Category Archives: life in general

Panic Attacks: Like Children of the Corn, Only Scarier.

Panic attacks are like, so scary. Way scarier than Children of the Corn and that movie was fucking terrifying. I still cannot believe there are parents who chose to name their kid Malachi after having seen that movie. Anxiety attacks are way scarier than that but also way more ridiculous than another horrifying movie from the 80’s: From Beyond, which I remember mostly as some really crazy pineal glands wiggling around like possessed worms and causing havoc.  Panic attacks = 80’s horror movies in every single way because the ridiculousness is matched only by how terrifying they are despite their ridiculousness.

When a panic attack comes, you are completely safe. Safe as can be. Everything’s pretty much alright.  Sure, there’s an extra 10 pounds on your body and you could use a couple hundred thousand dollars. But all told, most things in your immediate reality are not cause for alarm. And even though literally nothing is happening to you: you could be, say,  chewing gum and walking down the sidewalk, your body suddenly is shouting at you, “NO! NOTHING IS EASY! BREATHING IS DANGEROUS! DEATH IS IMMINENT! YOU ARE GOING TO CHOKE ON THAT GUM! ALSO THERE IS TOTALLY A CORNFIELD RIGHT BEHIND YOU WITH SOME REALLY FUCKING SCARY KIDS THAT ARE COMING FOR YOU. ISAAC IS BEHIND YOU. RIGHT NOW MOTHERFUCKER!” And suddenly your lovely, mostly neutrally-existent body goes all-in to convince you of grave danger, just really goes for it to make it real for you. Like it’s auditioning for Hamlet overseas, desperate for a new beginning after a failed movie career.

Unless I’m wrong, and I am never wrong, chewing gum and walking down the sidewalk are pretty safe in the scheme of things. But while you’re walking and looking normal, thinking, “Act normal,” your smiling neighbor walking her dog waves to you. And you smile and wave back, thinking your teeth feel dangerous, trying to ignore your screaming body. Because your body is in a cage match with reality, trying to convince you that spontaneous combustion really could happen at any moment or, alternatively, you could pass out instantly and soil yourself in front of your neighbor and her dog. Every moment and thing in the world is petrifying. Including that blade of grass, definitely that honeybee, the invisible smog in the air, the branch that could fall on your head, your heart beating too fast, and the skin holding your bones in.

It’s amazing how effective your nervous system is at convincing you that you are literally losing your mind. It is so convincing. All of the years of mindfulness practice where you observe your thoughts as they come and go…while hearing Deepak Chopra’s soothing voice in your ear….as soon as a panic attack shows up, it wins over all that. Way to go sympathetic nervous system. It squashes Deepak like a bug. And if your panic attack nervous system really were in a cage match, it would definitely win because it is so fucking committed. Nobody wants it more than your flight or fight response.

Today’s panic attack brought some fairly juicy imaginative thoughts like:

  1. I am literally going insane
  2. I am reliving a traumatic past life where I had a best friend named Trixie
  3. I am being invaded by foreign invisible entities and/or are still carrying invasive beings from years ago but never knew it
  4. I am stuck in a loop of unprocessed emotion that I cannot get out of like an M.C. Escher stairwell
  5. my kidneys are failing right now
  6. The electricity in the room is attacking me
  7. The fly in my wine is a sign of impending evil and/or carries a bacteria that will kill me
  8. I am too dizzy to sit or stand or walk and too nervous to lay down
  9. I’m so scared I cannot journal. Writing words will make feelings bigger
  10. Inhabiting my body inside my skin is too trippy to think about- I might lose my mind if I think about being a sentient being
  11. I immediately need to start walking a long distance but it won’t work to reduce panic unless it’s in the mountains, I must be in the mountains and I’M NOT
  12. Sitting is squishing my cerebral spinal fluid and causing more panic
  13. There’s definitely something really wrong with my cerebral spinal fluid
  14. If I take one step to the left, I’m going the wrong way. (Ditto one step to the right.)
  15. I might need to quit my job immediately. I am too crazy to work.
  16. The metal decor of the room is interfering with my electromagnetic field

What I don’t get is how evolution could do this to us. Good job, evolution. In what sane world do unprocessed emotions cause the same reaction that a tiger charging causes?

That’s really all I wanted to say. Panic attacks are ridiculous and terrifying. And that the sympathetic nervous system would win in a cage match against reality. Also, 80’s horror movies, panic attacks = Same.

Who Are You Now?

