Flying the Anxious Skies


“It is difficult, when faced with a situation you cannot control, to admit you can do nothing.”
~ Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid

fear of flying cocoon of denial_opt

I am not on a plane, over the ocean.  It only looks that way.


Anxiety sucks.
I don’t know what unleashes it first, the need for control or the lack of control.  It’s kind of a chicken/egg thing.  Either way, I know that control is a major factor in my anxiety.

Take my fear of flying (please!).  It combines my dislike for cramped spaces and playing what my overactive imagination likes to call The Life Lottery.

  • You can’t get eaten by a shark if you don’t go in the ocean.
  • You will not plunge 36,000 feet if you don’t fly.
  • You will not get stuck in a crowded elevator if you don’t get on one.

Because life can be so freaking random.  There are so many things I can’t control, that maybe when I feel like I can avoid something, like say the parachute not opening or the bungee cord snapping, then I feel like I should.

(Note: I can safely say there will not be any sky diving or bungee jumping posts from me in the future—not of me anyway.)

But what do you do when a fear or phobia is in the way of something you DO want to do?

“While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us.”
~ Benjamin Franklin


Believe me, I try to rationalize my fear of flying, but it’s like trying to explain to my teenage daughter why I don’t want her to walk down the beach alone at night in a foreign country.

But I’m almost 18! Why not?

It makes sense to me, but not to her.

Like my husband the engineer trying to explain Bernoulli’s Principle regarding air flight to me:

As the speed of moving fluid (liquid or gas) increases, the pressure within the fluid decreases.  The airplane wing is designed to split air as it travels through it, and adjust the air speed above and below the wing so that there’s low pressure on the top of the wing’s surface, and higher pressure on the bottom.  This variance in air speed and pressure generates lift.

And generates great confusion.  I don’t get it.

At the science museum in town, they have a beach ball floating atop a stream of blowing air to help demonstrate part of this principle.

Doesn’t help.  Not when kid after kid walks up to that display to knock the ball out of the air stream.

I don’t even need to see that beach ball hit the ground to worry, my overactive imagination distorts airplane aerodynamics all on its own.  Besides, as a writer I spend a lot of time thinking about the WHAT IF?


“Yeah. Calm down. Two of the most useless words in the English language.”
~ Lili St. Crow, Betrayals

On our flight from Tel Aviv to Frankfurt, the pilot introduced himself and then said, “I anticipate some bumps at take off and as we cross over Serbia.


Now I know some people like to know what they are getting into.  I however, did not appreciate this knowledge because it made me then have to consider the definition of bumpy according to the tyrant pilot about to fly our plane.

After all he’s a pilot and he’s used to turbulence.  In fact, I often look at the pilot and the attendants before a flight, checking their faces for any stress or anxiety.  I figure if they’re okay, I should be okay.  (See?  That’s me trying to be rational.)  So if you’re a pilot, don’t mention bumpy unless you clarify it.  Because bumpy could mean a range of things, from a gentle hiccup to your plastic cup of coke hitting the ceiling.

So after that announcement, I immediately called up the course map on my personal TV screen.

Where the heck is Serbia??  (I’m cleaning up my unfiltered, anxiety driven language here for you.)

I never found Serbia, but apparently it’s very large.  The entire flight felt like we were making a trip up to Walton’s Mountain in an old Ford with blown shock absorbers.

Rationalizing wasn’t working, I needed a distraction.

So I tried to watch a movie, then a TV show, but the only thing I could get my screen to do (other than watch the excruciatingly slow progress that we were making even at a ground speed of 600 mph) was play a special Lufthansa meditation CD.

(I had my own iPod, but my headphones were no match for the jet engines which were apparently working very hard at doing what I have no clue.  Don’t get me started on how the weight of engines and everything else can stay 36,000 feet in the air.)

So I started the meditation CD, and then proceeded to listen to a (German? Austrian?) psychologist talk me through visualizing Edelwiess meadows, lonely goatherds, and Heidi singing Do Re Me.  Then Dr. von Trapp told me to envision jumping into the cool waters of a babbling brook while remembering to release anxiety by clenching and unclenching various muscles, including my buttocks.

