Monday, April 29, 2013

OCD and fear of change


My blogging friend Keith recently wrote a great post about change called “If you do what you’ve always done . . .” on his blog Musings of an Unapologetic Dreamer.
In the post, he ponders the quote, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

This resonated with me because I want to make some positive changes in my life, and my tendency is to think about them and wait for them to happen to me.
As Keith says in his blog post, “if you want something different, you need to do something different.”

I want to do something different. I want to start my own business. I want to start a freelance editing business.

Just telling you that is kind of scary. But the real fear has come as I’ve gotten deeper into planning.
Many people have fears when they consider starting a business. They worry about being able to get clients or customers. They worry about being able to make money. They wonder if they have what it takes to be successful.
My biggest fears are connected to my OCD.
I have OCD about reading and writing. When the reading OCD is active, I have a hard time reading a passage without compulsively rereading it. When the writing OCD is active, I may write and rewrite, worrying about whether the correct meaning is being conveyed with my words.
Would having OCD make it impossible for me to be a successful freelance editor? Would I get so bogged down with OCD that I wouldn’t be able to perform the job?

I could physically feel the fear Sunday afternoon as I read about starting a business. My heartbeat quickened. I felt nauseated. I felt a sense of foreboding.
But I also recognized what was happening. I thought about all the times I’ve been excited about making a change, then let fear stop me. I thought about how I want my life to be different, a life lived according to my priorities and values.
I thought about how I want to do something different.
I have OCD. And I have generalized anxiety disorder and depression. But I’m also being treated for them. I’ve learned ways to manage them. I’m so much better than I used to be, and I have every hope that improvement will continue.
The fears I’m feeling are understandable. They are not an excuse to stop my plans.

I didn’t intend to write a post about freelancing yet. But I decided to tell you what I was planning and what I feared. Being open with you about my fears helps me push them back. It makes it easier for me to take the next step in putting together a business.
So more news to come. Stay tuned!

When have you had to push past fear to accomplish something important to you? How did you do it?

Friday, April 26, 2013

What’s going on in my life: 5 facts

If you’re a blogger, do you ever feel like you’ve got some things you’d like to share, but you’re not sure it would take up a whole post?
Do you ever have a snippet of information you’d like to explore, but you’re not sure where it will go?
That’s me today as I link up with Nancy’s A Rural Journal for Random 5 Friday.
Here are five facts about me and my week. I may expand on facts two through five in later posts.

One
I got out into the yard on Sunday to capture some spring in photos. It felt good, even though I had to be careful on the uneven ground.

Our backyard

Azaleas

Azalea bloom

White blooming bush (I don't know its name. Do you?)

Close-up of white blooms

My trusty boot went along for the walk


Two
The depression that I struggled with in January and February has gotten a lot better. The medication change my psychiatrist made seems to have helped. I’m also doing a lot of talking to myself and soul searching about worry, anxiety, expectations and contentment.
And the writing that I do for this blog helps me tremendously. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist today, and one of the things he told me to do was to keep up my writing!


Three
I seem to meet a lot of dogs when I go on interviews for work. I met a sweet Cocker Spaniel this week.
I also seem to forget that some dogs might not like me. I tend to reach out and pet a dog before I’ve given him or her a chance to sniff me and judge me as OK. My husband says he’s afraid I’m going to lose an arm that way.


Four
Speaking of dogs, sometimes it’s easier for me to talk with an animal than a person. I enjoyed that interview that I had, but I still get nervous beforehand, even though I’ve been a reporter for over three years. Maybe it’s about being so introverted.
Do you find it easier to talk with animals?


Five
My husband and I went to a bookstore in Lynchburg Thursday. One of the books I bought was The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. I’m trying to find a way to eat that supports me nutritionally and ethically. I’m looking forward to reading this book. Have any of you read it?


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Making the most of my time

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
 –William Penn



I’ve been imagining what others would see if they had open access to view me and my actions, hour by hour, like a fly on the wall.
I’ve not been doing this because I think my life is so interesting. I’ve been doing it as an exercise.
I’ve been on a quest to use my time more wisely, to live according to my priorities and values. I’ve written about how difficult it is for me to make plans, to motivate myself to do what’s most important for me to do.
This quest has led me to a question: How do I want to spend my time?
Which leads directly to this question: How am I spending my time now?
It’s not a pretty sight.
If others had open access to view my life, they’d see a picture of a woman who sleeps too much, spends too much time in indecision, eats without thinking. It’s a picture of a woman who wanders through her day.


