Why "71º & Sunny?"

I consider 71º to be the perfect temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. I also love perfect sunny days. The vast majority of days are not 71º & Sunny and yet, all days were created by God's hand and they are still gifts, even if they don't fit my ridiculous definition of perfection. My struggle with OCD has at times imprisoned me in an impossible attempt to achieve perfection. I'm now learning to love all kinds of days that don't even come close to 71º & Sunny.

Please leave me a comment below. I really want to know what you are thinking!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lessons Learned From A Complete Technical Disaster

Last Sunday at church was a complete and utter technical disaster. It was my turn to run the audio equipment, and unfortunately, during first service, there was a major malfunction with the mixer and we lost all audio capabilities. This meant that the preaching pastor's mic would not work, there was no sound coming from the worship band's instruments, and there was no audio being recorded for the weekly video we make of our sermons. The last issue was truly awful, because it meant that we had no sermon to deliver to our downtown campus, which has a live band, but they usually receive and play a video of the sermon first preached at our campus. Thankfully, a group of us was able to get the mixer working to a basic level by our second service, and we were also able to record the sermon for the second service held at the downtown campus. Even so, I felt absolutely terrible and like a total failure.

I was convinced that everyone was thinking that I really messed up and that it was all my fault. To be honest, I was also thinking that it really was my fault. Not that I did anything technically wrong (at least I didn't to my knowledge - the mixer simply froze), but I'm not exactly what you would call a "prayer warrior" and I was thinking that maybe because I hadn't prayed for that day's service that it was my fault that the mixer failed. I was also embarrassed because it was such a public thing and that is painful for someone who struggles with perfection. I was incredibly dejected and considered that maybe I should quit the sound team.

Imagine my surprise when I received messages from at least 3 different people saying nice things about how hard I (and others) worked to get the mixer back on line. The pastor even put something on Facebook about what a great team there is in the tech booth and he later sent out an email message pretty much repeating the same thing. On Monday morning, I was really comforted to read my daily Bible phone app when it randomly (or was it truly random? Thanks God!) came up with this scripture: "But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded." 2 Chronicles 15:7

A few days later, I walked nervously into my usual Wednesday meeting at church, unsure of what the reaction would be to such a catastrophic technical mess. I shouldn't have been nervous. Everyone was extremely gracious and jokingly kidded that no one wants to be the preacher when I'm on sound in the future! (They really were truly just teasing me - I definitely took this as a sign that no one was upset with me.)

So . . . here are a few lessons I've learned from this (most unpleasant) episode:

1) I should never assume that I know what people are thinking. Ahem, cognitive distortion, anyone? I was convinced that everyone would be upset and disappointed in me. Au contraire mon ami - people went out of their way to let me know they appreciated all the hard work us "techies" do to keep the service up and running.

2) Once again, I took the blame for something going wrong. Should I be praying for each morning's service? Yes, I think it's a great thing to do. But not praying doesn't mean that I caused the mixer to fail. Hmmm . . . sounds like a little hyper-responsibility when I think back on it.

3) People can be really gracious and very often, they are not as judgmental as I seem to think they are. Maybe I'm the judgmental one, especially of myself.

4) I don't have to be perfect to be loved. Someday that will sink in.

5) We often learn more from "failure" than success. This can be a bitter pill to swallow at times, but honestly I do believe it is true. I learned some very interesting things (both personally and technically) from our mishap last weekend. These things will not soon be forgotten.

Here's hoping that the mixer behaves tomorrow morning. Last weekend ended up turning out alright, but that doesn't mean I want a repeat of it!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Call Me Crazy: A Five Film by Lifetime Television

This coming Saturday, April 20th, at 8/7 Central, the subject of mental illness will be getting the Lifetime Movie treatment. "Call Me Crazy: A Five Film" is a portrayal of five short stories, each focusing on a person with mental illness. This is a sort of second installment of a movie first shown a few years ago by Lifetime Television entitled, "Five." In the original "Five," the topic of breast cancer was examined, again in five short stories of five different women. I did watch it and I thought it was a compassionate look at the devastation of living with breast cancer. I am hoping that "Call Me Crazy" will display the same empathy and sensitivity towards its subject matter. In particular, this new movie will explore Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, PTSD, and Depression.

I am happy to see that on Lifetime's "Call Me Crazy" webpage, there is a tab for resources and a link to NAMI is listed under that tab. I am also pleased that mental illness is getting some airtime, and I sure hope it starts some interesting conversations in the general public. As someone who suffered in silent, shameful agony with mental illness for many years, I believe these conversations are long overdue.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston

I took this photo in Boston last
November on a shopping trip.
I live roughly an hour north of Boston. A beloved family member of mine lives in the city. My husband continues to receive bi-monthly infusions in Boston for IBD, and Boston was also where I received excellent treatment for OCD. Essentially, we are in and out of Boston literally all of the time. Thankfully, my relative is safe. He happened to be working at home today, and not in the heart of the city, where he would usually be found on a Monday afternoon. Talk about Godly intervention.

