A creative solution for the water crisis in Flint, Michigan | LaToya Ruby Frazier

Artist LaToya Ruby Frazier spent five months living in Flint, Michigan, documenting the lives of those affected by the city's water crisis for her photo essay "Flint is Family." As the crisis dragged on, she realized it was going to take more than a series of photos to bring relief. In this inspiring, surprising talk, she shares the creative lengths she went to in order to bring free, clean water to the people of Flint.
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Inside a Panic Attack: What It’s Like When Anxiety Strikes

“Those who suffer from mental illness are stronger than you think. We must fight to go to work, care for our families, be there for our friends, and act ‘normal’ while battling unimaginable pain.” ~Unknown

It’s strange having a panic attack while surrounded by people. I’m experiencing something so private and so personal, but unless I externalize it, they are completely unaware. It’s almost an art to be able to hide it—to train myself well enough to function in front of others to the point that, if I do reveal to them the nature of my anxiety, they reply, “I had no idea.”

If you’ve never experienced a panic attack, they are almost impossible to explain. But I’m going to try.

Panic attacks are often pre-verbal, animalistic, and very, very private. No two people experience a panic attack in the same way.

It’s not always rocking back and forth in the fetal position (though I’ve been there). Some people zone out and become almost catatonic. Some can’t breathe. Some have chest pains. Some become aggressive. What happens to all of us, though, when we have a panic attack is the feeling or thought that either something catastrophic is about to happen or we are going to die. And as far-fetched as it sounds, I can assure you that it is very, very real.

It often starts with feeling dizzy or woozy. The room doesn’t spin, but I feel off. Like the earth is tilting. My blood runs cold and I get a chill up my spine. I feel like I’m going to pass out. The thoughts that run through my head are almost incomprehensible—a steady stream of screeching and wailing. My brain flips its switch and I go from being able to think and function logically to oh god I’m going to die I’m about to die I have to get out of here I’m going to die this is it oh god oh no no no no.

I have to sit down, or I have to walk, depending on how close I am to fainting. Typically, my fight/flight/freeze response is flight, so I usually want to get the f*ck out of there—wherever “there” is. I want to be alone, but I’m terrified of being alone.

No one can see me like this.
What if I pass out? What if I die? Will anyone find me?
But what if it’s just a panic attack? Then you’ll feel stupid.
Should I get help? Should I call 911?

I walk out if I can, and if not, I fake needing to go to the bathroom and text my husband.

I’m about to pass out. I don’t know what to do. I’m freaking out. Can you come home?

I’m crying by this point and I’m having a hard time taking a deep breath. I hug myself and rock if I’m sitting down or I shift my weight from leg to leg if I’m standing up. My throat is closing. Everything is too loud and too bright. I’m pinging between sheer panic and despair.

When I’m on the panic side of the spectrum, I go off instinct. My instinct is to escape. When I’m on the despair side of the spectrum, I’m able to form thoughts. Real sh*tty thoughts.

What is happening? Is this a panic attack or am I dying? Am I going to faint? Do I have a heart problem? What if it’s something really bad that’s undiagnosed? I haven’t eaten anything in a few hours, maybe it’s diabetes. HOW CAN EVERYONE ACT SO NORMAL CAN’T THEY SEE I’M DYING???

I flip-flop between panic and despair for the duration of the attack. It never lasts longer than ten minutes, but the effects of it last the rest of the day. I’m exhausted, but I’m on guard in case it comes back. I’m wary. Is this just a random panic attack or am I about to go through another season of hell?

I know it can be hard to imagine a panic attack if you’ve never had one. It gets portrayed in a humorous way on TV, usually involving breathing into a paper bag, and it can seem a little dramatic. I’ve had someone tell me that they used to think people who had panic attacks were weak (why couldn’t they just pull themselves together and snap out of it?) until they had one themselves.