Two nights ago I had a dream about a bald eagle hatching. Most animal dreams are significant and I try to pay attention when they happen. This one, in particular, jumped out at me as containing a relevant message, particularly because eagles are such a powerful animal and have represented major spiritual concepts to many cultures throughout history. Powerful medicine.

I’m lucky enough to know a man who does shamanic work here in Madison (and around the world, as well.) When I told him I was planning to do a little research to find out what this dream’s meaning was, he said he believed it was that a deep dream of mine was “hatching” or about to be realized. Sweet!

Then I got to thinking…What are my dreams these days? I am so intimately absorbed in the day to day life with my kids and husband, do I even have dreams that go beyond getting a full night’s sleep, going to Target by myself, and getting in a good workout a couple times a week? That feels so lame, somehow, but is really indicative of this time of my life. Family life, man, I’m deep in it.

But to honor the parts of me that might be holding steady to some of my other dreams I may have lost sight of, I sometimes revisit questions to bring those dreams back into my awareness. To find my location and spiritual coordinates on my life map.  I encourage you to answer some of them for yourself. It’s often surprising what you don’t know about yourself. Here are a few….

What makes you laugh?
What scares you?
Where do you most want to travel to alone?
Where do you most want to travel to with your family?
What is your favorite color?
What are three things you would like to spend more time doing?
What are three things you would like to stop doing?
What are three life goals you have already achieved?
What are three life goals you look forward to achieving?
What is a goal you have that you don’t think you can achieve? What if you could?
What do you love about your home?
What do you not like about your home?
What do you love about your town?
What do you not like about your town?
What makes you feel happy?
What makes you feel lonely?
What is your favorite song?
What is some new activity you’d like to try?
Where do you see yourself in five years? Does it make you smile?
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
Who is a good friend to you?
Whose friendship are you letting go of?
What do you feel guilty about?
How can you celebrate who you are today?

Who would we be without our best teachers?

My mom was recently interviewed for a blog. She has been an educator for many years and I keep insisting that she write a book so that her wealth of knowledge and wisdom can be shared in written form with future generations! Some of her most important work has been teaching graduate students who are seeking teaching certifications. Among other things, she teaches them that being centered and present as a person in the classroom- to be a listening presence- is more important then any content they will teach.

She credits one of her inspirations as Mary Rose O’Reilly who has some fascinating work available. One her quotes is below:

“The ‘secrets’ of good teaching are the same as the secrets of good living:
seeing one’s self without blinking, offering hospitality to the alien other,
having compassion for suffering, speaking truth to power, being present and being real…
I would like to ask what spaces we can create in the classroom
that will allow students freedom to nourish an inner life..”
-Mary Rose O’Reilly

Taking a moment to really honor the wonderful teachers who have softened the tone of our inner dialogue, cleared our walking path, and helped clarify our future goals…that is a moment worth taking.

Here is a post about one of my greatest teachers….Enjoy!

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you sit there.” – Will Rogers

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you sit there.” – Will Rogers


I am great at sitting there. I’ve mastered it, actually. Especially sitting there on the right track but not moving in any particular direction. It’s kind of my speciality. But in order to steer the direction of my life, I must make, at the very least, micromovements toward my goals. When sitting comfortably in my comfy comfort zone, eating pretzel rods, and practicing not moving, it helps me to remember one of Newton’s  laws of physics:

In order for the motion of an object to change, a force must act upon it.

To me, that means if I want the motion and direction of my life to change, I must make a change, even if it’s a small change. (Yes, I know life is not an object, but just pretend that it is.) Making one small change can often have profound effects. I can change a thought, emotion, or action. Doesn’t matter which. That change is a force acting upon my life’s current trajectory and acts to steer me toward my goals….Wha-bam! Newton’s laws and train track quotes working together to inspire change! Yeah, baby.

One of these days these boots….

I love finding or remembering songs that are both awesome and  translate well into my 3 year old’s world. One example we have been playing non-stop is “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” by Nancy Sinatra. For me and my husband, it is just a great tune. For baby Wyatt, it’s got a great beat he can boogie to it. For my 3 year old, Braden, there’s one deciding awesome factor: it contains the lyrics, “One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you!” Which for him is HILARIOUS!

Another one he likes is The Beatles “Hello Goodbye.” To him it is hysterical to hear grown-ups saying what seem like random words to him: yes, no…why, I don’t know…stop, go….goodbye, hello, hello.