How do I get to a place where I’m using my time to do the things that matter the most to me? How do I reach the point where what I’m doing reflects my values and gives my life meaning?
I’m feeling rather desperate. I’ve read books about time management. I read a great book about how habits develop.
I know that habits that I developed from having OCD are ingrained and it’s going to take a lot of work to develop new ones. I know that chronic depression makes it harder sometimes to take action.
But Lord help me, I’ve got to do better than this.
Remember what my therapist told me about what happy people do?

What they do, he said, is choose to do things according to their values. They do things that are meaningful to them, that make their lives meaningful.

I have finally taken the time to sit down with paper and pen to write. I usually compose on the computer, but when I’m trying to figure something out, trying to make plans, set goals, I find that physically moving a pen or pencil along a page helps me.
I made a list of my priorities in life. That wasn’t hard. My priorities are my relationship with God, my husband, my cats and my writing.
Under each, I’ve begun listing ways that I can better spend my time to reflect the fact that they are my priorities.
For example, to build and experience my relationship with God, I can spend time meditating and reading scripture.
To build a stronger writing life, I can spend time on my memoir, journal and read.
My next step is to start building those things into my schedule.
And there are all the connecting parts of my life to consider, too, like making time for relaxation, exercise and fun.


Once I put pen to paper and started writing, I began to feel better about my prospects. I’m planning now, making small changes along the way.
I’m moving towards making the most of my time.

How do you decide how to spend your time?

Monday, April 22, 2013

More mental health in pop culture: “Call Me Crazy: A Five Film”

What is it like to have an illness that might take away all your dreams? What is it like to have others look at you as weak and a burden because of your illness? What is it like to be a family member of someone with an illness that makes him or her different, that might even make them embarrassing to be around?
“Call Me Crazy: A Five Film,” a Lifetime Movie, explored these and other aspects of mental illness.
It aired Saturday night, and as I watched it and thought about it afterwards, I felt hope: hope that lots of people are working against stigma surrounding mental illness and renewed hope that people can live full and happy lives despite having a mental illness.
Thanks to Sunny at 71 degrees and Sunny, I knew about the film beforehand and planned my viewing accordingly.

The stories
The film is made up of five intertwining stories focusing on four people suffering from a mental illness and their family and friends.
“Lucy” is about Lucy, a law student who has schizophrenia. At the beginning of her story, she has stopped her medication and ends up in a mental hospital for treatment.
Lucy doesn’t have much hope for a normal life. She doesn’t think she can finish law school and help others, like she had planned.
Her doctor tells her to prove others wrong and go for her dreams.
In “Allison,” we meet a 19-year-old woman visiting home from college with her boyfriend. She’s upset when she learns that her older sister, Lucy, will be returning home from the mental hospital.
Allison believes that Lucy has stolen a normal family life from her because of her schizophrenia. She is also very angry because in the past, while hallucinating, Lucy tried to choke her.
Allison and Lucy have some honest conversations. While no grand resolution is reached, they both come to understand each other better.
“Grace” focuses on the young daughter of a woman who has bipolar. Grace feels responsible for taking care of her mom, whether she is lost in depression or acting recklessly during her manic periods.
Grace’s mother stops her medication and goes on a wild adventure with Grace and her friends, eventually scaring them with her daredevil driving.
After Grace proclaims that she is done with her mother and that she only wants to move far away from her, her mother seeks help.
Later Grace, writing an essay as part of a college application, calls her mother her hero because of the strength she shows in fighting her disease.
“Eddie” focuses on depression. Eddie is a stand-up comic who can make people laugh. After the show, though, he wants to be alone and sleep away the time until he has to go on stage again.
His wife notices that his humor has gotten darker and seems to center around suicide. When she discovers that Eddie has stopped seeing his therapist and has planned his own suicide, she is devastated.
Eddie comes home and finds that his wife has discovered his secretes. She goes with him to his therapist’s office, seeking help for his depression.
 “Maggie” is about a woman returning home from war, suffering from PTSD after being repeatedly raped by her commanding officer, who was later killed in war.
She loses custody of her son after she attacks her father during a flashback, thinking that he is the commanding officer.
Lucy, now out of law school and working as an attorney, takes on Maggie’s case. Maggie is without hope. Lucy tells Maggie her own story of mental illness and triumph, and reminds Maggie that there is always hope.
She goes to court with her, arguing for help for Maggie so that she can once again become productive in society.