Um, if you’re taking notes, this may be out of order—I should mention I also took a Xanax.

Mostly I jiggled my feet up and down for four hours, because my brother-in-law said it helps to make you feel like you are the one causing the bumpiness rather than Bernoulli pot holes (again with the control) I imagine I looked like Fred Flintstone pedaling his car.  I was exhausted.

And the second we landed?  I burst into tears of relief.

Yea, I was a hot mess.

But I had to think positive because we weren’t done. We had two more flights to go.

So I concentrated on the positive—avoiding all negativity.  Especially thoughts of movies like Bridesmaids.  As much as I love that movie, Kristen Wigg played a nervous flyer and ended up sitting next to another nervous flyer who said this:

 “I had a dream last night . . . that the plane went down. Yup. It was terrible. You were in it.”


Instead of that, it’s helpful to focus on your travel destination and whatever fun things you are looking forward to.  For me, my favorite positive, happy place is usually a white sandy beach next to clear blue water.  I imagine the warmth of the sun, a cool sea breeze and hopefully relax.

Sometimes though I just imagine being finished with whatever is causing me stress. On the way home, during the third and last leg of our plane itinerary, I imagined walking out of the airport, going home, seeing my house, I even went so far as to imagine the warmth of the wood floors and the smell of the shampoo in my shower.

If that doesn’t work, other distractions help. I also did crossword puzzles—easy ones that didn’t require me to stop too long to think.  For me that meant the puzzles in the People magazine. When desperate I used the airline magazine—and I wasn’t above flipping to the back for answers. After all it’s not the SATs. The point of this exercise was to keep my mind  occupied in a positive way.

I have to say I’m pretty grateful that (crying aside) I managed to at least look mostly calm. At least my freak out did not involve a hallucination or the airplane’s PA system, like the character in Bridesmaids:

“I have an announcement too, there is a COLONIAL WOMAN ON THE WING. The woman on the wing, I saw her! There’s something they’re not telling us! There’s a Colonial woman. She was churning butter. She was churning butter on that wing; she’s out there right now! There is something they’re not telling us! Look out there, she is dressed in traditional Colonial garb!”


Really what you need to do is keep your anxiety in check long enough not to resort to using the PA system, but send off enough distress vibes that your name gets picked for the FIRST CLASS LOTTERY.

Yup.  You heard that right.  After that bumpy Lufthansa flight, we got another kind of bump on our overseas leg–an upgrade from coach to US Airway’s Envoy class.  Not just myself and my husband, but our kids as well.

Sparkling water (or wine) with lemon, warm mixed nuts, a menu to choose your meal, a seat that reclines ALL THE WAY FLAT, noise (read: jet engine) reducing headphones, steamed wash clothes (I had no idea what I was missing there!), hot fudge sundaes and your very own kit of personal toiletries like lotion, chapstick, an eye mask, socks and toothbrush!.

Feeling especially rich and fancy, my son did his best impersonation of James William Bottomtooth III from Family Guy.

flying fancy bottomtooth style_opt


It was so much fun to see the excited looks on my kids faces.  Plus I learned it’s still possible to impress my teenage daughter.

flying first class happy _opt


Thankfully I am the only nervous flyer in our family, but this perk got all of us grinning–even me.  I was SO grateful.  Gratitude can go a long way in reducing stress and anxiety (and so can the amenities of first class).

The proof?  I actually slept for almost 5 hours.


So maybe first class won’t always be an option (one can always hope though), but if you can, treat yourself to a good pair of noise reducing headphones. They help maintain the cocoon of denial if all else fails.


“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed.”

~ Maya Angelou


Are you cool as a cucumber or do you imagine Colonial women on the wing of the plane?  How do you deal with anxiety?


84 thoughts on “Flying the Anxious Skies

  1. Nice!
    My daughter flew last night to LA and forgot to call when she arrived. I know that flying is 1000 times safer than driving maybe even safer, but when I didn’t hear from her (and I had called and texted) I started to worry. She finally called back at 11:00 after coming BACK from the beach!

