Tag Archives: max

Dodge Is One Month Old

1 Apr

Today is Dodge’s 1-Month birthday! He looks just like Max at this age.  Can you tell which one is Dodge and which one is Max?


Leaving The Past Behind

26 Mar

timon_and_pumbaaAs Pumbaa from the Lion King says, “Its times like this my buddy Timon here says: you gotta put your behind in the past.”  No, no, no…amateur.  While the theme of Timon and Pumbaa’s catchy tune, Hakuna Matata, eventually leads Simba away from his royal duties as king of the jungle (“Your Majesty, I gravel at your feet!”) it does apply well to anxiety.  You gotta leave the past behind.  Anxiety is like a fungus that feeds on the three fundamentals of how we perceive ourselves in the world: past, present, and future.  When you have an anxiety attack, as I did on Sunday, you are battling your mind for how it perceives the future.  Your anxiety tells your mind that everything is going to go terribly in the future and hope is lost.  This is fantasy as we cannot predict the future, so the steps to overcoming an anxiety attack are…


Accept that you do not know what the future holds and the feelings of anxiety you are experiencing are predictions and not factual.  An anxious brain will only fantasize about scenarios where everything goes wrong.  Try to think about good things that you know will happen in the near future and let go of preconceived negative notions on scenarios you have no control over.


Work on how you feel right now.  Right now.  The present.  You can’t predict the future and the past has already passed so just live in the now.  When I am really freaking out it helps me to go to a safe place and do some sensory deprivation and meditate on good possibilities for the future.  I take a long hot shower in complete darkness while sitting down or laying down.  In the summer I submerge myself in water either in Lake George or the pool.


Leave the past behind.  This is hard…for me this is the cyclical part that tries to spiral me back into my anxiety.  It also goes by the name of depression and is what I’d like to talk about today in a little more detail.

Take it away Pumbaa and Timon!

Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase.

Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze.

It means no worries for the rest of your days!

It’s our problem free, philosophy…

Hakuna Matata!

So there I am Sunday, laying down in the shower with the lights off, and the water so hot it almost burns my skin.  This claustrophobic little spot makes me feel safe…I am a water person so getting into water helps with everything.  My brain is racing with anxious thoughts and I am trying to slow it down.  First I focus on the water and how it feels and ask myself, “How do I feel right now?”  The answer was “Safe.”  So now that I feel comfortable where I am I can work on what I am scared about.  My fears are my own but not unlike yours, mine just get inflated until all I see is disaster ahead of me.  So I visualize a stop sign, go through some CBT techniques, and try to hault the thought process in its tracks.  Then I visualized happy things I knew were going to happen like getting hugged by my two-year-old, the feel of my newborn’s hair on my cheek when I kiss his head, and the touch of my wife’s hand when she holds mine as we walk.  I felt better.  I had stopped making terrible predictions for the future and focused on good things I knew would happen.  I was living in the now.  That is when it happens…the past creeps up to try to fill the void!

stop-signMy next thought was, “Why am I like this?  Why can’t I go back to how I was a year ago before all these anxiety attacks?”  Guess what the answer to that is?  “You can’t…things will never be the same.”  POW!!!  Right back into predicting terrible outcomes of the future!  So now I have to redo all the steps and when I get to the “Why am I like this,” question I say, “Hakuna Matata.”  No joke.  I’m singing the Lion King in my head right now.  Worrying about the future is the trigger that starts the process but getting hung up on the past is the trap that keeps the cycle going.

