Preparing for a Trip – What I’m Reading

This past week, I’ve been preparing for a trip. I’m busy pulling everything together including the books I’ll want to read.

A part of my travel plans for the summer involved finalizing my Global Entry pass with an interview. After nearly 3 months from my application, I was able to complete the process and use my pass ID.

Travel and a Global Entry pass

I heartily suggest you get one if you are planning any international travel. The cool thing is it includes TSA Pre status. At least I won’t have to worry about standing in a long line at Orlando International Airport this week. Here’s the link to the online information to start your application:

What I’m Reading

When I’m traveling I love using my Kindle. I share book titles with my husband who is an avid reader of mystery and suspense. Currently I’m reading Greg Iles Cemetery Road. I’ll also load The Quiet Game by Iles, Book 1 in his Penn Cage Series before I leave the unlimited Internet I enjoy at home.


Do you read books in order by date for a fiction author? I sure do!

I read fiction for fun, but honestly most of my reading is non-fiction, including memoir, which is the genre I write in. As a life-long student, I’m always reading something that is instructional whether for my work or my life. Here are two of these books I’m reading.

Be the Gateway by Dan Blank and Shimmering Images, A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir by Lisa Dale Norton.


How I Worked Through Anxiety at 1 am

I had a rough night last night. I’m at my husband’s hunting camp in Middle Georgia. We have a nice roomy travel trailer. The weather is nice, mid-80’s and then 50’s at night, comfortable sleeping weather. So why did I wake up just past midnight with leg cramps and extreme restlessness?

Taking the youngest dog, 15 month-old Sugar, for her middle-of-the-night stroll, gave me relief from the cramps, but the restlessness was just as bad when I returned to our queen-size trailer bed. No, it was something else bothering me.

I learned long ago sleep would elude me until I felt I’d accomplished a task I had put off or faced the fear staring me in the face.

Asking Myself the Hard Quesitons

”What is it?” I asked myself. “Why am I so uncomfortable here?” Having three dogs that need walking several times a day keeps me active, perhaps too active, explaining the leg cramps. But what else is nagging me?

The memory of a panic attack in a mummy sleeping bag, inside a dome tent thirty years ago, held the answer. My claustrophobia had reared it’s ugly head. But I don’t have issues with crowded elevators or long airplane flights, well, no pressing issues.

Taking the Initiative to Find Answers

In the dark, laying in bed, I reach for my iPhone and Googled ‘claustrophobia’. There are a couple types, but the fear of being trapped seems to fit my situation. At home, I can’t even allow the folded comforter at the foot of the bed to weigh down my feet in bed. I have to push it over the railing of the four poster bed. And sleeping with dogs is not my thing. As long as Sugar is near the center of the foot of the bed, I’m okay, but don’t get between me and the edge where I swing my legs over to get up. Don’t do that!

Reading further about the cause of claustrophobia, it can usually be traced back to some childhood trauma where the sufferer was put in a dark closet or box, or just felt confined and unable to get out. I rack my brain to remember anything like that in my own past and there it is.

Making the Connection

When I was about 9, my sister and I were playing at her friend’s house. There was a rope swing hanging from a chinaberry tree. It was along the embankment leading down to a railroad track. We had lifted up a railroad tie to see is any cool bugs were lurking beneath. The tie had sunk into soft red clay that now was hard, leaving behind a perfect, narrow trough.

As I swung out, I let go with the intention of landing on my feet, knees bent to soften the impact. But somehow I landed on my butt, legs extended out, straight into the trough. The wind was knocked out of me and I panicked, trapped in the hard clay. My sister and her friend came to my rescue, pulling me out.

Realizing the source of my anxiety, helped me understand situations where I feel uncomfortable:

    • A preference eating on the open porch rather than our usual location at the bar off the kitchen, the upper cabinet over my head
    • Feeling closed in unless the blinds are open during the day, no valence or draperies on my windows, ever
    • Choosing seats on trains, buses, or automobiles where I can look out both sides or even better, three sides
    • Always preferring outside to inside, even if it’s cold, rainy, or hot

Learning How to Make My Life Better

Thinking about all this calmed me considerably and I was able to fall asleep. Even better, this morning I opened all the blinds, shared my insights with my husband and now I feel like I’ve opened a window where I can breathe into myself. It’s another brick removed from the wall of protection I’ve created.

