Category: life

Oct 12

Follow-up

My recent WSJ Accelerators essay struck a nerve and after seeing a few comments posted, I want to clarify a few things — especially about Meebo’s culture and any perceived ill-will. I think some nuance may have been lost in the editing process and I want to make it clear that I love my team, Meebo, and what we built together. This is a personal story about a trying time in my professional life and I wanted to share a boots-on-the-ground perspective. So let me set the record straight:

* Meebo’s culture was as good as it gets and was undoubtedly female-friendly — I’ll never work with another group with so much talent, kindness, and commitment to being inclusive and for making the world a better place. You learn a lot about people after co-founding a company and I can’t say enough good things about my two co-founders, Seth and Sandy. Seth has the keenest strategic nose that you’ll ever encounter and Sandy will out-execute and out-charm anyone in the Valley.

Our first ten employees represented eight universities, three countries, and a 70/30 male/female ratio. Among our senior exec team, we had three women reporting to our CEO and co-founder. Our team’s multiple perspectives led to a stronger and more authentic product. This was an isolated incident that occurred outside of Meebo’s usual business. If anything, I think this shows that building an inclusive environment is hard and you always need to be willing to rethink your own personal views and assumptions. If these issues can arise during my time at Meebo, then I am no longer as quick to judge others either.

* There’s more work to do — Even within an amazing culture, I realize that these issues can just arise organically and subconsciously — in this case, during the hiring process. The most vivid part of this story for me is my coach’s feedback. We talked through a lot of possibilities about why someone would not join last-minute including considering gender, feeling out negotiating strategies, and of course, my own behavior. It’s entirely possible this was just a hard negotiation tactic or that any one of my many, many shortcomings played into this, but I’ll always be struck by the matter-of-fact “this is how the real world works” conversation. It’s the first time I had even the slightest idea that gender was top-of-mind for anyone and that I needed to be more aware of this part of my identity. Whether or not this ended up being the true root cause, I’ve learned to tread more carefully and not assume that people who come from other corporate cultures will inherently share my values and working style.

May 30

what i learned as an oompa loompa


Engineer (left) going Oompa Loompa (right)

Last fall, I heard the spousal call of duty, “Elaine, help me get these doors open.”

My husband, Todd, and his co-founder, Cam, had spent the last few years building chocolate machines and scouting the world for great cocoa beans in an effort to open a micro-batch chocolate factory in San Francisco’s Mission District. The construction crew finished converting the brick automotive garage to a food-safe bean-to-bar workshop and it was time to figure out the nitty gritty details like moving, merchandising, and designing the café & retail space. Todd needed all the help he could get and I was happy to pitch in during those critical months. Now that I’ve come up for air and returned to tech projects, I’ve had time to reflect on what I learned from brick-and-mortar operations:


Even the welds break

  1. For loops are a veritable miracle — At the chocolate factory, something breaks every single flippin’ day. Each morning I gave my evil eye to the roasters, melangers, temperers, wrapping machine, dishwasher, or anything with a screw, fuse, gear, glue, belt, or oil level and asked, “Okay, which one of you little buggers is going today?”

    In comparison, code brings tears to my eyes. If that for loop worked yesterday, then barring catastrophic hardware failures or someone checking in code they shouldn’t, it’ll likely work today. That type of, “if you don’t touch it, it’ll keep working” certainty seems divine. I’ve always loved the Web but I have renewed appreciation for redundancy, unit testing, and monitoring now.


    Lots of chocolate; no email.

  2. Want to release faster? Don’t cut features; cut email. Dandelion’s chocolate makers don’t check email throughout the day (the execs aren’t so lucky). If you can depend upon eight hours of focused time each day, then goals magically happen. With just a back of the napkin estimation, if the team says they’ll make 1000 bars, stop worrying — they’ve got it.

    There are still complications and distractions (e.g. tours, businesses with supply emergencies, daily check-in meetings, and see #1) but there are no late nights catch-up email marathons, no pleas for Agile-enabled predictability, no emergency requests to add two more weeks to the schedule, and no unsustainable sprints to a goal followed by “whoa, let’s never do that again” post-mortem analyses.

    Conservatively, I think that at least 30% of Meebo’s productivity was lost to folks staying current with voluminous Inboxes. Startups want to be hyper-communicative and transparent but those cc’s and long winding email threads add up. However, the first startup that balances getting stuff done despite an ever-expanding Inbox will have a formidable advantage.


