Exposure and Response Prevention, Oh My!

“We prefer clear and easy answers, but questions hold the greatest potential for opening us up to transformation.”

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of being; we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”

– Quotes by Richard Rohr-

Well, after one week with a therapist, she has me doing new homework to help “rewire” my brain and treat the OCD head on. The treatment, apparently the only treatment that seriously works for OCD is called ERP – Exposure and Response Prevention. It is a form of CBT (Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy)

It works by exposing yourself to your fears. It could be an audio recording of yourself saying a script about something that triggers your anxiety. Or it could be something you read out loud. I have read that it can be news articles or anything else that will trigger your anxiety causing you to want to do a compulsion.

For me, since my OCD is purely thought based, I have to refrain from doing my compulsions which are thoughts and reassurances and rationalizing to make myself feel better. For example, when triggered with an OCD thought that perhaps I could become an evil person, the first thing I want to do is to of course reassure myself, “I am not a bad person, I am a loving person!” But with this therapy – when triggered, you would have to instead allow it to just be a possibility. “I might be or might not be, I will have to live with the possibility.”

I can’t tell you HOW TERRIBLE this feels. Because I want to be CERTAIN. I want to know and know now. But unlike pre-OCD where I could easily laugh off the thought. Today, it presents itself as this unending question, that unravels like when you pull the string of a rug. The questions become endless. Its so hard to explain and sounds crazy – even to me!

So back to the ERP, when doing the homework – you have to let your anxiety spike and then sit and wait for the awful, gut-wrenching anxiety to naturally go down. Your brain is screaming for you to please do something to take this pain away, assure me that you are certain that this thing, this fear that you are exposing me to will not happen!

But of course the point of ALL of this is to let your brain know that certainty isn’t possible. There is no way to be certain about anything, there is risk in nearly everything.

I am JUST now starting this process. I am fearful that it won’t work, I’m fearful that I will be stuck – but I am moving forward and throwing my all into this. I want to feel better and know that this is the path I need to take.

Lemons? Or Lemonade? Its a choice.

This morning I really had a nice talking to with my man. After a really disturbing dream I woke up this morning filled with anxiety. Ugh. My first thoughts were of panic, of trying to figure out why the bad dream? Why now? What next?

I cried, I carried on. I thought about all the bad shi* that is happening in the world, the sad stories I’ve heard recently and I emailed my therapist. I joined an online support group. Hm, anyone notice anything about this?

Goodness is easy for me to spiral down and not even realize it. Especially if I’m tired.

My hubby sometimes does the not so friendly, but needed a** kicking I need to show me where my eyes, thoughts and feelings are concentrated. Let me tell you its not on my beautiful, gorgeous children who at this stage think I’m the best, most fun mom. Its not on my home, great job or the fact that we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Its been on the sad things, the tough things, the battles inside my mind, and how hard it is. It IS hard, this recovery is not easy let me tell you, but I do know one thing, focusing on the good things in my life are worth it.

They change the atmosphere I’m living in. Today I’m choosing to let go of the negative, of the stuff I can’t change, the thoughts that come and go, and the things I definitely can’t control.

I’m choosing to love and be loved and to be proud of progress one day at a time.

Coming to grips with OCD

This is a post that has been a long time coming. I stopped blogging a while back I think feeling like I didn’t have anything to say. I was also busy, not that I’m not now but anyway – here I am, writing about OCD. Something I would NEVER have thought I would be writing about. Three and a half years ago I would have laughed in your face about the thought of me having issues with anxiety, mental illness.

But alas, its what’s happened and I’m not going to hide out about it anymore. Maybe my story can help someone or make someone not feel so alone, or abnormal or afraid. All of which are how you feel when your thoughts feel like they control you and drive you to the deepest, darkest places and make you question your life, your beliefs, your mind and sanity.

I am not out of the depths of this yet, but I am slowly and surely developing the tools and strategies to live life fully and to come out of the fearful place.

When people mention OCD, I think of people who have to wash their hands, or do things compulsively to rid themselves of contaminants.

I didn’t know that there is a whole area of OCD that is what some call pure O – where the compulsions are mental exercises.

Over the past three years, I have had ups and downs with obsessional thoughts – For me fears have ranged from serious health fears (a mole must be cancer, a muscle twitch is ALS etc) – these fears have become all consuming and paralyzing at times. I often wondered why I couldn’t shake the thoughts. The more I would try to reassure myself that I was fine, the worse I would feel. With OCD there is always a thread of doubt and so you never can have certainty – but all you want is to be certain.

