Sunday, August 14, 2016

A day in the life of OCD

A few years ago (by a few, I mean almost a couple of decades ago), I told my doctor I wasn't sleeping. Thoughts kept racing through my mind. I couldn't fall asleep until I acknowledged the thought and committed to doing something about whatever was bothering me.

I made lists on my hands, promises to myself that tomorrow I would fix whatever was happening in my head.

Doctor: "You have OCD. There's medication for that."

Of course there is, there's medication for everything. I declined it.

But! can you be messy AND have OCD?

There's a difference between being a neat person and having OCD. I'm a messy person with OCD. It happens. And you can enjoy being a tidy person without having OCD.

A few months ago, I applied for a job. The moment I interviewed for it, I just knew it was mine. I can't explain it. It just felt right. Whenever I said something like, "I might not have the job", I felt like I was telling a lie. I know I sound crazy and it's difficult to explain. But, there it is.

The new position is in a different type of office setting. I won't be able to get away with wearing jeans, hoodies, and my Gryffindor t-shirt. I'll have to look all professional and stuff. My brain kicked into overdrive.

TMI time: My MS treatments leave bruises. I cycle the treatments through my limbs and torso. That means that right about the time my stomach stops feeling like I was kicked by a horse in the gut, it's time to do it all over again. I've stopped wearing jeans for this reason. Finding clothes that don't cause pain has been tricky. Leggings and dresses have been a God-send. But, I digress.

Brain: "You don't have any clothes to wear! You need to find clothes! Now."
Me: "But it's 2:00 am!"
Brain: "Amazon never closes."

Never mind that I didn't have the job yet. I needed to find clothes appropriate for an office setting. I tried to ignore the thoughts. But my brain would not stop sending out urgent fight-or-flight type signals.

Brain: "You'll be travelling for training. Do you know where your suitcases are?"
Me: "But it's still two months away."
Me: "I...I...think so."
Brain: "I think so doesn't cut it. You only have 7 days left to pack. Think about this, genius. You're not going to be able to pack during the workweek. That only leaves you with Saturday, because you're useless on Sundays."
Me: "But I don't even have the job yet."
Brain: "Do you have a hygiene kit? You'll need a hygiene kit."
Me: "But the hotels have shampoo and soap."
Brain: "Obviously, you didn't notice what that shampoo did to your hair last time. One word: sulfates."
Me: "We can go to the grocery store when we get to the training location."
Brain: "Unless there's a riot."

These thoughts weren't benign, fleeting thoughts. They stuck around, causing overwhelming anxiety. Almost a month before I found out I got the job, I went out and bought a hygiene kit. And I scoured Pinterest for ideas on how to pack a month's worth of clothes into a carry on. (You can't.)

Me: "I'll have to check a bag."
Brain: "You'll end up losing all of your clothes and you'll be stuck wearing whatever is on your back for five whole weeks. Five weeks. I hope you're comfortable."

So far, I've refrained from actually packing my suitcase. Mostly because I don't have that many clothes. Also, I don't know where I'm going yet. Sweaters in Honolulu (just throwing that out into the universe) would probably be too much.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Learning to live in this moment.

I don't know when it happened.

For as long as I can remember, I've always had anxiety about tomorrow. Usually, the anxiety comes at 3:00 am when I should be sleeping. Suddenly, my brain slams itself into hyperdrive. What happens if I become homeless? Would I be able to survive? How? Then I start thinking of various hidey holes I can burrow myself into. Then I wish I were smaller. I wish my joints were more flexible. There was once a time I could curl into a ball. Not anymore.

Then I think about Matthew. What would I do with Matthew? He's too old for us to go into a homeless shelter together.

Never mind that I have a good job. At 3:00 am, that doesn't matter.

But the anxiety isn't always limited to the middle of the night.

When Jaysen was deployed, there was tons of anxiety, for obvious reasons. But even when he wasn't deployed, the thought that he could potentially be deployed in the future put a damper on any happiness I was experiencing in the moment. When he was at home on leave, I would watch him playing with Matthew and think about how Matthew has no idea what was going to happen that same time the next week, because Jaysen would be leaving again.