    From left to right: future Pulitzer prize winner, Fulbright scholar, and Stanford grad

  3. Tech people, get over yourselves — Dandelion Chocolate has two Fulbright scholars, a Harvard law school grad, Ivy Leaguers, and even outside of formal academic pedigrees, is one of the most talented teams I’ve seen. Tech recruiters spend a lot of time bending over backwards looking for niche skillsets and as a result, we tend to think of ourselves as the center of the talent universe. However, if the folks at Dandelion Chocolate learned to code or design, they’d whoop most of our startup tooshes. Other industries are teeming with extraordinary, passionate people and it doesn’t take an army of recruiters and hundreds of LinkedIn emails to find them. The next time I build a team, I’ll look beyond industry borders.


    Brandon analyzing bean sorting efficiency

  4. Engineering principles provide arbitrage opportunities — When I tell tech people I’ve been pitching in at a chocolate factory, I spot the concerned eyebrows, “Elaine, what about intellectual stimulation?” or a VC will wander to another networking table presumably thinking, “Oy, small potatoes.” Fermentation processes, tempering crystallization structures, and modeling roasting & melanging profiles provide lots of mental fodder. Chocolate making isn’t a traditional startup but engineering principles like small achievable goals, metrics, and A/B testing are very applicable, opening new opportunities in existing markets. The tech world is a fantastic training ground for non-tech industries where there aren’t support networks of meetups, workspaces, and mentors.


    The #1 troublemaker at Dandelion Chocolate

  5. HCI is a digital thing — A little backstory… the women’s bathroom door at Dandelion Chocolate constantly breaks (see #1). From the mezzanine, I can hear the frustrated click-click-click when guests jigger the finicky door lock. At the beginning of the day, I paused when I heard the metal clicking to make sure the bathroom seeker didn’t need help. But by noon, the high-pitched metal-on-metal screeching made my hair stand on end, my stomach churn, and I was ready to do anything… anything… even standing vigilant outside the bathroom to personally escort patrons in and out of the loo… to prevent that irksome sound again.

    When I initially told my parents that I was interested in HCI (Human-Computer Interaction), they didn’t get it. And now I understand why. Technology is so virtual that it takes logging, data mining, insightful researchers, and persuasive experts to convince a team there’s a problem on the Internet worth fixing.

    However, when you’re working with tangibles, you are walking and breathing your own User Experience experiment. You see the half-drunk cups when you take out the trash. You can’t help but overhear under breath comments on the street. And if something is broken, you don’t have to do a cost-benefit analysis to figure out whether fixing the bathroom door is a priority. Someone’s going to fix the bathroom door or they’ll go crazy.


    Chocolate for sale

  6. Simple business models solve so many problems — With Meebo, our business model went something like this: we built a product that people like. We monetized a fraction of those eyeballs with brand advertising. We tracked the percentage of users who clicked an ad and logged their engagement times. However, since correlating brand advertising with bottom line revenue is nearly impossible online, we also monitored ad partnership renewals. If all of those metrics were healthy, we were happy. (~60 words)

    At Dandelion Chocolate, the business model is: we make and sell chocolate. (5 words)

    It’s so much easier to build a sustainable organization around a simple revenue model. There are no tensions between ad partners, distribution sites, engineering, and sales teams. There are fewer points of failure. Instead, everyone is aligned towards a simple goal: make something people want.


    The Dandelion Chocolate team goes to Hawaii after hitting a big goal

  7. Equity isn’t a great long-term motivator — In tech, salary is only one component of your compensation package. If your company does well, your stock options can be worth far more than all of your combined paychecks. Equity is “skin in the game.”

    However, the compensation at Dandelion Chocolate is traditional — wages and salaries. And when things get tough (e.g. the temperer breaks during the December rush — see #1), employees’ visions of becoming overnight millionaires aren’t shattered. Instead, it’s an even-keeled, “Okay, what do we need to do to get through this?” What motivates the team is working with interesting people, more opportunities to travel and grow, and building something pride-worthy.

    As a startup leader, you fear an employee exodus at the first sign of trouble. For engineers with lots of options, trouble means it’s time to diversify your equity portfolio and seek greener pastures elsewhere. In some cases, equity can have the opposite effect and even encourage short-term thinking.


