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Recently I read an FB status on a friend’s page that asked what a panic attack felt like and I smiled in sympathy. I wanted to reply and describe it, but I didn’t want to take up that much space. I recently experienced my first panic attack.
Now if you’ve been a reader for a while you are wondering, well why did you have a panic attack? Finding out you are the grandmother of a five day old infant can do that to you. Looking back, it’s a really funny story. It was about 8:30 pm on a Friday evening. I was puttering around my kitchen, wine glass in hand, when my eighteen year old son ‘S.’s seventeen year old girlfriend ‘A.’ called me up. We both said ‘hi’. Then she said, “S. said I should talk to you because you give really good advice. He said you gave him good advice about our dog a couple of weeks ago.”
“Sure,” I said, “I love dispensing advice, what’s up?”
A: “So we had this baby right, and I don’t know what to do.”
Me: “A baby what?”
A: “A baby!”
Me: “A puppy?”
A: “No a baby girl.”
Me: “Whose is it? Are you babysitting?”
A: “No, it’s our baby. Me and S. had a baby girl a few days ago.”
Me (sounding very stupid by now): “You and S had a baby girl a few days ago?”
A: “Yes, and I needed some advice from someone on what to do about it and S. wanted me to call you.” Here I think she said something else, but I couldn’t really hear her anymore.
Me: “Ok. Let me call you back. Just stay by the phone and give me a few minutes and I promise I’ll call you right back. In, like, a few minutes.”
Somewhere in the middle of that last sentence is when the panic set in and the attack began. My hand was shaking so hard I could hardly hold the phone. My heart felt like it would beat out of my chest, or be squeezed to a complete stop by the increasing tightness. My throat was closing up and I realized there were tears falling because I felt them scalding my face. Both my son T. and his dad J., my significant other, were staring at me with panicked looks on their faces. I hung up the phone and ran past them to the bathroom. J. followed me in and shut the door.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“S. had a baby girl!” I squeaked. I grabbed his shirt tightly with both hands and burst into loud crying. If he hadn’t been holding me so tightly I think I might have crashed to the floor, I could hardly breathe.
He let me cry for a while and when I finally began to wind down, he said, “You have a right to feel upset and cry, but you need to get it together and call those kids back. Can you imagine how scared they are right now? And they called you for help. Go call her back, and go get the baby if you need to, everything will be fine.” He was right of course and hearing him say it, I started to feel much better and calm down.
I washed my face and then as he walked out of the bathroom, my mother knocked on the door. He let her in and directed her to the bathroom. As soon as I saw her, I burst into tears again, having an ‘I-need-my-mommy-moment.’ And although that lasted all of about 90 seconds, it helped me get an immediate perspective on how it must feel to be a seventeen year old girl with an issue like this and no one to talk to. I told my mom what was going on and she said essentially the same thing J. had. I just felt all the hurt, anger, and disappointment drain out of me to be replaced by something like a steely resolve. I went back to the kitchen (and my wine!) and called A. back and arranged to pick them and the baby up the next morning.
She was with us for a few weeks until her parents got themselves situated. Now I am officially a grandmother to a beautiful baby girl named Charlie. Whew, I said it! I guess I’ll be writing lots of infant articles now, between her and my niece. I can’t wait to pick her up and meet up with my sister and niece to shop for baby girl dresses, shoes, hair bows and pink everything!
Cheryl is a student at CUNY School of Professional Studies and the mother of three boys. A former office manager, she currently writes a blog about her adventures in parenting called UrbanMommys.com. In her spare time she likes to check out fun new places and things to do with children for her readers.
In September, SPS announced that Linda Key (’12) received a prestigious Fulbright award. Applied Theatre students and alumni continue to break ground. At elementary schools in all five boroughs, Leah Page (’13), Liz Parker (’11), Rachel Evans (’13), Amy Sawyers (’13), Anneka Fagundes (’11), Shamilia McBean (’13), Brisa Munoz (’13), and Sara Hunter Orr (’13) deliver “Alice’s Story,” an interactive theatre piece about bullying. The piece was created by J’nelle Chelune (’11), Ria Cooper (’11), and Anneka Fagundes for the arts in education organization Making Books Sing, with the organization’s Director of Education. TIME for Kids magazine covered “Alice’s Story” in a recent October issue—in fact, the publication featured Rachel Evans and Liz Parker on its cover, in TIME’s iconic red frame.
