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Last Minute Air Travel Glitches Have You Grounded? Ride the Rails Instead.

Six Reasons Amtrak Won Me Over.

I used to believe that if I booked a plane ticket, I would arrive more or less on time. Those days are long gone! Especially during the holidays, air travel can be a disaster. With delays, cancellations and airline staff shortages, I’ve had to rethink air travel so I could gain more control over my travel experience. 

I recently had the opportunity to use Amtrak for the first time in my life. How in the world did I miss out on this travel secret? After one trip on Amtrak from Savannah, Georgia, to Orlando, Florida, I was hooked and vowed never to fly a short distance or white knuckle it down I-95 in a car ever again. 

Here are six reasons Amtrak won me over as its newest, loyal Amtrak Evangelist and why you should “fast-track it” to your nearest locomotive. 

Parking is a Breeze.

With a bit of trepidation I arrived at 6:15 a.m. at the Savannah Amtrak Station for the Silver Meteor which left Savannah at 6:49 a.m.  I was nervous. After all, I was a newbie at this. Luckily I discovered when you park at the Savannah Amtrak station, the lobby of the train terminal is literally a few steps away from your vehicle. As a woman and solo traveler, I felt safe and secure since the parking area had ample lighting. Another bonus: no charge for parking.

Easy On. Easy Off.

A female Amtrak attendant with a booming, authoritative voice walked around the terminal and announced the train would arrive momentarily and directed us outside to the platform.  There, two more attendants checked passengers’ tickets (either paper or on your mobile device) and pointed us to the correct car.  I was traveling light with a carry-on roller suitcase so the attendant lifted it up to me as I boarded and I loaded it in the overhead rack above my seat. The bins are much more spacious than on airplanes.

Amtrak Station in Savannah, GA

The Silver Meteor runs from New York City to Miami daily.

Comfie, Roomy Seats.

No one was in the seat next to me for a couple of hours so I felt like I was in first-class accommodations. The passenger seat area is exceedingly spacious and has a power outlet for you to charge your media devices and like an airplane has a drop-down tray for dining or working. When my middle-aged, male seatmate showed up at Palatka, Florida, carrying a bouquet of flowers, he paused in the aisle to check his seat number. I proclaimed with outstretched arms, “You shouldn’t have brought me flowers! How did you know it was my inaugural train ride?” He burst out laughing and like old friends we chatted during the remaining trek.  With comfort in mind, the seats also come with a footrest to elevate your legs and a pop-up recliner for your knees.

Amtrak Coach Seat

The Price is Right.

Gas prices are still high and air travel is through the roof costing more than $400 roundtrip from Savannah to Orlando.  Amtrak’s $110 price tag for a roundtrip ticket is a bargain. It takes approximately six hours and you get to relax while the conductor does the heavy lifting. There’s no wear and tear on you or your car and you arrive at your destination fresh. Think of it as the best mental health “wellness” Christmas present you’ll ever give yourself!     

Did Someone Say Starbucks?

Since I’d only had one cup of coffee on the way to the station, I inquired where the dining car was and was advised the “Cafe Car” was two cars behind me. I was excited to learn they brew Starbucks coffee. The dining menu is simple yet varied enough to suit any palette and offers snacks, soft drinks, sandwiches and salads. If you want an alcoholic beverage, beer, wine and even Prosecco is available.  I made my way back to my car and enjoyed the solitude and calming movement of being on the rails. At lunchtime, I returned to the Cafe Car and purchased a turkey sub plus hummus and veggies. My favorite part of train travel is hopping from car to car, pushing the automatic door button and being “in between” where the open gangways slide and shift a bit and you get blasts of fresh air.

Cafe Car

The Romance of the Journey.

The sound of the locomotive and its whistle are a love song to my ears. It beckons me to a simpler time in the past. Its rhythmic, soothing white noise is said to be like the sounds we hear in our mother’s womb. As I closed my eyes, I could imagine living in an era before interstate highways and traffic congestion. A time where there was no TikTok, COVID or cell phones. It was a simpler way of life where people were more courteous and actually talked instead of texting. 

