September 17, 2008

messy magic superhero life

girls.jpg
me and my lifelines, denise, jen, thea, (my other lifeline Jonatha taking the pic) Canon Rebel Xti

I think Ben felt it before I did. The anxiety I mean.

I was rocking him down to sleep the night before I left and it took hours. I missed him so much already and I kept squeezing him and whispering I love you Ben. He started repeating it back to me in the same whisper, "I love you, I love you, I love you..." If he was trying to make me stay, he was doing a really good job of convincing me. It was 10pm before he fell asleep.

I was very excited to come to Squam. When Elizabeth asked me to teach early this year I was ecstatic. Even though I had never taught before it was an easy yes. It felt like the next big step for me creatively, professionally and personally. So what if it was a little scary? I was totally up for the challenge, and I would have my awesome ladies right by my side.

I could never have predicted what actually happened. I was having the nervous jitters on our layover in Phoenix but it was all very manageable and normal. My nervousness kept amping up though and by the night before the first class I was in full blown panic mode. My heart was racing (as was my mind) and sleep wouldn't come. By 3AM I was shaking from cold, sick to my stomach, throwing up, heart thumping out of my chest and WIDE awake. All night I kept thinking, if I can just get to sleep, I can teach tomorrow but I never did.

I had never had a panic attack before and honestly I had no idea how horrible they are. (My heart goes out to anyone who has ever experienced this) The heart palpitations, the nausea, the vomiting, the shaking, wondering if it's ever going to end or if you're going to survive. Mix that with being away from home, away from your family in a bed out in the woods. (Oh yeah, and the teaching 6 hours a day for the next three days.) I have never been so afraid. Thank god for Jen Gray who stayed up with me, drew me a bath, explained what was happening to me and that I wasn't completely insane.

jen_gray_red_coat.jpg
My angel girl Jen Gray, red coat in the woods, Canon Rebel Xti

This went on for almost 3 days and nights. It was like Groundhog day. Every night it would come back again and I would think, I just need to sleep... and of course I wouldn't. At that point I was so scared of the panic that it would double back on itself and the cycle would continue. (I can see those of you who know this experience nodding in agreement)

What it took for me to show up to class those first couple of days was nothing short of superheroic. I have never been one to compartmentalize (in fact I am used to using how I actually am to help further the conversation and intimacy in a space) but I knew that I needed to show up for my students and bringing my drama with me wasn't going to serve any of us. I went into full blown coaching mode. This is the space of managing what you are bringing personally (your stories, your struggles, your boyfriend just breaking up with you, whatever) and just being totally present for the person you are working with. It is about being laser focused, and completely listening and serving the person in front of you. It is 100 percent not about you.

Teaching became a kind of meditation. I loved every minute of it. I loved hearing the students share and unfold, I loved seeing them play and take portraits of each other, I loved seeing them get to know themselves and each other more deeply. What an honor, truly. We laughed so much and got to see one another as well as experience being seen.

jonatha_wig_tree.jpg
Jonatha Brooke with a wig in the woods, we had some very silly fun, Canon Rebel Xti

And as if that wasn't enough, there happened to be a piano in our classroom and we closed every class with Jonatha singing a gorgeous song. I wish all of you could have been there...

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Jonatha at the piano, Canon Rebel Xti

The evening before my final class I was walking by myself and had my first good thought of the week. "If I don't sleep again tonight it will totally suck, but I'll be able to teach either way. I've proven that. We've had two amazing classes and I haven't slept at all. I can do it on empty. Everything is going to be okay." And with that, I felt lighter, and I think I began to breathe again for the first time in 3 days. This thought set me free. I guess you could say I did the proverbial letting go we all long for.

I am still figuring out what this experience has to teach me. I know it is complex and rich and ultimately good. But right now I am still sitting with the grief of it, making peace with the ways it didn't turn out how I had hoped. I am having to forgive myself for all the ways I wanted to be but couldn't. I am making peace with a new kind of vulnerability. Letting my friends and my community see me when I was at my messiest and most broken was incredibly hard. I am lucky for who I have chosen to surround myself with.

And that means you too.

