By now you realize this will happen every month. The transformations, they suck. I know from experience. And if you’re anything like me, the first one completely traumatized you. I remember how it left me so ashamed, so embarrassed, so guilty that I tossed every mirror I owned in the dumpster. That is, after breaking a few. As dramatic as it sounds, I just couldn’t bear to look at myself.

Somehow, the second was worse. All the same physical discomfort and anguish as the first, but that time I knew what was coming. I dreaded nightfall. I begged the sun to stay up for just five more minutes. At least the first transformation took me by surprise! I had no context or point of reference to go from—a blessing, really.

For years I fought the full moon. I tried everything I could to stop my flesh from going furry and to lower the temperature of my internal furnace.



Silver crucifixes.


None worked, obviously, but I learned a few things, like the HOA staunchly opposes the growing of wolf’s bane in the community garden. “Dear Professor Hayes, it has come to our attention that you recently planted a row of monkshood, which you should know, is poisonous. Please remove immediately.”

Like any good academic, I understood my limitations, so I redirected my efforts and installed a security system to keep me in the house. Chain locks, double-bolted windows, a collar and invisible electric fencing if I happened to make it out to the yard. I patted myself on the back, content that I wasn’t going to hurt anyone besides myself.

That worked for a while, because it’s a pretty good system. You probably have your own, and I bet it works just as well as mine did, or even better. Technology has come a long way since I was bitten. But you will soon realize, if you haven’t already, that this is just another attempt to control the uncontrollable. It dawned on during a professional development seminar the English Department used to offer. They brought this Zen Buddhist monk from Woodstock into the conference room, and he led us in a series of meditations and chair yoga and even a little tai chi. All this was supposed to help manage our stress levels and improve morale in the face of increased teaching loads and severe budget cuts. I’m not sure how much it helped the faculty, but it sure hooked me instantly. Just like with the bite all those years ago, I could tell something changed instantly.

It’s been six years since I started practicing mindfulness, and I swear by it. For my money, it’s the only way to not let this disease get the best of you. I know it sounds crazy, but I also know you’re desperate. Trust me on this one. Follow these three easy steps for a transformation free of turmoil.



When the change starts, do a mental body scan. Point out five things you see. Say them  in your head. I see the coffee table; I see the TV remote; I see the carpet; I see the fireplace; I see the lamp. Now point out four things you hear. I hear the cicadas; I hear the crickets; I hear my clothes shredding; I hear my joint popping. Point out three things you feel. I feel my muscles stretching; I feel my stomach expanding; I feel my teeth and nails pushing through my skin. Point out two things you smell. I smell hot garbage and raw meat. And then, right before you lose control of Broca’s area, say one thing you like about yourself. In my experience, this will be the first thing you remember when you wake up.



Focus on your breathing. Imagine the air flowing into your newly formed snout and traveling down your lungs.

Breathe in deep, breathe out slow.

Breathe in deep, breathe out slow.

When the wolf brain tries pulling you to the trashcan or the yard, go back to the breathing. Breathe in deep, breathe out slow. When the urges bubble up in your boiling blood, go back to the breathing. The urge to feed, breathe. The urge to fight, breathe. The urge to fling yourself out the door and force yourself upon the night, breathe.

Breathe in deep, breathe out slow.



I saved the hardest part for last, but it’s the most important skill: non-identification. The wolf does not define you. You are still the person you were before the bite. You experience transformations, but you are not transformed. The sooner you create this separation, the sooner you can live a full and meaningful life for 353 days a year.


These steps aren’t exhaustive, you can go down all sorts of rabbit holes with podcasts and self-help books and YouTube videos. They’re all good. Pick whichever ones resonate with you and practice them every day—not just under the wolf moon. With more repetitions, this will become second nature.

Oh, one more thing, try to stay away from actual rabbit holes when you transform. They’re pretty tasty in the middle of the night, but you’ll regret it in the morning when you’re coughing up furballs. Trust me on that one.