If you haven’t already, I suggest reading my first post about this and how my fear developed, which can be found here.

Bringing Me Closer to Flying:
Now, I just need to start off by saying how proud I am of myself. If anyone who has a fear of flying and still gets on a plane and is reading this, you should be proud of yourself.  And for those that are not yet ready, but want to one day be ready, you are also included in this ‘proud’ category.

When I suddenly became afraid of flying, I didn’t know what to think. But what I did know was that one day I would go back to soaring in the air.

As I mentioned in my prior post about this, my grandfather passed away and I missed his funeral because it involved me traveling down to the Caribbean and I just couldn’t bring myself to fly. Ever since that day, I became pretty sad and beat myself up.  However, I knew that my family would all go down there after one year and have a special memorial ceremony for him and visit his tomb.  And for this, I knew I just had to go.

So within the year leading up, I did my homework and I learned that my personal fear of flying could be overcome with just two things: listening to yourself and confidence.

Listening to Yourself:
I knew I was afraid to fly, but I didn’t exactly know of what.  And that’s when I had to really have a one-on-one with myself and ponder about it for a while.  I imagined myself going through the process of purchasing a ticket, getting to the airport, boarding the plane, being in the air, landing, being at my destination, and then doing it all over again for a return back home. And with all of these steps in mind, I took a piece of paper and wrote down my thoughts and fears.  My list included “anxious waiting for flight to board, no doctors on plane, no oxygen, being stuck in the air with the plane not being able to come down to ‘safe’ land quickly or pause for a second for me to recollect myself, turbulence, and being stuck abroad knowing that I needed to do it again.”

So I took this list and stared it down.  There it was.  All of my fears about this whole flying process on a sheet of paper.  I reread it and added things here and there in a different color. I elaborated more as to what I was afraid of, but it was all secondary.  And fine, I let it all out.  And it felt great.  But what I was really focused on was what I wrote initially and the keywords that stood out: “waiting,” “no oxygen,” “safe on land,” “turbulence,” and “do it again.”  And that’s what I was afraid of.  in a nutshell, but clear as day.

Confidence:
My doctor mentioned that I could be given an anxiety pill, perhaps take a sleeping pill, or drink a glass of wine to calm down my nerves.  But I didn’t want to take that route. Personally, I just wanted to get to the root of how I was so capable of flying with no problems before and why my flying habits took a sudden turn.

So I took my list and, within the year, decided to educate myself.  I decided to build my confidence.  Because we fear things when we don’t feel capable of succeeding, correct?  We may have a fear or anxiety because we don’t know what’s going on and we are fearing for the worst, right?  Well, that’s what I think, at least.  And so, I took this notion and embarked on my own journey of becoming confident and learning more about myself in the process.

At my own pace and with a calm, cool and collected mind, I took each keyword and focused on educating myself.

Waiting
Sure, this could give nerves to anyone!  But I just needed to learn that I had to remain present and breathe through any sort of anxiousness that would arrive.  Waiting made me feel nervous because I didn’t know what was going to happen to me in the near future.  And that was the problem.  I was so focused on the future that I was forgetting about the present.  Attending yoga classes regularly (at least two times a week) gave me the confidence to take what was happening now and just ride through it, like a wave.  Breathing exercises became my best friend and this was all useful to me all throughout my flying experience.

In the meantime before the flight, I browsed around the shops and had a nice breakfast with other travelers around me.  My flight was called to board and off I went into the plane 🙂

food ii loren
food

No Oxygen
I legit thought that I would run out of oxygen on the plane.  How could so many people breathe in air, release carbon dioxide, and just be stuck in this thing we call a ‘plane’ that uses recycled air anyway?  For sure I thought it was going to run out of it.  And that scared me.  When I had my panic attack, I kept screaming ‘oxygen’! But, that was all because my breaths were so short that obviously I wasn’t getting enough into my body unless I calmed down and started taking some nice, long deep breaths.