    I love flying and would love to fly first class like you did! What luxury!


    1. Thanks Susie–I remember (groggily) turning to say to my husband, “I don’t ever want to go back to coach.” Ha ha, we’ll see–at least I have the memories!
      My daughter gets on a plane tomorrow–and I’ve already checked out the plane, the weather . . . just for my own knowledge, I couldn’t help myself. 🙂


  2. Oh, Coleen – I just want to give you a big hug. I do have a bit more anxiety about flying than I used to (I’m with you on the whole “how does this much metal actually fly” quandary), but it’s just a tiny bit, usually during takeoff and landing. I rely on the “if it’s your time, it’s your time” theory, and just let go. That, plus the fact that it pisses me off that I’m feeling new anxiety about something I’ve done a million-ish times, helps me give the feeling a big slap down.

    Good for you that you’re finding a way to get on those planes and see the world. Fear is to be conquered, not coddled, right? And first class upgrade? Big reward for courage! 🙂


    1. Yes, I don’t want fear to stop me when it’s something I really want to do! And it also pisses me off that I can’t just be calm about it. I look around at other people who appear to be fine and think, why can’t i be like that??
      Thanks Wendy!


  3. Both my son and I have a fear of flying. Since we live approximately 2,500 miles apart, we hadn’t seen each other in 10 years. I finally had to bite the bullet (and 2 Xanax- they were small) and board a flight last November. After all, he wasn’t getting any younger. I am happy to say there were no colonial women on either wing. But that might only be because I was slightly comatose, having imbibed a straight scotch- which I usually don’t drink- to accompany the drugs. I was cool as a cucumber. On the outside, at least.


  4. Coleen! Good on you braving the skies and not letting fear stop you from doing something you wanted to do. I hope your family’s as proud of you as I am. Wow, those individual seat/compartments in first-class look snazzy. You earned that upgrade!.

    I’m not afraid of flying so shouldn’t whine about plane travel, but if a flight’s longer than, say, three hours, something like claustrophobia sets in and the itty bitty space I’ve been assigned gets ittier and bittier. My solution is to move one limb at a time in a slow-motion hokey pokey. I also pack my Kindle with stories that have lot of humor. I learned to do that after sobbing my way through the ending of Garth Stein’s THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN–and alarming a couple of flight attendants.


    1. I know, so snazzy, right?
      I did have my Kindle all ready–I love, love to read, but I just couldn’t concentrate. My mind kept wandering–crosswords were the only thing that helped.
      I once alarmed a flight attendant when I had food poisoning while flying home from Ireland. I got buddy buddy with the barf bag. The bonus? It was the one time I didn’t care about turbulence!


  5. My husband is totally freaked out by flying. He usually has to have 2 glasses of wine before getting on a flight. Me, I’m ridiculously terrified of boats. I would never in a million years take a cruise. I know that Titanic was a fluke and the Poseidon Adventure was fiction, but the thought of being in a sinking boat in the middle of the ocean freaks me out just the same.


    1. I never thought I’d get on a cruise ship (because of Poseidon Adventure and Titanic), but I have and still will. However, I have stipulations. 🙂 It can’t be hurricane season and it can’t be transatlantic. I did both and they were too much anxiety–esp the 50 plus foot waves on the transatlantic! Everything was sliding off tables and surfaces because the ship tilted so much. Ugh. I found myself envisioning how I was going to journey to the bottom of the ship once we tipped over!


  6. I love flying, but I certainly relate to your fear. I’m a hydra-phobe, and never even dunked myself fully under water until my mid-twenties. It took crazy amounts of work, sweat, nausea and encouragement to get me to take swimming lessons—the kind in which I actually went IN the pool, withOUT floaties or other devices. (ha) It’s a very human thing to be afraid, and I think have some amount of terror in our lives helps us empathize with and write about others. Hats off to you for flying, nerves rattling and all. That cocoon looks cozy! 🙂


  7. Thanks for the laugh! I am, of course, no stranger to anxiety. (could it be genetic, sis…?) I also imagine the beach scene when stressed (dentist chair, anyone..?) but NEVER imagine being actually IN the water. There’s SHARKS in there! 😉


  8. LOL!

    Oh I am so with you, Coleen. I hate flying with a passion and when we lived in Africa the ten hour flights were sheer hell. Doesn’t matter how I fly whether in coach, business or in first class or even in a jet (worse) I HATE it. I whimper (I’m told). I hate engine noise and the seatbelt sign flashing on and off with turbulence. I HATE guys with smelly feet and the person who feels the need to talk to EVERYONE about what’s happened in their lives over the last twenty years. Who cares?

