My Marriage and Trophic Cascades

Do you have minute? Can you watch a video about the Wolves of Yellowstone? There’s an obvious metaphor in there you won’t even need me to spell out for you.

If you don’t have time or can’t watch it (find time later, it’s amazing) the gist of it is that introducing small quantities of wolves back into Yellowstone made huge significant changes – even to the course of the river.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

I’m 100% certain you don’t need me to spell out the metaphor as these wolves relate to my life. But I’m going to anyway.

My depression and anxiety were taking their toll on my life before I started therapy. There’s no need to detail that here, just know it wasn’t great. But then I started going to therapy and I started working through my grief over losing my Dad which opened the door to a lot of crap that had laid undisturbed for years. I expected therapy to help me with my depression and anxiety, just like the wolves were expected have an impact on the population of the animals they prey upon, like the deer. That was actually the point of re-introducing the wolves, which had been absent for 70 years, just like the point of therapy was to reduce my anxiety and depression.

What I never thought about though, as I was overwhelmed in darkness of anxiety and depression, was the cascade of other changes that would follow. I have become a better Mom, a better friend, and most importantly? It made my marriage better than it’s ever been.

I could break it down easily and just say, “My anxiety and depression were ruining my marriage and so getting help fixed it.”

But that is way too much of an oversimplification. My therapist has helped me work through stuff I’ve come home to discuss with my husband which has helped him work through his own crap. She’s given me tools I’m using in my life and in my marriage which have also proved useful to him. She’s helped me be vulnerable to him instead of always stressed or angry, and he’s reciprocated.

We cuddle now. We haven’t cuddled in years.

My marriage was fine before therapy, it wasn’t really anything I thought I needed to work on. But like the rivers changing flow patterns in Yellowstone, I just had no idea the impact these baby steps in my personal life could have on my marriage. There were ecosystems along the river of our marriage before, it’s not like it was barren. But suddenly things started thriving where we didn’t know they were depleted to begin with. It’s not entirely accidental, we’re being proactive in a lot of these changes. We are making date nights a priority. We take time to hang out after the kids go to bed even though we’re exhausted. (Except on nights like last night when I was SO exhausted I fell asleep tucking Wesley in, and then woke up, went to tuck Nikki in, and fell back asleep with her for the rest of the night. I was tired, yo.) We are sharing quiet hugs and holding hands. We’re recognizing each other’s needs for support or validation. The trophic cascade (ecological process which starts at the top of the food chain and tumbles down) in our life once I sought therapy has been an amazing thing to watch, but especially as it relates to our marriage which I didn’t even set out to improve upon.

I tell you this story because 13 years ago today, I married my best friend. And things are just really great.


Photos and a Question.

I did a lot this weekend. I failed at a marathon. Took a girl’s trip with Nikki. And celebrated her birthday with some family. Unfortunately I also have my FIRST DAY OF BOOT CAMP TODAY ACCCK! And I want to try to get there early to run a bit first so I have no time to write about my adventures. I’m going to just give you a FEW pictures as a place holder but there are STORIES TO TELL!





Finally – unrelated. Those of you who have heard me talk about our behavioral challenges with Wesley (anxiety triggering severe anger) can you email me if you had a similarly challenged child? I have a question I want to pose to the audience but at this point I don’t like dumping his stuff on my blog anymore since he’s gotten older. But I could really use some counsel, so those of you who have reached out with great advice in the past – I’d love to ask your advice! (Especially if you’ve made it through the other side of the war.)



If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

I would have never believed I’d buy #ImWithHer merchandise as Hillary was always a little center for my very-left leaning politics. But the more rampant and vicious the attacks are against her in my online social circle, the more I suddenly feel the need to put on my Wizards With Her t-shirt and not take it off until November 8th.