So, instead of knowing that the answer it out there and choosing to not seek it out (the Internet is chock full of studies and information, people!), I went the other route and decided to read up on it.  And, interestingly enough, I read up on it a lot.  And as it turns out, the way that the air is regulated and the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide available, are actually healthy and falls within standards.  If for some reason the pressure of the plane drops, you are given oxygen masks to off-set the deliverance of oxygen floating around the plane and, instead, delivered to you directly.

For more information on the subject, I would suggest taking a peek at this document on the quality of air in the cabin.

Safe on Land
For some reason, I thought that being in the air was where I would be most at risk of an accident happening.  Sure there may be things that go wrong, but if the engine goes off, just know that pilots are trained to land safely when this happens during their training.  And sure, there are many things we see in the news.  But just know that there are millions of flights that happen yearly. And you’re not the only on in the air.  Click here to see what is currently flying above your head and in your country right now!  See all those white planes?  Yup, happening now.  LIVE. You’re not the only one.  Now imagine how many cars there are… at least double that on the roads!  Such a busy, busy world we live in :).

Another thing that made me think that I would be safer on land was the fact that I could go home.  But then it occurred to me: I could panic on the plane throughout a flight, get off of it, go back through security, through customs, into a taxi to my destination only to go back and through the same thing… or… I could try to be brave and just enjoy my flight.  And enjoy the growth that is happening within me.  I needed to not run away and be confident.. so that’s what I am going to do!

Turbulence
Ah, that fear that the plane is going to just spin out of control because it is shaking a bit (or a lot).  You know, to be honest, this really scared me, but when I got on the flight back in November, I was actually really looking forward to it!  And I actually quite enjoyed the turbulence! (Cue the people shaking their heads and calling me ‘crazy’.  It’s okay, my mom thought I was crazy, too).  But in all honesty, I was totally OK with it because I did my homework.  I read on what turbulence really is.  I YouTubed it to death.  And I learned.

flying

I always think of the skies as Jell-O now.  I cannot succeed in finding the clip, but when I do I will post it here!  But the general concept is to imagine a mold of Jello that contains a little plane you are pushing through.  Now, if you pat the top of the Jello mold, you are causing ‘turbulence’, but notice that the plane isn’t falling and crashing.  The plane decreases about 20-30ft to avoid the wind coming at it at the speed it is at, but the plane doesn’t fall.  It’s molded into the air so well, that it’s almost comforting.  This helped ease my tension on the subject.

But seriously, just go online and Google or YouTube the heck out it.  It is definitely scary at first to learn about these things, but it came more as a comfort to me the more I learned about it.  Check out this retired pilot here in the meantime :).

Do It Again
After doing my homework, it didn’t matter to me as much anymore of me fearing the fact that I had to do it again. Pushing something away and avoiding it sometimes makes things worse, as it is being suppressed and only being fed into what you are trying to forget about. So, on that note, I knew that in order for me to be more comfortable with it, I had to do it again.  So looked forward to doing it again.  You get better at doing things the more you practice, right?  A round-trip flight seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to get practice.

Conclusion:
After spending a year of researching/educating myself, doing yoga, and imagining myself getting on the plane, I am happy to say that I made it on my flight two months ago and had no panic attack.  Was I nervous? Yes, of course, a bit.  But was I going to back down and let this thing hold me down for the rest of my life?  No way.  To some people, flying and traveling is not their priority in life, and that’s OK!  It doesn’t have to be.  But for me, I felt that this was something that really meant a lot to me and I was going to put in the work so that I could become confident and capable of soaring through the skies.

I made it to my grandfather’s one-year memorial mass down in the Caribbean and I know deep in my heart that he is watching above proud of me.  Can I say that I have absolutely no fear anymore?  Maybe not.  Like I said, it’s all about practicing what you fear.  And, let’s be real, a plane ticket isn’t exactly a commodity, so it won’t happen very often.  However, when it does, I know that I am confident I can go through the flight.  I started small (a 3 1/2 hour flight) and, to be honest, I want to travel far, but those are 8+ hours of being up in the air.  Yet, I know that if I put my mind to it and not only listen to myself, but really give myself reasons to be confident, that I could totally do it.