Postpartum Jeans Shopping – Part 2

Continued from Part 1  (yesterday’s post)

Ok- this is embarrassing- but it was ridiculous how attractive I thought I’d look in skinny jeans.  Those skinny jeans models and celebrities look so good in skinny jeans!  When I saw the jeans on the hanger, in my mind I saw those women, wearing their skinny jeans like they do.  In the dressing room, as I was pulling on said skinny jeans, I looked super awesome from the knees down.  I was thinking “Hotblooded, check it and see! These skinny jeans are going to make me look skinny!”  But as I kept pulling, tugging, yanking upward it became evident that my postpartum body is in no mood for skinny jeans.  The tops of my legs looked like water balloons packed neatly into a nylon stocking.  The Foreigner song in my head scratched abruptly off and I got angry.  Skinny jeans? What is this concept anyways?  Only skinny people look good in them. Back to the curvy fit boot cut.  Only two sizes bigger than I was three years ago.

There’s a little culture shock from the blessed body acceptance during pregnancy where no matter how much weight you put on, it’s beautiful.  Endearing.  Sexy. My butt was three times its normal size with my last pregnancy and I regularly heard how beautiful I looked.  Size did not matter.  Being big symbolized and embodied life, renewal, and miracles.  But now, postpartum, I feel a pressure to get skinny fast. (And, by the way, how long can I keep saying that I’m postpartum as an excuse?  I’m 24 months postpartum doesn’t seem acceptable.)

Every time I look in the mirror, I hear my thoughts echoing ridiculous cultural expectations: “I could stand to lose that back fat.  It should only be a few more months before I can wear my old jeans.”  When I hear myself judging, I have to stop myself: “What the hell? Have I learned nothing from the monumental experience of birthing a child?  Am I really going back to the mindset I learned in adolescence that women need to be thin like Barbie?  Bah.”  That mindset did some major damage to me, not to mention the millions of other girls who struggle with body image.

Today I will pull on my yoga pants and t-shirt and wear them proudly.  I have two gorgeous kids and an amazing husband who thinks I’m beautiful.  I’m a great mom. I’m gorgeous. (We all need to say this to ourselves.) Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Muffin top- gorgeous! Cellulite- gorgeous! Big ass- gorgeous! Double chin-gorgeous! If I am overweight 48 months postpartum, guess what I will be: GORGEOUS!

It is so important for me to love this body of mine: my soul’s only home for this lovely life I have.   It’s been said before, because it’s true: we must teach our kids to know that women love and respect their own bodies.  Because as my boys see me respecting my body as it changes, they will grow and become short, tall, big, or small- and hopefully see they must love and respect their own.

Postpartum Jeans Shopping – Part 1

Looking fierce in skinny jeans.

Looking fierce in skinny jeans. Photo by Edward Liu.

My everyday clothing for the past six months has been exceptionally casual due to my expanding and contracting waistline, the general business of having a newborn, and the lack of time I have to spend on my appearance.  I mean, I care about how I look but not enough to be uncomfortable in any way.  I’m really one step away from pajamas most days.  So those of you in need of style guidelines from a woman six months postpartum of her 2nd child, here they are.

1. If my jeans are roomy enough that I can’t feel my muffin top with every move and flexible enough that I can pull them over my hips without unbuttoning them, these are jeans that are a “good fit.”

2. If said jeans are on and my maternity t-shirt does not have poop, urine, spitup or breast milk stains, this is called an “outfit.”

3. If I have not only shampooed but also conditioned my hair, this is called “primped.”

4. If my nursing bra does not smell like breast milk, this is called “lingerie” and is appropriate for a date night out.

I went shopping at Macy’s recently for jeans, as my pre-pregnancy jeans are too small and no longer fit me, and my maternity jeans are too big.  The experience was sobering.  It seems there’s a difference between checking myself out in a mirror from the waist up after putting on an “outfit” as I’m running to catch a screaming toddler and actually being alone, viewing myself in a full-length mirror in a well-lit dressing room.   Even though my maternity belly is no longer there, the rest of my body still looks pregnant.

I also found that my understanding of my own body was in a time warp.  I had selected some roomy looking size 10’s and some slimmer 12’s thinking, “These are cuuuute.  These will look great.”  Not so.  My mind had been fondly remembering the pre-baby butt, the pre-stretched belly.  It became crystal clear that my brain had some catching up to do.  Reality check: those 14’s are the only ones you will be able to pull over your widened hips.

Will she buy the 14’s? Will she run screaming from the dressing room? Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow….