Here’s the rub: I want desperately to go back to how things used to be.  I want to be unafraid to fly on airplanes, drive for miles by myself, and eat anything I want.  I want to feel “normal.”  There is a flight to LA this Thursday with tickets to the Sweet Sixteen waiting for me…and I have turned them down because I know I’m not ready for that much pressure yet and I need to be home with my family and newborn.  Last year I would have been in Omaha for the game against Creighton, in St. Louis for Arch Madness, in Utah for the opening round of the NCAA, in LA for the Sweet Sixteen, and in Atlanta for the Final Four.  No problemo.  This year…I’m afraid to fly and I’m aware that I have a fundamental flaw in the way my brain thinks that needs to be addressed before I can push myself to be adventurous again.  I have to stop living in the past.

anxietyI cannot go back in time and since my anxiety has increased my responsibilities have doubled.  I am a father of two now and I am clearly grappling with the desire to be free vs. the need to be responsible.  Call it an early life crisis.  I want the best of both worlds.  I want to be free to do what I want and then come home to my family and be “Dad.”  However, it doesn’t work that way…yet.  You have to work to get that privilege and the work has just begun.  THAT is where my stress comes from.  Contradicting lifestyles: the one I live and the one I used to live.  I cannot fold the old one into the new one, I have to accept the responsibilities of the new one and know that I can’t predict the next phase.  I want to go to LA and see the Shockers play in the Sweet Sixteen…I need to be home with my newborn, my two-year-old, and my exhausted wife…even when she says I can go, because she is the nicest person on the face of the Earth.  I don’t need permission from anyone…I need to make the responsible choice for myself, and that is to stay.  I remember when Kate and I went to the Sweet Sixteen together back in 2006 in DC before we were married and had kids.  Good times.  Hakuna Matata!

I won’t miss my newborn’s first smiles which he has started doing this week.  I won’t miss playing catch with my two-year-old.  I won’t miss the good things in life because I’m focusing on the past or trying to live like I did in the past.  I live in the now.  Go Shocks…I’ll be watching from my couch in Shocker pajamas with a beer in one hand and my baby boy in the other.  Go me.

Max's 2nd Birthday!

Max’s 2nd Birthday With The Wichita State Shockers!

My Tiny WSU Fan, Dodge.

My Tiny Wichita State Fan, Dodge.

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Max Meets Dodge

3 Mar

All questions as to if Max understood we were having a baby have been answered…he gets it. He’s met Dodge twice and is quick to point out, “that’s the baby.” We explained his name is Dodge and Max calls him “baby Dodge.” He knows to be quiet around him, wash his hands, loves touching his soft hair, and kisses him on the head every chance he has. Today we bring Dodge home and I’m excited to start our lives as a family at last!


My boys

Toddler’s First Major Accident

15 Feb

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on a BedRight on cue with all the insanity going on in our lives…Max, my two-year-old, had his first major accident today as a result of his rambunctious non-stop bouncing off the walls.  Monday is the due date for our second baby boy, so my wife Kate and I have had nine months to ponder what our lives will be like with two little rascals running around the house, climbing on top of things, and careening into objects.  However, we didn’t expect Max to careen into the foot board of the guest bed today while construction workers finish the final phases of the remodel on the back of the house.

Five_Little_Monkeys_Jumping_on_the_Bed_3_757011342Everyone knows the story of “Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed” right?  If you don’t (spoiler alert), “One falls off and bumps his head.  Mama called the doctor and the doctor said, No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”  This goes on with four little monkeys, then three, then two, and eventually the last one falls off and bumps its head too.  What does Mama do in the end?  She jumps on the bed!!!  So, what have we learned children?  Jumping on the bed is fine and bumping your head is normal…pay no attention to the NFL concussion conversations going on all year.  No!  At what point in real life does the doctor call Child Protective Services and say, “I just got my 5th call from a woman over on Banana Lane!”  Sure…they bumped their head lady.  Seriously…would you let your kids jump on the bed after one head bump that required a call to the doctor?  What about the second or third?

Max Black EyeMax was jumping on the bed today and he fell off and bumped his head…hard.  Kate said it was the worst sound she had ever heard!  She called the doctor and the doctor said, “Keep an eye on his swelling and if it gets bad bring him in.”  Heeeeey!  That doesn’t rhyme!  I rushed home and confirmed…it is his worst “bonk” yet.  Black eye, cut eye lid, cut cheek, and some nice swelling.  Sure, boys will be boys…but now is that fun time where we get to take him out in public and other people get to place judgement on us about how we are bad parents.  People will think we’re the ones letting all the monkeys jump on the bed!  In all seriousness it is scary how quickly Max can climb up on top of something and how much his skills advance every day.  He gets in and out of the car all on his own, shoots basketballs like a pro, runs up and down the stairs, and apparently can now climb onto the very tell guest bed and fall face first into a foot-post.  We’ve locked every cabinet with dangerous items and he doesn’t even come close to it.  He has never lifted the toilet seat and looked inside.  He waits to climb the stairs so you are there with him.  How do you Max-proof everything?

