Words That Changed Me

_a record of the process_

Prelude: Out on the Jetway

Posted by on Oct 22, 2014 | 0 comments

These days, I fly about 8 times a year. That’s the best estimate I can come up with considering work travel, flights home for holidays, and one or two weddings/alumni events etc. Because Tallahassee is a small regional airport, to get pretty much anywhere, it’s two flights out and then two flights back which comes to about 30 planes per year. Even though the packing/planning days leading up to a trip make me nervous, generally speaking, I enjoy flying. I’ve had the occasional delay or tight connection, but in all my flying experiences I’d never once experienced a cancelled flight, a missed connection, or a red eye.

Welp, all that changed this past weekend before last.

This begins my 2 (or 3?) part series about my travel weekend aptly named, “How to Survive 36 hours in an airport.” Consider this the prelude – the storm before the storm. My first flight delay made me arrive in California at what felt like 4AM the night (morning?) before my conference began.

Last, weekend I traveled to UC Davis for an incredible conference.

I had a great flight over to Dallas. I love flying during a sunrise or sunset because the horizon looks like this wide open space and you can see the colors blend together and stretch all the way across. It’s so pretty!

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While I was walking through Dallas to make my way to my next gate, I was a little concerned about not getting in to California until 11:15pm (2:15am EST), but I bought a microfiber travel pillow and thought hopefully I’ll be able to catch a couple of hours of sleep on the flight.

We boarded the plane on time.

But.

We were delayed for weather.

I didn’t really worry at first. Our pilot promised that this would be a short delay while they determined the best way to reroute around a thunderstorm. Sure enough, after about ten minutes, we got our new route and moved out over the jetway. I thought I may as well get cozy. I put in my ear buds, listened to my iPod, closed my window, and snuggled into my neck pillow and tried to sleep.

I rested a bit, but I couldn’t sleep. We sat and we sat and I had a feeling we weren’t going to be taking off anytime soon. I tried to be at peace with what would surely be a delayed arrival, but then the plane started rocking.

I noticed my fellow passengers had their phones on, so I turned mine back on and started my family and co-workers about my delay, the storm, and my rocking plane. My sister texted me and said,

“Just let it rock you (like a wagon wheel) to sleep!”

So funny. Except we weren’t rocking gently… the whole plane was shaking like crazy.

I opened my window to realize we were in a long, long line of planes waiting for takeoff and there was streak lightening touching down all around us. Hence, the delay.

The pilot assured us that he was allergic to thunderstorms so whenever we did take off, we would fly way far away from them, but he also warned us to prepare for a fairly turbulent flight. I don’t really mind turbulence so I texted Bret and told him to be glad he wasn’t on this flight (he hates it).

I couldn’t completely relax or get comfortable – especially after the pilot made an additional announcement stating that he really wasn’t sure if we’d be staying on the jetway or when we’d be taking off.

After what seemed like an hour, I saw a plane move forward and then reach up up up into the sky. A second plane began to take off. Within 30 minutes, I was on my way.

I was happy to be in the air, and it wasn’t as bumpy as I’d expected. Because of the new route, though, this flight took forever. I remember seeing that it was 1:15AM on my watch (East cost time) and thinking that we should be landing in an hour (2:15 EST; 11:15 west coast)…but considering we’d only been in the air for short while yet, that was not going to happen.

When we finally did land, it was well after midnight which meant to my East Coast sleep schedule, it felt like it was well after 3AM. My sweet husband texted me that there were cab stands at every terminal. The airport was desserted except for passengers from our flight. After we all took a tram together and traveled down a couple escalators, I felt like I was traveling with old friends. People were laughing and cracking jokes – I just couldn’t believe people were in such good spirits. (This is a reoccurring theme of my travel weekend and it was SUCH a blessing. More on this later).

The sweetest thing that happened… there were two air force guys in uniform on our flight. One met his girlfriend before we even got on the tram. She got permission to go through security and she had a sign and cake and balloons. Super sweet. I was feeling bad for this second guy who seemed to be alone, but when we made it down the escalator, his whole family was waiting for him including a sweet little baby! It was the sweetest.

After realizing there was a distinction between “Ground Transportation” and “Non-Airport Ground Transportation,” I found a sign for taxis and to my delight there was a whole line of them. I hopped in, pulled out the hotel and address that I had written down and stuffed in my pocket before takeoff, and 10 minutes later, I was checking in.

