Day 405: Freaking out

That title got your attention, didn’t it? However, I’m not just doing this for attention. I have my reasons to be freaking out today, including:

  1. I am leaving for Panama in two days and — as much as I like to travel — I have automatic fears about (a) flying and (b) new, unfamiliar situations.
  2. Yesterday — my first vacation day — I came down with a cold, viral infectious disease, or whatever else you want to call that ailment we humans keep getting, no matter how much medical science has advanced in other areas, and which often rears its miserable, mucous-y Common-But-Powerful head at the worst possible times.  (I assume that I’m not alone in that experience) (although perhaps your description of your Common Cold experience wouldn’t be quite as wordy or petulant.)
  3. I’m still trying to integrate the latest news I got from my cardiologists last Wednesday about my Very Unusual Heart.

So how can I ease the Freak Out, right now?  Because that would be my wish for this post, dear readers.

I could do the opposite of freaking out, as a way to reverse the trend, I suppose.  But what is the opposite of freaking out?  Freaking in?  My first thought about “Freaking In” is this: that would not be helpful, since it sounds like repressing — and directing inwards — fears, anxieties, and worries. And that’s the last thing I need right now.   I’ve spent way too much time freaking in, especially when I was a kid.

However, while Freaking In is probably not helpful, I’d still like to take a quick visit to Google-Image-Land, at this point in today’s post. Before I do a Google Image Search for “Freak In,” let’s start on familiar territory, by searching for “Freak Out.”

Here’s the first image that comes up:


It’s Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention!  I’m always glad to see those guys,  especially Mr. Zappa, who is no longer with us.

This is reminding me of  my favorite tune from an album I loved from the 70’s:  “King Kong,” where jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty  played Frank Zappa music (with a guest appearance by Zappa himself).  Here it is:

(thanks to takamasa1963 for the YouTube video)

Listening to that, right now, is helping me freak out less, already. I also found this video, of Ponty and George Duke  playing “King Kong” live at Zappanele — which is, apparently, a festival honoring the music of Frank Zappa, held each year in Germany.

(thanks to LudzNL2 for the Youtube Video)

This post is helping me in another way, right now. It’s reminding me that I’m going to be attending a Jazz and Blues Festival next week, during my trip to Panama.  That synchronicity wasn’t an accident;  it was planned.  Therefore, I am now — in my mind — rewriting the famous Panama Palindrome:

A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama

to this, as a cheering reminder to myself, about my upcoming trip:

An Ann, A Plan, Some Jazz, Panama

So while that doesn’t scan as a palindrome, it’s still helping.

This is reminding me of something else I definitely wanted to write about today, believe it or not.  Just the way I re-wrote that palindrome, I find it helpful to “rewrite” old, unhelpful messages, especially those that increase fear and anxiety.

As I may have mentioned here before, images — rather than words — are particularly powerful at evoking old feelings. Therefore, in my work as a therapist,  I sometimes talk to people about changing anxiety-provoking, or even “stuck” images, to something different. For example, in this post, I described changing somebody’s old, unhelpful image of a wall — which was keeping other people at a distance —  to a different kind of wall, that invited growth and healing.

So what are the images that are causing me anxiety, right now?  Because I sure would like to change one.

A powerful and unhelpful image, for me right now,  is that of a small plane crashing. Why? Very soon, I’ll be flying in a small plane, for the first time, in Panama.

So let’s see if we can reduce my anxiety by replacing an unhelpful image with something better. To start, let’s see what Google Images has for “Small Plane Crashing,” right now.

Eeeeek!  While Google Images was stumped by “Freak In,”  it has LOTS of offerings for “Small Plane Crashing.”  And just looking at all those images, right now, is increasing my anxiety.   I also don’t want to upset my readers, so I’ll just show the first image (as is my wont):


I found that image here, and the headline for that link is actually … reassuring. “Two escape serious injury in small plane crash.”

Well, that’s good.

Okay!  Now that we have a (bearable) image for my fear, what I’d like to do now is counter that image with an image for something very different. Let’s try …. “small plane soaring.”  Here we go:


I found that image here, and even though I had my doubts about using this technique for this particular problem …

… that DOES look like fun, doesn’t it?

Okay, it’s time for me to bring this post home.

Thanks to Frank Zappa, Jean-Luc Ponty, George Duke, mothers of invention (of all kinds),  and to you — of course! — for visiting today.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

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26 thoughts on “Day 405: Freaking out

  1. Instead of substituting the first word in Freaking Out, Ann, I suggest you trade out the first word this time. Out with Freaking, in with Hanging. You will be hanging out with friends in Panama, appreciating great jazz, enjoying your first-ever small plane ride. Oh what those sights will be! What a great hang. I am envious. I think you are going to have the time of your life.