My take
I found all of these stories refreshingly honest. While everyone’s problems are not solved in the course of the stories, everyone does gain a little hope. They seek help, they get help, and they begin the journey of getting better.
Some of them were hard to watch. It’s not easy to watch someone in the depths of despair, wanting only to die. It’s not easy to watch someone held captive by voices that tell her it’s time to die. It’s not easy to see a young girl trying to control her out-of-control mother.
I could particularly relate to Eddie’s story, especially his sense of hopelessness and the inertia that he feels.
I also related to Lucy’s sense that her recovery depends on multiple things, not just taking her medication as prescribed.
I applaud the actors, writers and directors and all of those involved in putting together “Call Me Crazy.” I think the portrayals of mental illness, and its effects on family and friends, will only help the cause of removing the stigma surrounding mental illness.

If you watched “Call Me Crazy,” what did you think of its portrayal of mental illness? And in general, how important is a sense of hope when facing obstacles in life?

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Barbour cats: Random 5 Friday

If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know how I feel about cats. I love them, especially the ones that make their home with my husband and me.
I grew up mostly with dogs, not cats. The cats of my childhood were mostly farm cats, living outside.
I love dogs, too. I enjoy their energy and their unconditional love. They are loyal companions.
But it was a cat, Waddles, who changed my life for the better. She helped me face my OCD and get past many of my fears of contamination and responsibility.
Cats continue to provide a way for me to get out of my head and to focus on taking care of other creatures. They help to soothe my anxiety and depression and help to give me purpose.
When Larry and I got married, I had Waddles, and he had two cats, Thunder Cat and Sam. We took in Chase Bird in September 2007.
Here are some facts about the Barbour cats. I’m linking up again with Nancy’s A Rural Journal for Random 5 Friday.

Waddles in the sunshine on the screened-in back porch.


Thunder Cat liked to sleep on his back, paws curled.

1. We have lost two cats, Waddles and Thunder Cat. I adopted Waddles in March 2000. She died on Oct. 13, 2011, when she was 21 years old. Larry adopted Thunder Cat around 1994. He died Feb. 12, 2009, when he was 15 years old. There are still empty places in our hearts for these two cats. But we feel their presence and talk about them often. On the night before Waddles died, Thunder Cat visited Larry in a dream and told him everything would be OK. And Waddles appears in my dreams sometimes, healthy and playful.
  

Sam adores Larry.

2. Larry adopted Samantha (Sam) when she was a kitten. She’s now 16 years old. Sam loves her Papa. She follows him around and lounges on the sofa with him in the evenings. Unlike our other cats, Sam loves to play with balls. We have small yellow balls that are her favorites. She leaps in the air and bats them like she’s playing tennis. She also likes ice. If we drop a piece on the kitchen floor, she’s on it, swatting it around the room like she’s playing ice hockey. Sam loves to be brushed. She also likes me to sing little songs to her.


Chase likes to roll around on the rug.

3. Chase Bird came to us. He lived under a bush in our yard before we took him in. The vet estimated he was one or two years old when we adopted him, so he is six or seven years old. Chase Bird is a lap cat. He loves to snuggle. He has long legs and I’m sure he could leap small buildings if needed. He cries sometimes when he wants attention. He tends to “talk” with his mouth full of food, which makes for some interesting noises and facial expressions.


It's not easy to get a photo of a cat. Lots of times, they move mid-flash and all you get is the tail.

4. We keep our cats indoors all the time. Cats who stay indoors tend to live longer than outside cats. It’s just safer for them. We provide a stimulating environment for them with plenty of toys, attention, hiding places, safe places and sleeping places.

