Colleen Hannegan

Finding the words....and the perfect pair of glasses.

panic attacks

Digging for Gold When Away from Home

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Whenever I plan on a trip, or vacation or journey, or any overnight, out of town adventure, I freak out. The invitation to go and see and do something new always brings a rush of excitement. But after saying yes, and making plans, the panic attacks would begin.

The “what if’s” start rolling on in and in no time I’m wearing doubt like a pair of ill fitting shoes that pinch. What if the drive or flight is too long and uncomfortable? What if I forget to bring something I really need? (Of course I don’t know what I might really need, or forget, or want when I arrive, but what IF I forgot a very important THING? ) What if I don’t enjoy myself as much as I do when I’m home? What if I I’m too cold at night or too hot during the day? What if I don’t have the right clothes with me?

And then there’s the “should I’s”. Should I bring three pair of pants instead of two? Should I bring a skirt or dress because I seem to always wear pants only? Should I bring my morning prunes just in case they don’t sell prunes nearby? Should I bring the small tube of “travel” toothpaste I don’t particularly enjoy or pack the large tube of Vita-Myr I prefer? Should I bring my robe or are my jammies enough? What about slippers? Won’ they take up too much valuable room in my carry bag? I don’t want to take two overnight bags do I ? Or do I??

And then there are my choices for eyewear……………..

Truth is I’m so much less anxious then I was just a few years ago. I would go into such a panic, I would make myself sick and would therefore have to cancel. Once I woke up in the middle of the night after making travel plans, I thought for sure, I’d broken off a piece of my back tooth and therefore could not travel! My morning visit to my dentist assured me that no, there were no missing pieces and yes, all my teeth were still intact. I confessed to her my extreme “sky-dive” panic of taking trips. She was the first one I confided in that plans for travel keep me grounded and parked.

Ahhh, to cancel. I was always so happy to not have to go through the torture of packing decisions and monumental emotions of what it meant to temporarily leave the comfort and familiarity of home and habit. Confiding with my understanding dentist helped bring my problem out into the open for healing. She listened to me and held my hand and said the sweetest words I dont’ remember.

So to get over myself and solve the anxiety and fear I was allowing to limit my life experiences, I decided to play a game with myself. Every time an offer to take a trip came up, I imagined finding “gold” on this trip. Gold being, some wonderful nugget of experience that would make this trip really memorable. Maybe I’d discover something amazing about myself while I’m away. Or maybe I’d meet some interesting person, or enjoy an amazing meal or be a part of some gorgeous scenery. What if I learned some secret only available from this particular destination? What if a bit of magic and mystery showed up there, wherever “there” is? What if’s started sounding much more interesting.

Today I’m going on an adventure. That’s what I call “taking a trip” now. So when I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning and started in on my wacked out prune theories and stressing about what to remember to put in my cosmetic bag (earplugs), I brought to mind my “looking for gold”.

And while I will admit, to imagining my “adventure angels” traveling with me, praying for safety on the road, a perfect drive experience, no potholes traffic jams or rude drivers, bottled water within reach, my Payday and apple slices next to my seat, windows cleaned and seat properly adjusted, bags placed just behind me in the center seat, long sleeved sweater to prevent sun damage on my left arm and keep me comfy, the perfect pair of practical driving shoes, nothing too tight around my waist for adequate circulation, and cell phone properly charged in case of roadside emergencies and to let loved ones know where I am every hour…………. I will have fun. 

Here’s what Francis Bacon said about travel….”Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education: in the elder, a part of experience.”  So here I go on a new adventure experience!

Now, time to check the weather and the air in my tires………………….