I've been determined to live in the moment. Take time to appreciate the blessings I have. Also, I don't want to take any minute I've been given for granted. I don't want to get complacent, get caught up in merely existing. Waking up in the morning, achieving nothing, and then going to bed. I want to grow as a person. I want to make a difference to people. I love to make people laugh. I want to do more of that.

Sorry for the rambling. Carry on.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Confession Time

I hate feeling stupid. 

According to my grandpa, my grandma stopped going to church when Alzheimer's robbed her memory of people's names. People would approach her at church and she'd have no recollection of who they were. She knew that she should know them. They certainly knew her. She felt stupid. So she stopped going to church.

And then people stopped visiting her. I'm sure it's because they just didn't know what to say or how to act around the Alzheimer's. 

At first, whenever I called, grandpa would correct her when she repeated something. 

I was stationed in Germany and she would ask me if my honey had come home yet. She couldn't remember his name. She couldn't remember which country he was in. She couldn't even remember she had asked me that same question 3 or 4 times already. 

But she knew I was missing my honey.

Every time she'd ask "is your honey home yet?" grandpa would say "she already said no". 

I know where he was coming from. It's embarrassing, asking a question that's already been answered. People think you're not listening to them. I knew that wasn't the case.

I told grandpa that it was okay. I didn't mind repeating myself. And then he stopped correcting her.

Now I find myself in a similar situation. I don't have Alzheimer's. But Multiple Sclerosis is taking words from me. Words I should know. Names I should know. And I'm asking questions that have already been answered.

And it's embarrassing.

I hate feeling stupid. I know it's not appropriate to mop the carpet. But at that moment, "vacuum" was really difficult to recall. 

I know I have nothing for which I need to apologize. But I am sorry. I'm sorry if I can't remember your name. I'm sorry if I make you uncomfortable while I take a lengthy moment to search for the correct word in my ever decreasing lexicon. 

Part of me is worried about people no longer talking to me because ... well ... just because. Jaysen said "if they are your true friends, they will love you regardless and stick around."

I hope you will stick around. If not. Well, I hope it was fun for you while it lasted. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Learning to live in the moment.

Last night, I was listening to an NPR TED radio hour. The subject was Quiet, living in the moment. Which was fitting for the last day of 2015.

As I was laying in bed, listening to the podcast, it occurred to me that time really is flying by entirely too fast.

In 2002, Matthew was only five months old when Jaysen went out to the field for 45 days. After only a month and a half, Jaysen came home to find an entirely different person. Matthew had changed so much in just a few weeks.

With every subsequent deployment, Matthew was a year older and a year changed. Though the deployments were difficult, I am thankful for the lessons they taught us. They made us tighter as a family. We learned to not take anything for granted.

Before every deployment, I found myself unable to just be in the moment. Jaysen would be wrestling around with Matthew (then a toddler) on the floor and I would think, "This time next week, Jaysen will be gone and Matthew has no idea what is coming." Looking back, I'm kind of envious of Toddler Matthew. He could be happy without the foreboding cloud destroying his happiness.

After every homecoming, we would slowly work our way back to a new normal. That is, until the next deployment.

But the smaller events in life became really important. When Jaysen was gone, I thought about all of the trivial things I got pissed at. None of it really mattered. Looking back at our disagreements, in the grand scheme of things, it didn't matter who was right or who was wrong. Moving forward, we tried to pick our battles more selectively. Because in the end, the small stuff that irritates us doesn't really matter.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in November 2015. I don't know what life has in store for me. MS isn't fun. But it's not necessarily a death sentence. But that doesn't mean I'm going to take every day for granted.

I'm not one for making New Year Resolutions. I think if you're going to make a change, just do it. Don't wait until the New Year. Start now.

From this moment on, I'm going to appreciate every day I have. I'm going to appreciate Matthew interrupting my television show to tell me a joke or show me one of his impersonations. I'm going to appreciate Jaysen and everything he does. I'm going to put down my phone when he's talking to me. Also, I'm going to try to live in the moment and stop worrying about what is going to happen later.

