Part 1: Tales From The Mall Kiosk, The Stalker

He always wore a large straw hat.

I didn’t think it was strange at the time, but as I write this now, I guess it didn’t make much sense to wear a straw hat indoors to walk the mall.

One of my closest friends had purchased a kiosk. She owned two large machines that gave patrons water massages while they listened to music piped in through a headset.

The concept was ingenious and the massage powerful. The idea of having a water massage without getting wet drew many curious people to our kiosk.

Working at a kiosk also drew a lot of other attention.

It put you right in the middle of all of the action, the crowds of people, and front and center in the public eye.

The were no doors to close, no walls to protect you and no option to leave your location.

We called them the “Mall Walkers.”

They were there every morning with their sneakers and water bottles, to walk the mile of mall flooring to get their daily exercise.

“My name is Harry.” He said with a smile.

“Nice to meet you, Harry.” I replied.

That’s how it all began.

As simple as a greeting.

At first Harry would stop by daily to say hello and make small talk.

“How are you doing today?”

Then his visits become longer and more frequent.

His conversation, more questions about me than the small talk of the past weeks.

“So do you like sushi?” He asked me one day.

“Yes, I do.” I stated.

Harry began walking at the mall more than once a day. His walks had become scheduled around my shifts at the kiosk… although it took me a while to figure that out.

One day Harry brought me sushi for lunch. It was a nice gesture but he refused to take the money that I offered him to pay for it.

My friend that owned the kiosk was starting to become concerned.

“He’s just a lonely old man.” I said, naive to the danger that was about to ensue.

I started to dread seeing the top of that straw hat sticking out in the distance above the mall crowd.

Harry started to come to the kiosk for water massages.

Now he was a paying customer and that presented a new problem instituting boundaries with him.

He started to bring me random things that we may have mentioned during our conversation when he frequented the kiosk.

Photos of some roses that he made out of bent metal.

A Costco sized, ten pound jar of artichokes.

A bottle of Pinot Grigio.

I refused every gift, but after becoming visibly angry with me, he left them anyway.

Maybe Harry wasn’t so harmless.

One day, an employee from a store near our kiosk approached me.

“Erin, that guy with the straw hat is circling the parking lot trying to find your car. He asked me what kind of car you drive. I didn’t tell him.”

“Thanks for the heads up.” I said, feeling more uneasy about Harry and not knowing what I was going to do.

Harry started coming to the kiosk for water massages three times a day.

He was a paying customer, but no one needs three massages a day.

He would make excuses about a new ache or injury and linger at the kiosk both before and after the massage.

One night after the mall closed, he tried to follow me home.

I stared at the headlights in my rear view mirror as the vehicle behind me mimicked my every turn… Is it my imagination, or is the driver wearing a straw hat?

I finally lost him in traffic but my heart continued to pound.

Okay, my friend that owned the kiosk was right.

We had to do something.

When Harry showed up saying that he wanted to meet my parents and walk off into the sunset with me, that was about all I could take.

“Harry, you have to leave me alone!” I said firmly. “You can not talk to me or come to this kiosk anymore.”

“Ya know, I pleasure myself thinking about you every night.” He said.

“That’s it! Get away from me! I’m calling mall security!” I screamed.

Mall security told us it was our right to ban Harry from being a customer. They told Harry that he was no longer allowed to frequent our business or to come near it at all, for that matter.

Harry was furious!

He began writing me letters and following me as I walked through the mall on my way to work.

I parked my car in different locations each day, making sure that I didn’t enter or leave the mall through the same door.

Harry would hang around the location of the kiosk and watch through the glass windows of nearby stores.

In the end, Harry approached the kiosk with a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine.

We contacted mall security and they escorted me to the safety of their office.

Harry ran through the mall after us yelling, “Please, I just want to talk to her and give her these flowers… and this bottle of pinot grigio…”

Two security guards grabbed Harry by the arms and took him out of the mall.

I never saw Harry again, but I continued to be on the lookout for a straw hat…

In fact, to this day, when I see a man wearing a straw hat, my anxiety level skyrockets as adrenaline pulses through my body.

Even with time, that hasn’t changed.

Join me for Part 2: Tales From The Mall Kiosk, I see Dead People

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PMS, Mayhem & Menopause

It never fails…the 24 hours before I get my period is a roller coaster of emotions.

I’m moody.

I’m angry.

Sometimes I’m crying.

One night, I was discussing this with my female friends at work. We were all sharing stories and laughing at the things that have happened and the way that we have acted the night before we got our periods.

One of my friends recounted a story of arguing with her husband and running back and forth between the bedroom and the bathroom, locking the respective doors each time.