Sam sniffs my leg as I try to get her picture.

5. Our cats are also spayed and neutered. There are so many cats who need homes. We don’t want to add to the overpopulation.

Are you a dog person or a cat person—or both? What's your favorite animal?



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Praying for Boston


All evening I’ve been trying to piece together what to write. Even now, as I sit and type, I’m not sure what to write next.
I’m sad, along with many, many people around the world, about the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.
I cannot add any words to the conversation about why people do these kinds of terrible things.
I can pray, and have prayed, but I’m not the best at prayer. That’s when words seem to be in the way, not my friend.
So I have turned to the prayer that my minister shared after the Newtown tragedy in December:

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Your prayers may be different. But I believe that your prayers, whether they be formal prayers or thoughts of concern or sad feelings, will join with all the other prayers lifted up, and they will all be for good.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Being a child with OCD and depression

Me in sixth grade.

If you’re of a certain age, you probably grew up before bicycle helmets were the norm. You probably sped around your neighborhood or along country driveways on your bike, not wearing a helmet, spinning the wheels, taking sharp turns that kicked up the dust. I was one of those kids.
My brothers and I grew up in the country, on a farm, with woods to play in and barbed wire fences to climb under. My mother knew we were somewhere on the farm, but she didn’t always know exactly where we were.
It’s a wonder we lived to grow up.
Have you ever said that, thinking of the scrapes you got into as a child?
Of course, a lot of children did get hurt. I’m all for bicycle helmets and any measure that keeps kids safe and unharmed. I’m glad that we know more now about safety and are willing to do things like put helmets on our kids before they get on a bike.

I’m glad, too, that we know more about mental health today than when I was a child. We have a long way to go to overcome stigma and to ensure that everyone who needs help has a way to get help. But more information is more readily available now than even just a few years ago.

For the past few days, I’ve been asking myself, how did I live to grow up? Not physically, but mentally.
I sorted through lots of papers last week, putting away things in file folders. I found a folder in my file cabinet that contained old health records of mine.
Years ago, I had to provide my employer a copy of my childhood vaccination records. Along with the shot record, the pediatrician’s office sent me a copy of all of my records.
I looked through them last week for the first time in years. A lot of the doctors’ writing is unintelligible, but a record of my visits from babyhood on was there.
On June 17, 1975, I was 12 years old. I was seen for a routine visit. In the nurse’s notes, it states, “Feels tired always—not sleeping well.” The doctor noted, “tired and waking up crying.” He ordered blood work and, I think (the handwriting is not clear), urinalysis and TB test.
Nothing else is noted.
The next entry is for June 12, 1981. I was 18 years old. I was seen for my college physical.

I remember being 12. I remember how the dark dread of depression had descended on me in the springtime of that year. I didn’t understand why I felt so bad, so hopeless, so unhappy.
I thought perhaps it was because I was a bad person and needed to be “saved.” At the revival at my church that May, I tried to get saved, but the prayer I prayed didn’t seem good enough. I found myself praying over and over, trying to get the words right, trying to get my thoughts in line with the words, just right. If I got it wrong, I had to do it over.
Prayers could also keep my family safe, I believed. But God couldn’t hear my prayers if I had sin between me and him. So I had to pray for forgiveness, and then pray a certain way for protection. Over and over.
Any thought that was bad had to be confessed, and I didn’t know who to confess to except my mother. Thinking of something bad was just as wrong as doing it, I believed. If I even thought I had a bad thought, I had to confess it to my mother.
I was also washing my hands a lot. I couldn’t seem to get them clean enough. As soon as I washed them, they became contaminated again, and I had to wash them again. If I spread contamination and someone got sick from it, it would be my fault.

Yes, I had OCD and depression. I was consumed by them.
My parents knew something was wrong. But professional intervention for my mental problems stopped with that visit with the pediatrician in 1975.
I got help for my mental health when I was in my 20s. When the psychiatrist diagnosed me with OCD and depression in 1990, she called me “high functioning.”
How did I end up high functioning? How did I live to grow up?