I was blown away by all of you who were there. In a lot of ways you were representing this community as a whole, and I am in awe of who you all are. Even if I didn't meet you this week, I know better who you are and I look forward to the next opportunity. You were a safe, strong circle for my maiden voyage. Thank you...

classroom_squam_rattlesnake.jpg
Superhero class, Day 3 on top of the mountain, Canon Rebel Xti

Posted on September 17, 2008 06:29 PM
Comments

oh my god andrea! you are such an amazing person. to allow yourself to be that kind of vulnerable and show up and then to deliver! wow! to be brave enough to put all of it into words too - there is true power in being so open. I'm only learning this now. Reading this post made me realise how many of us are probably going through the same kind of thing. :) being naked in front of ourselves is hard enough, let alone being that in front of others. thank you for sharing! x

Posted by: colleen at September 27, 2008 01:45 PM

First of all, kudos in finding the inner strength to not only persevere through the class, but to clearly impress those in your class!

My first panic attack occurred shortly after I moved to Portland, during the simplest of tasks--trying to get to the doctor. I got completely lost and began to experience mild symptoms. When I finally was able to drive my car to her office I was given a prescription--but I never filled it feeling this was a one time thing (basically benedryl).

But later, the full-blown versions arrived. I have woken in the middle of the night from a restless "almost sleep," clammy, heart pounding, racing thoughts, nauseau, the whole slew of symptoms. I have ended up at the emergency room twice, thinking something was going amiss with my heart. I now know that the episode is associated with a sense of profound, impending failure, or complete panic over my perceived lack of ability to perform up to expectations. On the level of reason, I can't understand my response, on the level of emotion--I realize how much I want to do well for the people who have faith in me.

Unlike you, when this has occured in the past, I could not perform. I'm so proud of your ability to push through it, and to become reflective about the origin and possibilities that such an event might present.

E-mail me if you want any naturopathic solutions I've pursued ... hugs to you and look at you in all your brave transcendence!

Posted by: Pamela at September 23, 2008 09:58 AM

So happy to learn that your journey was gorgeous!!! I loved your post and totally related to your panic and peace. Thanks for sharing your story so beautifully and in such a real manner ... wait ... YOU ALWAYS DO!

SuperWear: I love the portrait of LifelineJen in the woods in her red sweater coat ... did she make that? I want one! Could you help me find out more about it?

Hugs xxx Pritha

Posted by: Pritha at September 22, 2008 12:44 PM

Bless your heart. Well done for getting through it with flying colours. xxx

Posted by: Lucia at September 22, 2008 11:23 AM

Thank you Andrea... you always manage to put into words so well... vulnerability and strength combined.

Thanks for sharing.
You are, as always, inspiring and engaging.
Bek xo

Posted by: Bek Vavic at September 21, 2008 11:53 PM

Andrea,
here is what i wrote on my blog today about this post: "thinking about this post from a superhero and how relevant it was when i read it a few days ago and how i lived my own version of this while in nyc. Andrea's post wrapped itself around me like a blanket on friday night - saturday morning, offering comfort, connection, security."
thank you, thank you, thank you.
i am resting now, too.
warmly,
gem

Posted by: gem at September 21, 2008 12:59 PM

you made it through...
you made it through...
you made it through...

rest now....
xo
jen gray

Posted by: jen gray at September 21, 2008 08:20 AM

I was in your saturday class....me, the one in tears on the couch....and I just wanted to say that you are beautiful and wonderful....you have a heart that is huge and can be seen from miles away.
Thank you for being on this trip, it made it so special for me !!!

and those panic attacks....I've only had a couple, but I know what you were going through !!!

Posted by: beth at September 21, 2008 06:50 AM

you did it love- you shared, you coached, you taught - without sleep and feeling all messy inside.

What a testament to your talents and your strength.

Hugging you, and looking into those gorgeous eyes of yours was delightful.

love you superhero

Posted by: Thea at September 20, 2008 07:10 PM

oh, p.s. I DO have panic attacks, and I think just being there and getting through it, end the end would be such a beautiful experience-just being able to say I did it, I made it-had to clarify my comment :)

Posted by: trish at September 20, 2008 02:14 PM

what a beautiful experience it must have been! I have never done anything like that but I will, someday.....I am glad that i found your blog and i look forward to returning to browse through what I missed! have a great weekend
Trish

Posted by: trish at September 20, 2008 02:10 PM

I wish I could have been there. What a wonderful gathering in a wonderful location.
I just have to say that in publicly struggling, in sharing the difficulties of balancing all the things that you are, you give me strength. I know I'm not alone. I don't have the support network that I wish I had - I don't have the strong community of creative women that I wish I had, but I know I'm not alone. It is so hard to be yourself and a mother and an artist and a writer and a wife and a >, but we are all of these things together. We do it side by side.