In Chelsea this summer, second- and third-year students interviewed seniors at SAGE, the nation’s first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender senior center. Led by visiting professor Tony Goode, our students wove the interviews into an original piece of theatre, and then performed the piece for SAGE and other centers. Chelsea Now covered the performance, acknowledging Carli Gaugh (’13), who had “channeled a SAGE member” and captured the spirit of the singular seniors.
The Applied Theatre program’s collaboration with SAGE began in 2011 as a thesis project. Sherry Teitelbaum (’11), Kevin Ray (’11), and Jenny Houseal (’11) led LGTBQ youth and members of SAGE in creating a theatre ensemble. Foreshadowing this summer’s work, the ensemble drew on its members’ stories to create a dynamic original piece of theatre. Now, the project, called Bridging the Gap, has won major funding to return to SAGE; Bridging the Gap’s second original piece, “The Quest for Love,” premiered Saturday, December 1 at The LGBTQ Center. Also working with seniors, Abigail Unger (’12) was recently hired as Recreation Coordinator for Project Find, a network of senior centers throughout the city.
Downtown at Judson Memorial Church, Wil Fisher (’11) and Michael Wilson (’11) produced The New Masculinities Festival, an evening of performances addressing what it means to be a man. See www.manquestion.org/festival or to watch the performance.
I am writing to tell you about a Red Cross volunteer day to Far Rockaway, Queens, which you’ve probably heard about. The story of my last stint at the shelter in Long Island was posted on the CUNY SPS Community Blog, and I thank them for their initiative. It may also be on the Red Cross blog soon.
This stretch of land, Far Rockaway, is a peninsula on the south end of Queens/Long Island, just south of JFK airport, which was right in Sandy’s way and still has widespread power outages and fuel shortages.
The New York Red Cross organized a volunteer effort to cover some of the most affected areas, which are basically the last pockets without power. There is an info-graphic that compares three recent major storms.
This was also an interesting day. We met up with our Red Cross (ARC) friend and headed down to Floyd Bennett airfield where the National Guard, FEMA, ARC, etc., have set up with fuel tanker trucks, trailers, mass kitchens from the Southern Baptists, and so on. Anne and I were with an ARC member and we set out ahead of the volunteer bus to find the location where we were to meet the food trucks, and to let folks in the area know there would be hot food.
The drive to Far Rockaway over the bridge from the airfield was an eye-opener. Even big trees had toppled and the storm’s winds had spread the sand from the beach from the waterfront up to a few hundred yards inland. Written on a boarded-up McD’s was: “Nothing here 2 take. U R 2 late.” Some commentary on night-time activity. Smashed car windows told the same story.
People in those neighborhoods were tending to their homes, generating piles of rubble that sanitation crews were picking up here and there. Some streets were closed to traffic entirely, because of downed trees, downed cables, trash, or rubble. Utility crews, said to come from all over the country, were all throughout the neighborhood, working on power lines and assessing damage. Some unfortunate neighborhoods will always be the last to have services restored.
Much of the dislocation comes from the associated effects of not having power—no heat, communications, spoiled food, trash piling up, lack of fuel, totaled cars everywhere… The area has been without power since the storm 18 days ago, when the ocean water, 4 to 6 feet deep, rushed in and destroyed any electrical circuit it met—in cars, in fuse boxes on houses, street lights, garages. Generators were around by buildings, work sites, and on main streets and corners. Lines of hundreds waited in long lines for fuel trucks, carrying gas cans to fill up their cans and generators, all overseen by police officers.