I want to travel to Europe and South America very soon, but one step at a time, right? 🙂

Thank you so much for reading and please feel free to leave your comments below!

Wishing you an easier flight with the confidence you build within yourself and a bravery that may enlighten you to become more fearless that will allow you to do more beautiful things that matter to you.

Knowledge is power,
Loren.

lorenbch

Disclaimer: I am not a professional in any way on this subject and I shouldn’t be a substitute to any doctor, etc. etc., so please consult with your doctor if you are thinking of trying anything. But, for me, being knowledgeable in the areas that scared me the most was what gave me confidence and what brought me to being able to get on a flight. Disclosure

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Brooklyn native, Latina, and founder of Enlightened by Bravery, an adventure/travel and wellness blog that focuses on drawing inspiration from adventures around the world back into your life // iPhoneographer // Francophile

This post has 2 Comments

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  1. I was wondering about your yoga journey, is there going to be any new updates or future plans in pursuing yoga as a profession. Thanks for posting your life on here and good luck !

    1. Hi Andy! Thank you so much for leaving a comment :). I am not quite sure at this moment where my yoga practice will take me! But I find the journey of figuring that out to be a wonderful one! I will definitely, though, post something about it if it becomes my profession one day! For now, I will just practice and continue learning. Namaste & best of luck to you! 🙂 xx

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F.

Fear of Popping a Balloon: Exposed

I know, I know.  It seems silly to be afraid of a balloon popping; but, truth be told, it was one of my greatest fears.  I know it may be trivial to some, but sometimes small things like these are earth shattering to others.

One of the reasons why I want to talk about it today is because I actually met someone this week that has the same fear I once had!  (I thought I was the only one!)

Living with Fear and Getting Over It
I could never be around balloons because they always filled me with anxiety.

I think my fear stemmed from when I was young and was forced to play that terrible game of ‘balloon pop’.  Many of the birthday parties I went to had the game where money would be stuffed inside the balloon and the only way to get it was to pop it.  While it seemed innocent, I was actually traumatized by cousins who would take the balloon, put a fork to it, and pop it in my face.  Left… POP.  Right… POP.  Under you… POP. “Hey Loren!… POP!”  Popping was going on everywhere!  And after many birthdays, I suddenly found myself with a fear.

Fast forward to being an adult and cringing when balloons came into the frame; it actually wasn’t so ‘cute’ anymore.  And, since it’s somewhat rare, it makes you seem a little… different.  I will never forget that one meeting at work (with about one hundred people in attendance) that ended with a balloon drop; I ran away from that meeting into another room.  While I let people know why I was acting funky and they seemed to understand, I knew deep down inside that there was something more to it than just balloons.

A few months ago, for my birthday, I asked my husband to buy me balloons.  And he did.
lorenbirthday
Being afraid of a balloon didn’t mean just trying to get over the loud sound, but it meant getting over an anxiety that was housed inside of me for so many years.  And this fear just so happened to be masked with an elastic rubber that comes in a multitude of colours.

A balloon popping is something sudden and usually surprising.  And that was the problem, I was not one to want to be surprised, because I needed to know everything.  I needed to be in control.  I didn’t know how to react to a sudden or surprising thing.  The way I reacted when someone teased me by putting a fork to a balloon in my adult life was not normal.  I freaked out, cried and screamed.  And you know what?  I let them get away with it.  I let myself get weak, back down, and never challenged them by saying “Go on, do it.”  I was then teased. Constantly.  I let that get added to my list of insecurities and it was my own fault.

So, for my birthday last year, I said enough was enough.  I was tired of running away.  I was tired of anxiety. So I took a ballon and, after a bit of hesitation, popped it!  I then cried.  But, funny enough, I immediately started to laugh.

