grow together as writers. 

 

Currently…

Day 22 – March SOLSC

Currently….

Watching:   FoodNetwork – Pioneer Woman, Guy’s Grocery games.  HGTV’s Fixer Upper.  The Zoo (I’m obsessed with the Bronx Zoo), NCIS (can’t get enough of reruns), and whatever might be on Disney when it’s Emma’s turn.

Listening:  Emma telling stories with her dolls and stuffed animals.  Her creativity and ability to entertain herself is just amazing.  She’s content with being with herself.

Appreciating:   My husband for supporting me on my journey to better my mind, body, and soul.  He is encouraging me to do the things that will make me feel good and not make excuses that I don’t have enough time.  I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself if he wasn’t helping.  I more than appreciate him.

Loving:   My girl and all our snuggle time, my husband, my first graders, my new determined self!

Drinking:  Water – lots and lots of water!  Coffee (of course!) and whiskey!

Wishing:   For the World to be more Awesome (Thank you Kid President!)  Kindness, Empathy, and Peace.

Planning:  My next reading and writing units.  My workout schedule – road to a healthier me and training for The Bronx Zoo 5K next month.

Reading:  Blogs of my fellow slicers, Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate, and Messy – The Power of Disorder to Transform our Lives by Tim Harford.

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I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!  Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community.  A place for us to grow together as writers. 

 

How to be a Snowflake

Day 21 – March SOLSC

This post is inspired by Lynne Dorfman’s post Things to do if you are a Daffodil.  When she was mentioning the mentor text she used, she also noted a mentor text I use with my first graders – How to Be by Lisa Brown.  We’ve only used the book as a mentor for our “how to” unit of study.  So, today I’m using Lisa Brown’s How to Be as a mentor for my poem “How to be a Snowflake.” (Currently the 4th Nor’easter of the month is dropping snow as I write)

How to be a Snowflake

Dance and twirl down from the heavy clouds above

Land gracefully upon the surfaces below

Kiss and tickle the noses of everyone you meet

Be luminous

Be beautiful

Be unique.

I’m excited to incorporate this mentor text and the one from Lynne’s blog into my First Grade Poetry unit!

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I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!  Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community.  A place for us to grow together as writers. 

Bedtime

Day 20 – March SOLSC

“Momma, can you snuggle me tonight?”

“Sure, Emma.  We can snuggle.”

“Can we snuggle in your bed and then Daddy can move me? He’s getting strong muscles from working out.”

(giggling) “Yes, we can snuggle in our bed.”

“And can we read a chapter or two in our book while we snuggle?”

“Of course we can.”

Emma put on her pjs, got into my bed and we read a chapter of Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate.  (We are really enjoying this book!)

“Ok Emma.  I have to do my writing for the day.  It’s getting late and I’m getting tired so I’m going to write while you lay here.”

“Ok, Momma, but can I get under the covers and snuggle close to you?  I just want to be close to you.”

“Of course honey.”

She laid next to me, snuggled up under my blanket, while I wrote this little Slice.  I wasn’t sure I was going to make it tonight.  Felt like the time was flying by.  But, I showed up, and wrote about a sweet, tiny moment I shared with my girl.  Some times it’s the littlest moments that leave the biggest impressions on your heart.  I continue to cherish every one of these times that she wants to be with me, snuggling, reading, and talking.

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I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!  Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community.  A place for us to grow together as writers. 

 

Coffee Shop

Day 19 – March SOLSC

Scoops on the Hudson was a cute little coffee shop/ice cream parlor in my village years and years ago.  When you walked in the front door, straight ahead were the ice cream freezers and to the left was a counter with chairs, pastries and donuts, coffee machines, and a little griddle for bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches.  It was a great place to stop by on the way to work for coffee and a donut!

My dad was a member of the early morning coffee club there.  He and a few of his buddies would meet there every single morning for coffee (and donuts!).  The owner, Frank, is actually the one who named them the coffee club.  Every day, my dad would get the newspaper and then walk next door to the coffee shop.  I was never part of this coffee club, so I have no idea what they talked about every morning.  I’m sure it was the happenings of our village, something about the fire department (my dad was the chief for many years), their families, and who knows what else.   I can just remember them all sitting around – laughing and talking.

When I came home from college and started teaching, I would stop there before hitting the road to work.  When you live in such a small village, everyone knows who you are (especially when your dad is the fire chief and coffee club member).  Every morning, when I walked in, my dad would spin around on his stool and smile.  Everyone would greet me with a “morning Jen, how are you?”  My dad would ask me how I doing and then what I had in store for the day.  He was always so excited to hear about my teaching adventures.