    Hate it.


  9. My main fear regarding a long flight is running out of reading material, LOL! But if I feel a little anxious otherwise, I remind myself that plane mishaps are news because they’re so rare, yet I do something much more dangerous statistically every day when I get im the car. Glad you found a happy way to ease your fears!


  10. OMG you poor thing! What a bundle of nerves! I love your cocoon of denial! 🙂 I can totally sympathize – my husband is a terrible flyer – combination of claustrophobia and lack of control – can you say large amounts of valium? 🙂 He’s pretty entertaining to listen to though 🙂


  11. Great job…You had me laughing out loud the whole way through your post! Sorry you were so freaked out, but remember, Bernoulli and Newton were some pretty smart dudes. 🙂


  12. I’m getting much better about flying than I used to be, but I still don’t love it. I always bring a book or something else to distract me because I find that works best. When I can watch a movie, I do because it also seems to contribute to motion sickness less than reading. Here’s one way we differ though–I prefer to know ahead of time if the pilot expects turbulence. My theory is that turbulence they warn us about it normal, expected, and planned for, and therefore not a real danger. If they don’t warn us ahead of time and the ride starts to get bumpy, I immediately start to panic that the plane’s going down.


    1. The problem for me is that I perceive ANY turbulence as danger 🙂 It’s crazy, really. I even hate the ping of the sea tbelt sign coming on because that signals danger too. My flight or fight response is tweaked a little too high.


  13. OMG that first class looks amazing! I have never flown on an aircraft with that level of luxury. It’d definitely help calm the nerves.
    Kudos to you for not letting your fear stop you from the travelling adventure!
    I’ve flown a zillion times in my life having family around the world. And for the most part, I wasn’t an anxious flyer at all. Then I got older and I found more and more I’d get quite nervous about flying. Although never enough to not take a trip.
    My cure: drugs! LOL! I take 2 gravol and knock myself into oblivion, which almost always means I usually drool on whoever is sitting next to me. I wake up as we land refreshed and ready for action.
    I highly recommend better flying through pharmaceuticals! LOL!!


  14. I’ve only ever flown twice and that was quite enough for me. The last time, I packed books, magazines, crosswords, to try to keep myself distracted, but I was far too tense to open any of them. I pretty much just sat there holding my breath for the entire flight. For me, it’s more about being enclosed in a small space with a lot of strangers that freaks me out even more than the possibility of crashing, so really, I’m just as freaked out about being in the airport as I am being on the actual plane.
    Before our trip, friends recommended that I get some valium from my doctor. I laughed it off as a joke. IF there is ever a next time (and I’m hoping there’s not) I will seriously consider it.
    Congratulations on not only surviving (I love the cocoon of denial) but also getting the upgrade. NICE =D


  15. I’ve only started to conquer my fear of flying this year. I love reading all the comments here, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in this fear. I’ve taken two flights so far, armed with anxiety meds, wine and index cards with helpful mantra’s on them. I even made my best friend go on the first flight with me so she could talk me down if I started screaming the things that were trying to go through my mind and scaring the other passengers. I wonder if writers are particularly susceptible to anxiety because of the “what if” scenarios we make up all the time?