I then turned into a little bit of a crazy lady and grabbed all of the balloons around the house and popped them all.  It was so therapeutic and I felt years of anxiety melt away!  Not only that, but I grew confident.  Having a fear and just going for it head-on is intimidating, but it honestly is how you get over things sometimes.  And I proved to myself that it wasn’t just with a balloon that I could take this experience and apply it to; there were so many other parts of my life that could use this newfound ‘bravery’.  I tackled a champagne bottle the following week- ha!  But then I also confronted someone  via conversation.  I didn’t let the ‘what-if”s’ get in the way of me moving forward.  And that was a big learning for me, especially since it came from such a small thing.

Meeting Someone with the Same Fear
So this week, I had the pleasure of meeting myself.  It was actually someone else, but I saw a lot of the ‘old me’ in the ‘present her’. While I know our lives aren’t the same and we have different things that attest to who we are today, the anxiety was there.  So I sat with her and told her my story.  She was very much inspired, which I could tell, and was very humbled by.  We had a video shoot that day which included balloons and, by the end of the day, I saw her being able to look at balloons in a different way.  She didn’t exactly pop a ballon -and I wouldn’t have expected her to- but I saw that she was being very brave and built up the courage to take baby steps forward instead of running back to what she always deemed as ‘safe’.  She was laughing the whole day and I was so happy to know that sharing just a bit of my own experience with her gave her some sort of ‘hope’.  Even if it’s very minimal, it still brought a smile to my face knowing that I helped someone.

Again, again!
I can proudly say that I can pop a balloon with no problem these days.  I have this little bit of ‘guilty pleasure’ while doing it, which is actually quite funny.  But, ever since then, I proved that I could become more confident and that I do have it in me to be my strongest self.  All it takes is just some self-listening to what it is that you really want in your life, taking the plunge, and trusting yourself.

We went to the park today and I thought I would commemorate that day and my conversation with the girl I had this week by popping a balloon!
lorenballoon1

Unfortunately my hand slipped and popped the balloon too quick for me to even plan it. Haha

lorenballoon2

The surprise and suddenness didn’t freak me out though; I actually enjoyed it and laughed it off!

loren35

I encourage you to just think about a little fear you may have and why you may have it.  And, if you find yourself building up the courage to say “enough is enough,” then do something that will help you get over your little fear.  You may be afraid now, but in a couple of months, you could laugh it off and help someone else.  You never know :).

lorenballoon3

Have a wonderful week everyone! 🙂
Loren.

A.

Anxiety & Eating: How they go hand in hand (part: I)

White rice, whole milk, frozen dinner entrées, ice cream, lots of soda, beef patties, and cake.

These were some of the things I ate growing up; heck, there were some days that I ate all of these in a single day.  It was definitely a kid’s dream come true.  But ‘kid’ defined me from the moment I could chew my food to, literally, a couple of months ago.  I have been eating ‘clean’ for about two months or so now and, I must say, my anxiety level has gone down and my positive mood has gone up.

But, before I get to the current, positive moment of eating clean, I think it’s good to reflect and see how the ‘bad’ foods helped support the anxiety that was built inside me for many years:

You know, I grew up in a very loving family that taught me a lot about respect, values, and how to love.  But one thing that I was never really taught was how to eat properly.  Yes, there was always food on the table, food in the pantry, and food in the fridge, but they were all ‘quick’ things.  My meals were very predictable, too.  Breakfast was pancakes (from a box), drenched with a sugary (addictive) processed syrup.  Lunch was take-out from the local Chinese food place.  Dinner meant rice, beans, chicken, and maybe a salad.  And then the night concluded with lots of ice cream, cookies, and maybe a second round of dinner.  The only real time I would eat fruits were if we went out to the farms during the summer and went apple or peach picking – but even then there wasn’t any kind of portion control.  I would have about eight giant peaches on my way home because the giant basket (filled with nothing but that) was sitting in the car!  And then I would be tired of peaches.  I would refuse them.  When I got home it would be all “oh, hello, microwaveable bacon!”  And I went on with my life.  ‘Happy’ at the time, sad looking back at it now.