If you’ve never had a panic attack, first I want to thank you for reading this far. Either you love someone who has had panic attacks, or you’re genuinely curious, and both make you an awesome person. Let me paint a picture for you.

Imagine you’re driving your car in the mountains of Tennessee. It’s a sunny day and you’re listening to your favorite band as you steer your car around the bends. You’re enjoying the ride and thinking about your family or friends or whoever you’re going to see.

Then, out of nowhere, your power steering goes out and you plow straight through the railing. You grab the e-brake just in time, but the front end of your car is hanging off the mountain and the back tires are hanging by the railing you ran over. One wrong move and your car will slide off of the edge toward a 200-foot drop, and you will die.

Do you try to climb out of the back? Do you sit still and wait for rescue? Do you accept your fate? What do you do? The car seems to be sliding forward slowly. Or is it? It’s hard to tell. You can’t think. You have to get out of here, but you can’t move. You’re helpless.

This is a panic attack. It comes out of nowhere usually, which makes it so cruel. We aren’t expecting it. We are living life. Then, in a matter of a second, we truly feel that we are on the brink of death. I can’t stress enough just how utterly real this feels to us.

Our bodies believe we are about to die. Our brains send a flood of adrenaline into our bloodstream. Our heart beats fast, sending more blood to our muscles. Our breathing becomes shallower, allowing us to take in more oxygen. Our blood sugar spikes and our senses sharpen. Our body is trying to help us confront danger or get out of harm’s way, but it doesn’t realize that there is no real danger.

That’s why panic attacks are so exhausting. We are having a near death experience. We aren’t facing the reality of death, but we are facing our perception of it.

Eventually, it passes. It always does. We are left feeling drained or numb or depressed or ashamed. I tend to get angry.

This is BULLSH*T. I HATE this. Why does this keep happening? I was a therapist, for Christ’s sake. I should not have panic attacks. F*CK THIS.

We recover, though, and that’s exactly why people who have panic attacks are warriors. We fight battles every day. We know the nature of The Beast. We don’t always know when he’ll strike, but we know that we will survive whatever he throws at us. We’ve faced death in our own way, and it hasn’t beaten us yet. We survived the last panic attack, and we’ll survive the next one. We have no choice.

About Haley West

Haley is a writer, artist, business owner, mental health advocate, mom, and wife. She’s got a thing for dogs, books, Jesus, psychology, plants, and Harry Potter. It’s her hope that her words can move you, comfort you, empower you, humor you, inspire you, give you hope, and make you feel less alone. Check her out on Facebook and on her website at haleyhardinwest.com.

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The post Inside a Panic Attack: What It’s Like When Anxiety Strikes appeared first on Tiny Buddha.

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Making New Friends as an Adult: Tenderness and Expansion.

This question from Gina was delivered with such beautiful vulnerability:

“Formulating this question into words has me in a wellspring of emotions including sadness, loss, inadequacy, and deep curiosity. I’m going to focus on the ‘well’ and curious parts and believe that in my asking there is hope for an answer. Here goes: How do you navigate making new friends?

I’ve thought about this question a lot and have come to understand that at stages of life we make friends naturally: in school, in afterschool activities, in college, then as couples/moms, and in our jobs. These shared experiences make bonding easier and friendships easier to find. At a certain point, those situations aren’t happening as readily and our circle gets smaller. I’m single, self-employed, way past college, childless, and have moved a few times. I’ve experienced the pain of lost friendships. I’ve grieved them more than lost love, because… girlfriends. They are a life source.

“When our closest is no longer close, how do we cultivate richness with someone new when so much life has already happened? It feels so vulnerable to admit I’m bestie friendless. Do women want new friends in their late 40s, or are they already set and I’m the only one looking?””

Making new friends in your 30s, 40s, and onwards—it’s never, EVER too late.

