Tag Archives: yoga

an agoraphobic only has one panic attack —

i share a lot with f2fb friend #297 ann malone.  we both are in our fifties (although damnit, she’s three years older and looks ten years younger than me!) and we’ve both raised two sons.

i felt really depressed on valentine's day because i thought my younger son eastman (f2fb friend #1) had forgotten about me. then the fedex guy showed up with a mushy card from eastman--it featured puppies and little candy hearts and who can't tear up when they see the combination? this is a valentine's card i received from one of my newest facebook friends talib who is from iraq where valentine's day is not generally celebrated. i appreciated the beauty of this card and the effort that went into making it!

ann malone and i have been divorced and i think we both agree that our agoraphobia/panicattacks/anxiety contributed to that unhappy fact.  and we both can remember every detail of our first panic attack.

i was nineteen.  i was grocery shopping at the kroeger’s across the street from the police and fire station in naperville, illinois.  i was with my boyfriend keith.  i was wearing white pants, white shirt, a tie, and a dark blue vest.  i was carrying a backpack of books.  wait?  a tie?

my attire that day did not reflect anything about my gender identification. the 1977 movie "annie hall" starring woody allen and diane keaton influenced my fashion sense. so did the prices at the salvation army thrift shop where i bought my clothes.

i sat the window sill at the end of the cash register waiting for my boyfriend to complete his purchases.  i looked outside.  a furious thunderstorm was coming.  the thunderstorm made me think of anger–an angry mother, an angry universe, an angry God.  this is like death’s arrival, i thought and i turned to look at the paramedic and two firemen waiting in line to pay for their lunches.  “they can’t do anything to save me,”  i thought.

and suddenly, everything pressed in on me:  the imminence of death and destruction, the explosion of my heart, the oxygen being sucked out of lungs, lights and sound slamming against me.  too many things at once.  i stood up.  my legs were tingling with weakness.  this is death, i thought.

within a half hour, i was in edward’s hospital emergency room and a doctor was telling me i couldn’t possibly be having a heart attack.  you don’t know that, you don’t know that, i thought.  ann’s experience was a little different in details but the essence was exactly the same.

and what happened next?

today, we have the wonderful news that therapy, antidepresssants*, meditation, yoga**, natural remedies*** will the trick.  uh, well, sometimes that’s  true.  and sometimes a study comes out that says no way.  in any event, i was   diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, asthma, severe allergies, lupus, depression, separation anxiety. . . in the end, therapy teaches you to rely on your therapist, drugs to depend on your dose, yoga and meditation to rely on your guru of the moment.  it’s a tough call as to what will set us free but ann and i both agree there is some truth to the adage that an agoraphobic only has one panic attack.  everything else is the anticipation or the avoidance of having another. . . .  she and i both avoided everything that might lead to a panic attack.  i have never stepped foot in the kroegers in naperville since that day thirty two years ago and frankly, i still don’t like jewell or osco or “big box” grocery shopping.
ann and i have both figured out what works for us, with the full knowledge that whatever we have cobbled together will fall apart and we’ll come up with new strategies.  i admire ann and i’m so glad she’s my facebook friend!  i got in the car, breathed deeply, and i aim further south to meet lionel richie.  at least i think i’m meeting lionel richie.  that’s what my next facebook friend’s profile picture looks like.  and nobody, but nobody, would put up a profile picture that wasn’t taken yesterday at the passport photo shop, right?



so this is taking the unfriending thing a little too far. . . a story about murder.

sixty year old marvin potter of johnson county, tennessee has been charged with the murder of billy payne, jr., 36, and his 23 year old girlfriend billy jean hayworth.  the couple were shot to death in their mountain city home, although (thank goodness!) their eight month old baby was found unhurt in his dead mother’s arms.

potter’s thirty year old daughter jennelle potter was un-friended by payne and hayworth after what the couple described as jennelle harassing them on facebook (and sometimes on phone).  jennelle’s sometimes boyfriend jamie lynn curd (who is second cousin to billy payne) was charged with helping marvin potter.  jennelle is probably going to be charged as well and guess where the police are looking for their evidence?  yep, facebook. . . .

marvin potter and jamie curd in court. if they use the defense of "justifiable homicide" i think i have to review everybody i've ever unfriended. including that creepy guy who kept sending me pictures of himself. like, those kind of pictures of himself.

wow!  unfriending gets you murdered?  well, it reminds me of something that happened to me earlier this year.  i was unfriended and blocked by a facebook friend who read my post about yoga.  she was pretty upset with me and felt that i had disrespected her “sacred” place–namely, the yoga studio that she attends.  she also defriended two of my other facebook friends on the same day.  don’t worry–i have no interest in getting out a shotgun.  in fact, i want to apologize to her but i’m a little uncertain how to do it or what i’m apologizing for.  also, the tone of the email she sent me was pretty unequivocal and expressly told me to not respond.

i think if you read my blog often enough or if you know me personally, you know i have trouble with the grape. if i feel rejected, dejected, depressed, compressed, i'll reach for that white wine. i was really surprised i was able to resist. although i spent the entire next day in bed and was awfully sick.

i’m not sure how to send a note of apology and, oddly, her email went to my inbox while i was in the air coming back from having seen her.  we hugged and kissed as we parted.  i even mailed off a “thank you for having me” note before i opened up my email inbox.  and i got very “wha. . . ?” emails from the two other ladies who were unfriended as well.


i try to be real careful about how i blog about people's religious beliefs. and i try to keep an open mind in real life. on the other hand, i have a tendency to make fun of EVERYTHING! and i need to be more careful. i recognize the usual isms--christianity, judaism, islam, hinduism, buddhism.

