Monday, September 30, 2013

My Journey #3: Finding My Way Through Perfectionism

To overcome my perfectionism, it wasn't easy. I remember being in first grade and thinking that my clothes were getting too wrinkly throughout the day. I remember erasing and erasing my spelling word sentences over and over because my writing didn't look "just right." The more I thought about this side of my OCD as I got older, the more I could pick out aspects of perfectionism in my younger self. This was something that I had, unknowingly for many years, dealt with. 

I didn't expect change to happen overnight. It was very challenging--not because what I was doing to overcome my perfection was hard, per se. It was, however, hard for me in the sense that working on exposure therapies left me to sit with the uncomfortableness that is anxiety. Anxiety is  just a constant feeling of "not right." Being uncomfortable, feeling off, feeling itchy in your own skin is the norm. Dealing with these issues caused me to face this feeling head-on, to sit with it, and let it ride out until it dissipated. Easier said then done for someone with anxiety, but I couldn't do this anymore. I wanted to change things.

Some of my first exposure therapies dealt with being okay with not looking "perfect." Whatever I told myself that perfect standard was. Right before I started therapy, Bjorn and I had gone to a fundraiser for his school. I thought I had the perfect outfit planned for the night, where I would feel good about myself and not worry the whole night about what I was wearing. I had a cute top, a new sparkly sweater I had gotten for my birthday, and a pencil skirt. My OCD had told me that my sweater was too "flashy looking" (whatever that means), even though I LOVE IT!! I decided to shut my OCD brain up for the night and wear my AWESOME sweater! Score 1 for me!

Right before we left, I noticed that my cute sweater had a hole in the back of it. A hole that I think I made when I tried to cut out the extra pack of sequins sewn inside the tag. First of all, I couldn't get over being mad at myself for "ruining" (my OCD words) my sweater because I was in a rush. I was so "stupid" (OCD words again). Score 1 OCD.

Fabulous sweater!!

Can you even find the TINY hole in my sweater?!? My perfectionism/OCD sure could! I'll give you a clue...

I was running late, so I didn't have time to choose a new outfit. I had to go wearing this sweater. The WHOLE time there in the car, my OCD loop played in my head. "I can't believe I'm going to this fancy fundraiser and I look like a slob. Nobody knows me and they're going to think that I am a mess! I can't believe that I am SUCH A LOSER to cut a hole in my stupid sweater! I look AWFUL! Everyone's going to be talking about what a mess I am all night!"

Now #1) This is crazy of my to think like this and have such little faith in people. I am not this kind of person at all! #2) The hole is SO TINY, I bet no one even noticed it! (Plus, it was a wine tasting party!) #3) OCD makes you think irrational and crazy things, even though you know, as a rational person, that they are not true.

I spent maybe half of an extremely fun night worrying about the hole in the back of my sweater because I didn't think it was up to my "standard" of looking nice for the evening. No rhyme or reason, just didn't "feel right" to me. 

It was such a fun night too! We went down to Clifton where one of Bjorn's student's parents live (sorry for the series of possessives there!). Their house is amazing. The food and wine were amazing. And performers from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra played beautiful music for us in the foyer of this house! Completely fabulous, and little, old OCD me is worrying about the silly hole in my sweater!

After that night, I knew that I needed to stop it, but I didn't know how. I worked with my therapist on some exposure therapies. She told me that once I got dressed for the day, I couldn't change. No  matter what--even if I hated my outfit, I thought it looked disgusting, it had coffee all over it, a student wrote all over me in permanent marker, etc. I just had to deal with the feeling of not liking it, not being "perfect," and move on. I had already learned ways and strategies to control my OCD thoughts, but my perfectionism was still nagging at me. 

That next day, I took on the challenge. Never once did I change out of an outfit once I put it on. I even purposefully spilled coffee on myself a few times (as suggested by my therapist) to sit with the idea of not being "perfect" a few times. That one was hard. Even harder--I went to work without ironing clearly needed-to-be-ironed shirts a few times. That one REALLY bugged me. But I got over it, and moved on with my life!

This sounds crazy, but I felt that way about this outfit. It was "too wrinkly" to me and I didn't feel comfortable in it. I wore it anyway!! I like it--I just felt "uncomfortable in it.

Now I get dressed quickly, without much thought. I am out the door more quickly. I don't obsess about what I'm wearing. Now don't get me wrong, those of you who know me know I LOVE FASHION!! That's why I hated that I was letting my perfectionism get to me! Fashion is about having fun with your own style and doing what YOU want with your clothes--making your own statement. It shouldn't matter if I don't feel my outfit looks "right" or not to the rest of the world. And the truth is, it doesn't! I just couldn't help that crazy weird feeling that something about me was "off."

Now I'm back to having-fun-with-my-clothes self. Two weeks ago I wore a dress that I haven't worn in a long time because when I used to wear it I had an "off" feeling. 