Posted by: sara at September 20, 2008 08:11 AM

Andrea... you are so beautiful for sharing every part of you. Your truth is brave and I'm not sure you realize how many people you've helped, just with this post. It must be scary to step out from behind the blog and meet people in person (it is for me, at least). I hope it doesn't stop you from attending next year's workshop. The main reason I wanted to go (but couldn't) this year was to meet you, Jen Gray, Kelly Rae... heck, all you beautiful women. I'm planning on going next year and hope to see you there.

Posted by: Jeanine at September 20, 2008 04:12 AM

I'm sure nobody even noticed.
Only YOU...
your vulneratbility...
your bravery....
your smile...
Just YOU...
makes any day worth it.
You magical and beautiful YOU! xx

PS: be gentle with yourself..

Posted by: linni at September 20, 2008 03:03 AM

I'm sure nobody even noticed!
Just YOU...
Your beautiful smile...
your vulnerability...
your bravery...
YOU make everything worth it.
Magical and beautiful YOU xx

PS: be gentle to yourself

Posted by: linni at September 20, 2008 03:01 AM

so sorry for all that anxiety. you did it! you got through , you are stronger than you ever thought i am sure. and i am sure all around you were blessed for it. seeing the human in each of us even at our worst is a gift.

Posted by: kristin at September 19, 2008 08:12 PM

Wow! I hope you are feeling better. Sorry to hear that you've not been feeling well - my petty headaches pale in comparison to what you've described. Goodness!

Posted by: Stacy at September 19, 2008 11:17 AM

wow on so many levels. i was laughing hilariously at the ben pic when i realized i must have missed a post.

so, you are a true hero, to walk into your daily teaching with ability and acceptance that this is where you were at in those moments. the panic is awful...i recall the days when i dreaded the nights, the cues, the inevitable feeling...and the release from it has been the best thing ever.

when i heard about squam i instinctively wanted to sign up so i could join your class. it was not a true possibility this time but please teach the class again next time because i will be there, you know, that one, with the smiling eyes and the greatest desire for you to be my teacher for the three days. :)

Posted by: mamie at September 18, 2008 09:34 PM

thank you for sharing the tough times, as well as the good. you are so inspiring.

Posted by: renée at September 18, 2008 08:38 PM

Hi, I'm new to your blog, but just wanted to say that I've dealt with anxiety for the past 12 years. I wanted you to know that you've' already realized one of the most important lessons of anxiety -- even if you don't sleep and you continue to feel anxious, you can still show up, move forward and do what you need to do - funky feelings or not. What a strong woman you are & insightful. Thanks for the post.

Posted by: Kristin at September 18, 2008 07:40 PM

Andrea,

I never would have guessed this - you were so calm and so supportive and organized!! I felt very comfortable in your role and you are so lucky you had your lifelines beside you. What great friends...
I was on that mountain with you and so cool!
Now I can identify those little thoughts and say hey! you're a gremlin and piss off!

Hugs,
Cheryl

Posted by: fromthepines at September 18, 2008 07:16 PM

Wow, that has to be one of the most moving things I have read on here. Thanks for daring to be messy and still be a superhero!

I've had some intense panic this last year and I've never had it before either. It's not fun. I don't know exactly what the hell it is about but I've had to kind of shrug and say oh well, and go on with my life too.

Cheers!

Also, I LOVE that last picture.

Posted by: Braidwood at Authentic Threads at September 18, 2008 07:06 PM

Dear Andrea, I'm so sorry you had to go through this. But you are a super-rocking-superhero for getting through it beautifully. I am sure your class was magic! I have experienced your coaching and I know just how fabulous you are and how much of yourself is invested in making it special, moving and meaningful! And I am so glad you had just the right care around you. Wish I were there for Squam and for you too. Sending you my love xoxx

Posted by: Gypsy Alex at September 18, 2008 07:04 PM

WOW, Andrea. What a ride! I'm so sorry for your panic attacks, but oy, what learning is coming and will come! WOW.