  2. How about “Freaking STOP”. As in stop worrying. You will be fine. Perhaps you need to listen to Doris Day

    Que Serra sera!

  3. Can you even imagine how good it would feel to be totally free of any anxiety? Every thing would seem like adventure. That is the way our species survives in a dangerous world and we can’t completely change our thoughts. Every time I have been through an experience that caused anxiety initially, I take time to be very grateful. Well, that was worth doing. That was not so scary. Unfortunately there are plenty of times I have come through and thought “Wow, that was really bad. Worse than I imagined”..
    Maybe it is best to see all scary things as my choice not to run and hide. Engaging life.

    • This was a very helpful comment for me — every sentence felt like personal medicine. Even my cold feels better now! Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

  4. panikikubik

    Great post. I think the best advice I can give you is this
    Don’t be afraid of thinking that you will freak out. The mind eants control. And when you can’t have full controll- the thoughts of “losing it” or @freaking out” comes as a reaction.
    Allow yourself those thoughts. Be safe in the wisdom that you’re literaly not in any danger. You’re not freaking out literaly. You are under a bit of stress and who shouldn’t be in your situation. If you get scared on the plane? It’s ok. Anxiety can’t and won’t harm you.
    I wish you a great trip to Panama.

    • Thank you for wishing me a great trip and for helping me let go of anxiety, with this great comment. I appreciate your thoughts, very much.

  5. I think, statistically, flying is still the safest way to travel.
    And the opposite of freaking out is staying calm.

    Take a deep breath, shake the cold, and have a great trip!

  6. Have a Freaking Great trip Ann! Breathe deeply and think of all of the blog material you are about to have at your fingertips. 🙂

  7. safe journeys!
    enjoy the exciting
    and calm sounds
    along the way 🙂

  8. Take five minutes. Freak out. Yell. Scream. Shriek. Swear.
    End of five minutes. Have a comfort food or drink.
    Next five minutes. Take care of your cold. Consult your doctor as to what take to protect your ears, especially, when flying. Do that NOW.
    Next five minutes. Sit down. Breathe deeply. Inhale serenity. Exhale anxiety.Continue until you feel yourself relax, mind and body.
    Next five minutes. Think of all the positive elements of the flight. The sky scenery. Perhaps meeting someone for an interesting conversation. Sleep. Think of the wonderful time you’re going to have once you land and start visiting..a new venue to explore.
    You’re going to be fine. I send you prayers for safety and protection and beautiful thoughts on which to float.

    • This comment felt like a prayer — a wonderful one. Thank you for all these great ideas. I am very lucky to have you as a reader.

  9. Hi Ann, Sorry that this post is rushed — our son is leaving for 6 months of study in Japan in 28 minutes. Just want to say that I’ve been thinking about you. Anxiety sucks. For some of us, it’s the price we pay for adventure, usually in advance. I hope you have the most wonderful time.

    I know that you have no experience with small planes so can I share with you a few thoughts? I am a very nervous flyer in big planes. Mostly because they lock the door and so I can’t keep an eye on the pilot. But I like to fly in small planes. The reason is that small planes glide when the engines die. You have a lot of time to land that plane, and you can land on a road or a field (or if a float plane, then a lake).

    Do you know how I learned this? When I was in high school, a guy who had just gotten his pilot’s license took me up in a 2 seater Cessna. He saw my white knuckles and took his hands off the controls. He told me to fly the plane. (There were dual controls.) So, I had to. I grabbed the thingy (whatever it was called) and followed his instructions. His instructions caused me to stall the plane, which was what he wanted. So, there I was flying the plane in total silence — which is not a good sound for a plane.

    The plane did not crash. I was able to restart the engine. I flew the plane. I did not go out with that guy again but I have enjoyed flying in small planes ever since. Even though they feel like you’re riding a power lawnmower with cardboard wings. If your pilot dies, you can probably fly the plane yourself. It’s a big advantage, in my mind. Worth the heart-stopping lurches.

    When you land in a small plane, the trees and buildings always seem too close. That’s okay. That’s okay.

    I can’t wait to read about your adventures.

    • Wow, Maureen. What a great comment. I will hold what you wrote in my heart, which will leave a lot less room for fear. Thank you so much.

  10. Have a great holiday.

  11. Have a fabulous vacation, Ann. I LOVE flying in small planes! I must have been a bird in another life. The scenery will be spectacular from your new vantage point. May you SOAR!

  12. Pingback: Day 655: How to freak less | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  13. Pingback: Day 2295: Reassuring | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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