I do love it! I put it on and I don't get that feeling anymore. I've come a long way with my perfectionism, especially in this aspect--my clothes, my outward appearance. It's not worth worrying over. It's worth having fun. It's one thing I love to do, so why not enjoy it!

I'm definitely going to.

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Journey #2: Always Something Short of Perfect

My OCD comes with a side of perfectionism. 

noun: perfectionism
  1. 1.
    refusal to accept any standard short of perfection

I always held myself to this ridiculous standard. Everything had to be perfect. My house was never "clean enough." My clothes never looked "just right." I worried that when I did clean, things weren't "clean enough." I worried when I did put something on, it didn't look "right." Maybe it accentuated the wrong part of my body. Maybe I spilled something like coffee on my shirt during the day (the worst!) and then I would obsess that I didn't look "up to par" the rest of the day. 

The worst was, since I am a teacher, getting ink pen on myself because as we all know, it is difficult to get ink pen out of your clothes unless, of course you have some stain remover or something like that on hand at ALL TIMES. Which of course, you would think me, having perfectionism, would tell me to do! But--I never had a Tide Pen to GO when I needed it, which made me even more CRAZY!!

I also had a problem finishing projects, decorating my house (even though I LOVE doing this!) because I knew that I would finish a project and then feel like something was "off." I wasn't doing the things I love--drawing, finishing projects at my house, crafting, wearing outfits I loved, and even painting my nails. I was so worried that everything I did wouldn't turn out "the right way." 

For example, this happened this week. Things like this USED to DRIVE MY PERFECTIONISM CRAZY!!! Because my toes were no longer "perfect," in my eyes of course!

But who says that there has to be a right way? I would give up on so many things, not do the things that I love and keep telling myself that I needed to do better. I was driving myself CRAZY!!

This is how perfectionism works:

From Bitesize Bio: Brainfood for Biologists.
I was always in this cycle: setting unrealistic expectations for myself, blaming myself for not meeting the expectations, losing my confidence, procrastinating on completing or doing my "fun tasks" (sometimes not doing them at all), and then expecting myself to do EVEN BETTER the next time to make-up for my lack of success. Of course, I could never meet the original standard I set. So I basically just kept re-setting myself up for failure. Every. Single. Time.

The thing that I have realized as I look back at my issues with perfectionism is that I was the one holding myself to some ridiculous, unattainable standards. I could never meet the standards I set for myself. I don't even know if I ever knew what my unrealistic expectations or standards were. I just knew everything I did didn't feel "good enough."

My therapist always explained this feeling of "something not being right" or "never good enough" as going back to our cavemen ancestors. When you think about it, it makes sense. Back then people were always on the lookout for enemies, for their next meal, for protection from the weather, etc. Their brains were always on "high alert." I guess you could say my OCD and perfectionism kind of work in this way--my brain always has this "high alert" feeling. It's always checking out what is out of place, what is "wrong," in every situation. My alert system is always ON. It never turns off, and it always find something "out of place," something "not quite right"--even when nothing is. My brain plays tricks on me. 

I've learned to quiet this part of my brain; it hasn't been easy. But I've been able to do it. I'm just starting to get back into crafting and art and other things that I enjoy. I don't feel "off" when I walk out the door after I get dressed. I spilled coffee all over my lap last week and just dabbed it up and didn't worry about cleaning it out of my pants until I got home. At first I told myself, "You need to clean that. You look messy." But I realized, I'm the only one holding myself to this standard of what is "clean" and "presentable." Who cares that I spilled coffee on my pants? That's life, eh? (Btw--I'm trying out being a Canadian today!)

From now on, I will no longer allow my perfectionism to bother me! I have been doing really great at this the past year! I've had some serious exposure therapies** that were very challenging for me, and I am SO happy I did them because I am where I am now. I am currently telling my perfectionism to kiss it. 

**Exposure therapy works by creating opportunities for the patient to unlearn feared, dangerous, or threatening associations. Specifically, in exposure therapy, patients are exposed to feared objects or thoughts again and again until their anxiety has decreased. (from, search: OCD-->treatment-->coping)

I've realized, even though I've known this my whole life (I just had to start believing it), that nobody's perfect. I am not perfect. No one expects me to be perfect. I need to give myself a break and allow myself time to relax and breathe. Life should be fun, not exhausting. I am happy to say that this hurdle I seriously have worked very hard on and have really come a long way. Much of this aspect of my OCD/perfectionism doesn't even loop in my head anymore. I have become good at killing it in it's tracks (as just opposed to stopping it--I prefer thinking of it as killing my loop. Much more powerful!). 

And So is das Leben. C'lest la vie. That's life.

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Success #2: Just Hanging Out and Throwing Some Chicken into the Mix

Well, I have to say that I had a wonderful weekend and past few days. I’ve had some successes and some happy too! Let's start with things that have made me happy!