We found that a church close by had clothing donation and distribution going on, and found people charging their phones on generators. The food trucks arrived soon, run by volunteers from California, Virginia, and other places. People soon started queuing up for a hot meal ready to go, but that didn’t compare to when the next truck, carrying a load of clean-up kits, diapers, and over 900 comfort kits (containing a blanket, flash light, batteries, wipes, hand sanitizer, hand warmers, and more) arrived. Since we had walked the neighborhood, we easily found three apartment complexes that lacked generators and the kits found their way into the crowds in less than an hour. Here a word about the volunteers. They came from schools and companies all over town and formed instant teams for canvassing, food prep, handing out supplies, and did it all with a compassionate and positive attitude.
There were bright spots. Some houses had remained dry and people had taken in others who had no place to go. Sometimes we were told that things were fine, or that neighbors were helping each other by sharing a generator. In another back yard we found a guy with a beer and a hearty “who cares”-laugh barbecuing.
The whole effort will have gone on for a few more days after the first one on Saturday, which we were part of. I am thankful for getting a chance to help, and that leads me, with a little smile, to a good opportunity to mention that a small donation to the Red Cross is a very easy and helpful way to support disaster relief, not just here, but all over the country.
One more thought. After Katrina hit New Orleans it became public knowledge that in a situation like this people really need to be prepared to get by on their own for 72 hours. Please consider checking a preparedness web site to make a plan. They say hindsight is 20/20, but sucks nonetheless, if enjoyed from a raft.
Best, as always,
PS: As always, these views are my own and do not reflect the views or positions of any other party, directly, or otherwise.
Michael Spieth is a graduate of the Advanced Certificate in Project Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.
To the students, faculty, and staff of the SPS community:
Much of this week we have been reaching out and hearing back. The stories of lives disrupted make it impossible to deny the enormous impact of the storm, even as it feels impossible to reckon fully with that impact. But we have also been reminded of how we are bound together as a community of mutual support, how feelings of isolation or disconnection are temporary as we pull back together and return to our shared work and purpose.
We acknowledge that some of you have suffered grievous losses, and we are deeply sorry. If there is anything we can do to help, please let us know. Please feel free to email me directly at John.Mogulescu@sps.cuny.edu with your concerns, suggestions or needs. We have been making (and will continue to make) adjustments that should make it easier for us all to get through what remains of this semester. And we are confident that, however bad things may seem now, we will get through this. Already, the impressive resilience of the SPS community justifies that confidence.
Dean, School of Professional Studies
John Mogulescu is the Senior University Dean for Academic Affairs and the Dean of the CUNY School of Professional Studies, and his responsibilities involve him in many different aspects of the University’s academic life. In addition to SPS, Dean Mogulescu has overseen collaborative programs between CUNY and the NYC Public Schools, CUNY Prep Transitional High School, the CUNY Language Immersion Program, CUNY Start, and the Adult Literacy and GED Preparation Programs. Dean Mogulescu also supervises the University’s Workforce Development Initiative, special training initiatives for City and State workers, and programs for welfare recipients, in addition to Adult and Continuing Education at CUNY and its non-credit programs, which serve over 250,000 students per year.
The message below is posted on behalf of Dean Brian A. Peterson:
My usual flurry of associate deanery was interrupted late Wednesday afternoon by a call from the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM). Not that I minded the interruption, I love the OEM, but I knew the call could only mean one thing: SPS was being mobilized to help the City prepare for the arrival of a major storm.
I bet you didn’t know that our School – your School – plays a role in helping OEM implement the City’s coastal evacuation plan. Last year, we finished enhancing the capacity of the web-based disaster management tool that manages the City’s sheltering system, and we also created and coordinate the emergency shelter training offered by OEM to City employees who serve as shelter volunteers during such events.
Last August, in fact, we deployed and supervised the web-based tool that informed, placed, and tracked over 5,000 workers and 10,000 evacuees at 80 of the City’s evacuation sites during Hurricane Irene. We had completed building the program for OEM just weeks before; it had not yet been tested in real-life conditions, and we were new to the hurricane business. It was scary, stressful, and exhilarating to know that our SPS team was making a difference in the lives of our fellow New Yorkers. Being on the phone with the Mayor’s Office was pretty exciting, too.