My life consisted of processed foods, filled with chemicals that I couldn’t even pronounce.  They had absolutely no nutritional value, but they made me feel ‘good’ for a quick moment.  The things inside of all of those things were alien to my body and acted like a drug.  Actually, they were my drugs.  Because that time I was seven years old and my grandmother passed away, I held back my tears because I was subliminally told that I shouldn’t be a cry baby and that sharing my emotions towards other people was a ‘personal’ thing.  This emotion was mended with me eating a whole loaf of white, processed bread, toasted with tons of trans-fatty butter and a giant glass of sugary chocolate milk.  And that time I got an eighty-eight on my math test in the eighth grade and was told that I could do better and needed to get nothing but one-hundreds?  Well, that made me feel like I was a total failure.  But there it was, that very fatty fourteen-ounce tub of ice cream and giant bag of addicting chips to help mend my broken heart and mind.  So while I was ‘healing’ my heart and mind with food, I was actually holding a lot of things back (anger, frustration, confusion, etc.) and burying them deep, deep down inside. (That explains those times I’ve cried during yoga, huh?)  So you start to become anxious.  Hating the next time you feel this way.  And it all continues to build up.  Every little bit counts.

My emotions were controlled with eating: failure was rewarded with sugary fats and successes, if I felt I had them, were rewarded with greasy foods (pizza party, anyone?).  And I grew up like this.  I was confused, trying to figure life out, restricting my self-desires to come out, and hoping to make everyone but myself happy.  I found comfort in food.  But the food I was eating didn’t give me any clarity; I couldn’t think things through with a ‘clear mind’.  All it was doing was fogging up my mind.  They served zero nutritional value, but made me ‘happy’.  Voilà, my adolescent (and well-into-my-adult-hood) drugs.

Side note:  you could only imagine how self-image played a role in this.  Why, with all of this poor eating, I wasn’t exactly ‘fit’.  I was ‘fat’.  And the media hated ‘fat’.  They said that that it wasn’t ‘beautiful.’  So, naturally, I also grew up with very low self-esteem, telling myself that I was ‘ugly’, ‘useless’, and a ‘failure’ every day.  My confidence level was lower than a turtle’s.   And this is how I grew up.  For more than twenty years, this was my life.

circa high school graduation - 2006
high school graduation – 2006

After years of suppressing my own happiness, and right before my giant panic attack last summer, I noticed a few months worth of terrible abdominal pain.  Not only that, but I was also very bloated and starting to become a bit overweight.  Worried, I went to a gastroenterologist (tummy & digestion doctor) and found out that I was lactose intolerant… great.

My life seemed to have shattered at the instant of being diagnosed, because it meant that I could no longer have the ice cream, yogurt, pizza, or cake that once mended my wounds.  I did play devil’s advocate and ate them anyway, but felt the consequences within thirty minutes of consuming the stuff.

2013 - before panic attack - after being diagnosed as lactose intolerant
summer 2013 – 2 weeks after being diagnosed as lactose intolerant & 2 weeks before panic attack

So it was true, after all.  I was lactose intolerant.  Two weeks before my I-didn’t-even-see-it-coming giant panic attack, I had to adjust.  And that was hard.  I didn’t really know how to adjust.  I never learned.  And looking back at it today, part of me thinks that the attack maybe came out from being forced to learn how to live with some confrontations and without some of those drugs.  I was starting to be confronted by my own self.

I didn’t know how to deal then.  But today, I am learning how to deal now (next post – stay tuned!).

But until then, be kind to your body.  Think back to those times you maybe reached for that thing you shouldn’t have reached for.  Think of what you were running away from.  Starting to slowly think about these things will help open up and shape you for a better tomorrow.  Don’t resolve to continue suppressing emotions with food.  Eat well.  You are beautiful. Who cares about the media.  They don’t pay your bills, you pay their bills.  They don’t give you a hug when you need it the most.  And this applies to others around you.  There is only one person like you out there and you deserve the absolute best.  The road to a better tomorrow starts with this type of first step… and it starts from within.

Loren.