And, I'm moved by how "at choice" you were through all of it. Another woman might have crumpled, canceled the class, or taught and created drama around herself. You, my friend, are authentic, transparent, generous, strength unbounded, even if it felt like a terrifying roller coaster ride. Now THAT'S powerful life leadership!

Thanks, as ever, for your raw and thought-provoking post. Sending you huge amounts of clarity, insight and love from the east coast as you assimilate back into life, post-Squam, and no longer a teaching virgin! Oooh! :-)

Laura

Posted by: Laura Neff at September 18, 2008 06:35 PM

Andrea, thank you for sharing your experience. I'm sorry you had the panic attacks - they royally suck (I've had them before).

Thank you so much for giving yourself to us like that. I took your workshop on the last day and can think of no better way to end my Squam experience. It left me on a high that's still there.

Big hugs to you.

Posted by: Steph at September 18, 2008 04:27 PM

andrea - i have been dealing with panic attacks and anxiety since 1992. i am glad you had friends surrounding you during this scary time. you should feel proud that you persevered and made it through. take care of yourself.

Posted by: jen b at September 18, 2008 03:21 PM

I wasn't able to go but I would have loved to. It seems to me that the vulnerability, the messiness, is where it's at, you know, the real thing. That's where the connection comes from. Nervous energy can help propel you and open you to the experience. It's a rough ride, but I think you might be tougher than you realize.

Posted by: Steph at September 18, 2008 01:33 PM

Hi Andrea,

On an unrelated note, this article was in our local newspaper today (http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/metro/258139.php). It looks like Tucson, AZ will be celebrating Park(ing) Day. I know your husband Matt is involved with this. I think it's awesome and look forward to seeing some of the Park(ing) exhibits locally tomorrow!

Posted by: monica at September 18, 2008 01:11 PM

I was in your very first class at SAW... and I will carry that day with me for the rest of my life- it is a golden day that others will measured against- and I am profoundly in awe of your generosity, compassion, insightfulness and caring towards those of us blessed enough to have spend that precious and magical time with you. I am barely able to type this as tears are streaming down my cheeks after reading this post and learning the depths of your pain in your efforts to give so completely of yourself to all of us who were (in the beginning at least!) complete strangers to you. I'm only beginning to 'distil' all that I have come away from Squam with- but I do know this: YOU have touched and enriched every single one of us- and you are SO loved. Thank you for more than you will ever realize (more than I myself might ever realize!), love and hugs, gretchen

Posted by: gretchen at September 18, 2008 01:05 PM

Your words resonate with me so much: "I am still figuring out what this experience has to teach me. ...making peace with the ways it didn't turn out how I had hoped. I am having to forgive myself for all the ways I wanted to be but couldn't."

I'm so glad I was at Squam and filled with joy and insight from your class, but the whole retreat experience wasn't quite what I'd expected or hoped for. I find that happens to me a lot at "big" events and am trying to figure out why.

It's hard to act like you have your shit together when you're a mess inside. You did it beautifully. I'm just sorry you had to do that at all. Peace to you, Superhero.

Posted by: Jenna/The Word Cellar at September 18, 2008 12:45 PM

I've never underestimated the fact that you are a superheroine.
And I LOVE Jonatha's music. A friend of mine from Boston introduced me to her when I was 18, almost 10 years ago - haven't stopped loving her since.

Posted by: tiffany at September 18, 2008 12:25 PM

i just wanted to say thank you for the honesty and reality you bring to your blog. i always feel inspired after visiting here. thank you for being brave - and for all that you are willing to share.
warmly, ~s

Posted by: sperlygirl at September 18, 2008 11:56 AM

i just wanted to say thank you for the honesty and reality you bring to your blog. i always feel inspired after visiting here. thank you for being brave - and for all that you are willing to share.
warmly, ~s

Posted by: sperlygirl at September 18, 2008 11:55 AM

Dear Andrea,

I am so glad that in the midst of your anxiety that you had such close, wonderful, loving, thoughtful friends around you, and I wish I could have been there to meet you. Of course I don't know exactly how you felt, but I can say that during a recent 4-day hospital stay I was peaceful about my health but most anxious about how our 1 1/2 year old would handle it. She did fine, as I'm sure Ben did, since they both have wonderful dads, but I think neither Norah nor I am in a hurry to do that again for awhile! I don't know if it was the teaching or the being away from Ben or the combination that was most difficult for you, but I am confident when I say that the greatest gift you bring at all times is simply being you. Although I don't know you outside of your blog, from what I gather you are a natural born teacher, because the best ones pass on their HEART, not just the knowledge. Welcome home.