    Anyway, we’re going to the Grand Canyon in twelve days, so that will be the real test for me. A five hr. flight. Oh joy. 🙂


    1. I agree–it appears we are not alone. Which is odd, because when i’m flying everyone else around me looks so calm. But that’s good, calm faces remind me to stay rational!
      All the best on your travels Shannon! After I wrote this post I remembered your post about being a nervous flyer and thought about you. I hope you feel good and have a great trip–the Grand Canyon is beautiful. 🙂


  16. Hi Coleen!

    During the first years of my marriage, I flew cross country once or twice a month. Flying used to be glamourous. Now, it’s like being on a Greyhound bus. I seem to be a seat magnet for people with small kids. It’s not that I mind the kids…they’re kids and they’re going to act like kids…what I can’t stand are overly loud parents. I don’t mind flying, but it’s the hassle at the airport that I hate. I try not to think about riding in a pressurized, thin metal tube at 30,000 feet. I remind myself that I’ll only have to die once and that I probably won’t feel a thing. 🙂 My rule…any flight over five hours requires an upgrade to business or first class.


    1. Oh I love your upgrade rule Jennifer!! And you are right about how planes have changed–coach isn’t that different from taking a bus. And sometimes not that much faster when you factor in airport waiting and delays.
      Thanks for stopping in and sharing Jennifer!


  17. Coleen, you crack me up! I’m not afraid of flying, but I felt for you as I read your story! I don’t like heights. Why flying doesn’t bother me, I’ll never know.

    As for being cool and calm, I tend to be. When my son was air-lifted a couple weeks ago everyone kept asking me why I wasn’t the typical hysterical mother. I just don’t go there. I get through the situation, then deal with my emotions on the other side (which usually involves a lot of chocolate, saying “holy crap” over and over again, and angry tears). My husband is the one who loses it, but I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Both of us can’t become irrational. One of us has to stay sane, and it’s usually me.


    1. I imagine the only thing that could be on your mind was the safety of your son. Your fight response kicked in which was good, because there was nothing else more important right then. I hope he continues to a complete recovery Emily. And that you get any and all the chocolate you want! 🙂


  18. There is NOTHING like flying first class (or Business Class on British Airways) ~ I don’t get to do it a lot, but periodically I get upgraded and I love it.

    My fave part of this post is seeing how excited your kids are. (I’ll bet that was your favorite part too!) I hope you enjoyed the trip to the fullest, despite the flying. 🙂


  19. Not when kid after kid walks up to that display to knock the ball out of the air stream….LOLOL!!!!

    I have learned to conquer my fear of flying by just not getting on a plane. There is nowhere I want to go bad enough to leave the ground. I’ve had a horrible fear of heights since I was little, and I don’t even like being on the 3rd floor of an office building. The second floor is pushing it. Even movies or television shows (think Cliffhanger, Man on a Ledge, etc…) make me light headed and queasy.

    But I do admire people who push past the fear and do things that frighten them. As for me…I’m a gutless wonder…and I’m okay with that. 🙂


    1. I call myself the wannabe adventurer–because I want to want to travel all over the world, but really there are just a few places I’d love to go–and most don’t require long plane rides. Unless Australia moves closer (or we get the technology to Beam Me Up), I’m content seeing photos of it on Pinterest. 🙂


  20. Oh Coleen, I wish I could rub some of my flying coolness off on you! I love to fly. The only time I get nervous is before getting on the plane because I’m afriad I’m going to be late and miss the flight. LOL! Love the photoes, especially the one of you sleeping. You’re so cute. 🙂


  21. LOL! Oh my gosh – I can’t get enough of you! You’re hilarious! And I know – anxiety is NOT hilarious! Believe me… I wouldn’t survive without a Xanax during those crucial moments. Argh. If only we really could control more than we’re able.
    In a stress management class I took in college it taught that the more you try to get outside of your comfort zone the less stressed you’ll be. I guess you get used to it. It’s good for you. I don’t know. Sometimes I agree… sometimes I don’t. 🙂


    1. Thanks Leigh! That stress mgmt lesson completely makes sense to me right now, with my feet firmly on the ground. 🙂 Not sure what my flying anxiety would do with it, but it’s worth a try! 🙂


  22. I’m gonna be honest: I did not have time to read this post today — not with my daughter’s wedding on Friday.
    But once I started reading, I could not stop.
    Well, yes, you are an excellent writer.
    And yes, you pulled me in with your humor-laced pathos.
    But more than all that, I understand.
    I used to hate to fly.
    Hate it. Hate it. Hate it.
    It’s still not my favorite thing to do — but I decided a long time ago there are too many people and too many places I want to see & I am not gonna let fear get in the way of my “want to”.
    And for the record, despite my fear, I’ve never been bumped up to first-class.
    Are you sure you didn’t say something over the PA?