When this election is over, no matter what the results, I can proudly say supported my candidate. I was vocal and respectful and I did my part to share the reasons I’m voting for her without bashing her opponent or the people voting for him. (My newest discovery is a a site dedicated to debunking myths.) I kept lines of respectful discussion open while refusing to engage in fear mongering. I did all of this because I’m a Pro-Choice, LGBTQ supporting, Tree Hugging Liberal in a very red state and that has taught me that politics can be put aside and relationships can thrive even between people who vote in opposition of each other.

Can’t we just play nice for a few more weeks? You can’t take these words back, you know. On November 9th you can’t erase the time you declared that you couldn’t be friends with people who voted for Trump. You can’t undo that comment you wrote that said that everyone voting for Clinton was ignorant or brainwashed and “what’s wrong with this country.” You can’t make the people around you unsee the time you swore than anyone voting for EITHER candidate must be brain damaged. You think you know who you’re upsetting and you think “I don’t care!” – but did you know there are some people who can never talk about their politics on Facebook due to personal or professional limitations? So you honestly don’t know FOR SURE who all you’re alienating with your political hatred.

You can think the hateful things all you want. Hell, I organized a meal with liberal friends to give me a chance to feel safe for a little while discussing politics without worrying about upsetting my more Trump-leaning friends and family. But the second you spit those words out onto social media, the words do their damage. I can never NOT wonder now if you just think I’m an idiot brainwashed by liberal media. I can never be around you now and not feel like I have to defend myself as an educated voter. I will never STOP wondering if the reason you’re cold to me is because #ImWithHer.

And for you in a liberal bubble not worried about offending Trump supporters, let me assure you: They are just as terrified of Hillary winning as you are of Trump winning. EQUALLY TERRIFIED. I see their words daily and their words of fear (which they can cite with their own sources because they don’t trust yours) are just as strong as yours. You’re not changing minds with your Trump hate. The only minds left to sway at this point are the ones thinking of staying home, or not voting for one of the two candidates. And fear-mongering isn’t going to change their minds because it just makes your side look ugly. Hillary Clinton has a lot of positive things you can promote, without having to attack Trump. I’m not saying you should marry a Trump supporter, but there are silent Trump supporters on your Facebook feed reading your words and feeling their stabs. They’re terrified of a Clinton Presidency and you can either alleviate that fear by trying to share out factual support of her, or you can stoke their fear and alienate them by dishing the Trump hate.

THREE MORE WEEKS. Can we play nice for three weeks? I’ve actually just started finally unfollowing people. I used to say I didn’t want to do that because I wanted to know what they thought of people like me. But now I realize: I know. They hate me. They think I’m brainwashed by liberal media. They think I love killing babies. They think I’m ignorant of sharia law. (Or else I’d be terrified of the Muslims.) They think I’m only educated by celebrities. They think I’m naive. I know that now because they’ve expressed it time and time again, so why subject myself anymore? I’ve been on an unfollow spree this week just silencing voices that hurt my heart left and right. I’m practicing self care. I’m vocal about how I vote, I make myself vulnerable by sharing POSITIVE things about my candidate and refraining from bashing the other guy. As a reward to myself for playing nice? I’m totally silencing those people now bashing me and the candidate I support.

Clinton is leading in the polls in may states. But not mine. I’m still showing up at the polls and voting Clinton even though it’s a 99.6% chance Trump will take the state. You all may log into Facebook and see a lot of Hillary support. I do not. I see memes comparing Bill and Donald, I see support for conspiracy theories, I see declarations that the last 8 years have been TERRIBLE and if we get another Democrat in the office it’s going to just GET WORSE.

(My son can now marry whomever he wants. It’s hard for me to see declarations of 8 years of terror without at least one footnote declaring it’s cool that gay people are almost equal citizens now.)

It’s hard. The country may be swinging towards the left for this election but not my state. So I’m feeling here what it must be like for Trump supporters everywhere else. Maybe that’s why I can’t get on board with the posting of Trump hate on Facebook.