Another said she would go on endlessly about how no one had any idea how much work she did.

Another described having her anger escalate so much that she was ready to move out of her home.

And yet another, labeled herself “The Crier”, stating, “Every month I just cry.”

What a mess!

What’s behind all of the monthly arguments that have ensued with our significant others and all of the irrational crying?

Why do we continue to do this to ourselves and the people that we love?

My friends and I surmised that it really feels beyond our ability to control all of the pre-period mayhem that each of us have caused on a monthly basis.

There has to be something to it, I thought.

So I did a little research.

On the 14th day of your menstrual cycle, there is a peak in estrogen. While there are lots of benefits to this spike in estrogen, one of the drawbacks is that it can amp up your anxiety and cause you to stress over both big and small issues.

And, if that isn’t bad enough, there’s more…

The final 6 days of your cycle: Estrogen and progesterone plunge

(Quoted from Hormonology)

“As estrogen plunges during this premenstrual week, it can trigger moodiness, sadness, irritability, muscle aches, insomnia, headaches, fatigue and a wide variety of other PMS-related symptoms. Not every woman suffers from premenstrual syndrome and symptoms can be milder or more severe from month to month often due to diet, stress, medications, exercise habits or your body’s personal sensitivity to hormones.”

Well, that explains it! Now I’m feeling just a little less insane and I hope that you are too if you can relate to me and my friends at work.

Now, If someone would figure out a way to add estrogen to wine, the world would certainly be a much better place.

Just Sayin.

Until then, we’ll all just have to continue to deal with the mayhem, significant others included…well, up until Menopause anyway…but that’s a whole other roller coaster.

At the end of the conversation with my girlfriends, one of my post-menopausal friends said, “God, I miss my period!”

“Are you serious?” I laughed, “After that conversation?”

“Yes.” She replied, “I miss laying on the couch in my pajamas, watching movies and not having to do anything or even make dinner. I do miss all of that.”

“Girl,” I said, “You don’t miss your period at all.”

“I don’t?” she asked.

I laughed, “No, you don’t. You just miss the excuse!”

“I never thought of it that way.” She said, “I think that you’re right!”

We all laughed.

Now if somebody would just get on making that estrogen infused wine…

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Cheers! 🙂

Erin Cooper Reed

 

 

Monday Got You Down? Try A Little Music!

Mondays are tough! I work long hours on the weekends and even though I have every intention of setting the world on fire on Monday, it usually doesn’t happen.

Throw in the Fairfield County weather forecast for today; cloudy with a chance of showers. If you’re feeling like pulling up the covers and staying in bed, know that you’re not alone.

In fact:

Statistically, 50% of employees are late for work on Monday morning. That’s staggering!

So what can you do to combat the Monday morning blues?

Play some music!

Listening to music improves your mood and boosts your immune system. It also helps to relieve stress, anxiety and depression.

So if you’re feeling like this today…

Then start your day off with one of the top ten motivational songs…

Feeling any better yet? I hope so!

Happy Monday!! Have a great and productive week.

Don’t let rainy days and Mondays get you down!

Much love,

Erin Cooper Reed

The Eye of the Storm

Sometimes we find ourselves totally unprepared for what life throws at us. There is no forewarning, no current of change, no inkling of the storm that is brewing along the horizon.

And then, there we are standing dead center, in the eye of the storm.

We realize that the saying “Life can turn on a dime” exists for a reason… because it is true.

Maybe it is any injury, or a breakup, an illness or the loss of a job or a loved one. Whatever the storm may be, the eye of it is the devastating life change that turns your world upside down.

The enormity of the situation finally sets in. You go through an array of emotions, shock, confusion, fear, anger, depression, anxiety, uncertainty… then innately, you realize that you have no choice but to face it.

Acceptance is the first step in regaining your ground.

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. - Joseph Campbell

Slowly you learn to cope with your new circumstances without even realizing that coping is the second step in embracing change.

Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem. - Virginia Satir

So where do you go from here?

This is the part where your adaptability, courage and resilience takes you places you would never have dared to go if wasn’t for the storm and the eye of the storm that catapulted you to where you now reside.

Maybe through your experience, you find a cause that you are passionate about.

Maybe you have an interest in sharing your experience and helping other people who are dealing with a similar situation.

Maybe you are inspired to create in the form of the written word, art or even an invention.

And maybe, you realize that the storm, the turn of a dime that you saw as a setback, is the exact circumstance that gave you the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.

A perspective that not only leads to beautiful and unexpected paths but ultimately leads you to grow and thrive.