Since it was a regular stop for me, Frank knew how I took my coffee.  Sometimes, it was even waiting for me on the counter when I walked in!  I’d always take out my wallet to pay, and every day I’d get “dad already got it.”  I remember hugging him and saying “thank you daddy, see you later,” and off to work I’d go.

This coffee shop routine continued until I lost my dad.  I just couldn’t get myself to go in there anymore.  Each day, I’d drive by and look for him in the window, but all I saw was the rest of the coffee club – one member missing.  Finally, after a few weeks or maybe it was even months, I decided to go back in.  The coffee was really amazing – I was missing it and was ready.  When I walked in that morning, Frank gave me my coffee.  As I went into my purse to get my wallet, I looked at him and my face must have said what I was thinking.  He touched my hand that was on the counter and said “you don’t have to say anything.  I miss him too.”  He knew why I hadn’t been coming in.  I was able to avoid the place, but he kept coming to work every morning, hanging with the coffee club – one man missing.

The coffee shop is no longer there (it’s now a taco restaurant).  While I definitely miss the amazing coffee, it just didn’t taste the same once my dad was gone.

Thank you to Fran McCrackin for giving me the idea to expand on this Slice after reading my post 5 More Minutes.  

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I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!  Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community.  A place for us to grow together as writers. 

The Wedding Dress Shop

Day 18 – March SOLSC

The other day I wrote a post called 5 More Minutes (click here to read).  In this post, I listed all the things I would do if I had 5 more minutes, here on earth, with my dad.  Fran McCrackin (Pencilonmybackporch), mentioned in her comment about wanting to hear more about what I wrote about my wedding dress.  I had never thought to even write about that moment until she mentioned it.  So, I’m giving it a go, thanks to one of my readers.  

The Wedding Dress Shop

On the busy streets of the Bronx, there was a tiny little Bridal Shop.  Dresses were strung along both the left and right walls of the shop as you walked in.  They puffed out into the one narrow aisle, leaving barely enough room to walk by.  I remember just gazing up and down the racks wondering “could this be the place I find my dress at?”

This little, quaint, shop, wasn’t like the 2 other “wedding factories” I had been to with Mom and Gram.  It was “a hole in the wall” as my dad would say.  Nothing fancy – expect the dresses.  A friend from work had told me about it – saying that the owner was so wonderful and she’d take care of me.

Mom and I went to the shop and were helped by a consultant named Stacey.  She pulled this dress that they had just gotten in that day.  I put it on, and just knew it.  I wasn’t thrilled that the floor sample off -white and gold-ish, but luckily it could be ordered in bright white.  The next day, we went back with Gram so she could see it.  Transactions were made, and my dress was ordered.

The ladies did take care of me in that dress shop.  They ordered my bridesmaid dresses even though they didn’t carry the designer or style.  All I had to do was bring the girls to get measured.

A few weeks (maybe months – it’s been a long time), I was taking two of my bridesmaids to get measured.  My dad was home at the time and said “hey can I come with you guys?”  I had never thought of inviting him to the dress shop.  Of course we let him come.

When we got to the dress shop, the girls went right ahead and got measured.  I searched the rack for the sample of my dress.  When I found it, I took it off the rack and turned to show my dad.

“Here Dad.  This is my dress!”

As he looked at it, in a little bit of shock, he turned to my mom and whispered, “her’s is gonna be white, right?”  To which my mom nodded yes.  I can see the look of relief on his face still.  My catholic daddy thought I was going to wear gold – not white!

The consultant, Stacy, asked me if I wanted to put it on so Dad could see me in it.  I looked at him and gave him a smirk.  “Nope, he’s gonna have to wait to see his little girl in her white dress on the wedding day,” I said with a giggle.  He just smiled his big smile at me.

Little did I know – that day would never come for he and I.  There would be no seeing his little girl in her “pure” white wedding dress.  There would be no staring at me wondering where his little girl went.  There would be no walking me down the aisle.  There would be no tears rolling down our faces as he gave me away to the love of my life.  My dad was called home to God 4 months before my wedding day.

If I could go back and do it again, I would’ve put that “gold-ish” dress on in that dress shop…just so he could’ve seen me in my wedding dress, and I could’ve seen his face staring back at me.

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I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!  Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community.  A place for us to grow together as writers. 

 

Saturday Mornings – Then & Now

Day 17 – March SOLSC

Saturday mornings have changed quite a bit for me in the past 3 months…

Then

No alarm set.

Wake up and go make some coffee.

While coffee brews, plop down on the couch and turn on some Food network or HGTV.