I’m with her. I’ll continue to vocalize that over the next 3 weeks. I’ll provide the multitude of reasons why, not the least being I desperately want Citizens United overturned, Roe v Wade protected, and the entirety of the Voters Rights Act supported. The Supreme Court drives me a lot this election because I’ve seen it’s power used for good and bad over the last 8 years. I can talk about that and not permanently sever ties with my Trump supporting neighbors, friends and family.


The Power Of Actually Answering A Good Question.

“How Do You Want To Show Up In The World?”

This is a question I am supposed to be working on in…um…my…uh….book club! Yeah! My book club! (My friends in any of my book clubs are thinking What? We are?) Totally not something I’ve talked about with any mental health professional! No way! ‘Cause I’m totally not someone who would talk about therapy every day! Nope!


It’s a good question. But there are a lot of good questions out there. (I’m also working on these questions posed by Leah Peterson.) We hear these type of good questions and we think about them for a few minutes and maybe our scope is expanded for a moment as we ponder them, but then the dryer dings, or our boss comes in, or our kid swears he’s starving and then we kinda move on with our lives. Maybe we answer them in a vague sense in our heads for a moment, but we don’t really answer them like all good questions deserve to be answered.

So. My…book club insisted that this question be answered in a practical sense. So I kept a page in my bullet journal accessible where I scratched out ideas for a few days, and then yesterday I tried to clean it up a bit so that I could really hash it out in my favorite way this morning:


The first thing I kept coming back to, is that I want to be a good listener. This sounds a little more charitable than I truly intend. The truth of the matter is that I just really like really rich conversations and I love learning from other people. I love laughing at other people’s self-deprecating stories. I love expanding my view from other people’s histories. I love connecting with vulnerabilities. I just love good conversation, but mostly I love being on the listening end of good conversation because I’m much better at talking when I’m behind a keyboard. I don’t want anyone to think I’m being at all charitable…I don’t like listening for how it helps the person I listen to, I like listening for how it helps me.

But then I thought about times I’ve not really liked conversations I’ve been in, where they’ve sucked me dry instead of built me up. So I started thinking more about how I want to attract positive energy in the world. I want to put out the kind of energy in the world that pulls in the kind of people who want to build each other up, instead of tear each other down. I want to attract people willing to be vulnerable with me, willing to recognize our own privilege and our own need to put into the world what we want to get out of it.

So, how do I attract that kind of person?

I become that kind of person. And I really think I’m there more and more every day. Mainly because I am building a personal tribe of truly beautiful people. And you can attract a beautiful spirit by accident, but I’ve got an arsenal of them in my life and I feel like – in that quantity – I must be doing something right.

I don’t think it’s about being Happy! Happy! Happy! all the time. But I think it’s about being sincere and…god I hate this word because it’s become so overused but…AUTHENTIC. I want to be authentic. I don’t necessarily want to try to be the person who I think the world can love, I want to love who I am so the person I present to the world can also be loved. Does that make sense?

(SIDENOTE: My dishwasher is broken so it’s BREAK THE SOUND BARRIER LOUD. When it’s running I have to put in headphones with music so I don’t hear it. So, I’m trying to write this really profound and introspective entry with music blaring in my ears to drown out the dishwasher. I’m not sure this is really conducive to logical thought flows.)

When I think about building a community of good people, my instinct is to think I accomplish this by being the court jester or Mary Poppins. The kind of happy and joyful person who sings songs even when she has to take medicine or makes jokes that makes everyone laugh. But that’s not true. I think to really attract the kind of people I truly want in my life – people willing to have tough and honest conversations about how to make this world a better place – I need to be authentic. I need to be vulnerable in my faults. I need to be able to laugh and to smile, but I also need to be willing to admit my errors and discuss my wounds because it’s when we’re vulnerable with each other that we make real connections. The court jester who performs only keeps the crowd while she’s performing. I want to keep the crowd indefinitely. I can’t change the world by myself, but if I build a tribe of like-hearted people maybe we can change the world together?