I’m doing a mental inventory right now of the women in my life between 30 and 70… and all of us definitely love and celebrate new friendships. At this point in my life, I’ve had a number of friendships dissolve. And I’ve noticed with every sea change, I’ve had more room in my heart, and new friends came in. And the new people in this decade of my life bring in fresh qualities with them. Gentleness. Openness. We all want to make a difference in the world in our own way—and have a great time doing it.

Where to find new friends as a grown-up?

Go where there is resonance.

Classes, choirs, volunteer opportunities, yoga workshops… where are your people? Conferences/festivals that are aligned with your values are particularly ripe for connection. And this is the thing about making friends as a seeker—just the search itself expands you as a person, brings more flavour, dimension, and colour into your life. We can choose to embrace it.

Bring the people to you.

Another route, on a smaller scale: book clubs, conversation groups, salons… in your own living room. Nerve-wracking, I know. This is going to require courage, as all new growth does. You could invite two friends to bring two other friends and have a conversation over dinner. Find a topic of deep meaning to you. It just takes a few people to go deeper.

I’m doing this in my own life, right now. Because community is our salvation—so what can I do immediately to bring more of that into my life? This is how I’m starting…

  • Inviting as many people over for dinner as I can fit around my table! And asking each of my guests to bring someone new. It’s radical for me.
  • Key for making it easy: potluck style.
  • Also key: not over-curating it. Will that person be good with that person seated next to them? Are they a brain match? None of that. We’re all in this together.

Practice constant gratitude for the friendship that already exists in your life, in whatever form it’s showing up.

It’s the kind person at work or the conversation with a distant friend you never see. And there’s even something to honouring the memories of the nourishing friendships you had in the past. Just creating that fondness and letting that flow, and seeing how Life is already supporting you through connection… because that gratitude brings you into the present. And from the present you create the reality that you most want.

Acknowledge the beauty of your desire.

The longing you’re expressing to be in sisterhood is both primal and divine. It’s so life-affirming. It’s so vibrant. Friendship is the medicine. It’s the elixir that we need right now, more than ever. Your desire is so healthy.

With Love,


Link Love

The Desire Map Book Club can be your friendship sparker. Put up a flyer at the local book store, invite a few folks from yoga, or find a group in your area. Go through the process together. Your Core Desired Feelings. What you’re grateful for and why. What you want to revolutionize in your own life, in society. Deep connection.

My podcast theme is I AM LOVE, by DJ Drez feat. Marti Nikko. Available on Spotify + iTunes. Please support independent, positive music. xo



Danielle LaPorte is an invited member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100, a group who, in Oprah Winfrey’s words, “is uniquely connecting the world together with a spiritual energy that matters.” She is author of White Hot Truth: Clarity for keeping it real on your spiritual path—from one seeker to another. The Fire Starter Sessions, and The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul—the book that has been translated into 8 languages, evolved into a yearly day planner system, a top 10 iTunes app, and an international workshop program with licensed facilitators in 15 countries. Named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes, millions of visitors go to DanielleLaPorte.com every month for her daily #Truthbombs and what’s been called “the best place online for kickass spirituality.” A speaker, a poet, a painter, and a former business strategist and Washington-DC think tank exec, Entrepreneur Magazine calls Danielle, “equal parts poet and entrepreneurial badass…edgy, contrarian…loving and inspired.” Her charities of choice are Eve Ensler’s VDay: a global movement to end violence against women and girls, and charity: water, setting out to bring safe drinking water to everyone in the world. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her favourite philosopher, her son. You can find her @daniellelaporte and just about everywhere on social media.

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The post Making New Friends as an Adult: Tenderness and Expansion. appeared first on Positively Positive.

What You Can Learn from the Kindness of Strangers

A stranger did the most selfless thing for me, and I learned we don’t need grand gestures to be kind.

It was the last day of final exams in my freshmen year of college. I was preparing myself (mentally and physically) to drive the three hours back to my parent’s house in the snow. The school had been warning its students about a possible snowstorm for weeks, and sure enough, the storm had arrived to commemorate our last day of exams.