I miss those days, but now I can find them again if I board a train, which I plan to do very soon.

Jenny Lynn Anderson, 59, owns Buzz Marketing in Statesboro, GA. She caught the travel bug early in life and was lucky enough to trek with her parents to Honolulu, Hawaii to a Farm Bureau Convention in 1975 where she stayed at the Kahala Hilton known for attracting Hollywood stars.  At age 12, with a lei around her neck, she was asked to join the hula dancers on stage at the Don Ho Evening Show. Lucille Ball was in the audience. She loved Lucy and fell in love with airplanes, tour buses, macadamia nuts, fresh pineapples, her vintage Red Pink Samsonite suitcase and the anticipation of her next adventure.

Sunrise or Sunset? You Choose.

I recently saw this farewell sign in Antigua while traveling to the Caribbean. On this island, banner signs are hung to communicate the funeral notice of beloved members of a church and denote the sunrise (birth) and sunset (death) of the person.

It reminded me that after my sexual assault, I felt like I had experienced a “death” of sorts. I grieved that I no longer felt safe in the world. I was sad that my free spirit had been stripped from my soul.

I wanted the old Jenny Lynn back, but despite my desire to be happy again, I was stuck and had PTSD, depression, and anxiety for 20 years.

In 2010, facing severe anxiety that crippled me in a different way that scared me, I sought help from a psychologist and psychiatrist to regain my footing. This required work, diligence and a willingness to rip the bandaid off finally and explore the old wounds, but it proved to be effective and allowed me to start healing.

If you believe you will never recover from your sexual assault or rape, you are wrong. There is help and hope. Read my book, “Room 939” and it’s proof that you can live abundantly again.

Today, on November 28, 2022, on the 32nd anniversary of my sexual assault, I celebrate another sunrise and happiness in my life.

holiday grief into gain

Turn Grief into Gain this Holiday Season

Surviving a traumatic experience can leave residual pain, suffering and loss for years.  It did for me after I was sexually assaulted in 1990.  I knew I had an overwhelming sense of loss of faith in the world as I had known it, but it would be years before I connected it to having grief.

For anyone who is experiencing grief, brace yourself because the holiday season of merriment and cheer is upon us and may bring about profound feelings of sadness and loneliness.

Here are some tips to help you navigate this time of year:

Acknowledge the holidays aren’t going to be the same.

Putting The Serenity Prayer in a prominent place and reading it daily is a great way to start each morning. It says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” It takes courage to try something new. No one says you have to “do life” as you have in the past.  How about starting a new tradition? If you know your home is going to remind you of the loss and will make you sad, consider making new memories in a new environment.  Take a trip with a friend or family member.  Point your compass in a new direction and take a chance you may find some solace and happiness along the way.  

Take care of yourself.

There are many things that can numb us and make us forget the pain for a brief time, but it’s never the answer because the negative consequences of alcohol, painkillers and mood-altering substances are greater than the brief lift you may feel. Instead, invest in positive choices for your body and soul.  

  • Give yourself a gift of massage. 
  • Practice meditation.
  • Listen to your body and mind.  What does it tell you it needs?  Tune into Yoga with Adriene and select a playlist based on your needs.
  • Avoid social media as much as you can. There’s no need to compare yourself to others.
  • Fill your body with foods and drinks that will make you thrive.
  • Write it down. Start journaling. It will allow you to do a mind dump and process your feelings.
  • Spend time reflecting in nature. Leave your phone and the television behind and enjoy the peace and quiet that a brisk walk or jog will allow.
  • Work out at the gym or at home. Encouraging the endorphins and adrenaline course through your body will heal your soul, as well as your body.
  • Spend time with friends and loved ones – people that you care about and that care about you. 

Open up about your pain and suffering.

When you find the courage to “let it out,” you free yourself of the cycle of rumination. When you ruminate, you make yourself more isolated. The goal is to stop the negative chatter and self-talk in your mind and redirect your thought patterns to something more productive and positive. Rather than allowing the negative thoughts to gain momentum, stop them in their tracks. Talk to a friend, family member or counselor who can offer an objective perspective. Be proactive and you’ll likely realize that the troubling thoughts often aren’t accurate at all and make little sense. The best gift you can give yourself is to reach out to someone and share your true feelings.