    Valencia St crowded with café experts
    (Photo courtesy of Flickr:tofuart via Creative Commons)

  8. The real world has tougher critics — Startups can shield themselves behind a slow beta roll-out. Your mom and dad might follow your company blog but they probably didn’t critique last Friday’s release.

    In contrast, almost everyone in the world is a café expert. On his day off Todd gets calls and texts, “Todd, the bathroom door seems to slide funny…” or “I drove all the way from Sausalito and you just ran out of marshmallows!”

    The feedback is always, always, always appreciated. But your skin thickens a bit. The chocolate factory is a public venue of our closest friends, friends of friends, neighbors, and supporters — the people you want to make most proud. Every one of those visitor has seen hundreds of cafés and everyone has opinions about how they’d make it better. Unlike tech, you’re very exposed. And if we have an off day, we can’t follow-up with an email newsletter or pop-up notification, “We listened to your feedback! Here’s version 1.2 just for you!”


    Customers in the face blind retail mode

  9. Retail face blindness (i.e. prosopagnosia) — Hopefully there’s a psychology student searching for their next phD thesis among this blog’s readers.

    Either I’m very bland looking (totally plausible) or there’s an undocumented psychologic phenomenon for how people mentally categorize service professionals…

    As a door greeter, cashier, or farmer’s market volunteer, I love talking with visitors. A quick exchange can expand into an intimate 10-minute conversation about our families, our personal food preferences, frequently an exchange of names, and sometimes even promises to follow-up via email.

    Afterwards, I’ll say goodbye and walk next door for a sandwich where I coincidentally spot them again. They look at me when I join them in line, look back, and order a croissant. Nothing. Not even a spark of recognition. I’m a total stranger! This has happened frequently enough that I’m now fascinated by the brain’s ability to immediately delete people information — especially people we don’t think we’ll see again. If you end up researching this further or know anything about this, let me know!


    The chocolate chip cookie — a reliable favorite for seventy-five years and likely to be popular for decades to come

  10. Tech is still harder — It’s easier than ever to start a tech company. The food industry is envious of tech’s lack of permits and regulations, workspaces, meetups, access to capital, and the built-in network of angels & mentors. If you have a good idea, the entrepreneurial community will bend over backwards to help you.

    However, it’s much harder to keep that tech company going. The Internet reinvents itself every two years making longterm planning difficult. It’s safe to assume that people will probably eat chocolate in ten, twenty years. It’s hard to guarantee that any burgeoning startup will be relevant in six months. Building a longterm Internet business within a mercurial market is extraordinarily stressful. In addition to the normal trials of starting a business, you have to be hyper-aware of trends and prepared to pivot tomorrow. It’s likely that the team you hired 18 months ago signed up for a different vision that what you’re working on now and that requires further management. Years 0-2 are easier but years 2-8 are harder.

I’m winding down my Oompa Loompa days with more appreciation for brick-and-mortar businesses. If the toilet paper’s out at a restaurant, I’ll try to change it myself. I tip more and curse the evil people who steal tip jars and iPhones (grrrr)! When the Giants make it to the World Series, I tune in to the police radio chatter and listen for riots. I can add “skilled in the Tiffany bow tying method” to my resume.

Above all, I am grateful to have been a part of the Dandelion Chocolate story and to have learned so much from the team. Thank you again!

And of course, feel free to drop by Dandelion Chocolate at 740 Valencia St (at 18th) in San Francisco.


Dandelion Chocolate Door

Apr 27

100 Mistakes

As a startup founder, I wore a lot of hats and I made a ton of mistakes. I was a typical first-time, 20-something entrepreneur with tremendous pressure to scale with the team and business.

At night, I found myself awake agonizing over the mistakes I could see myself making — not letting go of ideas that I liked but that weren’t good for the business, not presenting my ideas effectively in group meetings, or not saying no to projects when I was already overwhelmed. However, I found that if I wrote down my mistakes in a bedside journal, I could return to sleep and revisit my mistakes in the daytime.

The journal grew and grew. And when I started hiring a team, I saw my team members make the exact same missteps. At first, I was relieved. I no longer felt like I was the worst contributor, manager, director, or VP! But I also wanted to compile my mistakes and share my perspective with them.

At first, I tried giving new managers and directors my bulleted list. However, that was horribly ineffective. No one wants to be handed a list from their manager of all the ways they’ll inevitably fail!