Warm wishes,

Carole

Posted by: Carole at September 18, 2008 11:39 AM

Oh Andrea! I'm so sorry you had to deal with this. As someone who has experienced the same thing, I know how hard it is. I think it was the whole new experience thing. Now that you're processing--it's good because it'll help you figure out what to do internally to calm yourself.

I'm glad Jen was there. I wish I had more people in my life who understood. Consider her an angel.

Thinking of you, and here if you EVER want to talk!

Kristen:)

Posted by: kristen at September 18, 2008 10:54 AM

Oh Andrea! I'm so sorry you had to deal with this. As someone who has experienced the same thing, I know how hard it is. I think it was the whole new experience thing. Now that you're processing--it's good because it'll help you figure out what to do internally to calm yourself.

I'm glad Jen was there. I wish I had more people in my life who understood. Consider her an angel.

Thinking of you, and here if you EVER want to talk!

Kristen:)

Posted by: kristen at September 18, 2008 10:54 AM

Oh Andrea! I'm so sorry you had to deal with this. As someone who has experienced the same thing, I know how hard it is. I think it was the whole new experience thing. Now that you're processing--it's good because it'll help you figure out what to do internally to calm yourself.

I'm glad Jen was there. I wish I had more people in my life who understood. Consider her an angel.

Thinking of you, and here if you EVER want to talk!

Kristen:)

Posted by: kristen at September 18, 2008 10:53 AM

I can't tell you how much hearing about these things you do matters to me. Sometimes I don't even want to read about them, because that's how much they matter, because I am not THERE yet. My head is there, but the rest of me is not.

I LOVE teaching. I just have to find a way to be in a place where I can teach what I really want to teach, where I can help people to be the creative spirits they want to be. Not there yet.

I suppose we all have our struggles to overcome. Mine perhaps is battling through the money problems and the feeling of being entitled to do what I dream. I got over the fear of public speaking when I taught teenagers. (Is there a scarier audience than a room full of 15 year olds?) I wonder what lessons I still have to learn from my obstacles. I wonder what it is you have to learn from your extreme and dramatic nights? Have you figured that out yet? Do you think it will be bad the next time... because there will be a next time, right?

Posted by: rowena at September 18, 2008 10:25 AM

is that a love sandwich or what?
and that is what it is...love.

we love you.
i feel proud of your bravery to share.
the messy and the beautiful.

that view is awe inspiring.
and so is the whole of all we experienced in those woods.

xo

Posted by: boho girl at September 18, 2008 10:11 AM


I am proud of you because I know how crippling it is to feel that way. That you working through it AND had a wonderful experience is incredible.

Posted by: susie at September 18, 2008 09:44 AM


I am proud of you because I know how crippling it is to feel that way. That you working through it AND had a wonderful experience is incredible.

Posted by: susie at September 18, 2008 09:44 AM

I'm so sorry you had such a trying adventure. You are truly a strong person to be able to keep going through all of that personal misery. Most people would have called it, but you didn't.

On another note, I wish I would have known you were teaching a class! It is *just* what I need right now. I caught myself thinking the other day "It's time I find my tribe. I have no tribe. I am alone." I am in serious need of female friends and heroes and in serious need of realignment. Please publicize your next class and I just might make it. :)

Posted by: Stacia at September 18, 2008 08:59 AM

andrea-i had no idea you were suffering so much during the workshop. i'm so sorry to hear it! i sensed you were processing something, but didn't want to dig. i heard that your classes were inspiring and wonderfully worthwhile, so i'm imagining that your students loved whatever package you were offering. jen gray was like the sweetheart of the dance to so many, was she not? good friends come in handy in times like these.
you are not alone, sister. you are a superhero...but you already know this, don't you?