And so, here we are again: a major storm – actually, a confluence of a couple of major storms – is heading our way, and is expected to begin to affect our area on Sunday. Our SPS team will be hunkered down with our sleeping bags and takeout food at the School’s offices throughout the storm, making sure that OEM has what they need to ensure that our City’s shelters and their volunteers are ready to help as many people as may be necessary. I couldn’t be prouder.
Stay tuned to the OEM website, as well as to your local television, radio, and web stations for updates as the storm approaches. And above all, stay safe!
Brian A. Peterson is the Associate Dean for Administration and Finance at the School of Professional Studies.
The following message is posted on behalf of David Mordkofsky, SPS student in the Project Management (PROM 210) course.
Hello SPS Community!
We wanted to let you know that a group of SPS students will be taking part in a worthy event on Oct 21st, and we invite you to join us!
As part of a class assignment for Project Management (PROM 210) CUNY School of Professional Studies, our team of 6 students (Ayanna Cassanova, Tenaya Randolph, Jennifer Pagaduan, Marco Vasquez, Debra Daniel-Sealey, and David Mordkofsky), have decided to participate in the 2012 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk/Run, in association with the American Cancer Society. The event will take place on Sunday, October 21st 2012 at 8:30AM in Central Park, NYC.
As part of the course curriculum, we needed to choose a project to manage. Our team decided to take part in a “real” fundraising project where we could help to make a difference in our community, and felt that Making Strides was the perfect choice. We call ourselves Team Busibodies!
Team Busibodies would like to invite you, (CUNY students and facility members) to join us on Oct 21stand walk with us! Friends and family members are also welcome! This is a great opportunity to help support a worthy cause, showing support for CUNY SPS and the American Cancer Society.
I welcome everyone to visit our team’s home page on the Making Strides website. From here, anyone can view our mission, track our progress, read our personal stories, and make a donation.
There is no cost to walk with us, although we welcome donations, and encourage you to ask your friends and family members to help support you.
We will even provide free Busibodies t-shirts and water (while supplies last).
The Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk/Run starts at 8:30am on Sunday, October 21, 2012.
Here is the detailed information:
1. Meet at 72nd Street and 5th Avenue at 7:30am (on the corner)
2. We will give out T-Shirts (while supplies last).
3. We will walk in together to the start (72nd Street Bandshell)
Directions – 6 train to 77th Street & Lexington Avenue. From there you would need to walk to 72nd & 5th Avenue. This is the closest train to the park entrance.
If you would like more information, please email David Mordkofsky.
Why We are Making Strides:
We are participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event because we, along with most people, have been touched or have been affected by breast cancer in some way. As a team, we know that we can, and will make a difference in the fight to end breast cancer.
This cause is personal to us. Some of us have lost loved ones–friends and/or family members–some having not even reached the age we are today.
We look forward to days of better treatments and lasting cures. As a team, we believe we can help get there. We aim to inspire hope, and to help raise awareness. The awareness we hope to bring about deals not only with how important fundraising efforts are in reaching a cure, but also relates to the importance of preventative measures, helping to stop this deadly disease in its tracks.
We are also walking to honor breast cancer survivors, and let them know we stand with them in their fight.
We thank you, and invite you to join us!
Who are We Making Strides For:
We walk for our sons and daughters, parents, grandparents, friends, and all loved ones we know who have been or might be affected by this deadly disease.
Why We Support the American Cancer Society:
Today 1 of every 2 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer reaches out to the American Cancer Society for help and support. The donations our team raises will enable investment in groundbreaking breast cancer research, free information and services for women diagnosed with the disease, and access to mammograms for women who need them. Our donations will help more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors celebrate another birthday this year!