So instead, I started focusing on telling stories and setting the scenes for these mistakes. I sketched the scenes of all of the mistakes and started weaving them into a story that showed the professional journey that everyone makes from their first day on the job as a fresh grad to leading the company as a C-level executive.

It’s an illustrated story that I’ve been narrating and sharing with other startups and organizations. I presented the story at South by Southwest a few months ago. Since then, it’s been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, and this morning, I presented a few of the mistakes on the CBS Morning Show.

Originally, this was a fun side project that I enjoyed sharing with other startups and the feedback that I’ve heard is that it should be a book. I’ve just started considering that in earnest. If you want to know where you can get a copy of 100 Mistakes, please bear with me — you’ll need to wait a little bit longer!

And at the end of the journey, I’m just grateful to have been a part of a team that allowed each other to grow and to learn from our mistakes. With a little bit more perspective, I am overwhelmed by how much everyone genuinely wants to do well by others and to create something meaningful together. However, old habits, misplaced exuberance, and role ambiguity sometimes get in the way.

Looking forward to sharing more soon!

Oct 27

geeky guide to halloween


Via annedela at istockphoto.com

It’s likely that Halloween can be explained by two tiny almond-sized regions deep in your brain. By researching neuropsychology and history, a primal code appears that describes 5-6 specific stories that terrify our brain senseless. Once you know them, you can design a truly scary Halloween costume or outline many horror books and screenplays.

the floating eyeball that wouldn’t go away


Evil eyeball via moddb.com

When I was eight, I awoke to a bloodshot eyeball the size of a softball glaring down on me. I closed and opened my eyes — expecting it to be gone — but it wouldn’t go away and terrorized the space above my bed for half an hour.

The experience was petrifying. When my politely concerned parents suggested that the eyeball was a dream or a bird, I was aghast, “Dang it – now I have to risk my life catching that blasted, deathly eyeball before you’ll believe me?!”

The mystery unraveled in college when I learned about the brain’s amygdala. I went on a research deep-dive and realized, “Wait a second — this is the secret to a great Halloween costume or horror film!”

the culprit amygdala


Courtesy of Creative Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Amygdala.png

The amygdala, a small low-level region of the brain a few inches behind each eye, seems perfectly wired for Halloween. It is responsible for the fight or flight response, keeping a library of what is scary in the world, detecting fearful facial expressions, and waking its dreamer when something goes bump in the night.

Hyperactive amygdalas (generally from stress, sickness, food reactions, poor sleep habits, or genetics) can trigger hallucinations and paralysis while we pass in and out of sleep. The experience isn’t always negative but when it is, it becomes a “night terror.” This is very different from a nightmare. Only 6% of the general population is believed to ever experience the prerequisite sleep paralysis [1] and a full-blown hallucinatory “night terror” (also referred to as pavor nocturnus, hypnagogia, or hypnopompia) is far rarer.

But what’s astounding is that most night terror hallucinations, spanning nearly all cultures and over thousands of years, are remarkably similar!

This suggests that some experiences are universally scary. Interviewing your amygdala is impossible and designing a psychological experiment to scare subjects is unethical. However, night terror accounts provide a convenient glimpse into that hidden psyche.

how a night terror happens


The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli (1741–1825)

A few things must misfire for a night terror to occur. First, the amygdala must be in deep REM sleep where it has the most vivid, fanciful dream activity. But before the amygdala runs and flies into wild REM sleep stories, it warns the brainstem to immobilize the body so that the dreamer remains safe and still instead of thrashing about in their sleep.

However, occasionally the amygdala and motor shut-off signals fall out of sync before or after REM sleep. If our mind becomes conscious before the body, we can wake up paralyzed or numb. Sudden-onset paralysis is already frightening but being frozen while a fear-obsessed amygdala is in overdrive can turn terrifying!

Once frozen but conscious, the amygdala hallucinates within the bedroom scene. Suddenly ghostly apparitions appear to crawl out of closets and emerge from shadows while the dreamer remains helpless. The dreamer can even feel their intruder’s cold touch or painful pinches. Night terrors are frequently accompanied by shortness of breath and chest compressions so strong that one account describes them as “a ton of rocks upon my chest.” However, dreamers are unaware of these mechanics and attribute the sensation to the intruder crawling upon their body and riding them to near suffocation. The experience is so real that it is often hard to convince the victim that the terror didn’t actually happen.

