From Anxious and Frustrated to Joyful and Empowered

From Anxious and Frustrated to Joyful and Empowered

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From Anxious and Frustrated to Joyful and Empowered
From Anxious and Frustrated to Joyful and Empowered

I’ve been busy digesting the past few weeks. I sent my firstborne off into the world of college. Of course, it didn’t quite go as planned. I was expecting a normal ‘meet the roommates’ and their parents and then take my son out for lunch or go on one last Target run, but nooooo! I showed up anxious and frustrated, thanks to car troubles.

About 15 minutes before arriving at our destination (Erie, PA), my trusty red 2007 Saturn Vue started making funny noises. Suddenly, I couldn’t accelerate over 30-40 miles per hour on a fast moving highway. Yikes.

By some small miracle, we managed to arrive safely on campus. Thankfully we were greeted by a cheerful orientation team — students who brought handcarts to my car, helped us unload, and told my son they would bring his stuff to his room.

By the time I parked the car, his precious belongings were already enscounced in his dorm room.

I met his roommate and roommate’s dad. I apologized and explained about our dramatic ‘entrance’ and that I needed to excuse myself to call a colleague who works on campus for a recommendation for a mechanic.

I won’t bore you with the details, but the end result was that for $1700 and one week later, my car was supposed to be fixed.

Well, not so fast, eh.

A week later, I drove back (3 1/2 hours from our house), picked up my son from school so he could accompany me and my husband to get my fixed car and then drop off the rental car.

My beloved Saturn Vue lasted all of 15 minutes. It got us to the rental car place and then somewhere in town for lunch.

After lunch, I insisted we go to Target so my son could stock up on a few items.

Well, my car wasn’t having that. Whenever I slowed down or braked for a traffic light, the engine died. Not cool in the middle of heavy traffic in the dead heat of summer!!

Luckily I wasn’t in NYC, otherwise tempers would have flared and someone would have shot me in a fit of road rage….

I somehow kept my sang-froid long enough to ask my son to find an Advanced Auto Part store after calls to the transmission mechanic went unanswered. The Advanced Auto place guy tested the battery (which I knew was fine since I had it replaced earlier this year) and the alternator. All good. He said, yep, take it back to the transmission mechanic.

RIght, it was closed and wouldn’t be open until Monday.

Having already spent over $300 the previous week on a car rental, I made a snap decision. Well, somewhat snap. I asked my son and husband, so how about we test drive a car and see what they will give for a trade in for the Saturn?

I’ll cut to the chase.

In the space of a week, I sent my firstborn off to college AND ended up parting ways with my beloved shiny red SUV with a moon roof Saturn Vue.

I’m not known for being attached to material things, but I must confess, I was more attached to my car than I’d like to admit.

It had been a part of my life for the past 11 years.

I learned how to drive more confidently in Washington, DC thanks to my friends, Courtney and Vivian, in that car. That car had XM radio (I refuse to call it Sirius/XM) where I listened to an endless repetition of alternative hits from the 80’s or classic vinyl hits.

From where I learned the news that the Queen of Soul had died!!

Yes, back to drama — can you believe it? I sent my firstborn off to college on the day that Aretha Franklin died.

That she died was traumatic enough, but let me tell you, it was particularly poignant for me since my son (now 18 years old) adored Aretha when he was baby. His face would just light up whenever he heard the Queen of Soul belt out Respect or Think.

How ironic that the Queen of Soul would pass away the same day my son was leaving home.  And convenient — for the tears I cried for Aretha Franklin meant I didn’t embarrass my son when saying goodbye as the well was already dry.

[Side note–the news about Aretha temporarily halted newscasts about the latest scandal in Washington (the two for Tuesday indictments).]

I know I’m not the first parent to lose their firstborn umm, I mean to send her child off to college, and most certainly not the last person to kick herself on making a poorly calculated risk on spending $1700 on a car instead of cashing in a week sooner, but I must confess, there’s been a steep learning curve.


I’m learning how resilient I am and that yes, I can bounce back, just like a cat.

My resilience is manifesting itself in other areas of my life, notably, in my fight to regain my health. I am happy to say that despite the immense stress I’ve encountered the past few weeks (and I haven’t even touched upon the massive stress at my NOT 9-5 gig), I have not deviated from my wellness plan.

My functional health coach, Kara, asked me after all of this upheaval to reflect on my challenges and my ‘wins’ on my journey to regain my health. Then she asked what was the driving force behind my wins.

Without a doubt, my family is my motivation! They are my pride and joy!!

Let me ask you this: When faced with challenges in life, who or what helps you get back on your feet?

P.S. My new car is a sleek, black Sonata with 21st-century basics such as USB ports and navigation systems.


2 thoughts on “From Anxious and Frustrated to Joyful and Empowered

  1. I thoroughly enjoy your writing. Isn’t it so cathartic? It holds space for us rather than holding in all the emotions. All the great memories you’ve had in your car, raising your kiddos, are still yours to keep! Here’s to new adventures in the modern car! Mine is 13 years old and I don’t have a USB port! Enjoy!

    1. Yes, one of our PhD students is writing a thesis about expressive writing. His adviser is apparently an expert in the field (Joshua Smyth who co-wrote “Opening UP by Writing it Down” with James Pennebaker.

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