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

newton

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….