We only have this moment. Make it count.

Monday, October 26, 2015

"I'm the lucky one."

I heard a saying somewhere. "Youth is wasted on the young."

When I was little, I used to count down the days until I was 18. I specifically remember my 6 year old self looking at my reflection in the kitchen stove. "I'm going to be this tall, then this tall, then this tall." There was nothing I wanted more than to be older and taller.

It wasn't until I became a mother that I wanted time to stop. Watching Matthew get older and wiser caused my heart to ache. I just wanted my baby to stay little while at the same time wanting to see the kind of person he'd grow up to be. I feel bad for my husband. The first time he'd been away from Matthew for any length of time, he left for 6 months when Matthew was 4 months old. He came home to an entirely different person.

Since 9/11, Jaysen has been deployed 7 times. During more than one of those deployment, he thought he was going to die. That puts an entirely different spin on life. Now we live intentionally. Every day we make a conscious effort to not merely exist. I tend to say what I mean and mean what I say. People tend to think it's weird when I say stuff like, "you're making a difference" and "I love you". Because if (Heaven forbid) something did happen, I would want to know they knew exactly how I felt about them.

Whenever I go to Provo, I think about my grandparents. A while back, I went to Village Inn. The same Village Inn where I'd take my grandfather. We didn't sit at the same booth. As we passed the last booth grandpa and I sat at, I almost cried. To be in the same place, even if it was at a different time, brought me closer to him. At least for a moment.

I think I've posted this story before. Grandpa and I were on a date at Village Inn, sometime after grandma had died. He missed her terribly. He talked about a talk he had with God and a message he received concerning putting grandma in a nursing home. Those two absolutely loved each other. They had true love. I said, "Grandpa, grandma was so lucky to have found you." He said, "Oh no, dear. I am the lucky one."

They were the best grandparents in the world. They showed unequivocal love toward their family. If you married into the family, you were in. There was no confidence course that needed to be won. I don't recall them ever saying to their biological children, "Can you just come over and leave your spouse at home so it can be like old times?" I took them for granted. For that, I am sorry. I wish I had loved them more. I wish I had told them how lucky I was to have been their grandchild.

But I can't go back in time. I can, however, change the way I do things moving forward. I can tell people when I love them. I can tell them how grateful I am to know them. I can tell Matthew how lucky I am to be his mom and make sure he takes time to appreciate the little things that make up life's big picture. And perhaps, I can take my own advice and stop worry about what's going to happen tomorrow. I will be thankful for the small moments today.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Disneyland on the cheap

Disneyland is expensive. One day, one park ticket is $93.00/child and $99.00/adult. If you want to make that ticket a Park Hopper so you can visit both Disneyland and California Adventure Park, add $40 per ticket.

Right now, Disneyland has an awesome military discount.

Disneyland Resort is saluting active and retired U.S. military personnel by offering Military Promotional 3-Day Park Hopper Tickets. You can visit both theme parks each day of your ticket!

Purchase through December 18, 2015 — and receive admission on any 3 days for just $132. Valid for admission through December 20, 2015.

Get your military discount tickets at MWR.

The hotels also have military discounts. The prices vary.


Outside food or beverage items are not permitted in either of the Disneyland Resort theme parks.

Let's be honest. You don't go to Disneyland for the food. At every theme park I've ever been to, the food is always less than remarkable. We have one picky (sensory) eater. On more than one occasion, we've paid for a meal that went uneaten.

And if you're bringing littles with you, they're going to get tired and you're going to get tired. People get overwhelmed when they hit the gates and they rush from attraction to attraction without really living in the moment. So my suggestion is this:

Prior to your visit, go to the grocery store. Make sandwiches. Buy healthy snacks. Leave them in your hotel room. If your room doesn't have a fridge, get a cheap cooler and stock it with ice. Right around lunch time, take a break from the park. Go back to your hotel room, have lunch, and let the littles take a nap. Disneyland is supposed to be the happiest place on earth...but not if everyone is cranky from exhaustion.