    1. I’m super flattered you stopped by Beth! 🙂
      No, I didn’t use the PA–at least that’s what my husband says (i was very groggy on most legs of this trip). But since you made a special exception for my post today, I must reveal the secret behind our luck. We later figured out it was all due to my brother in law (who apparently has a stellar frequent flyer status)–he wasn’t on our flight, but he’d booked them and so his lucky number was attached to all of our tickets.
      So it was a combo of luck and in a sense, nepotism. Gotta love it 🙂
      Have an amazing time this weekend!


  23. I had that first class bump happen to me once in my life and it was the best thing ever.

    My parents took the infant me on a flight from NYC to Taipei so I guess I got my wings early. I used to find turbulence fun, but it’s less fun the older I get. Last trip was so exhausting I think I got altitude sickness and actually threw up a few hours after I landed.


    1. I remember a few years back, my kids saying “yay!” whenever the plane jiggled and bounced with turbulence! I’d love to have that kind of enthusiasm 🙂
      And I feel for you with the getting sick–it’s happened to me too. I usually check to make sure my seat has the handy paper bag–blech.


  24. That’s some serious anxiety you have – I like the way first class kind of cured it, though! 🙂 I’m not as anxious about flying as you are (thankfully). But more than I used to be – as well as about other things, like camping (too many backpacker horror stories). My rational side usually wins with ‘the stats are actually pretty low’ kind of argument. And if all else fails, a little Scotch or valium will do the trick 🙂


  25. HI Coleen
    Loved this one, as I have all of them, but had to write to say how it helped me today.
    I’m not flying–well I was for a short time, metaphorically speaking–I’m having my bathroom re done. Or I will be having it done if the one guy who needs to do the 1st step in this process ever gets back to me and gives me his estimate. We’ve been waiting patiently, calling frantically, waiting some more, etc. So my anxiety level has made the last 2 weeks seem like months. Your 1st two quotes really helped remind me of what I need to do. I *simply* need to ride this ride till the end. I’ll try to make it first class–at least inside myself. I’ll try imagining it all done and walking in and feel the cool stone under my feet….
    Love ya


    1. Thank you! Oh the frustration of renovation/construction woes–definitely can lead to chaos in the home and the body. Here’s hoping your bathroom will look and feel FIRST CLASS as soon as possible!! 🙂 Sending good vibes your way . . .


  26. Oh, Coleen! I’m sorry you have such anxiety while flying. My issue isn’t about flying as much as it is motion sickness. Medication helps some but to get rid of it completely I am a zombie. I’m so glad you’ve found ways to get past it so you can visit those amazing places.


    1. Thanks Lynette! I get motion sickness too (worse on boats, than planes), but you are so right about the meds–even the ones that say non-drowsy make me feel like I’ve got cotton shoved into my head. 🙂


  27. I have never seen a first class like that before. Wow! I have only flown first class one time in my life and it was after we had to be removed from the plane unexpectedly at a layover due to a medical issue. When we (my sister and I – we were kids) were sent back on our way they put us in first class. I was SO stressed at that point and relieved to be finally heading home to someone I knew (my parents) I fell asleep for the entire journey and missed the benefits. My husbands gets to fly business class often – lucky dog. Congratulations to you for that fantastic bonus! Sorry there was so much anxiety attached to the travel. I think a xanax would have had me completely knocked out.