Though night terrors vary, all night terrors exploit one fear — an intense and overpowering anxiety that something is “out to get you.” Our amygdala’s worst fear is not public speaking or the dentist but being chased or pursued with the intent to kill.


“Ichabod Crane, Respectfully Dedicated to Washington Irving.” William J. Wilgus (1819 – 1853)
The headless horseman chasing Ichabod Crane


the 6 night terrors

Here are sure-fire ways to scare the beejezus out of your Halloween buddies. Academic research and historical accounts typically identify the old hag, incubus/succubus, and vestibular motor sensations (dizziness, vibrations). Outside of research, contemporary accounts also include alien abductions and vermin.

1. The Old Hag


Snow White, Frankenstein, Wizard of Oz, Tales from the Crypt, and Night of the Living Dead

Example: Your ghoulish deceased grandmother appears in your bedroom, slowly approaches, crawls upon your chest, and proceeds to suffocate you with her weight.

The old hag night terror refers to an old or deceased woman who appears at night and crawls upon the dreamer’s chest to choke, assault, or suffocate them. Though it’s called an “old hag,” a ghoulish male equivalent exists too. Witches, mummies, and zombies are an embodiment of this terror. With skeletons, the dreamer sometimes awakens to find the skeleton sleeping beside them. And more recently, online forums are filled with accounts of creepy children who crawl into the room to attack the dreamer.

Interestingly, Mary Shelley supposedly developed the vision for Frankenstein based upon a “dream vision” and it’s worth nothing that Dorothy’s interactions with the Wicked Witch of the West occur while she is sleeping. On Halloween, the old hag is represented by the classic pointy hat witch costume.


2. Evil Species


Engraving from Charles Nodier’s “Tales” (probably inspired by Henry Fuseli) (1846), King Kong, Gremlins, Terminator, Aliens,
and Forbidden Planet (1956)

Example: A giant expressionist monster with glowing eyes enters your room through a crack in the window, immobilizes you telepathically, and proceeds to suck the life out of you with its super powers.

Sometimes the menacing presence is not entirely human but a demon, gremlin, monster, or animal. In research, these are typically classified as types of old hag hallucinations and the overall intent is the same — to physically assault the dreamer. However, there’s a subtle distinction that I think makes it worthy of it’s own category. Unlike deceased human corpses, the amygdala appears to invent a threatening superior species. In history, this has been a stronger demon, a monster laden with teeth, or a creature with supernatural powers like a werewolf at full moon. Today, there are fewer accounts of these demons. However, alien abduction stories are rampant and many researchers believe that these are modern night terrors exposing a deep fear of a technologically superior species.


3. Femme Fatale & Ladykiller


Medieval woodcut of lustful Pan from Darrah Anderson with 3:AM Magazine, Snow White (1937), La Chiesa, Dracula (1931),
Phantom of the Opera, Lilith by John Collier (1892), and Basic Instinct

Example: The devil appears in your bedroom and wants to impregnate you with his spawn.

Though it’s controversial to mention, history is riddled with accounts of the incubus (male) and succubus (female) — evil lustful spirits that use their sexual wiles to seduce and assault their dreamers. This is the classic tale behind Rosemary’s Baby.

In the Medieval period, these reports were so pervasive that if a woman unexpectedly became pregnant while her husband was away, the demonic incubus was suspected before infidelity or rape. The male form is controversial and many suspect that historical accounts of incubi have been scape-goats for history’s sexual offenders. However, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rosemary’s Baby, and the Phantom of the Opera are almost certainly of incubus folklore.

The female equivalent, a femme fatale, generally takes the shape of a demonic angel (she-devil) with pronounced sexual features like large breasts, long hair, and sometimes wings. In some cases, the female form attacks the children of the dreamer. Most cultures have a Lilith/Eve temptress within their folklore – some dating back thousands of years. It’s not at all far-fetched to suggest that religion may have taken a cue from a hyperactive amygdala!


4. Vibrations & Noise


Alice in Wonderland (1951), Vertigo (1958), Exorcist (1973), haunted house via clker.com

Example: You wake up to paralysis. You strain to open your eyes or sit up in bed but even the smallest movement is impossible. You’re trapped in your head’s darkness growing dizzier by the second. A buzzing noise joins your darkness and gets louder and louder, closer and closer. You try screaming for help but you are still paralyzed. The buzzing noise is overwhelming and all-consuming. The darkness has become a whirlpool and the buzzing is so loud your head is shaking. At any moment, you’re afraid that your head might explode.