Sugar Among the Posies

How to be a Hero in Four Easy Steps

What do you think makes a hero? Is it someone who risks their life to save another? What if it’s their job to risk their life to save others – are they still a hero? How about the person who shows compassion in a smile to a dirty, disheveled, homeless man. Are they a hero? Do you have to be a hero to one person or many to qualify?

The Requirement to be a Hero, in a Single Word

Compassion. All heroes have compassion. This quality could be innate, a natural personality characteristic. Or it might be something they desired to have and they worked on it. Do you have compassion? Is it reserved for those you know and love?

How Hard is it to be a Hero?

The average person probably believes they are incapable of earning the title, ‘Hero’. Yet, I know how easy it can be. In addition to compassion, the hero knows how to observe and identify pain or need in others. It is easier to see the need in those close to you. After all, you know them so well. Perhaps you want to expand your ability to show compassion outside those you know. How do you do that?

Picture a Fictional Character Who Needs Help

You’ve probably been struck by a character in a book or a film who needs saving, redemption, or a little compassion. Let’s play with that idea.

Close your eyes and imagine a thin, young woman sitting alone at a table in an outdoor café. You are a few tables away. All the other tables outside are empty. You are watching her with no real feeling attached. She is staring into her steaming cup of coffee. Now imagine that she is thinking about her loving grandmother who passed away exactly one year ago. The two of them enjoyed many cups of coffee at the same table the months before her passing. She looks up. A smile broadens your own face as you remember happy times with your own grandmother. You naturally have sadness, but also love and compassion for yourself. As your eyes lock with the stranger, that love and compassion is an energy that naturally flows between the two of you. Her eyes brighten just a bit. The corner of her mouth starts to lift, ever so little. Your own smile responds.

“Good Morning. Lovely day, isn’t it?” She nods slowly.

That is being a hero, changing someone’s life for the better, if only for a moment. There is no expectation of a reward for the hero. Knowing someone else is better off is all they need. You don’t know how this moment will continue to unfold for her. But it is a fact that positive energy will affect others in a positive way.

How Can You Build Compassion for Others?

There are many ways to deepen empathy that are particular to your personality and how you see the world. One way that really helps is seeing a situation from a perspective that is foreign to you. Try walking a mile in their shoes. My mother used this euphemism many times when I was a child and it made an impression on me, perhaps because I already had an empathetic personality.

A Real Life Example

I was a stay-at-home mom when my two sons were in elementary school. Their best friends’ moms both worked. We all lived in a rural area on a lake with woods nearby, a wonderful place for them to play. After spending hours building forts and staging battles, the boys would get thirsty and head home for refreshments. The working moms didn’t allow them in the house, even once they came home from work. The kids would have to wait for their mom to bring water or else drink from the garden hose outside. Their homes were kept neat and clean in anticipation of anyone stopping by. My philosophy was quite different. I’d clean once a week, giving most of my attention to my kids, to cooking, and to the kitchen garden. For me, a little dirt from the shoes of the neighborhood boys on my carpet was a natural consequence of living in the country in rural Florida. They were always welcome inside any part of my home.

Twenty-five years later, Tad, one of the neighborhood boys, told me how much he appreciated the welcome I extended to him and his brothers. He said I was a kind of hero to them, because that wasn’t what they experienced anywhere else.

How did I come to feel that it was okay for them to possibly dirty up my floors? I simply imagined how thirsty they must be. It was also a top priority for me to stay connected with my kids, to be part of their world. So I thought, “It’s just a little dirt.”

I simply tuned into how they were feeling at the moment (hot and sweaty!) and reminded myself of how I felt as a kid. I responded in a way I myself would have appreciated.

Four Steps to Being a Hero

Become a people-watcher, keenly observing people and situations around you.
Imagine yourself in the same condition – that is, ‘Walk a Mile in Their Shoes’.
Feel what you felt in a similar situation in the past, or imagine what you might feel under similar circumstances.
Respond in a way that feels genuine, doable, and meets your own need to care for yourself

It’s really that simple. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin below. If you’d like to receive my newsletter, which comes out about twice a month, you can sign up here.