Saving lives from breast cancer starts one team, one walker, and one dollar at a time. We know that the American Cancer Society is the leader in the fight to end breast cancer. We know that supporting them will ensure that if you need someone to talk to anytime of the day or night, they’ll be there. If your friend is losing her hair from chemo, your mother needs a ride to treatment or a loved one needs a place to stay when treatment is far from home, they will be there to help.
Please join us and together we will walk for a world without breast cancer.
In less than 4 weeks, I will be standing in Staten Island waiting for the start of the 2012 ING NYC Marathon with great anticipation. This is what I have been working so hard for over the last 5 months. It started with giving up a pack of Marlboro Lights a day and my commitment to fight for my health. Even though 5 months seems like a very long time, it’s almost a blink of an eye compared to the events over the last 2 weeks since my last post, “The Final Countdown.”
On September 29th, I ran with my team at Prospect Park with a brand new pair of running shoes, shoes that I call my “ruby-red-running-slippers.” I had special ordered these shoes in this special red color to match my American Cancer Society DetermiNation blue and red jersey. And special they are! Wearing them for the first time, I did 13.9 miles in them! So, I like to believe they are magical. It was as though I clicked my heels three times and the run was done! (Okay, so maybe not that magical!)
I used these very same running slippers on October 7th for the Staten Island Half-Marathon. It was an extraordinary experience for me. I was overjoyed while I ran. I kept a positive attitude and a steady pace. I was joyful and smiling at the finish! It brought me back to the day I felt as though I was forcing myself to try and fall in love with running. The idea seemed like a fairytale—just as clicking my ruby-red-running-slippers to magically complete a race might sound to you.
The puppy-love I was feeling with running didn’t stop there. I recall how I was emotionally happy but physically beat up after my first 10K race in July. Practice on the following Tuesday was so painful, that I felt like quitting. I fully expected and prepared myself for a tough practice this past Tuesday after doing the Half-Marathon on Sunday. Guess what—that was absolutely not the case. I ran my fastest 5.1 miles ever at 1 hour, 9 minutes and 21 seconds. My first race ever, the “Take Your Base 5-Miler” on June 30th, I clocked at 1 hour, 17 minutes and 48 seconds. Even though it’s exciting, having a personal-record is not everything. To me, it’s more about how I’ve been feeling after my runs. I feel giddy and excited. After Tuesday’s practice, I remember thinking, “That was a GOOD workout!” I never imagined in a million years that I would be excited about how “good” a workout felt.
So, indeed so much has happened in the last 2 weeks. I’ve had somewhat of a personal transformation. I am not getting over-confident though. Next weekend is my last opportunity for a long run before the big day. After this weekend, I begin to taper down on my mileage—while still practicing with shorter runs. I must must MUST hit 16-20 miles this weekend. I missed my target last weekend by 3 miles. But I am a “DetermiNator” and I am up for this challenge no matter how much time I have left to practice!
And while “time” is in the spotlight, I must remind myself—TIME is after all why I am doing this. Whether you are an individual who is fighting cancer, surviving cancer, helping a loved one fight cancer, or remembering a loved one who lost the battle to cancer—we all want time and lasting memories together. The American Cancer Society gives people the greatest gift and their most precious commodity; time.
For more information on my journey to the ING NYC Marathon & fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society, please visit http://bit.ly/xahndra.
Alexandra Hertel is an Ohioan living in Brooklyn, New York. She attends CUNY’s School of Professional Studies and works full-time in the events industry.
Does anyone remember what the feeling is like when you are on your way to school and you realized that you forgot your homework assignment at home? I had that heavy pit in my stomach last night at practice. A fellow American Cancer Society DetermiNator reminded me that we have just 4 weeks left of training before the big day in just 39 days. Race day will be here before I know it. Am I prepared? Can I do this? I’ll just say it, I am scared!
I hurried to practice yesterday evening straight from work, meeting up with my daughter and my puppy along the way. Pix11 was waiting there to interview me, hear my story, and meet my daughter and dog. As the official media partner for the American Cancer Society DetermiNation athletes for the ING NYC Marathon, they wanted to learn more about me. Who is this Alexandra person? She quit smoking, never worked out before—and now she is running a marathon? (Read: Is she crazy?)