Get cup of coffee, and back to the couch for binge TV watching.

Sip coffee and watch whatever show is on (Fixer Upper?  The Kitchen?)

Go back and get another cup of coffee.

Back to the couch.  Stay in pajamas for a long long time.

Lazy, lazy, lazy mornings.

Now

Alarm set for 7 am.

Snooze once, and then up to make coffee.

Get dressed for the gym – black leggings and a tank top.  Put my hair in a pony tail and brush my teeth.

Pour some cereal.

Enjoy a cup of coffee and cereal while watching HGTV or Food Network.

Fill up water bottle, get gym bag, and out the door by 8:30am.

9:00am – important date with my personal trainer for an hour of  curls, flies, presses, kettle bells, dead lifts, squats, lunges – aka torture!

No more lazy Saturday mornings for me.  I’m finally taking care of myself and getting stronger both physically and mentally.  I’ve never felt better and still have time to relax.

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I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!  Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community.  A place for us to grow together as writers. 

 

5 more minutes

Day 16 – March SOLSC

Every morning, while driving to work, I listen to the country music station Nash FM.  I love the morning show and I just love country music.  Anyway, while stuck in traffic this morning, the song “5 More Minutes” by Scotty McCreery came on.  It’s basically a song about time flying by and you wishing you could have 5 more minutes.  I thought to myself “what if I used this to write a slice?”  So here I am.

If I could have 5 more minutes with my daddy…

  • I’d wrap my arms around him and never let go.
  • I’d put my head on his chest, breathe him in, and listen to his heart.
  • I’d dance with him and let him sing in my ear.
  • I’d have a beer with him. (He’d probably have more than 1 in 5 minutes!)
  • I’d listen to one of his many stories. (and record it so I could hear his voice)
  • I’d record him laughing so I could have it forever.
  • I’d say sorry for all of the silly arguments we had.
  • I’d hold his hand like I did when I was a little girl and just stare at him.
  • I’d snuggle up to him on the couch again.
  • I’d put on my wedding dress.  When I took him to the dress shop years ago to see my dress, I told the ladies I didn’t need to put it on because he’d see me in it on my wedding day.  He passed away 4 months before my wedding and never got to see me in that dress.
  • I’d tell him how proud I was of all he did for us and everyone in his life.
  • I’d buy him a coffee.  Every morning, on my way to work, I’d stop in our local coffee shop to get my coffee and he’d already be there having his coffee with his buddies.  He would always say “I got it.  Have a good day at work.  See you later.”
  • I’d introduce him to the granddaughter he never got the chance to meet. (and take tons of pictures)
  • I’d tell him how much I love him and how amazing I think he is. (I definitely didn’t do that enough while he was still here)
  • I’d tell him how proud I am to be his daughter.

The first line of the chorus is “time rolls by the clock don’t stop.”  There is so much truth to that line.  When my dad was here, I didn’t realize just how fast time did just roll by.  I took a lot for granted because I always thought I’d have more time.  More time to do the things we wanted to do.  More time to enjoy each other.  Just more time.  I’m sure there’s more I can add to my list.  5 minutes seems like such a short amount of time, but I know I’d sure cherish those 5 minutes.

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I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!  Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community.  A place for us to grow together as writers. 

Bad mom moment – maybe

Day 15 – March SOLSC

I might be a bad mom.  There I said it.  I guess I got too focused on my blog and Slice of Life writing, that I wasn’t paying attention to my daughter.  (But I’ll take writing as a distraction)

Anyway, this is how it all started.  She was in her room getting ready for bed.  Her light was on.  Her music was playing.  I told her I was going to write my blog and then I’d be in to put her to bed.  She said “ok, I’m going to just be in my bed.”

After what I thought was only a few minutes (apparently it was a little longer), I noticed a real sense of quiet in my house.  No more music.  No more chatting to her stuffed animals.  No more singing.  But, her light was still on.  I thought she was still reading.  I figured she’d call me and ask me when I was coming in like she always does.  So I kept on writing and reading other people’s posts.

When I finished and went into her room to tuck her in, there she was – bundled up in her blanket (her cherished stuffed animals in her arms); fast asleep with the light still on.

She went to sleep on her own.  I didn’t tuck her in.  I didn’t give her a good night kiss while she was awake.  I didn’t do anything.  She just read, listened to music, and put herself to sleep.

So, yup, bad mom status for ignoring my kid.  But wait!  She put herself to sleep!  She didn’t need me.  She’s growing up.  I’m not sure if I should celebrate or cry – maybe a little of both.  Hopefully she’ll need me to put her to bed again tomorrow.  Fingers crossed!

 

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