It wasn’t ideal, but I got 5 hours of sleep, and I had a great first day of my conference.

Stay tuned for the REAL adventure: how to survive a day and a half in an airport after my cancelled flight home :)

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Pumpkins and Spiders and Bats, Oh My!

Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 | 0 comments

Last November, I bought some spooky music playing pumpkin lights on clearance, with a promise that they would hang in our apartment in Halloween 2014. I’ve been traveling a bunch (blogpost about being stranded in an airport coming soon!), but I knew as soon as I got home, I wanted to slather our house with lots of spooky Halloween decor… and I did just that!

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As soon as I got off work on Wednesday, I drove to Michael’s and picked up a bunch of supplies including a giant hairy spider that drops from the ceiling and crawls back up to it’s hiding spot with the clap of your hands!

sadie

Sadie was not thrilled.

For starters, I turned on some Halloween music, and got to work making a wreath.

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Then I hung bats and orange yarn and the orange and purple gum drops from my mom:

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…and the awesome holiday quilt that my mother-in-law made:

oohh bats!


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and there’s that spider everyone loves:


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Isn’t it great? I don’t usually get into Halloween too much but it still feels like summer here and Halloween means it’s Fall.

Happy Halloween!

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Pre-Travel Anxiety

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 | 0 comments

planeThe first time I ever flew alone was in 2010. I was visiting my [then] boyfriend in Boston, and I flew home to Richmond by myself. I had a direct JetBlue flight. I had my own little TV to watch. I was served complimentary soda and cookies. Best of all, when I landed in Richmond, my mom was waiting for me. Sounds easy enough, right?

I smile when I consider how terrified nervous I was about this experience.

I was anxious about going through security. I was questioning my ability to find the right gate. I wondered who I’d be sitting next to for two hours. I was scared. I did it, though, and I was filled with relief and pride with each little milestone: I boarded the plane, I found my seat, I buckled my seat belt. I may have relaxed for a while up in the air, but believe it or not, my body filled with nerves again when I landed in Richmond and didn’t know where to go. “Follow the signs to baggage claim” my mom told me when I called her.

If you’ve never done it, flying alone sounds scary, but from my experience, it’s one of those things you just have to DO so you can turn around and think: huh, that wasn’t so bad. Looking back, doing this flight successfully on my own was good experience and a big confidence booster.

…And thank goodness!

I never would have guessed it, but one year after that first solo flight, I was living by myself in Washington, D.C., taking the metro to work every day, and flying out to Denver on my own for a work trip. I was pretty nervous about my first work trip, but I made it through. I didn’t need to call my mom for directions when I landed. Instead, I hailed my own cab, checked into my own hotel, and found my way downtown on foot to the conference. A couple months later, I was flying up to Boston for work. Then to Clearwater for work. Flying alone wasn’t a big deal anymore because my boyfriend [now husband] was living in Florida, and I flew down to see him every few weekends. I’ll admit, I felt pretty legit at this point.

IMAG3761To sum up, flying doesn’t intimidate me anymore.

Today, I’m flying to D.C. for a work retreat. Like, right now! (I wrote this post on Saturday and scheduled it to post on Monday while I’m up in the air). By the time you’re reading this, I’m well on my way. After I land, I’m taking a metro over to my hotel where I’ll be staying on my own for a few days and commuting to the office for a week. I’m looking forward to being in the office and catching up with friends and colleagues. Next week, I’m going to California to give a presentation. Then, in a few more weeks, I’ll be flying to Chicago for our Annual Meeting. It’s old hat now, I guess.

Still, as I’m writing this on Saturday, I’ll tell you that I’m feeling a little uneasy about the travel experience. I’m not nervous about the flight, or the public transportation, or the hotels, or anything specific. For the most part, I relax on the plane (unless it’s unusually bumpy – then I grip tight on the armrests). I’m confident in my ability to find a cab, read signs, and/or ask for directions when necessary. And even though I miss Bret, I sleep like a baby in my own hotel room.

STILL something about prepping for the whole travel process makes me nervous. I question if I’m really “ready.” It’s like I’ve forgotten that I do this ALL THE TIME.