More recently, what really made me seek help was what is called Harm OCD. I read an article about a mother who killed her two daughters. Her husband stated her unraveling started after the death of her father. For whatever reason, this article triggered an anxious thought that, “My anxiety started after the death of my Nana, oh no, what if I am like this woman?” And that’s where it all began.

Even though I knew it was so dumb – it didn’t seem to matter, the fear penetrated my very soul. I felt anxiety fill my body as thoughts began to swirl about what if I became like one of those people who go insane? What is to stop that from happening? What if I became evil? The more repulsed I was the more I needed to figure it out and be certain. It kept me up at night, the thread of doubt was like an unraveling rug, the more I pulled the more questions I had. I felt completely lost, adrift, alone and crazy. It felt like I was at war with my mind – and the worst part was that it was the fear that I might hurt what is most precious to me.

I had heard of this kind of thing with post-partum depression – but I had no idea that this is actually one of the most common forms of OCD – fear that you might harm a loved one. Knowing its common and “Just OCD” while comforting brought up a big “what’s next?”

And that’s where I am today. I have a therapist, have been working on a lot of techniques – primarily acceptance that my thoughts while intrusive and unpleasant are just thoughts like “the sky is beautiful” – allowing that to be the case when something pops up is not easy – the feelings of anxiety and fear are nearly automatic – and so I have been actively working on accepting. I have seen a LOT of progress. I no longer swirl with thoughts, I no longer feel like I have to argue with meaningless thoughts and often I have humor about it.

I’m learning to live in a place of uncertainty and it makes me uncomfortable, but I know its where healing resides.

I’m leaning on God and my faith that I am in His arms, that He loves me and is helping me through.

Part of recovery is also about exposure and facing fears. I didn’t realize how much I was avoiding triggers – so I have been working on exposing myself to things that make me afraid, news articles, etc. Letting myself sit with the discomfort without rationalizing.

Its been nearly three months since this started and I am proud of the changes that I have made and the progress. If someone is reading this and relates but has not looked for treatment – I would urge you to reach out. You are not alone.

I’ll continue to blog about my progress.


I am in love with indigo. I bought some hemp indigo dyed fabric from Thailand off etsy and sewed a few pillows. So happy with how they turned out and soooo much cheaper than buying a finished pillow.imageimage


What do Thomas Keller, Martha Stewart, Stephanie Izard and countless others have in common? Well, their cookbooks are collecting dust on my bookshelf. It’s not that I don’t cook, I love to cook but these days I tend to make up my own recipes or go online for inspiration. I decided that it was time to dust off the books and cook at least one recipe from each book in 2015. I will photograph and document each recipe here good, bad or meh. Join me for this cooking challenge. I think it’s going to be good!


Well, my spring has been a little different than I expected. I imagined trips to the beach, lots of runs along my favorite trail by a lagoon, fun at the water park with the kids, and more. But then the great skateboarding accident of 2015 happened. Nev has been getting into skateboarding and I thought I could show him a few things (yeah right!) – one swift jump off the board in flip flops led to a terrible fall with my foot turning underneath me. After that it was two ER visits, X-Rays, an MRI, three broken metatarsal bones in my foot (2, 3 and 4 in case anyone cares) and a fiberglass cast. Oh and crutches. All of the sudden I went from independence to total dependence upon my sweet husband for everything from a glass of water to help getting up the stairs. For someone who was running many miles a week, spinning at the gym and enjoying being active it has been a practice in patience. But five weeks in, I’m finally in a walking boot – FREEDOM! People look at my with sympathy as I limp around on the boot but I tell them to not feel sorry for me, I can get around! There is this contingency of people who have had food/leg injuries and needed crutches a cast – they come out of the woodwork everywhere I go and I hear stories. I now know and will lend that same sympathy to the next poor soul I see crutching around.

Despite that, its been a fun few weeks. Lots of fun with the kids, Easter with family, neighborhood BBQs, and just enjoying life. I am slowly working on some house projects – redoing my room, one small part at a time. And planning to redo my master bath. I will post some of the inspiration pics for the new bath in another post.

Easton makes this smile every time a photo is taken

Easton makes this smile every time a photo is taken (photo credit Shelby Crandall)

New white duvet and lots of indigo pillows have freshened up the room

New white duvet and lots of indigo pillows have freshened up the room

My little T-Ball player

My little T-Ball player

Fun in the snow in Big Bear with Grandma and Grandpa

Fun in the snow in Big Bear with Grandma and Grandpa

Broken foot - BOO!