  28. Awww, baby! I just want to give you a ginormous hug right now! I used to be a horrible flyer (you and me on a flight together would’ve been baaaaad news). Now I love to fly. I’m not so keen on the take offs and landings, but I’m getting better. A few years ago a friend and I went to Hawaii. On the way home they detoured us to Los Angeles for ‘engine trouble’. We were making jokes that if the captain got on the speaker and said we could call our loved ones that we could freak out then and only then because that obviously meant we were going to die. Hey, it was late at night and we’d had a few cocktails on the flight. So, when a few minutes later the captain announced we could phone our loved ones, what did my friend and I do? Start laughing like the crazed women we are. We thought it so funny that he did exactly what we said he’d do that we forgot to be scared. When we landed and saw a dozen ambulances and fire trucks then we freaked out, but it was darn funny until then. Obviously we didn’t die. Thank god.


    1. Tameri, I’m almost having trouble breathing just reading your story! That sounds like a nightmare–and it’s probably good that you and your friend were in laughter mode. It’s better than crying! I’m thinking I would’ve passed out if the pilot said I could phone home. Wow, just wow. You take the prize for the scariest story. 🙂


  29. Coleen, you crack me up girl! Reading this post reminds me so much of myself. I HATE FLYING! There is something un-natural about being in the air. I don’t care what science says, I like my two feet firmly planted on the ground, thank you. That said, flying first class does make a difference. I have had the privilege of flying first class and I told my husband, I can’t do coach ever again darling. LOL! I’m kidding. But you know what I mean. Pamper city indeed! So glad you made it there and back, bumps (scary) and all. Great to have you back Coleen! 🙂


  30. Oh man, Coleen, I’m afraid to fly, too! And guess what I take before I board a plane? Yep, xanax! And I say my prayers. Then I’m usually okay. I seldom travel, so I don’t have to deal with this issue very often. Four years ago my hubby and I took a trip to Hawaii. We were a half hour out of LAX when the captain announced that we were turning around, heading back to LAX, because there was a crack in the windshield. Say what?

    I’m like you, why the heck did he tell us that? My imagination pictured the whole windshield shattering and all of us being sucked right out of the front of the plane! I’m sure that’s impossible, but try explaining it to my imagination! I know you get exactly what I’m saying. We made it back to LAX and had to wait 5 hours for the next plane, but, hey, at least we were alive.

    You had such a long flight. I’m not sure how I’d handle that. Your son is so funny and your daughter so cute and looks so happy in 1st class. I have to say that’s mighty impressive. I’ve never gone 1st class before. Nice!

    Looking forward to hearing more about your trip!


    1. I so agree with you–why say that unless you’re then going to ask if there is anyone on the plane proficient in windshield repair. I so would’ve been imagining some scary stuff after that announcement. Wow.


  31. I used to be fine flying, but not so the past couple years. I wonder what changed? I nearly had a panic attack as bad as the colonial woman one during one flight where the flight attendant announced that we would be experiencing some turbulence and THEN WENT ON TO STAY THAT “in case of an emergency landing, you must leave your carry-on baggage behind.” WHAT????? This is supposed to be reassuring???

    But oh my that is one luxury plane!!! I could overcome anxiety in that thing, yes ma’am.


    1. That’s ridiculous to even mention luggage and emergency landing in the same sentence. I doubt anyone would even care about their stuff in such a case! On one of my flights I overheard the flight attendant start to talk about an emergency landing in which she ended up in the ER for–I didn’t listen to the rest, I quickly plugged my ears. Definitely don’t want to hear those stores right before take off!


  32. I’m scared of flying too. I can definitely empathize. I hate everything about it. Not to mention the fact that it makes me gassy. (Errr…is that too much information? Yeah, probably.) But those first class digs are SWEET! I might not mind flying so much if I were up there!


    1. Who knows Stephanie, maybe that’s a common symptom and you’re the only one who can admit it!! LOL The good thing about that envoy class is that your in your own little pod 🙂


  33. Girl, you are totally a writer. You have this gift for sucking me and when I get to the end, I’m like “wait, that’s it? It’s over?! Noooooooooo!!!”

    Can’t wait to read an article from you about “the call” soon. 🙂

    PS I hate flying more than anything. My hubby still has the claw marks on his arms from our last trip. BLEGH.


  34. I am a nervous flyer too, but I do try meditation and deep breathing. Sometimes it works. Other times I look around wildly at the other passengers to see if they’re panicking. Most often, they’re not, and that makes me feel better!


