I'm Going to the BlogHer '13 Conference!
 hello-my-name-is-anxiety name tag

hello-my-name-is-anxiety name tag

Actually, it’s a miracle. Maybe not a miracle, but the result of a lot of hard work. And not just on my blog.

Fifty years ago, when I was in my twenties, I began to have panic attacks when I traveled. I suddenly could not swallow and had shortness of breath. I was frightened without knowing why. In those days, they didn’t have buzz words like “panic attacks.”

anxiety-1.jpg

The first time I spun out of control was on a trip to Las Vegas. We had to call the house doctor. He gave me a shot of something that calmed me down and put me to sleep. OK, that crisis was averted. It happened again on a trip to Santa Barbara. A pattern?

A year later, my husband and I had planned to go to Europe as soon as I graduated from college. My mother and sisters took me out to a bon voyage luncheon. I was all set to go when...BAM! My throat closed, I started crying and I was engulfed in panic. I just fell apart and didn’t know what in the world was going on. After a few days of this, my husband called a psychiatrist whom he trusted and asked him to see me. That’s when I began to grow up. That’s when I started digging inside, digging into my past, and coming to grips with my unreasonable fears.

 fear face on egg

fear face on egg

We canceled our trip and I started to see the doctor on a regular basis. I learned that I was too tied to my mother and my home. My emotional umbilical cord couldn’t stretch as far as Las Vegas, Santa Barbara or Europe. It could barely stretch down the street. I was a frightened little girl in a woman’s body. I had a lot of work to do. A lot of growing up ahead of me. It took years.

In the middle of this period, my husband was hired to direct the opening 10 minute film segment for “The Bill Cosby NBC Special” to be filmed in Philadelphia. Yikes, could I travel with him? Had I learned enough? Could I make it? I decided to take a chance.

We arrived at the hotel and I started getting a little panicky. But I told myself, “You are the same person in Philadelphia that you are in Los Angeles. Remember that, you are the same person in both places. You’re OK.”  You know what? It worked.

I don’t know if anyone ever completely gets over some of those deep-rooted fears. But I just learned to recognize them for what they were and to deal with them.

 don't panic button

don't panic button

Flash forward. At the end of July, I’m going to Chicago to attend the BlogHer '13 Conference. I was just fine and excited about it. The whole experience. Not a care in the world, until... but let me explain. I’m rooming with my blogging-zen master- computer-wizard-designer-know-it-all-about-web-sites-soul-sister, Julie DeNeen of Fabulous Blogging. She had asked me if I was going to the BlogHerConference. I thought, well, I didn’t know anything about it, but if she’s going , so am I. She then nominated one of my posts for a Voices of the Year Award. I had never considered it because I was such a newbie blogger.

I also never gave it a second thought because I was too busy looking at fonts and Julie’s new designs for my web sites. She had convinced me that my work deserved better showcases than I currently had. She said, “Just let me try it. Let me show you what I mean, because, holy s**t, lady, you have no idea what beautiful stuff you’ve got and you’re not showing it off to it’s best advantage."  So she started working on the web site with me and I drove her nuts about the fonts and the Fonts and the FONTS!  She did an incredible job: www.sandrasallin.com and www.apartfrommyart.com.

One day, she  suggested, “Why don’t you submit your post, I’m a 72-Year-Old-Blogger to BlogHer.com?“ So, I sent it off and hours later, it was not only accepted, but I was paid and my blog was placed on the masthead and the front page! I couldn’t believe it. I was stunned. And then the post took off and inspired so many people – daughters sent it to mothers and grandmothers. I was touched and felt deeply honored that my story could be so meaningful to so many.

About a week later, I wanted to congratulate Julie because she had just been chosen as one of Blogher’s Voices of the Year! Her post was one of a hundred selected from almost three thousand submissions. In the middle of texting her, I was called outside by my visiting grandkids. My iPhone was in the house, my computer was in the house and I was playing ball with the boys. Later, I went back into the house and saw frantic texts from Julie: "You are on the f**kin’ list, too!!!!!!! You didn't get an email because I had nominated you!!!!!!! Caallllllllllll Meeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

 high_five_hand_pins

high_five_hand_pins

My post, My Mother Escaped Russia with Rags on Her Feetwas also chosen as one of the Voices of the Year! I freaked out and yelled, "YES!!!!" Next, I thanked Julie for nominating me, then texted the news to my kids, and hugged and kissed my husband.

That night, at 3AM, the “old” me woke up with a queen-sized anxiety attack! I’m not worth it. They shouldn’t give me this honor. Someone else should have this recognition.  I felt like Lindsay Lohan: too much, too soon. Suddenly, all my ingrained anxieties rose up like a mob at the Bastille! After what must have been hours of sleeplessness, I finally passed out.

 night fears in bed under the covers

night fears in bed under the covers

Later that morning, I told my husband about my meltdown. He reminded me of my past demons, and suggested that it is the child in me who is saying I don’t deserve this and that there is a part of me which wants to remain a little girl who isn’t noticed: stay the child and not be the woman honored.

You know what? It worked. Because now I can go to the conference, hang out and have fun. And I’m going to honored at a special reception with 99 other Voices of the Year. It’s going to be a blast!

 Free Chicken out of shell

Free Chicken out of shell

And I can't wait to get out there!

Then the tears well up, because it’s my blog post about my mother’s flight from Russia that brought me this recognition.

I would love her to see how my honoring her –– has honored me.

 Mom and me photograph

Mom and me photograph

Mom, are you watching?