I want to celebrate complexities. I know that sounds profound, but it’s really not. I spent years trying to fit into some group…Was I grunge? Did I hang with the punks? The hippies? The goths? Was I trading Grateful Dead bootlegs? Was I obsessed with owning all of the Doc Martens? Was I outdoorsy and did I know all of recent Widespread Panic setlists by heart? I spent years trying to build a facade of who I thought people liked. But over the last decade (or two) I’ve been settling in to the realization that sometimes I want to hippy-dance around the house listening to Scarlet Begonias and other times I want to jam to Katy Perry. Sometimes I want to read books that open my mind to other cultures and histories, and other times I want to read about vampires. Sometimes I watch documentaries about modern slavery (which you should all watch) and other times I watch non-stop superhero television (which you should also watch). I don’t want to classify people as in single categories and not allow for nuance. This goes for me and for everyone I meet. Just because I know you’re a Christian or a Trump supporter doesn’t mean I can’t find something to learn from you. We are all complex. I don’t believe in God, but I believe in prayer. Complexities are to be celebrated, not discouraged.

There are two other words on my notes page I’ve been trying to hash out into more complex ideas: Art. Bravery. I’m not sure what I want to do with those words and how I want to expound on them in how I show up in the world. But I know they’re both important.

I’m scared of a lot of things. As I grow older I choose which fears might be worth tackling. After Dad died I decided my fear of people and of leaving my house needed to be tackled. Last night I had dinner with 10+ amazing women and I felt at home and comfortable in the presence of these women at an event I more-or-less organized myself. It was a discreet event where I was trying to create a safe place for liberal women to talk and vent, hard to “promote” if you don’t want to alienate people. But my efforts worked and I had amazing energy-filled conversations with strong like-minded women and I thought to myself, That was very brave of you, Kim.

I don’t want to conquer my fears of driving or travel or anything yet, but I want to push myself outside of my safety boundaries in ways that I think may help expand my world view without sending me into a catatonic state of panic. So, I guess I want to be brave,…but MY kind of brave. Not the “bungee jumps” kind of brave. Not the, “travels to Europe alone” kind of brave. Not the, “makes left hand turns” kind of brave. But maybe the, “Needs a meal with inspirational women so plans it herself” kind of brave.

And now: ART. I like to look at writing as art. But I also like to look at my bullet journaling as art. And my doodling. I look at ART as anything I create as a way to express something I’m feeling. My friend Leah also posted this: “‘I can’t talk about it. I need to art about it.’ -Me, not making sense but making total sense.” And that’s when I wrote the word “ART” down in my notebook. YES. I have to art about it. Sometimes that means staring at this compose screen on my blog and hashing out my thoughts with my words. But other times it means zendoodling and just meditating on something while I color simple shapes. Other times I’m feeling anxious and overwhelmed so I draw out my weeks in my bullet journal to sort out the chaos. I want to write. I want to continue to put my words into the ether as a way of keeping my mind right. But also…I want to art. Right now that seems to be meditative doodling, but I’m also not against other forms of art down the road. I just know there are many times I have things inside of me that feel like they’re fighting their way out, and writing mostly helps, but I’m open to other means of release as well.

There’s no simple answer to a question as complex as: How do I want to show up in the world? I’ve proved that with my 1600+ words here. But man, it’s a good question to actually sit down and try to answer. I think there’s one last thing that I’ve been a little hesitant to write because it sounds a bit narcissistic and I feel like it needs a LOT of explanation but: I want to inspire. This sounds lofty and maybe pompous and definitely pretentious and presumptuous. But it has two parts: 1) I have been inspired by friends and family and I would love to return the favor but also 2) I have taken journeys in self-exploration and self-development that have bettered my life in so many ways and I want other people to see that and be inspired to take their own. It’s not as much as I want people to say, “Kim inspires me!” I want people to say, “Kim’s journey inspires me to take my own!”

Eek. That still sounds super pretentious and self-righteous. Maybe I’ll hash that one out a little more.