the odd thing is that i had been a skeptic about yoga.  now i’m not so sure–i found one class made me stronger, calmer, and i even did a backbend (at fifty one this is no small accomplishment).


yogini for a day!

i think of yoga as ridiculous.  chanting.  poses.  incense.  overpriced spandex outfits.  but i went to yoga because my facebook friend from last year’s  journey asked me to give it a try. . .

can you have a yoga studio without a picture or statue of ganesh and maybe a few posters with inspirational phrases? jeez, i like my exercise to be short, nasty and brutish–just like thomas hobbes, the seventeenth century english philosopher promised me all life would be!
f2fb friend #168 mary mcmanus insisted that before we saw f2fb friends #295 lisa tabbi-fuller and her sister in law f2fb friend #297  angela lopresti* we had to try a yoga class.  she was convinced that south boston yoga studio was the place to go.  argh!  but since i was staying over at the home of tom and mary in order to save hotel money, i couldn’t very well refuse.

seriously, the teacher david vendetti didn’t look like this when he was playing the harmonium!
there’s chanting, incense, a statue of ganesh, the de rigeur spandex, and a teacher david vendetti who plays the harmonium.  he sang an indian song interwoven with melody and lyrics from aerosmith’s dream on.  i decided that dante had dropped me into a special heretofore unknown circle of hell.  my arms were burning, my legs contorted into positions that i could hardly remember from being a kid.

but then i sort of got into it.  i was awful at some poses.  and occasionally i was balancing on one foot and thought i would fall over on the impossibly serious yoga gal on my right.  a few times i thought the teacher was making fun of me, but hell, i wasn’t the model student.  then after an hour and a half i was as exhausted as i would have been had i been running and i realized that for about forty five minutes i had been completely out of my head, whcih is to say, i was in the moment.  i wasn’t thinking the drama stuff, i wasn’t part of myself, i was just part of the class.  that’s so cool.

i talked to david vendetti about whether yoga is helpful for people with anxiety–whether social phobias, agoraphobia, panic attacks)–and here’s what he had to say:

deal with your anxiety.

i’m not a convert.  i’m not going to be buying any incense.  i won’t be talking to my friends about their chakras and past lives.  but there was one odd thing that happened–for the first time in several years, i didn’t have acid reflux.  i didn’t have that pain in the chest i get when i eat or when i’m anxious.  coincidence?  i don’t know.  i’m with an open mind.  i felt okay.  maybe i should consider this as part of the arsenal against anxiety.

and in fact, i was pretty laid back.  me–laid back?

and i’d have to be laid back because i was about to take not one but two facebook friends up to the top of the prudential center in boston so we could talk woman to fear about heights and elevators.

i’m not necessarily going to give yoga another try, especially since the south boston yoga studio is, well, actually quite a distance from my home in chicago.  but you can have one free lesson (tell them arlynn sent you!) just go to http://www.southbostonyoga.net/ or to their address, 36 w. broadway, or call them at 617/315-7448

*i’ve decided to go back to the 2011 numbering system.  just easier for me.  so marshae white of lorain, ohio becomes #293, molly parshall of coldwater, michigan becomes #294, lisa tabbi-fuller becomes #295 and her sister in law angela becomes #296.  the f2fb project is back after a much needed hiatus!  now i just have to figure out how to answer all my messages and emails.  i fall further and further behind. .. .

but in boston i was focused on two galpals who have anxiety attacks that debilitate and i was wondering whether yoga could help them. . . .

i get some girl on girl action and my father justin makes a surprise announcement

i was ready for a spiritual moment and that was what f2fb friend #93 dee dee chesley promised me: hot yoga at namiya. a mat, ninety degrees, a few “om’s” and maybe a “namaste” and i could get a nap in. what could possibly be more spiritual? i was going to be just like madonna or julia roberts. self-actualized, well rested, serene, and hot.

instead the instructor dorrie guided us through an hour and a half game of twister. at one point, she asked us to do what she described as what would happen if a headstand and a handstand fell in love and had a baby. i had to move my mat away from everybody else because i kept falling over and women were quite rightly worried about their safety. and of course there was the show off yoga gal who was doing things that nature did not intend to be done with the human body. however, dee dee is very cool. i just need to learn photoshop so i can put my head on her body and then you’d think i was pretty damn talented.

dee dee has two sons as i do and our paths have crossed a lot over the years. she is starting a new career in early childhood education. she is a cancer survivor and somebody who has learned how to start over.

speaking of starting over, my father justin possibly regrets having put me up for adoption when i was three years old. but today, he called me to say that he’s considering moving in with me for a while as a way of starting our relationship over. this was a bit of a surprise to me–but he said that he wanted to get to know me and he felt like he never did that when he had the chance, that is twenty five years ago when i tracked him down with the help of a private detective. i’m not sure how i feel about this development since the last time i saw him was in the lobby of his apartment building when he was accusing me of being a “super conman” who had disabled his car and had brought f2fb #32 reggie gholston into his life. he claimed that reggie was not, in fact, a captain in the united states army but rather a male prostitute.

so i decided to go out with diana tucker for a walk and a talk. she is one of my closest friends and it was an afterthought that she is also my facebook friend. i guess she’s number #94–we can talk about anything but she doesn’t like to have her picture taken. oddly, she also doesn’t like to have a fuss made over her birthday. i'[m still furious that winnetka doesn’t have a parade for my birthday.

tallulah, on the other hand, is a bit of an attention seeker. unfortunately, i’m allergic to dogs and now have a blister on my mouth. if i don’t die of anaphylactic shock i’ll be seeing a very special friend who has a message for eastman’s birthday tomorrow.