Stuck?  Five ways to heal after tragedy.

When tragedy strikes, the world seems to stop. It’s hard to imagine moving — much less moving forward — ever again.

If you were anywhere on social media or the news this month, you saw the massive container ship ‘Ever Given’ get stuck in the Suez Canal. For almost a week, this one ship paralyzed shipping around the world, holding up billions of dollars in revenue.

I think that ship is a lot like tragedy in our lives.

In my own life, tragedy paralyzed me for years. In 1990, I was a 27-year-old with great aspirations. My public relations career was building momentum. I was happy in my marriage and loved life and the vast opportunities that lay ahead.

Then, in a hotel hall, I was attacked. In just 15 minutes, the assailant stopped me in my tracks, overpowered me, held a knife to my neck and took me hostage. He gave me an ultimatum to open my hotel door or kill me, and then he robbed me and sexually assaulted me.

In essence, he stripped me of all sense of security I had ever known.

And I became stuck…for a very long time.

Fortunately, two decades later, I finally got the counseling I needed to navigate life successfully again. I believe if I can accomplish this, anyone can because I was firmly cemented in fear, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.  Here’s the five methods that unlodged me and led me back to a purposeful and peaceful existence.

  1. Search for a new perspective. Tragedy can make us feel like victims, like the universe is working against us. That’s how I felt. Until I wrote my book, Room 939, I felt like a crime statistic.  I identified as a victim and clung to a victim mentality.  But the truth is, I was actually a survivor.  I survived something so horrific and didn’t die that night in the downtown Atlanta hotel room.  I learned that my survival was something that I needed to celebrate every day. I found the goodness in everything around me; and I thanked God each day for the simple gifts given to me.  I was able to see that so many people around me had it far worse than I.  Women struggling with chemo and breast cancer.  A man losing his family because of drug addiction. Mothers and children suffering in poverty and living in their cars.  What had I lost?  Nothing, compared to these people.  I had an abundant life!
  2. Create a new soundtrack in your mind.  Take some time in the next few days and explore what you are telling yourself repeatedly? Are there self-sabotaging thoughts on instant replay? Carry a notebook around and record these untruths in a journal. What I discovered was there were about 10 negative “self-talk” messages that I kept on a continual reel. One was that I was going to be assaulted again. This became a pattern of belief.  The good news is you can hack into your brain and reprogram it.  I started doing cognitive behavioral therapy with a psychologist and I retrained my brain to stop the negative thoughts and replace them with others.  Major takeaway:  thoughts become things. Get control of your thoughts and change your destiny.
  3. Do the work to get back to normal living. Most of us have a fear of ripping the bandaid off of our painful past because we believe if we do so, it will hurt more, bleed more and reopen the wound in such a way the pain will be unbearable. That’s what I believed, but I was wrong!  By hitting rock bottom with depression in 2010, I had no place to go but in a new direction. I found enough courage to reopen the wound and began counseling.  In my great desire to get well again, I found a strength I didn’t know I possessed.  The commitment to do cognitive behavioral therapy was arduous, but it led to wellness.  Ahhh….peace, wellness, happiness. The gift of peace is priceless!
  4. Allow grief to play its role. If you are reading this blog, you most certainly have experienced grief in your life.  It’s important to allow the process to take place because to disregard it is to prolong your suffering. I mourned the loss of innocence in the world as I had known it. I felt despair, vulnerability, sadness, anger, loss of self, and most importantly, loss of the future I had envisioned.  Years later, I learned I had experienced disenfranchised grief because if we are honest, no one wants to talk about rape and sexual assault.  It’s ugly to the core, horrifying, messy. It’s easier for families and friends to not talk about it and keep it swept neatly under the rug.
  5. Open up and talk about it. This last point is the mother of all advice to get unstuck. It’s a tough one, no doubt! You must talk about the life event that causes you pain and suffering.  Air your laundry. Get it out in the open.  Claim it. Openly admit and discuss that you are incapable of doing this alone.  Your friends and family will likely fail to have the right words and advice.  But there are hundreds of thousands of therapists that can help you.  To listen and to guide you to a better place in life.  Joy is attainable, but you cannot remain in a silent bubble if you are to heal. The toolkit is there.  You just have to pick it up and start using the tools to get the job done.  The most useful keys to my recovery were and continue to be yoga, meditation, mindfulness, reading the Bible, spirituality, speaking to groups, cognitive behavioral therapy, and journaling to find restoration.