Squishy Chair Etiquette

I would like to talk for one moment about squishy chair etiquette. By squishy chairs, I am speaking specifically about those soft comfy chairs found in coffeeshops and libraries. They are usually set apart from the four-top tables, and are sometimes set up in groupings like a friendly family room.  Like you could be sitting in your pajamas or boxers and it would be just fine, because you’re in the squishy chairs. You know what I’m talking about.


I love the squishy chairs. When I’m going someplace to write, as soon as I walk in the door, I scan for them. Is there one empty? Good, it’s mine.

According to the book of etiquette that I have written in my mind, if all the squishy chairs are empty, you have a right to sit in any one you choose. But if there is one squishy chair occupied, you have a right to sit anywhere except directly next to the person who is already sitting in the said chair.

Let me give you a real-life example. I walk into my second favorite library the other day to do some writing. I’m excited because I am by myself! I have an hour or maybe even two to be in my own space and write! No one is crying or smashing toys together or eating day-old cheerios off the floor! Obviously not your typical Thursday evening for me.

I find the quiet reading room where there are: two work tables and chairs on one end of the room, and a fireplace and eight squishy chairs on the other end. The squishy chairs are lined up against two adjoined walls, so they form an “L” and all of them face the fireplace.  In other words, no seat is worse than any other- they all face the fireplace, they all have a view of the door- not a bad seat in the house.

When I first walk in, I have the place to myself and I choose the chair furthest from the door, in the far corner of the room. So there is one chair directly next to me and six chairs on the adjoining wall. I am blissfully writing when I glance up to see a very nice looking lady walk into the room. I immediately look back down to my screen to let her know I’m all business, no chitter-chatter to be found here. She pauses for a second and walks past the two tables and six empty chairs and sits down right next to me.

To me, this was the approximate equivalent of sitting in my lap. This kind of squishy chair intimacy was totally uncalled for. The appropriate social distance would have been to sit with at least one chair in between us, if not more. But the line had been breached and now I was listening to her breathe and turn pages from a distance of not more than 24 inches. My bliss bubble popped and I powered through my work and headed out.

If this were an isolated incident, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post, but I tell you, I have some concern because the exact same thing happened again today, just now, in fact. I was sitting on a squishy chair in a coffeeshop, this time we were dealing with a rectangle formation- two chairs on one side, one on the other, one on each end and a coffeetable in the middle. I’m again blissfully writing, when all of a sudden a sweaty yoga guy comes and sits directly next to me. Three other empty chairs not next to me and he picks the one where I can reach out and touch him…Too close, my friend, too close!

Is this a direct result of social media? Are we so far away from each other metaphorically that now we have to sit in a stranger’s airspace like we’re on an airplane in order to feel connected? I’m disturbed. Because the etiquette book in my head distinctly states that there really isn’t an appropriate response to this behavior other than staying put. Getting up to move into a different chair as soon as someone sits down next to you is rude.  As is saying something like, “I’m saving this seat for Daniel Craig.” Plus, what if you get up and move one chair over and they get up and move next to you again, following? That’s just awkward.

I must ask, is this a normal trend? Is your etiquette book different than mine? Am I just so attractive that people can’t keep away from my airspace? I’m looking for answers, people! I await your responses.

Sad about the bees.

I was two paragraphs into the Time magazine article about Colony Collapse Disorder when I had to stop reading.  Too furious that our actions regularly seem to destroy worlds like the world of the grand little honeybee.  What must these animals think of us? “Tyrants! Idiots!  Watch out, butterfly! You’re next!”


Turns out the world of the honeybee is our world, too.  And compromising any ecosystem compromises us. I don’t really think this is new information.  You could have asked Chief Seattle and here is what he would have said:

“All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth
Befalls the sons of the earth.
Man did not weave the web of life,
He is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
He does to himself.”

I can still see the picture from my earth science textbook from 4th grade illustrating ecosystems and how everything in the natural world is connected.  There was the underwater life where the big fish was eating the little fish, and the clouds above producing rain, and carnivores nibbling on smaller carnivores and herbivores nibbling on berries.  And then there was the human beings spraying green science-fiction chemicals on everything.  No, wait.   I don’t remember seeing humans in that picture at all and I think that’s where the trouble lies.  Somewhere along the line, we decided that we aren’t in the picture, we just draw the picture. Where did this concept come from? That we can just be plucked from our ecosystem, lifted right out into another plane of existence.  Conveniently we have also decided that we can lift various species out at our whim, as well.