Hydration is important! Disneyland will give you free ice water at any location that sells soda. Bring an empty water bottle or buy a refillable mug at the park then refill it with water. One soda costs about $3, which adds up. The water is free.


There are vendors throughout the park trying to sell toys to your children. They whir and light up. And they're all expensive. When my son was little, we bought a Buzz Lightyear toy that had spinning lights when you pushed the legs together.

It was broken within a day. If you shop online prior to going to the park, you can get this toy cheaper. Then when you get to the park, give it to your little. The same goes for almost every toy. Your kids aren't going to care that it wasn't paid for at the park.

Another thing you see at the park, especially when it gets dark, are accessories that light up. Your kid will want one. Hell. I want one. Every dollar store has glowstick bracelets, headbands, and glasses. Stock up at home and save money when you get to the park.

If you want cheap souvenirs, bring a roll of quarters and a roll of pennies. There are stations to press pennies throughout the park. 

My personal favorite thing are the pins you can get at Disneyland / Disney World. They're relatively inexpensive. (Though they can get expensive.) You can trade pins with cast members and other guests. There are rules of etiquette. The gist is, don't be rude when asking to trade. I found these pins at

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"Love one another" wasn't a polite suggestion.

I attended a multi-faith devotional today. The theme was "Faith of our Fathers".

It was a beautiful devotional.

My friend, Kristina, gave a talk. She has an interesting story. I hope she doesn't mind if I paraphrase her here.

In Yugoslavia, where she was raised, they weren't allowed to discuss science or religion. It just wasn't done. Her father's mother was a devoted Catholic and would attend midnight mass. Attending mass was dangerous, as people were shot. It was common for people to disappear in the middle of the night.

Can you imagine?

Her father had a dream. He told them they were going back to America. They packed pretty much what they could carry and left under the cover of night.

This morning, before I knew what Kristina's talk was going to be about, I attended the flag ceremony at the front of the church. There were a few dozen people, milling around, waiting for the ceremony to commence.

How lucky we are. We are so lucky to be able to stand in front of a church without worrying about being gunned down just for being there. How lucky am I to be born an American. Then I thought, let's be honest. Luck has absolutely nothing to do with me being an American.

Forgive me while I digress.

Jewel has a song called "My Father's Daughter".

I am my father's daughter, he has his mother's eyes. I am the product of her sacrifice. I am the accumulation of the dreams of generations and their stories live in me like holy water.

Today, while I was listening to the devotional, it occurred to me...I am not lucky to be an American. Luck has nothing to do with me being here. I am here because of centuries of sacrifice...their sacrifice. Sacrifices that I am immeasurably thankful for. Sacrifices that I strive to be worthy of.

The underlying theme of the devotional was religious freedom. The freedom to worship how, where, and what we may. Which means we have to grant others the same opportunity.

Something else struck me while I was at the devotional. The hatred that burned John Rogers (Thomas Matthew) at the stake, is the same hatred that chased LDS families across the plains. It is also the same hatred that is persecuting Muslims and homosexuals.

The. hatred. has. got. to. stop. 

It's not Christlike. It's not productive. We need to find a way to compromise with each other and learn that compromising with others doesn't mean you must compromise your standards. It simply means everyone has the freedom to live their lives according to their own conscience.

I'm tired of all of the negativity. I'm tired of people being outraged. People are being offended over things that don't really pertain to them. Things need to change. We need to stop intentionally trying to offend people. Contriving outrage and finding things to get mad about serves nobody. Scratch that. Yes it does. It serves Satan. You can't have Christ in your heart if it's full of anger and hate.

Nobody is asking you to compromise your own personal standards. Accepting someone else for who they are doesn't make your heart any less. I would posit that it makes you a better person. Satan wants us to feel contempt. He wants us to have anger in our hearts.

At the devotional, a Baptist pastor told a story.

Satan was collaborating with his followers, trying to get people to stray. The first one said, "We can get them to believe there's no God," But that wouldn't work. The second one said, "We can get them to believe there's no Heaven or Hell." But that wouldn't work, either. The third one said, "We will tell them there's no hurry."