I write because . . .

I often have thoughts or ideas that I would love to discuss with others.  Unfortunately, I might be on my to work or in the shower or in the middle of something else.  I guess I want to “capture” my thoughts so I can share them when it’s convenient; rather than simply dismiss them.

There are times I’ve had motivational speeches going through my head, or sweet thoughts about my sweetheart, or business ideas.  And, since, I am a photographer, I want to engage with other photographers.  Life is a constant combination of genres.  I’m not completely sure I can stick with one, but I am confident that I will write something that someone else can relate to.

I view writing as soul-cleansing.  Like Yoga.  Something that allows me to spend quiet time with myself so that I can engage in intraspection and metacognitive meditation.  Maybe writing allows me to engage with my inner best friend – myself.  How often to we really explore ourselves?  I’m not referring to the negative self-talk that we permit to enter our minds everyday, but really engaging with our own thoughts and feeling comfortable in that solitary space.

Another reason I want to write is to develop confidence in what I have to say.  Confidence in my own views and perspectives.  My husband has blogged and written controversial editorials in the past that I would never have had the nerve to write.  I would edit his articles, with my mouth hanging open; while secretly living vicariously through him!  Whenever I “share” quotes from others on Facebook, he cringes.  He would prefer to see me write my own opinions.  I would, too, but I always reply, “No one wants to hear what I have to say.”

We’ll see how this goes!



A Fear of Flying

IMG_5116Doris Day, Whoopi Goldberg, and Ronald Reagan all feared flying, preferring to travel by bus or train to other states.  A few years ago, I discovered what such a fear felt like.  I had never really flown before.  Well, there was no “really” about it.  I’d never had a reason to fly anywhere.  Living in the Mid-West, a few hours car ride to family, and having a tight income prevented farther excursions, much less vacations.

Then, one day I received an e-mail offering a free day at Disney World and a cruise to the Bahamas.  We only had to fork out for the plane ride to Orlando.  This was too good to be true!  Oh yes, and one catch . . . we had to sit through a 3-hour tour / presentation soliciting us to purchase land or condos in Florida.  We were young.  I’d never been far from home.  We took the bait!

Let me just say this . . . after the flying (both ways) and the cruise . . . it’s a wonder I ever got back on a plane or went on an “actual” Carribbean cruise years later!  I’m sure it was my lack of experience on a plane that contributed to my intense anxiety, in addition to the fact that I get motion sick as a passenger in a car.  Deep inside, I just knew the plane would go down.  Between the motion sick dizziness and the anxiety of a potential crash, I had no choice but to take medicine for motion-sickness, an anti-depressant and keep my head buried in my husbands arm, with a death-grip on his leg for each of the entire flights.  It took me a full day of rest to recuperate front the stress on both ends of the trip.

Years later, I took a position at a charter school which required me to fly to California once, Portland, Oregon twice and Vegas three times during my three year contract.  In fact, the week I signed the contract, I flew to Pasedena for a conference.  I got flying patches from my doctor.  Familiar?  They worked heavenly!  I experienced no motion sickness during the flight, which helped.  And, once landed, even though I was sitting IN THE BACK of a van from LAX to our hotel, I never felt dizzy or nauseous!  I was IN LOVE with the patch.  Until . . . I discovered that if you leave the patch on beyond 48 hours, you start to experience some strange side effects, including dry mouth and blurred vision.  I used the patch only a couple more times.

For the two trips to Portland, I made sure to sit with a colleague who knew of my fear and would talk me through the take offs, turbulence and landings.  The third summer I had to fly to Vegas 3 times and once to Chicago by myself.  It was at this time that I began taking control of my fear.

Once boarded, I would look around at my fellow passengers.  Most would immediately begin reading, working on their laptops or fall fast asleep.  I noted their calmness.  Their matter-of-fact demeanor about the flight.  I would, also, pay careful attention to the flight attendants during the instructional episode, before take off, as the plane coasted to the runway.  My attentiveness wasn’t focused on the instruction but, again, on their demeanor.

My inner dialog sounded like this:  “Look at the flight attendant.  She looks so calm and confident.  She isn’t scared or worried at all.  She does this at least twice a day and several times a week.  She knows we will make it to our destination.  She wouldn’t do this job day in and day out if she wasn’t sure about the safety of air transportation.  What about the pilot?  He wants to live, too.  He is going to do whatever it takes to assure we arrive safely.  He’s flown this plane and this route numerous times.  He knows what he’s doing.”

Granted, sometimes I had to repeat this dialog several times during each flight, but each time got a little easier.  I would, also, make sure to have a good book to distract me.  And, I’ve come to appreciate the in-flight service which I believe helps to ease the tension of flying by giving passengers something to do.

Overcoming my fear of flying was not so different than overcoming my fear of drive-thru car washes . . . but that’s a different story.  I was confident about my flying . . . until I took a job overseas!  Flying over land for up to 4 hours was a breeze at this point, but flying for 16 hours or more over the ocean was another obstacle altogether!!!

In September of 2012, I accepted my current position in Abu Dhabi.  I was excited to experience another culture . . . another world!  I didn’t leave St. Louis until November 16th and my greatest fear was getting to the airport, going through security and then not being able to get on the plane.  I thought about it often between September and November.  But, somehow, when the day came, I boarded the first flight to Chicago without hesitation.  In Chicago, I was so enthralled with the diversity of passengers boarding Etihad Airways with me and the SIZE of the plane, that I forgot to be scared.  I was beginning an adventure!  The entire flight was uneventful (as far as anxiety goes).