Posted by: pixie at September 18, 2008 08:43 AM

I wish I could have been there!

Posted by: rani at September 18, 2008 08:42 AM

I wish I could have been there!

Posted by: rani at September 18, 2008 08:41 AM

andrea,

i think you are stinkin' brave to have worked through those feelings.

when i went up to you during breakfast one day (i think it was saturday?), and i asked you if you missed your boy, i saw right through your pain and wanted to reach out and hug you. but within that pain i saw a fierceness and it was so powerful.

thanks for bringing us to the top of that mountain, physically and metaphorically.

xx
nina beana

Posted by: nina beana at September 18, 2008 08:22 AM

i have anxiety attacks and cancel things. Or I have them and get through it and somehow all that anxiety has little to do with what happens in the class or event. It's all illusion, and smokey mirrors.

All I know for sure is that you are a superhero, and even more so now then ever.

Thank you for this raw entry. It helps me to get more real myself and reveal myself.

Posted by: Catherine J at September 18, 2008 08:19 AM

i suffered from anxiety attacks for years on and off. to the point where i had to be on medication for a short while. my symptoms were a bit different than yours but i understand the downward spiral that is in those moments. you are so brave for sharing this story, it shows your human side as well as your superhero side, and you are so very blessed to have a friend like jen to talk you off the ledge.

i have the feeling your class was nothing short of awe-inspiring and life-changing for many and i hope you continue to facilitate these workshops as i would love to be there with you, and jen, and everyone one day.

will call you soon, love
xoxo

Posted by: stacy at September 18, 2008 08:12 AM

I have never seen anyone exhibit such grace in a challenging situation as you did at Squam. Each time I saw you (we stayed in the same cabin) you had a loving smile and calm demeanor. I don't know how you did it but I can tell you that your panic did not show. I admire you more than ever if that is even possible. What an honor to have met you.

Posted by: judy wise at September 18, 2008 08:08 AM

I have been touched by your posts on different levels and varying intensities since I first discovered your site some time ago...but this one really hit a nerve.

Although I have never experienced a "panic attack" (I think)...I have suffered from anxiety for many, many years now and can completely relate to what you described...minus the vomit and lack of sleep but add a few other not-so-great symptoms and welcome to my world.

I have come to accept it but I still think it completely SUCKS because it has stopped me from doing so many things I love...and still does. Many times I questioned becoming a mother because I did not want my kids to suffer like I have...and in very dark times, anxiety even made me question whether it was worth to live life at all. Fast forward...a wonderful supportive husband, 2 kids and many prayers later, I still worry about whether I passed on my "anxiety" gene... My anxiety started to manifest around the age of 15 and my little ones are only 2 1/2 and 8 mo...so I worry but leave it in God's hands and pray that they are OK and if they are not, I find comfort in that I will be their #1 supporter, motivator, friend in that journey and many others...

Thanks for sharing and for being strong...you teach me to be strong...betcha you did not know you were my teacher already :) And thanks for showing that friendships between women can be glorious and amazing.

xo g

Posted by: glo at September 18, 2008 07:58 AM

Fear takes
the ground given.

Posted by: jfrancis at September 18, 2008 07:41 AM

Andrea,

Welcome back home to Matt and Ben :) What a serendipitous and magical weekend to be in your class and amongst your company. I had the sweet fortune to share the same rustic cabin as Andrea and Jen. Your class was lovely and the hike was a beautiful compliment to the day. I learned a lot about shooting the sh*t out of my camera as you instructed. To meet one of my blog heroines and you were just as gracious, warm, tender hearted and compassionate as the words you write on your blog. You're a world class act and I'm ever so grateful to have experienced and immersed myself in the mystical and magical Superhero world. Cheers to you. Your fan and friend, Trish

patriciadolan@comcast.net

Posted by: Patricia at September 18, 2008 07:33 AM

Andrea - I was at SQUAM and participated in your VERY FIRST teaching experience. I can't tell you how much I appreciated your opening up to the class at the end of our session - to let us in on your vulnerability was incredibly bonding. I'm still in awe over the whole class and the entire week at SQUAM. THANK YOU, THANK YOU for bringing your whole, true self to the experience. I don't think anyone in the class would have known about your anxiety and lack of sleep if you had not told us outright at the end! The class was great, a truly wonderful way to start my first-ever art retreat. Thank you for helping to fill up my well.