I told Bret I think I have pre-travel anxiety. It bugs me for a couple of days before the trip. While I’m sorting out all my work outfits, packing my suitcase, and filing away my boarding passes, I FEEL a twinge of, well, panic. My thoughts swirl around in my mind until they’re tangled together in a whole string of crazy: Am I forgetting something important? Where is my badge? Did I pack the right shoes? Do I have bandaids in case my shoes give me blisters? Do I have my phone charger? Ohmygosh Sadie destroyed my iPod headphones…HOW AM I GOING TO FLY WITHOUT MY IPOD?! Those are normal(ish) concerns, I think.

But that’s just the start of it.

velveeta-5I also worry… Is my poor precious perfect little cat going to be okay while I’m gone? Sadie, too? Have I neglected the cats today? Should I buy the cats some new treats before I leave? What about Bret? Should we go grocery shopping together to make sure he has healthy snacks? Should I make some pasta salad? Does Bret even like pasta salad? I should make some. Oh, how about some muffins? Do we have muffin ingredients? Should I go back to the store? What if I get a headache this week? Do I have migraine medicine? What about granola bars for me to eat during breaks? OH NO WE ARE OUT OF GRANOLA BARS…

…as if granola bars are some scare necessity that aren’t available at every airport, drug store, and probably even in my hotel?

What is this craziness?!

I know some people have racing worried thoughts every day, but I don’t except for right before I travel. I think, to a degree, these kinds of travel-related worries are normal. I wish I didn’t feel this way, though. Lately, I’m wondering if I’m REALLY worried about Bret and the cats and granola bars or if I’m displacing my worries. Is there something else about being away from home that makes me uneasy?

I’m not sure. For now, try to keep my pre-travel anxieties under control by making excessive packing lists and writing out my schedule so I don’t wind up wondering if I should go back to the grocery store for granola bars the night before my flight. And I write and journal and try to remind myself that I feel this way often, but the trips are worth it, and everything always turns out great.

I’ve also found that it helps to focus on the post-trip things to look forward to. After these three trips, it will be my FAVORITE time of the year and I can look forward to:

  • Pumpkin carving, apple cider, and Hocus Pocus coming on TV
  • Food & Wine Festival at Epcot
  • Writing in my Grateful Jar every day
  • The 2014 Jingle Bell Run (this year we’re calling it the Jingle Bell Stroll)
  • My sister is coming to visit meeee we’re going to drive around and look at Christmas liiiights
  • Seeing all my cousins and grandparents at Christmas Eve

I feel better already :) …Although, still not 100% better. Thanks for reading my pre-travel anxiety inter-monologue. If you have any other recommendations, I’d love to hear them.

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DATE NIGHT

Posted by on Sep 26, 2014 | 0 comments

Bret and I have a new tradition… Tuesdays are date night!

date night_1I feel pretty darn spoiled because Bret and I generally get to spend a lot of time together. We love exploring Tallahassee, going on Saturday trips to the beach, and spending cozy relaxing rainy weekends watching Harry Potter. After being in a long-distance relationship for a year, our Florida life has been pretty great.

Even though we are used to spending nearly every week night and weekend together, we decided to implement an official date night because this autumn sort of changes things.

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Balcony Fest 2014

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 | 0 comments

Balcony Fest 2014

I had the best weekend.

…about 4 weeks ago.

When I learned the sad news that my grandma’s health had taken a turn for the worst, I was actually sitting in the Charlottesville airport about to come home from a fun weekend with some of my favorite friends. It was quite the jolt into a sad reality. It’s so strange to me to think about how HAPPY and carefree I was and how suddenly that shifted into concern and helplessness. For this post, though, I’m going to focus on the happy weekend.

As you may remember from this post, I have a few friends from high school who mean a lot to me:

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Give Hugs, Take Pictures

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 | 0 comments

Give Hugs, Take Pictures

A couple weeks ago, my grandmother passed away. To be honest, I still can’t really believe she’s gone. It feels like a piece of my heart has slipped away, but at the same time, being back in Florida and back in my usual routine feels pretty normal. Living so far away from “home” for the past few years, I’ve gotten used to only seeing my grandparents in person once a year when I’m home for Christmas. It’s a sad truth about living far from home – you realistically just don’t get to SEE your family as often as you’d like.

When I was a kid, though, once a week, she and my grandpa would stop by the house and visit for an hour or two. My grandpa did most of the talking, but I always got to talk with her for a few minutes about school or our dog or, you know, whatever was on TV. She was always interested, always willing to listen, and she always told me that she loved me. Those moments were so simple, and so comforting.

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