What life experience is keeping you from moving forward today? Help is out there.  You don’t have to remain the lone ship lodged forever in immobility.  There are plenty of dredgers and tugboats out there to pull you out of your despair.  You just have to be willing to let them get close enough to help free you.

Why is Forgiveness So Hard?

I recently completed a bible study and we used “Choosing Forgiveness” by Nancy DeMoss as the guide.  Throughout the three-month study, I was reminded how pockets of bitterness can take hold and thrust me into a backslide to an unforgiving heart.  Here are a few takeaways from her book that helped me grow as a Christian:

1)The more we hold on to bitterness, blame and anger, the more we become slaves to unforgiveness.

2)Forgiveness is a deliberate decision to deal with another’s sin and when you do so, you wipe the slate clean.  It’s permanent!

3)Sometimes we say we have forgiven the person. However, if you find yourself continually bringing up the the way someone has sinned against you, you have not truly forgiven the person.

4)It will never be in your power, in the depth of your love, in the ANYTHING of you that allows you to forgive.  It is only through love of Jesus Christ placed into your believer’s heart that can enable you to forgive the offender.

5)”I’m going to making him/her pay!!” Isn’t that what our response is as humans?  We take justice into our hands and spend our lifetimes thinking of how we will revenge the wrongdoer because we think they got off scot-free.  However, we must trust God’s process and believe that justice will still be served if we forgive the person.  It is not up to us to administer justice to the person who hurts us.  God is the ONLY ONE who rights all wrongs.  “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Basically, God is saying to us, “You don’t have be the keeper of the keys and hold that person in prison.  Justice is my job so give the keys to me and let me to do the job!” God is the most righteous of judges and we can trust Him…..meaning He’s going to do a heck of a lot better job. 🙂

6) Satan will tell you over and over not to forgive the person.  What are the lies that the devil tells you to prompt you not to forgive?  Often, I have thought and have wanted to scream out loud, “He doesn’t deserve it!!!”  But then, I have to ask myself, “Did I deserve for Jesus to hang on the cross for me?”

7)By God’s grace, forgiveness doesn’t have to take a long time.  It can be done in a moment of time.  It allow healing to begin, restoration to take place so that we don’t have to live in a prison of bitterness, sorrow, sadness, anger and blame.

 

Is the road to forgiveness easy? No. Is it possible? Yes.

Forgiveness is hard. Forgiving someone who has hurt you is absolutely one of the most challenging things to do in life….it was for me. You might say you have forgiven, but what happens when you don’t FORGET. If you are like most of us, you can get to a point of forgiveness and actually feel like you have forgiven, but then the bitterness re-emerges, creeps back in and all the feelings of hurt, disgust, pain and anger start all over again.

That’s not true forgiveness.

If we turn to God’s word, He specifically tells us in Ephesians 4:31-32: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

The greatest thing that forgiveness has brought to my life is peace. Forgiveness is not for the person who created the pain and suffering. Forgiveness is for YOU! Remember, forgiveness never justifies the terrible deed and/or the person who hurt you. It does not provide God’s forgiveness for their actions, because only God can do that.

Forgiving others makes a way for our own healing to begin.

God is saying that the act of forgiveness is the only path if we want to find true peace. A spirit of unforgiveness (and not forgetting) puts a roadblock with our daily walk with God. Forgiving others releases us from anger and allows us to journey with Him and feel His presence and love daily.

Which path will you choose to take today?