Looking forward to meeting again next year--
Denise

Posted by: Denise at September 18, 2008 07:22 AM

Thank you for sharing here and for your students at Squam. Your honesty is what's made me come back to read you year after year.

Posted by: whitney at September 18, 2008 06:57 AM

What a wonderful message of surrender and vulnerability.

Posted by: Lu at September 18, 2008 06:39 AM

this brought me to tears! Thank you SO MUCH for being so honest.

Posted by: m-c at September 18, 2008 06:30 AM

Oh how I know anxiety! Especially now being five months pregnant and getting questionable news from doctors. Sigh. But I can only imagine you handled yourself with grace and if there were messy times, I'm sure you handled it in your own unique way.

Thank you for sharing your feelings and how you really felt and worried and were just human...a superhero human!

Posted by: andrea at September 18, 2008 06:03 AM

(nodding head)

Posted by: november blue at September 18, 2008 04:00 AM

you really are a superhero. You've taught us in this post how powerful we become when we let our guards down. I came so close to signing up for Squam because you would be there, and after reading this post wish even more that I could have joined you. You're teaching us we're less alone if we open up... what better lesson is there? I so admire the power of your creativity, honesty and humility and would be honored to have you as a teacher and friend.

Go easy,
Susan

Posted by: susan at September 18, 2008 03:37 AM

(((((((Andrea)))))))))

Posted by: m at September 18, 2008 03:07 AM

Andrea, I know I'm my own superhero but you are also absolutely one of mine. As someone who has experienced post-trauma related panic attacks AND someone who just spent a week researching and writing an essay about anxiety and panic I am moved deeply by the generosity you show by being honest with this post. You may already understand this, but in case you don't - what you just did (telling the simple truth) is powerful. Thank you.

I'm also very glad you had Jen there - wise wonderful woman that she is - we all need friends to love us when we think we are falling apart. Sending you love as you let this experience settle.
xoxoxox

Posted by: Marianne at September 18, 2008 02:31 AM

Oh, goodness, yes - panic attacks are truly awful. I guess one of the positives is you can now empathize with people who have panic attacks!

It sounds like you did an amazingly graceful job considering you had no sleep and so much stress.

Thank you for sharing this honest post!

Posted by: Emma at September 18, 2008 01:35 AM

such a beautiful, brave post. your honesty will help so many people (me included). thank you for sharing this experience. i'm so pleased that you had such wonderful friends around. the photos are gorgeous.

Posted by: amy at September 17, 2008 11:23 PM

Dear Andrea,

I so know that feeling. As a lawyer I totally get your situation. In the beginning and even sometimes today, I get mega-scared of court dates and the like...

I once read that sometimes in high-strung situations, your body tends to pour certain chemicals into your bloodstream that freeze you up. I totally forgot what they were, though, sorry... ;-))

Anyway, in a situation like that, there's no logical way around it. It just is what it is and you have to deal with it. Which you did, congratulations!

One thing that helps me immensely: I'm telling myself that this will all be over in a few hours/ days/ weeks.

I take one step forward, then another, and then I basically "hit the road running" and just do my thing.

It works, too, my clients always tell me how calming I was even when I was shaking inside...

Love, Charis :-)

Posted by: Charis at September 17, 2008 11:02 PM

Nodding my head ;-) ... took off to travel 3 wks in New Zealand last December at the height of panic attacks not really understanding them fully. A truly frightening but wonderful 3 wks. And still have the anxiety and panic attacks ... but understand them better ... and using lots of strategies to cope.

Posted by: Sue at September 17, 2008 10:30 PM

such beauty, truth + bravery andrea. makes me love you even more!
xxx

Posted by: mati rose at September 17, 2008 10:22 PM

sending you a big gold imaginary sparkly star badge to pin onto your sweater that says 'i am a brave woman'.

i'm so glad you had your girls there to support you. and thanks so much for sharing this. i was nodding along with the whole post.

Posted by: vivienne at September 17, 2008 09:35 PM

You're so brave-- even when you're not feeling brave. I had panic attacks for months before I came to the realization that you reached in only three days. You're amazing.