Since then, I’ve flown roundtrips from Abu Dhabi to Nepal, India, and Paris.   I’ve also returned home twice.  While in Abu Dhabi, I met a fellow expat from Greece who arrived around the same time I did.  During his two year contract, he taught Physics at a local college.  During his first year, his wife had a baby back home in Greece.  She was given a full year of maternity leave.  Rather than bringing the baby to join her husband for a short adventure, she remained in Greece for the full two years.  Why?  She was afraid of flying.  What new mother doesn’t want to share the early morning feedings with her husband? Or, the simple joy of a new baby?

This last week, on a family trip to California, I realized I had overcome another cause of anxiety related to flying.  Going through security.  This used to be a major stressor for me.  My heart would race and I would be uptight until arriving at the gate.  I’m not sure why I was so stressed.  Perhaps I was afraid of missing my flight.  No more.

I hope this post reaches those readers who struggle with flying.  I never planned to see Europe before accepting the position because I never wanted to fly so far.  Now, I wouldn’t waste an opportunity to visit a foreign land or another state.  My world used to be my city, my state and maybe the one next door.  Now, the world is my home.

Vegan :o

So, why not go Vegan?  A few years ago when experts started emphasizing a “way of life” vs. a “diet”, I was honestly intimidated by the concept.  Who wants to change their “way of life”?  At that time, I was still craving hamburgers and fries from Steak N’ Shake, enjoying the occasional fried chicken from KFC, and content to stop at Taco Bell on the way home from work for some soft tacos made of pseudo-beef.  So many temptations right off the highway, minutes from home, around every corner!

Interestingly, I’ve never been particularly fond of meat.  I was not the one to ask out for a nice steak dinner.  My sister had a love affair with T-bones from a young age.  And, everyone around me seemed to enjoy a nice sirloin.  Not me.  I loved the smell.  Just didn’t want to eat them.  Later in life, everyone raved about pork steaks.  Not me.  Ribs!  Not me.  I didn’t like the mess that resulted from a rack of ribs.  I also didn’t like the fat that I would have to cut off from around the steak.  And, then, sometimes I thought I had all the fat cut away, only to taste or feel it in my mouth.  YUCK!  

Well, that leaves fowl and fish.  I went through my shrimp phase and now have no desire for it.  I can do an occasional salmon dish . . . until someone under cooks it.  Then, I’m over it for months.  How about chicken, you ask.  I don’t like the after taste.  Turkey breast is fine as long as it is dry, dry, dry.  But, even then, the after taste can get to me.  

Now, life in the Middle East is a bit different.  Not that I’m wanting to eat meat, but rather because there are far fewer temptations and the food is no different that it’s easy to refrain.  My new expat friends already know that I don’t like meat.  In fairness, I’ve tried chicken tikka and liked it.  I just can’t get myself to eat it frequently.  I don’t have to worry about pork, since it isn’t a Muslim staple.  The beef is from Australia and New Zealand.  Needless to say, I am fine without meat.  

I’ve also been lactose intolerant my entire life and have never been in-love with eggs.  I do love cheese and ice cream but I can live without both for the sake of being healthy and dairy-free.  That’s where the Veganism comes into play.  A Vegan only eats organically produced items like fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, Quinoa, etc. . . Foods produced from animals or animal by-products are not in a Vegan diet.  And, I’ve learned most recently that we really don’t need meat or animal by-products in our diet to be healthy.  It’s taken years, but I’m realizing that my food preferences are really more in-line with Veganism.  

Right now I have two daughters eating Paleo, one Vegan, and one absolute traditional omnivorous.  And, for the next 6 weeks, I want to give Veganism a try.  I want to be loyal to this “life style”.  So, I’m blogging.  I need support.  In addition to meat and dairy, I really don’t like commitments.  Today was DAY 1!  So far, so good.  Please let me know if you are Vegan, or Paleo, or just struggling to find your food identity.  

Personal Challenges

My first kayaking experience took place in 2013. At 47, I had taken on a number of new experiences. Between November, 2012 and December, 2013,

1. I accepted a job around with world from my family and friends.

2. I took my first plane ride across the Atlantic, over Europe, and landed in the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) to be exact.

3. I became an Expat, someone who moved from their homeland to live and work in another country.

4. I traveled to Nepal over Christmas with a group of friends I had known for a little over 1 month.

5. I rode in the front of a bus for hours on winding, mountainous roads from Kathmandu to Pokara, from Pokara to Chitwan, and from Chitwan back to Kathmandu. (Anyone that knows me, knows I have to be the driver!)

6. I set up house across the world from my family and friends.

7. I lived by myself for the first time in my life.

8. I made it over a year (and continue to do so), living abroad.

9. I embraced a new culture and have expanded my global perspective in ways that would have been impossible had I remained in my comfort zone.

10. I took an online photography course.     Image


Now, in 2014, I would like to challenge myself in new ways.  First, I would love to use this blog as a forum to showcase my attempts in Black & White, travel, landscape/seascape/cloudscape, and portrait photography.  So, fellow photographers are welcome!  

Second, I would like to explore the idea of writing a book.  Is that ridiculous since I have never been a compulsive writer?  It’s just that . . . let me explain it this way – I used to pass by cemeteries, turn of the century homes, or architecturally significant buildings wishing I had a camera to capture the mood of the structure beneath the overcast or rainy day.  In a similar way, I sometimes think in narrative . . . as if my thoughts are developing prose for a book.   

Clearly, I see and think differently from some but maybe, just maybe, my thoughts and perspectives are similar to those others.  I hope to find out.