I hear my dad chortling at me from the afterlife as I actually shed a tear over these bees.  “Why don’t you go hug a tree or something? Save the whales, Kris. Become a vegan.” I can hear him now. But it is just too sad that what finally draws our attention to the bees is the possibility of our favorite foods going away, rather than just the fact that we are killing off a species with our idiot chemicals. Don’t think for once second we would be this freaked out if it was the earwig that was threatened.  And shame on me because damn right, I want my blueberries too.  I care about the luxuries of non-buggy, plastic-looking summer fruit in winter and that is such a 1st world problem.  But at least I know when I’m being an obnoxious 1st World brat.  We know exactly what needs to be done, so there is no excuse to keep at destructive practices so that we can have our cushy -strawberries in winter-unbruised gigantic apples-abundant corn crop- survival.

This issue has become so depressing that I now want my own garden, which is saying something for someone who can barely handle one potted tomato plant and doesn’t have a yard.  I don’t want to think about whether I am killing bees by not buying pesticide/fungicide/insecticide-free produce. I don’t like that my salad is contributing to the bees possible extinction. And I recently learned that organic produce might not even be free of gross-icides and I don’t like that either. I don’t like that Colony Collapse Disorder was the name chosen for what is essentially Consequence of Human Interaction Disorder.  Collapse implies the colonies mysteriously dissolved from some weak internal structure.  When we all know the biggest cause of their trouble is that big, human black boot coming down on them from the sky.

So here is my naïve, simplistic, tree-hugging take.  I’m thankful that Time is drawing more attention to the issue.  Trying to analyze and solve the problem= Good.  Spending a fraction of a second thinking about: 1. Money and 2. Convenience= Bad.  When dealing with a problem as far-reaching and spectacularly important as keeping honeybees alive, once there is even a shadow of an idea of what’s causing the problem, you fix it.  It is disaster relief.  Call in every available resource nationally and internationally.  We must find a way to stop using the pesticides, herbacides, fungacides, whatever we have used to make our lives more convenient, cheaper, and tastier at the cost of destroying our environment.  We must find a way to support the farmers who are relying on those toxins and give them alternatives. Restructure, refinance, redesign the way we do growing. We must make it illegal to use chemicals on our lawns and fields.  We must grow our own gardens, buy local.

I’m just exhausted from reading stories about how we are trashing our world. Enough, already. Just who do we think we are?

Save the bees.

And P.S.: Time Magazine, after an uber-f***-ing depressing article, please include action steps that tell readers what to do about the problem.  Like so:

Did you know that it’s legal to keep bees in Madison if you adhere to a few regulations?  If I had a backyard, I’d be keeping some myself. Here’s the link to an article about the ordinance.

Find a few things you can do to help bees with this article here and a PBS article here.

Find resources for being a Dane County beekeeper here.

It’s sooooo good.

This is dazzling yellowy-orange glorious.  I’m sitting in a coffee shop (no, it’s not Starbucks- but they’re still my boo) and writing on my laptop.  I am in a squishy green chair, drinking a latte that is not on a table behind me, or just out of reach hiding on some high surface above the reach of little groping hands. It’s here- right next to me.

Photo on 7-31-13 at 11.21 AM

It’s still hot as I’m drinking it because I have not been interrupted from drinking it. I am drinking my coffee uninterrupted and alone. When I set down my coffee next to me on a table, I have both hands free to type so I can correct typos if I choose. I can read what I’ve written over and over if I choose.  I have the time for it. My legs are crossed and my laptop is resting on my lap- it is my lap’s only occupant.

I am writing this short post as a love letter to the heavens that are available on an every day basis in this life. I’m in one of them, courtesy of my babysitter. Because were it not for her, I would not be here alone with my coffee and laptop, gazing out the window every so often as I write. Just gazing and thinking my thoughts. I don’t have to speak at all. I can be silent, unentertaining, internal.  But if I were to speak, I wouldn’t have to edit out swearing, sarcasm, adult themes, pettiness, or unwarranted anger or frustration.

It used to be my favorite thing was to go to coffeeshops or restaurants by myself and write, read or just listen to people’s conversations.  It was heaven to me.  Now I have multiple heavens, one of which is this peaceful, gazy, quiet bliss.  Another is the one that awaits me when I return home. That one is the heaven of giggling little people, scurrying around at full speeds, exploring and inventing their world.  Of my family’s blissful chaos.  I. Am. So. Blessed.