Night terrors do not always include a living intruder. Sometimes dreamers find themselves shaking uncontrollably, falling, dizzy, or just experience the world off-kilter — like a whirlpool appearing within the room, Alice falling down the rabbit hole, the heartbeat beneath the floorboards in Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart, or violent shaking that cracks bedroom walls.

Some night terror victims have an experience more akin to a noise. The “exploding head syndrome” refers to a noise trapped in the dreamer’s head that spins around getting louder and louder until the dreamer fears their head will explode.

Other noises include explosive door slams, gunshots, or explosions that immediately wake the dreamer. Or, the dreamer is paralyzed but hears far-away noises like screams, laughter, ringing, or wind getting louder and louder foreshadowing something ominous. This explains haunted house noises and perhaps why shaky hand-held camera effects elicit scary spine tingles.

As an aside, it might not be a Halloween costume, but if you’re going to write a horror film, the vibration category is my bet. Pop culture has desensitized us to vampires and zombies but the “exploding head syndrome” is rife with opportunities.


5. Vermin


Silence of the Lambs (1991), The Invasion of the Vampires (1963), rats in ceiling via darksidedisplays.com,
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Birds (1963)


Example: The wallpaper shifts, squirms, and starts crawling with hundreds of rats. The rats crawl from the walls to the ceiling above your bed and then fall into your bedsheets. They keep coming. Soon you are swimming in rats that want to overtake you.

Creepy crawly apparitions vary by culture — one culture’s cockroach is another culture’s chameleon. However, spiders, bats, lizards, cockroaches, snakes, and rats appear frequently on English-speaking forums. If the beady-eyed intruder is alone, it is typically over-sized, flying, and potentially baring teeth. Swarms of critters tend to crawl up ceilings and drop on the bedsheets of their dreamer.

After reading many vermin night terror accounts, I suspect that patterned wallpaper, curtains, and carpets provide the perfect canvas for the amygdala to go nuts. A significant number of vermin stories start with the wallpaper shifting into squirming snakes and spiders. Personally, I love fantastic wallpaper in horror films (like The Shining’s hotel) but I’d be in favor of banning wall and floor patterns in hospitals. Sickness and fever is a predictor for night terrors and the hospital is a place where I definitely want my amygdala shielded!


6. Fear of the Unknown


Repulsion (1965), Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland (2010), The Son of Man by René Magritte (1964), evil eyeball via moddb.com, monster under bed via monster.wikia.com/

Example: You wake up with a sense of overwhelming dread. You know something is in the room. It is very cold and you feel more alone than you ever have before. Whatever it is has already taken everyone else in the house and is now coming after you. You are petrified with fear. Each second the presence doesn’t reveal itself just leaves you in greater suspense.

Many visual hallucinations are incomplete or semi-transparent versions of themes 1-5: teethy jaws, ghosts, shadowy figures, faceless spirits, floating heads, arms emerging from walls or closets, and countless variations of evil eye hallucinations — floating eyeballs, red glowing eyes, or white eyes with no iris. In some cases, there is no intruder at all but just an unbearable presence that is perhaps worse than if the hallucination took full shape. This could be the monster that lives under the bed or the still shadow who keeps the dreamer in terror-filled suspense.

Within Halloween, the jack-o-lantern approximates a dismembered floating head and it’s easy to see why the ghost costume is so popular. However, if you’re looking for a great Halloween costume, the faceless shadowy figure wearing a brimmed hat and business suit (or trenchcoat) is one of today’s most common night terror hallucinations.


Conclusion

If you’re thinking, “Now I have to fall asleep after reading about the old hag. Thanks a lot Elaine.” I have good news. The more you know about night terrors the less likely you are to have them. And in fact, this may be the reason that Halloween exists at all – the more we reconcile our worst fears the less likely our amygdala goes ballistic when we’re deep asleep.

However, if you freeze with sleep paralysis tonight, many reoccurring night terror victims say that thinking positive thoughts and willing yourself to spin out of bed from your side instead of sitting straight up will break the paralyzing spell.

Happy Halloween!


Via annedela at istockphoto.com