Broken foot – BOO!

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

These are the world’s best chocolate chip cookies ever, I mean it. These are adapted from a friend’s recipe (you can read her version here).

2 sticks butter (8 oz) (I like KerryGold grass fed)
 1/2 cup white sugar (2 oz ) 
 1 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed (12 oz ) (or if you like it with more of a molasses flavor Trader Joes brown sugar works well too)
 2 eggs
 2 tsp vanilla (1/4 oz) 
 3 1/2 cup All Purpose flour (1 lb. ) 
 1 1/2 tsp Baking soda 
 3/4 tsp salt
 1 lb. chocolate chips (personally I like Trader Joes semi sweet chocolate chunks for more chocolate chip goodness)
1/2 teaspoon maldon salt for sprinkling on top – this is the key feature don’t skip (you can order the salt off Amazon or I bought mine at Sur La Table)

Cream the butter and the sugars until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes on medium high. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Continue mixing while adding the eggs one at time. Add the vanilla. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add flour, soda and salt. With the machine on low, slowly add the flour and dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate. I then put the dough in the fridge for an hour or more. Something about the dough being chilled makes it SO much better. After its cooled, form balls and I kind of smooth them down and then sprinkle them with the Maldon salt. Bake at 360 – I like mine gooey and doughy so I take mine out at exactly 10 minutes and let them cool a bit – you could cook for 11-12 if you want to crispier cookie. 




I have a LOT to be thankful for. Its been a year of recovery, insight and just gratefulness. After you have been through the fire, life becomes so much more special. I really don’t take things for granted (at least as much as I used to!) Here are a list of things I am so grateful for and some things that I have learned this year:

1) Faith and trusting in Christ can pull you through the darkest of times. When I get stressed out, I try to take a deep breath and just think about Jesus taking the burden out of my hands and I really do feel His peace settle over me.

2) I’ve fallen in love with His word. I used to like reading the bible but over the last year I have been just loving learning more about him, studying and memorizing scripture. When I feel overwhelmed, having the words of God and His promises come to mind give me such comfort. I’ve also gotten to do some amazing bible studies with the Women’s Ministry this year – some favorites have been Jonah by Priscilla Shirer, Children of the Day by Beth Moore. I’m excited for our study to kick up again after the New Year.

3) My family is amazing – I already knew that, but I have had so much fun with my kids and hubby this year. Its a great time (2 and 4) for my children as they discover new things every day. I love seeing the world through their eyes. I am just praying for guidance on how to help bring them up, protect them but not shelter them too much. Its such a fine line.

4) I love art. I love painting. I love creating. I love sewing. I love building and remaking. Who knew? As a child my world revolved around art, drawing, creating even through college. But somewhere, probably as my career took center stage, I just completely let that part of me die. But this year it has been revived and then some. I have discovered a joy, a complete delight in creating. Whether its making a pom-pom for the top of a gift, painting a watercolor, or sewing a dress for my daughter or even upholstering a chair. I am creative, and it feels so good. Its like this part of me has bloomed and I feel more fulfilled than I have in years. I am so grateful for this rediscovered part of me.

5) I am grateful for good legs and the ability to run. As I was recovering from the anxiety and insomnia – last February I made this rather rash decision to sign up for a half marathon with just five weeks to go. I trained hard – and I was able to run the San Diego Half Marathon and just barely missed my goal of running it in two hours – by one minute! If I hadn’t stopped for that pee break! I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 1 minute.

6) I’m grateful I had five months with my bestie this year. My best friend lives in Maine which means that we never get to see each other – and that dratted 3 hr time difference is a killer. When she can talk – I’m usually making dinner and when I finally get them down to sleep, she’s already been asleep for a few hours. But last January – her hubby was able to take a job in San Diego for a 5 month stint. We had a blast – her two small kids and mine got along so well. We made the most of it – park days, beach days, the zoo, dinners and even a mini-girl-getaway to Palm Springs. I am so grateful for that time – it was so much fun and I still miss her!

ok, there is a lot more but I’ll stop there. Here are a few extra shots of our delicious Thanksgiving and some table decor. I love me some gold spraypaint :-)

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The past month has been so much fun, just figuring out my sewing machine, making tons of mistakes and being so grateful for the seam ripper gadget, but actually turning out a few really cute pieces for my two year old daughter. Some adorable patterns can be found on Pinterest.

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Family day at the beach

While the rest of the country is freezing – here in southern California – we are still enjoying 70+ degree weather- so that means: beach days!

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