I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers yet.
Life was different in 1975. My parents made certain choices based on who they were at the time, based in part on how they were raised.
I hope I’m past the blame stage.
What I choose to focus on now is helping to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness. I want to help educate others about OCD, depression and other mental illnesses. I want to help encourage others to get help.
There’s no need for anyone to live like it’s 1975.

Friday, April 12, 2013

My writing life: Random 5 Friday

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being many things, including an archaeologist, a music teacher and a private detective. I’ve had numerous jobs over the years, among them teaching English and being a health educator.
But one thing has always been in the background: writing. That’s what my Random 5 Friday post is about this week. I’m linking up with Nancy’s A Rural Journal.

1. I work as a newspaper reporter for a weekly newspaper. My job title is actually staff writer. I applied for the job almost on a whim in 2009. I saw the ad for it in the paper, and I thought, I could do that. When I was much younger, I dreamed of being a journalist. I applied and got hired, and it’s been a wonderful experience overall.




2. I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. Pictured above is the copy of a story I wrote when I was in first or second grade. It’s called “The Foolish Cat.” It starts out this way (misspellings and all): “Once there was a foolish cat. He never did anything for any body and he just thought about him self. One day when the foolish cat was at school, a girl named penny droped her books. She must of had six books. Will you please help me pick up my books asked penny? I will not said the foolish cat.” The story ends with the foolish cat becoming a nice cat.

3. I love words. I love how choosing just the right word can affect the whole meaning of a work. I love words with layers of meaning. Reading and writing make me happy.

4. When I was in my 20s and in graduate school, I wrote mostly fiction. In a creative writing class I took, the teacher kept telling me she didn’t hear my voice in my writing. I got frustrated and started turning in poetry, and she said she heard my voice in that. So I switched gears for many years and wrote reams of poetry. I think it helped me learn more about the power of the individual word.

5. Now I write what I most enjoy reading, nonfiction and creative nonfiction. I’m working on a memoir about growing up with OCD and depression. The work is in bits and pieces. I need to set some goals and get more serious about the work.

To read more Random 5 Friday posts or to link up, visit A Rural Journal.


What has been in the background of your life? What do you love to do like I love to write?

P.S. I have been getting slammed with spam. I went back to not allowing anonymous comments to stop it. If you're unable to comment, please send me an email.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring fever, stuck in winter

I’m missing spring.
Or, to be more accurate, I feel like I’m missing spring.
I was looking through some photos on my computer and found a whole folder of pictures that I took last spring. Some I shared with you on this blog. I seemed to be out and about a lot, catching shots of blooms and a little wildlife. There are even photos of me on a bike. Me, being active!
It seems like a long time since I’ve been very active. I’ve been in The Monster Boot and on crutches for a little over five weeks. Even before then, for weeks, my foot hurt so much that I wasn’t walking much.

(Note: There’s a lesson here. If your foot hurts and doesn’t stop, go to the doctor. Do not wait, thinking, “It will get better soon.” It might not get better on its own.)

I’m sorry to whine. I really am. But I’m feeling like—well, like I’m missing something. A whole season.
Part of it is the OCD. I could go out into the yard on my crutches. I’m sure if I asked, Larry would drive me down to the park and I could walk around.
But there’s all that dirt, some of it damp, some of it plain mud. And there are other things on the ground that I don’t know about. What if I get my crutches and boot dirty? I know how hard it would be to clean them “good enough.”
Or so my OCD thinking goes.
Maybe there’s an exposure there waiting to happen. Maybe I should just go out into the yard and take pictures and feel the warmth of spring. And if I get dirt on my crutches or boot, then I’ll clean them. And deal with it.
Actually, that’s what I am going to have to do. Face the anxiety, be uncomfortable, but get outside!
But probably not today. I have another appointment with my orthopedic doctor this afternoon. More X-rays. I hope that the bone is healing. I hope I can give up the crutches.
If I have to keep the crutches, I’ll deal with it. They’re my extra paws, you know.
For the time being, here are some of those photos from last spring. They were taken in my neighborhood, in the park by the river and at a nearby pond.

Please share in the comments what you’re doing to enjoy spring.