And what about you? How do you want to show up in the world? My *ahem* book club *ahem* totally wants to know.


The Path To Self Love.

I’ve been thinking this week about the idea (this is where I pretend this “idea” was not introduced to me by my therapist even though it totally was because I worry I’m becoming the girl who always talks about therapy) that you should be careful what you’re looking for, because you might find it. I’ve been thinking about it a lot as it relates to my personal judgement of myself. Whether I’m critiquing my terrible consistency with running or my lackadaisical parenting or my half-assed domestic life, I seem to be always looking for the things I’ve screwed up. The things I’ve done wrong. The things I’ve not done that should have been done. And because I’m always looking for those things, I always find them.

If I consider this with my trail building metaphor, then you can basically assume that my trail that looks for mistakes and errors and failures is the Appalachian Trail and has been traveled by millions of people over 50+ years. It’s been mapped out and written about and competed on. This trail is a trail everyone knows and everyone loves.

But it’s time to move it.

It’s time that I work on forming new pathways in my brain that have my subconscious looking for the good things I do every day. I’ve been committing microaggressions against myself with the constant barrage of criticisms. But I’ve been doing it for SO LONG and that path is such a clear one to take through the woods, that I’m not sure how to get from the beginning of my day to the end of my day without it.

Which is why it will take time to form the new habit. And break the old one.

I started a little yesterday. I had gotten behind on housework so I opted to skip my run and instead of beating myself up about it, I forced myself to recognize the good I was doing in catching up on housework in case we had a showing for our house. When Donnie woke up I told him the long list of stuff I had already done that morning. I went to work feeling good that my house was closer to “show ready” than it would have been if I had gone for a run. I applauded myself for the good instead of criticizing the failure. There’s no concrete “right” and “wrong” about how we spend our moments, but there is most definitely a “wrong” in how we judge ourselves for those decisions.

I recently skipped doing laundry so I could curl up and read my book. I couldn’t even enjoy the book because I was beating myself up about the laundry. That’s the tried-and-true trail through the woods. So, last night when I opted to color for a bit instead of wash dishes, I stopped my brain when it started shifting to “criticizing mode” and praised myself.


It’s tough though. My daughter is having some common tween body image issues and last night we spent some good time together buying a new outfit (she’s looking at clothes that no longer fit “right” as proving she’s “fat” as opposed to proving she’s simply growing) and having long talks about how we talk to ourselves. My habit though, is to wonder where I went wrong. I kept catching myself looking through all of the parenting I’ve done in the last 11 years and finding moments where I screwed up and finding ways to blame her current self-hatred, on myself.

Do you see the irony?

I’m beating myself up over the fact that my daughter was beating herself up.

While I’m preaching about self-love, I’m practicing self-hatred.

So, I sat in bed last night and closed my eyes and praised myself. I reflected on the vulnerability we were able to share and how that will surely have a positive ripple effect. I was practical in my explanations and we discussed healthy eating habits (which she has plenty of) and unhealthy habits and how we should show our love to our body by feeding it well and in the end, that matters more than anything else. We had long talks and regardless on my part in this spiral to begin with, I helped her come back up out of it and I made a point to truly look at all of the positive things I said and did as a Mom last night.

The best way to teach my daughter how to love herself, is to show her I love myself.

So I’m slowly making a new trail through the woods. It’s hard to see and sometimes it’s so unfamiliar I get lost and find my way back to the old trail, but I’ve started the work. And as long as I tend to this new path more regularly than I travel the old one, it will slowly become the easier one to travel. I’m going to stop looking for my failures at every turn and instead look for my successes. I’m not going to look in the mirror and hate my blue jeans, but look in the mirror and love my bracelet. I’m not going to try to find the ways I created a problem and instead try to look for the positive ways I can be the solution. I’m slowly but surely trying to make “Looking For Things To Praise” the new default mode instead of “Looking For Things To Criticize.”

So that when I find what I’m looking for, I can be happy about it.