Posted by: Jolie at September 17, 2008 09:15 PM

It was an honor to meet you and an honor to be in your class. Thank you so much for being there for all of us and being so present in class. You are a true inspiration, braver than you even realize, and have such a warm heart and soul.

Thank you for sharing this vulnerable side of you. It is beautifully brave!!!

Posted by: Jennifer at September 17, 2008 09:14 PM

i am so thankful that you shared these vulnerable pieces of you...
you are brave and beautiful.

it was a gift to meet you.

blessings and peace,
liz

Posted by: liz elayne at September 17, 2008 09:05 PM

Nodding my head ;-) ... took off to travel 3 wks in New Zealand last December at the height of panic attacks not really understanding them fully. A truly frightening but wonderful 3 wks. And still have the anxiety and panic attacks ... but understand them better ... and using lots of strategies to cope.

Posted by: Sue at eLuckypacket at September 17, 2008 08:47 PM

oh the beauty of your honest words, and it brings fresh, cleansing, clarifying tears for me all over again... (i feel like I spent 5 days in 3 states: laughing till my stomach hurt, crying, or feeling like I was going to cry) Your experience sounds so intense and yet, somehow perfect because of where you were and who you were with... I think if I was going to go through that, I would want all my lifelines in very close proximity (as you had yours). Your experience makes me think about the story of the crucible, trial by fire, and coming out the other side, smooth and shiny and forged: a little stronger, and with a clearer and stronger perspective of your world. Thank you for sharing your story...

Posted by: Liz at September 17, 2008 08:39 PM

What a wonderful reminder that we are all human (even the superheroes).
Thank you!

Posted by: Belinda at September 17, 2008 08:22 PM

You are such an inspiration. I wish I could have been there.

Posted by: Laura at September 17, 2008 08:10 PM

Wow I am surprised to read you where so torn up...because ever where I went at SAW someone was raving about your class or discussing which necklace they wanted to buy. The participants in your class truly walked away with a wonderful message and all felt they gained something important from your class.
Do you know how many performers throw up before they go out on stage? Babara Steisand had such terrible anxiety over live performances that she quit for years.
I hope you keep teaching as I would love to take your class next year!
Susan

Posted by: susan greene at September 17, 2008 08:09 PM

Wow I am surprised to read you where so torn up...because ever where I went at SAW someone was raving about your class or discussing which necklace they wanted to buy. The participants in your class truly walked away with a wonderful message and all felt they gained something important from your class.
Do you know how many performers throw up before they go out on stage? Babara Steisand had such terrible anxiety over live performances that she quit for years.
I hope you keep teaching as I would love to take your class next year!
Susan

Posted by: susan greene at September 17, 2008 08:07 PM

Wow I am surprised to read you where so torn up...because ever where I went at SAW someone was raving about your class or discussing which necklace they wanted to buy. The participants in your class truly walked away with a wonderful message and all felt they gained something important from your class.
Do you know how many performers throw up before they go out on stage? Babara Steisand had such terrible anxiety over live performances that she quit for years.
I hope you keep teaching as I would love to take your class next year!
Susan

Posted by: susan greene at September 17, 2008 08:07 PM

Thank you for your story - you make me braver.

Posted by: Sandra Flear at September 17, 2008 08:00 PM

Oh, honey...I am so sorry for your panic attacks.
And...YOU GO GIRL!

I wish I could have been there. Congratulations on a successful maiden voyage.

Posted by: Wanda at September 17, 2008 07:59 PM

i am hugging you with my mind.
wow... what an intense experience!!!! i thank you, as always, for your openess and honesty.
you are so sooooo loved.

Posted by: Jen Downer at September 17, 2008 07:55 PM

Resonating here.
Especially the puking/crying-panic-attack-on-Friday part.

Posted by: wilsonian at September 17, 2008 07:41 PM

i'm still trying to figure out what it all means to me too, especially the vulnerable moments.

feeling fragile on friday myself, your class was the best possible experience for me and for that i thank you.

Posted by: kristen at September 17, 2008 07:35 PM

a perfect post! i can feel the truth of every part.

Posted by: jen lemen at September 17, 2008 07:17 PM