***
A housekeeping note: I’ve had problems with spam, so I experimented with different settings for making comments.
I did word verification for a while, but I was afraid that might be dissuading some of you from commenting.
So I tried the setting where you have to be registered to comment. That took care of the spam, but some of you were not able to comment, or it was a problem to comment.
I’ve gone back to the open setting. Your comments are precious to me!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Depression is dangerous



This is not a post that I planned to write. But it’s one that I was compelled to write.

About a dozen years ago, I met with my insurance agent to discuss my policy and to see if any changes needed to be made.
During the visit, he told me about a life insurance policy that was available for people in my age range that was at a low price.
I had life insurance through my employer, but I liked the idea of having extra insurance that I would have regardless of where I was employed, so I filled out the application.
I had to include health information on the application. I was a bit concerned because I had been going through tests to determine if I had asthma, and I had just learned that I indeed had the lung disorder.
On a return visit, my insurance agent told me that I didn’t qualify for the low-cost version of the insurance.
“Is it because of the asthma?” I asked.
He seemed uncomfortable when he spoke.
“No, it’s because of the depression,” he said.
Oh.
Up to that moment, I had not thought about the effects depression might have on my future health. I had not thought about how others might judge my future health based on my having depression.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website, one risk of suicide is “depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders). More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors.”
Also according to the NIMH website, people’s physical health can be affected by depression: “People who have depression along with another medical illness tend to have more severe symptoms of both depression and the medical illness, more difficulty adapting to their medical condition, and more medical costs than those who do not have co-existing depression. Treating the depression can also help improve the outcome of treating the co-occurring illness.”
And in online reports here and here on studies on life expectancy, I learned that the average life expectancy for people with mental illnesses may be lower than those without mental illness.

Why am I writing about this? Over the weekend, I learned about the suicide of a son of Rick Warren, a well-known evangelical pastor and author. According to one news report, his son had suffered from depression for years. He had received treatment, but he killed himself.
I’m not sure why reading about this young man’s suicide affected me like it did, why it turned my thoughts to my own battle with depression and to others with depression who have suffered so much. I didn’t know him. I know who his father is and I’ve read one of his books. That’s about the extent of my connection.
But the suicide of anyone is tragic. The loss of a person to suicide shouldn’t happen.
I don’t know the details of Matthew Warren’s life.
I’m not a counselor or therapist or expert or medical professional.
I’m someone with depression.

And I know this: depression is dangerous. It is serious. It is not to be taken lightly.

I know something else. I am better off today than I was before treatment.

Treatment can help people with depression. There is always the hope of getting better. Suicide is never the answer.

If you have symptoms of depression, please get help from a professional. Please don’t ignore it or try to self-treat.
And please, if you or someone you know is suicidal, reach out for help. If you don’t know who to reach out to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).

Friday, April 5, 2013

This is what my life looks like: Random 5 Friday

I blog about living with OCD, depression and anxiety. I write a lot about what OCD is like and how I deal with it, how I handle the resurgence of depression and what happens when anxiety seems to overwhelm me.
But part of what I want to do with my blog is to show that life can be full and happy regardless of the obstacles that we face. Everyone has obstacles, hard times, illnesses, troubles, pain. And everyone can find reasons to rejoice in life and to keep on putting one foot in front of the other, moving towards a life that gives them satisfaction and contentment.
With that in mind, I’m sharing five random facts again this week, linking up with Nancy Claeys’ A Rural Journal.
These random facts about me and my days are just a few examples of how even the little things in life add to its beauty.

April snow at dusk in our backyard.

1. On Thursday, April 4, in central Virginia, it snowed. I couldn’t believe it. It looked like large cotton balls falling from the sky. We only got a light covering, but it was still strange to see the snow mixing with the dogwood blooms, the flowering pears and the daffodils. The photo above shows the snow in our backyard. On the right side, about midway up, you can see a small stand of daffodils. I didn’t get close enough for a really good shot—still wearing The Monster Boot and using my extra paws!



My new haircut.

2. I got a long-needed haircut on Thursday. I haven’t gotten one in almost a year. Larry already had an appointment to get a haircut, and when I mentioned the other day that I thought I’d call the stylist to see if she had an opening for me, Larry said, “Well, if she doesn’t, you can have my appointment.” Yes, he was being sweet. He was also apparently telling me that, yes indeed, I needed a cut! Getting a new look always raises my spirits. Do you feel like that when you get a haircut?