This is very surreal. Usually it seems like these things happen in "some other city." Today, sadly, Boston was that "some other city" and my heart is heavy for all of those who lost loved ones, and for those victims who were injured (some very seriously, including lost limbs and severe burns, etc.). God have mercy on us all.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

Friday, April 12, 2013

Gray Day, Silver Lining

If you look underneath the sun catcher,
just to the left, you will see my
little friend flying away.
I've been sitting at church for a few hours just doing a bit of ministry work. Well, ok, and reading a few of your blogs! It is a gray, cold, sleety type of day. Kind of depressing to be honest with you. However, outside my window, I noticed this sweet little birdie just darting to and fro around a tree. He (or she!) has also been joined by several pals and they are playing with each other. I don't know. Something about watching those little guys just makes my heart smile and reminds me that God's goodness is to be found everywhere. Even on gray days.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Anchor Cards

At the height of my illness, when almost every waking moment of my life was consumed and tortured by OCD, my psychologist introduced me to the idea of anchor cards. Anchor cards are simply index cards on which you write something meaningful, peaceful, and/or calming. The idea is that reading these cards during times of heightened stress will help to "anchor" you, or bring you back to reality and keep you in the moment. When consumed by incredible anxiety, I found it nearly impossible to think properly, to make sound decisions, or even to function normally. I would pull out my anchor cards and read them until I felt calmer.

I have not needed or used anchor cards for over a year. Unfortunately, over the last 20 hours or so, I have been filled with terrible anxiety over some contamination issues in my home (because of my cat, Anna). I had a difficult time sleeping last night and my stomach has been in horrible knots all day. I decided it was time to write out some anchor cards again.

On one card, I wrote a list of all the people and things that I'm thankful for. My therapist often suggested this type of list because she believed it was good for me to focus on my blessings and that it would help me to change some cognitive distortions. On the second card, I chose to write out Psalm 23. I love that psalm because it reminds me that I am in God's care and that He has my back. Mostly, it reminds me that I am not alone. Because, honestly, in the grip of anxiety's stranglehold, alone is what I feel the most.

Psalm 23 - The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. NIV 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Vet's Office

My poor Anna was shaking in fear at
her appointment.
Bringing Anna to the veterinarian is always a challenge for me. I actually hate going, because it feels like such a dirty place. It's really not. In fact, as vet hospitals go, this one is really quite clean looking and clean smelling. But still.

My little Anna has been under the weather for a few weeks. We suspect that her advanced age (15) is the culprit. Just to be safe, though, I took her in for a check. Unfortunately, at that same time, there was another animal that required emergency care. Between that, and Anna's blood-work, urinalysis, and x-ray, our appointment lasted longer than an hour and a half. This is a problem because it has been literally years since I've sat in a chair at the vet's office.

After about an hour of waiting in the exam room, my legs were really getting tired. Considering my last post on motivation, and also keeping in mind my fellow bloggers that continue working hard to fight their issues, I decided that it was time for me to sit in a chair at the vet's. So I did it. Guess what? As usual, it ended up being no big deal. Once I made the decision to do it, the difficult part was really over. In addition, I forced myself to hug Anna normally after the appointment even though I was afraid that she was somewhat contaminated too.

One more tiny victory.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Motivation

Staying motivated to fight OCD is hard work. Because OCD is a chronic illness (some people do recover fully or almost fully - but it is somewhat uncommon), it means a life-long battle against the frightening thoughts that stalk us. Day in and day out, staying ahead of OCD is a challenge for me. I was just sharing with my support group last night that I'm definitely in a plateau. You see, after 2 1/2 years of CBT/ERP, I have recovered quite a bit. My life is not the living hell that it once was. There are so many days now that I am actually giddy with joy because of how I've gotten so much of my life back. Just being alive, and seeing the sun, and hearing the birds, and, and, and . . .

However, there is still so much more of my life that is in the stranglehold of OCD. As far as I've come, I know that there is a long way to go. It's just that I'm not in constant torment anymore, and frankly, I'd like to stay away from the pain as much as possible. Hmm . . . that kind of sounds like avoidance, doesn't it? So that is why I'm not really moving forward on fighting the obsessions and compulsions that still follow me around everywhere I go. I know that once I start fighting again, I will have to feel that old familiar pain. BUT, I also know from previous experience, that that pain will be short lived and it will lead to more freedom. So how do I motivate myself to move forward?

By reminding myself of everything that OCD has taken away from me. By remembering that OCD has limited me as a mom, a wife, a daughter, a friend, in ministry to others, in serving God, and in being the kind of person that I want to be.

I want to move forward, but I'm afraid. What motivates you to move forward?