Speaking with Magee Hickey was exciting and motivating. Hearing more about her story made me want to keep pushing and working on my story. I didn’t have a pit in my stomach during the interview—I was overwhelmed with excitement. In the end of the interview, she asked me what my final message would be to anyone hearing my story. I said, “If I can do this, anyone can do this!” I really meant that.
After my interview with Pix11, practice was already starting and I ran to join my team. It was test night—meaning, we needed to run 3 miles (with a short recovery time between each mile) as fast as we could. During the warm-up, I did a quick mental check.
1 – Hydrated / Fueled? Yes, Check!
2 – Positive attitude? Yes, Check!
3 – Ready to do this? YES! CHECK!!!!
The first mile, I pushed hard—like I was supposed to. During the recovery period, I had pains in my ankles and on the top of my feet. As a result, I had to take it very easy and slow the rest of my run. I recalled my statement to Magee Hickey… “If I can do this, anyone can!” IF I can do this, anyone can. Ah, and there is that heavy pit in my stomach. I carried that heavy pit in my stomach the rest of my run. Can I do this marathon? I. AM. SCARED.
Fortunately, my dedicated (volunteer) coaches from the American Cancer Society did not leave me stranded with my self-defeating thoughts. Through investigation, discussion and observation, I learned the cause of my discomfort. I learned that I’ve already worn out my first pair of running shoes (seriously?) and that I am not stretching correctly after my runs. What a relief! I can fix that!
I honestly don’t mean to whine about my training. Perhaps I whine or get emotional because I am scared of the unknown. There is always silver lining to every issue, if you are willing to look hard enough. I didn’t have to look that hard for it this time, because I hit a personal record for my fastest mile ever at 11 minutes and 30 seconds. I’ve made vast improvements since my first run. I am stronger. I am training for a marathon. I will finish the marathon! I am doing this for the American Cancer Society so I can help others celebrate more cancer free birthdays… and at the same time, I am fighting for my health.
For more information about my race, please visit my fundraising page at http://bit.ly/xahndra. You can also sign up to be an official cheer station volunteer on race day here: http://bit.ly/CowBellCheer.
Alexandra Hertel is an Ohioan living in Brooklyn, New York. She attends CUNY’s School of Professional Studies and works full-time in the events industry.
Lisa Poelle, faculty member for the Child Development Associate (CDA) program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, is author of the soon to be released book, The Biting Solution: The Expert’s No-Biting Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Early Childhood Educators.
Lisa’s twenty-five years of experience in the field of early childhood education include counseling families, pioneering a mentoring program for teachers, applying her expertise to the architectural design of child care centers, as well as serving as a consultant for corporations and government organizations. She has also provided consultation to childcare centers and programs through the Children’s Health Council. Her experience with this multidisciplinary agency inspired her to write the book. “That’s when I started getting so many requests to help with biting, and it is how I had a chance to practice and perfect my method,” Lisa says. “My case studies in the book came from this period. This was quite a unique opportunity.”
Here at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, Lisa shares her knowledge and experience with students in the Child Development Associate (CDA) program. The CDA program, offered in partnership with the NYC Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, offers students an opportunity as early childhood professionals to master the knowledge base, application of theory to practice, and qualifications to create effective learning environments for children. Lisa teaches Child Development: Birth to Five and Observing and Recording Development of the Young Child.
In her book, Lisa provides realistic advice to help caregivers devise effective plans to solve children’s biting behaviors. She provides seven questions for caregivers to consider before establishing a plan to describe the problems and design the solutions to curb children’s biting behaviors. Using her method, “Stop the Fighting and Biting,” Lisa emphasizes the importance of parental involvement in developing positive and effective solutions for aggressive behavior problems.
The Biting Solution: The Expert’s No-Biting Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Early Childhood Educators will be published in the fall of 2012.
Lisa Poelle is also co-author of the book, Growing Teachers and several parenting articles. Lisa’s website can be found at: www.stopthefightingandbiting.com.