You don’t.  This is what happens when little boys start to grow up…and I’m going to have another one any day now.  What have I done?  What have I done?!!!

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What To Name The Baby?

12 Feb

name-tagAs with Max, our two-year-old son, my wife Kate and I don’t reveal the name of the baby to anyone till after he’s born.  With less than a week to go we have narrowed down the list of potential names for our son-to-be to a few top contenders…but we will wait to meet the little guy before we dub him with a lifelong name in lieu of his moniker, “Zag.”  Back in august of 2010 I posted “Naming the Boy” which talks about why we don’t reveal the name before the baby is born.  Namely (pun intended) it’s because if you tell someone a potential name before the baby is born…they give their opinion and automatically weigh in on a decision process they are not a part of.  VS.  Tell them the baby’s name after the baby is born and that is the baby’s name and that’s the end of that.  If I said, “We’re thinking of calling him Freddy.”  Someone might say, “Freddy is a terrible name…kids will call him Freddy Bed Wetty.”  Or the ever popular, “I knew a Freddy growing up…what a jerk.”  That isn’t helpful and since everyone we know wants to play this game with us we just set the rules so Kate and I are the only ones playing.  If the baby was born today we could say, “This is our child Fartbreath Freddy Van Bedwetter!”  And you’d go, “Oh.”  Now I have no intention of naming my child Fartbreath Freddy Van Bedwetter (seriously…Freddy?) but the point is it would be his name, decision final, and life goes on.  Here are some of the name advice giving people we’ve encountered…which one are you?

  1. THE WRONG Jr. will suggest you name the baby after them.
  2. THE CRITIC will tell you why the name you have picked out is stupid.
  3. THE RHYMER tells you all the stuff your baby’s name rhymes with. (Freddy Bed Wetty)
  4. THE BABY-BOOKER tells you the top 10 most popular names currently.
  5. THE HOLLYWOODER thinks of names like “Apple” to suggest to you.
  6. THE HISTORIAN suggests old family names William, Bill, and Billiam.
  7. THE WORDSMITH makes up names by combining two words like “Van Zighouse Gates.”
  8. THE JOKESTER constantly suggests names that are unrealistic and pertain more to you than a baby.
  9. THE JOHN JACOB JINGLE HEIMER SCHMIDT wants you to name it the same as you.
  10. THE BIBLICAL J. only thinks of John, Joseph, and James as real names.
  11. THE MONOGRAMER obsesses over the baby’s initials and what it spells.
  12. THE VERB GUY suggests verbs as names like “Frolic.”
  13. THE PAT suggests names that could be a girl…could be a boy.
  14. THE POIGNANT suggests only single syllable names.
  15. THE NICKNAMER tells you what your baby’s nickname will be.

CarlHall_WSUMax’s full name is Maxwell Vincent Gates and he is named for my maternal great-grandfather and Kate’s maternal grandfather.  His initials are MVG which we think should stand for “Most Valuable Gates.”  Many people call him “Maxi” to which I always reply, “His name is Max…Maxi is a pad.”  His nickname is “Smellwax” which is an anagram for “Maxwell’s.”  He has not gone by “Zag” since the day he was born and he is quite simply…a Max.  Since Max is such a vocal two-year-old I thought I’d ask him what he thought would be a good name for the baby.  He instantly replied, “The baby’s name is Carl Hall.”  Carl Hall is Max’s favorite basketball player for the Wichita State Shockers.  Hmmmm.  Carl Hall Gates.  Has a nice ring to it!  So without further ado, please feel free to comment on this post with your name suggestions whether they be jokes or for real and maybe we’ll use the name you suggest!

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