3. Also on Thursday (a busy day!), Larry and I ate at a fabulous Indian restaurant in Lynchburg. They have a lunch buffet with many delicious foods, plenty of vegetarian selections for me and plenty with meat for Larry. Whenever I walk into the restaurant, the scents and sights take me back 25 years to when I lived in Ohio and had a good friend from India who loved to cook. I learned to love Indian food and hospitality by spending time with her.

4. I’m getting ready to start a new book. It’s Ransom River by Meg Gardiner. Gardiner writes exciting mysteries/thrillers that you don’t want to put down. And she’s an intelligent and talented writer to boot. I love the anticipation that comes before starting a book that I know is going to be good!

5. April is National Poetry Month. I plan to reread some favorites and discover some new poetry this month. My favorite poet is Mary Oliver. I read and reread her poems, always catching something new: a new idea, a new way of seeing. I memorize my favorites and recite them to myself some nights as I go to sleep. Reciting her poems is a way of praying for me.

To read others’ random 5 facts or to participate, go to Nancy’s blog.



What’s a small thing that makes life more enjoyable for you?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Meditation lessons


Chase Bird

Soft, slow music, no words. A cat purring his own music. Meditation.
The other evening, I did all the right things. I made myself a mug of tea. I spread out my notebook, pen and mug on the dining room table. I made myself ready to sit, think, record.
I got sidetracked. A cat wanted my attention.
So I sat down on the couch with Chase Bird and turned on the TV, deciding it wouldn’t hurt to watch something mindless until I could get to my real goal of the evening, meditation.
Larry had used the TV last, and I discovered he had left it on one of those music channels that come with the satellite service.
Quiet instrumental music. I liked it and decided to listen for a few minutes.
Chase moved back and forth, first sitting on my lap, then kneading his bed beside me, then back to my lap. Back and forth.
I scratched his ear and neck and talked to him about the pretty music, and he purred loudly. He finally settled down on my lap.
Soft, slow music, no words. A cat purring his own music. Meditation.
The answers are already there.
Like the line in Mary Oliver’s poem “Thirst”:
“I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons.”

What do you discover when you get quiet and still?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Needed: A move forward

As I write this, I’m listening to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” play on the TV in the next room. I watched the movie Saturday, but I had missed the beginning. When the movie started again this evening, I watched the beginning, and then left it on in the background.
It’s a really good movie. It’s about a group of British people who retire to India to a hotel that doesn’t quite meet their expectations. In fact, the whole country and culture of India doesn’t meet the expectations of some in the group, and the movie follows their individual efforts at adapting and learning to enjoy their new world.
I enjoy movies like this, that show people learning to make peace with their age, becoming invigorated by new experiences, finding lives that makes them feel whole and content.
I want to feel like that: whole and content. But I have some work to do first.

It has been a quiet weekend, a quiet few days. I missed work Thursday because of a bad cold and cough, and then was off work Friday for the Good Friday holiday. I’ve spent much of the past few days asleep, knocked out by the cold itself and the cough medicine.
I find myself this Sunday evening feeling out of sorts and a bit depressed. I know some of that comes from feeling physically under the weather. But some of it is coming from a sense of dissatisfaction with myself.

In “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” there is one character that refuses to try to enjoy her new country. She stays in the hotel and complains incessantly about what others see as challenges and opportunities to experience new beauty.
I wonder, would I be that character if I were in her position? Would I refuse to leave the hotel, refuse to experience new things, and refuse to love my new life?

I hope not. But here I am on a Sunday night, dreading Monday and its work, fearing the routine that starts anew.
I’ve made commitments to live a full life despite my OCD and depression. I have a vision and mission to live a certain way. Why, then, am I still mired down in the day-to-day fears? Why am I not living intentionally? Why am I not moving forward?
I hope this time of introspection will lead to more action on my part. To help ensure that, I’m planning on doing the following over the next few days:

*Meditate and pray
*Write: journaling, listing, planning
*Read
*Spend time with nature

I hope to report positive things soon.

Do you ever feel stuck, like you’re not moving forward? How do you handle it?