    1. After hearing from so many other nervous flyers I’m surprised that I don’t see the stricken faces when I look around the plane!! Everyone must be meditating (or medicating)–which is great, because I don’t know how I’d feel to see someone like me. 🙂
      Thanks Julie!


  35. I’m terrible at flying. I used to love to travel and fly. I blame my new phobia (not so new anymore) on having kids. Now, they console me. I try very hard, and apparenlty not well, to hide my fear, because I don’t want THEM to think they are going to plummet and crash and break into a thousand pieces. But they are all, “It’s okay, Mommy. Do you want me to hold your hand? It’s okay, you’re not hurting my leg by squeezing it. Whee! This is more fun than a roller coaster.” (Yes, we recently flew from WI to CO and there was turbulence. No, I did not know abou the bouncing myself thingy, but I did read on my kindle and nurse the baby for distraction– and to stop him from screaming.) Best of luck to you in finding the perfect distraction. I think first class sounds like a wonderful wayto try to enjoy traveling sky high. Wine. Wine would make it better. And you look way too young to have that old of children! Christy


    1. I am also thankful my kids like to fly–they used to do the same thing as yours when they were younger. I wish I could yell, Whee! 🙂
      And yes wine seems to be a big tool for flying—it is the first thing the flight attendants offer you as you settle into your seat (even before take off!)
      Thanks Christy 🙂


  36. Someday I would love to fly first class (especially if it’s to Europe)!! I’m so proud that you didn’t let your fears and anxiety take away your chance at that international experience!! WTG Coleen!!! My anxiety tends to stem from control issues as well. At various times in my life (including this very moment) I’ve been on Celexa to help me through tougher times. With enough practice, determination and using our “tools” of behavior modification therapy……We won’t let anxiety take away our life experiences! 🙂


    1. Yup, control is at the core of it. It’s the same reason I get claustrophobic if I feel confined somewhere. I am still struggling with this anxiety–and I think you are so right about practice and determination. Gotta keep on keeping on. 🙂 Thanks for sharing Molly.


  37. Bless your heart, Coleen! I know several people who fear flying. Meanwhile, I LOVE it! It’s on my life list to go out in a small plane, preferably open cockpit. In fact, let’s do loop-de-loops and free falling while we’re up there! I’ll happily skydive (as soon as my kids are fully raised).

    Meanwhile, I was in a five-car pile-up car accident this past weekend. Apparently, driving 10 minutes away from my home isn’t safe. We’re all fine, but a little sore.

    Thanks for sharing your story.


    1. I’m so glad you are all fine and ok.
      It’s true what they say about the accidents statistically being within a few mile radius of our homes. My fears have no basis in rationality though. I’m going to have to keep working on that.
      For now I will watch your loop de loops from the ground 🙂
      Thanks Julie!


  38. I didn’t fly for about 11 years. Before that, I was in the Air Force and flew all over the world (not as a pilot). In 1998, I developed a phobia for all things closed in – elevators, planes, buses, even long and high bridges. I found out those things go together with certain panic and anxiety disorders. I also discovered that it was probably close to 100% hereditary. There are 13 people on my mom’s side of the family with either depression or anxiety issues. Of course, I didn’t know this when I was growing up.

    I’ve flown three times since, but it takes medication, self-hypnosis tracks on my ipod, etc, etc. 🙂

    I will still avoid flying unless totally necessary. Which thankfully hasn’t been often. Oh yeah, and I also got stuck in an elevator for an hour and a half. So the old, the odds of that happening thing doesn’t help me too much.

    Sounds like I’m bumming out as I reread what I wrote, but I’m actually extremely positive and don’t let these things drag me down. Enjoyed your post, Colleen.


    1. I think I agree with you on the hereditary thing. And the only time in my life that I seemed to be without fears and anxiety was the period between the ages of 12 and 22–a.k.a the age when most think they are immortal. 🙂
      I can’t imagine ever liking flying, but who knows? Maybe I will have a second adolescence in my next decade. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing MJ!


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