After my last class, I rushed to my car, knowing if I got on the road quickly, I could get out of town before it got too dangerous.

As I approached my car in the parking lot, I saw one of the rear tires was completely deflated.

I didn’t know how to change a flat tire. (I will be honest; I still don’t know. I haven’t learned my lesson. I’m hanging my head in shame as I write.)

I knew there was a spare in the trunk but that was the extent of my automobile repair knowledge. 18-year-old me always relied on my dad; he was my “in case of emergency” plan. 27-year-old me relies on AAA now.

So, I stood outside in the freezing cold, helplessly watching the snow pile up on the ground.

At least a foot of snow had accumulated by then. People were shuffling past me and I couldn’t even blame them for avoiding eye contact with me.

Who would want to be stuck in the snow when a storm was approaching? No one, especially not me. But my plans were derailed.

With a flat tire and nowhere else to turn, I panicked and called my dad, my emergency lifeline.

Just then, a young man approached me out of nowhere and asked if I needed any help.

I was in tears as I told him I needed to drive back into the city, but I didn’t know how to change a tire. His calmness, even as the snow fell faster and harder, caused me to relax. He said,

“No problem, I can do that for you.”

There we stood, in snowfall that was worsening with every minute. But the kind man didn’t say another word as he opened my trunk, took the spare tire out, and kneeled, buryinghimselfin the snow to place the jack under the tire.

His clothes were soaking wet, but he continued without a single comment or complaint. I can’t remember how many times I said thank you while he worked. He remained quiet and concentrated until he finished.

When he was done, he brushed the snow off his jacket and put his frozen hands into his pockets.

I offered him money first, then coffee and food at the coffee shop in the student center. He politely declined every one of my offers, even when I insisted a few more times.

He wished me luck and asked that I drive safely back to the city. And then he walked away from me, hands in his pockets, and disappeared across campus.

I didn’t even catch his name, and I never saw him again. After replacing my tire at the tire shop near campus, I drove slowly to the city. I got to my parent’s house safe and sound that day, and it was all thanks to the kind act of a complete stranger.

When I remember this man, I think of all the good people who do kind things for others and expect nothing in return.

That day, I witnessed an act of pure and unselfish kindness. A gesture of human decency; a display of love that came straight out of the goodness of this man’s heart.

There are other people, like this man, who do good things and expect nothing in return for their help. Hell, they might not even accept something in return.

After this day, I wondered, if I knew how to change a tire, would I do for someone else what he did for me? Would I be willing to bury my body in the snow to help someone I didn’t know?

But I realized, we don’t need a grand gesture to be kind.

Sure, if you can change someone’s tire in a snowstorm, that is pretty damn grand! The helpless girl standing next to her car in tears will absolutely appreciate you. But our words can be acts of kindness too.

The rippling effect that kindness creates is not changed by the size of our good deed. We don’t need grand gestures to make someone else’s day brighter and start a chain-reaction of kindness. When someone does something for you, you want to pass along the love. And they’ll want to do the same for someone else.

Listen to a friend who is going through a hard time. Let someone with only a few items cut you in line at the grocery store when you’re not in a rush. Pay for the person’s coffee behind you in line at the drive thru. Hold the door for the people walking into your building. Give a compliment and mean it. You can never know how powerful a smile, a thank-you, or a compliment can be to someone who is struggling to keep it together.

Acts of love are acts of love, no matter how small. @JesssLovejoy (Click to Tweet!)

* Originally published on Medium.

Jessica Mendez is a full-time writer living in Las Vegas, NV. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from NAU and her master’s degree in family and human development from ASU. In 2018, she left her career in mental health to pursue a career in writing. She is currently working on her debut novel and a collection of bilingual poetry. Follow her on Twitter and Medium to read more of her work.

Image courtesy of Sandrachile .

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