Happy #1: Just goofing around

I've just felt really happy this week. Me and Bjorn have been having fun, relaxing, and goofing around. It's been a blast!

Happy #2: My former students

Since I have my students for three years at my building, it's sometimes hard to see them move on. We get to know them, get to know their families, and become really close with some of them. They know us really well and we know them really well. I tutor a few of my former students who have moved on from my building. I am glad I still have the honor of seeing them grow and learn and become more proficient in English. 

This week I was tutoring one of my former students. In order to motivate him to complete some homework, I told him that I would try to put this block puzzle together as long as he worked on writing his summary, and I'd help him along the way. Of course my student loved this because I have never been able to complete this puzzle one time since I started tutoring him a year ago. 

This tutoring session must have been a magical day! After five minutes, I solved the puzzle! My student was somewhat impressed. He told me I could have solved it "a little bit faster." (I think he was referring to the year it took me to solve the puzzle.) I did remind him that I am an English teacher and not a puzzler-putter-together. He seemed unimpressed :( However, I am very proud of myself! My student did feel like this event did deserve to be documented with my iPhone :)

I do also love the cool school supplies that my Japanese students bring from Japan! This is my student's pencil pouch. I call it his pencil's "sleeping bag." It folds back up and zips like one!
Happy #3: Starting a new collection

I decided to start a little collection of historical figure busts because they make me think of my dad :).  I have them sitting scattered among my bookshelves. I think I may look for certain presidents my dad really loved like James Madison and other historical figures. He LOVED talking about presidents and history!! It'll be fun! So far I have Ben Franklin, JFK, Abe Lincoln, and Stephen Foster, a famous musician.

Happy #4: Fun teacher exchange

I sent out  my SLANTbox this week! Here's a picture of the card I made with my gift. I had my students write notes on the inside and outside in their languages! I'm so ready to sign up for next month! SLANTbox is a fun teacher exchange where you get to meet and get to know two different educators from across the country throughout the month. At the end of the month, you send one themed box of goodies to one teacher and you get a goodie box from the other! If you're interested in signing up for October, sign up now on Jameson's blog Lessons with Coffee! It's super fun!

Happy #5: Cooking with the Hubs
Bjorn and I have been cooking together more the last two weeks like we used to since I'm not always taking work home. We tried a new hard cider: Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple. It has a strong taste of cinnamon and is rather sweet, but I really like it! Bjorn thinks it's pretty good. I don't think he'll be drinking any more. :)

We also tried two new recipes from Claire Robinson's 5 Ingredient Fix. Buttermilk pecan-crusted chicken and cheesy penne. We used a mix of mild cheddar and Irish sharp cheddar with whiskey in the penne. We also stirred in fresh spinach at the end. Delish!!

The dogs LOVE when we cook, especially when we cut up veggies, so while we were cutting up veggies the other night, the dogs patiently waited (and begged!) for their veggies! They love carrots, cucumbers, radishes, and celery! Here's Bjorn giving them some lettuce! 

And now for the successes:

I touched some more chicken!! And…not one OCD thought popped into my head when I did! I don’t know if I was just having a great day, I was super tired, or who knows what, but who cares! I prepped and marinated some chicken in buttermilk for our delicious pecan-crusted chicken dinner. And then I cooked it with NO anxiety what so ever! I had a nice time cooking and listening to some fun music. Bjorn wasn't feeling well, so I was glad to make him dinner. Overall, a super success!
This is a happy face holding some raw chicken! I did open the package and touch the chicken!

Rachael and I went to the mall this past weekend. We went to just window shop and eat some Chick-fil-A. I used to never sit anywhere in the mall food court but in the back or on the side, where no one could see or notice me. I don't know why. Well, I do know why--it made me anxious!! I didn't like thinking people were starring at me or wondering why I ordered the food I did. But who cares? I realized I don't!! And I realized that's my OCD brain; no one cares about what I'm doing! Now that my anxiety is better, Rachael and I sit smack dab in the middle of the food court, chit-chat, eat, and it doesn't even phase me!

That's it for now! I've had a great week! I'll talk to you all later! 

Love and happines <3 Holly

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Journey #1: Still Working On It

My OCD has different types of compulsions and obsessions. Each person with OCD has different kinds of obsessions and compulsions. Mine may be different from another person I meet. For example, I do not feel the need to have things lined up specific ways, ordering or arranging things based on how I see fit. Sometimes messiness and dirt bother me, but only in my own house, never anywhere else. 

One of the biggest issues that affects me is obsessions in my mind--ideas and thoughts (mostly catastrophic that I know will not or cannot happen) that play on a loop. They come back over and over again. And no matter how hard I try, they don't stop. Now that I have been working on my OCD, I can control them. But they still start as obsessions and blink on quickly into my brain like someone using a flashlight to spell out Morse code. I just have learned to ignore them and block them out before they set my anxiety into a tailspin.

Two specific items that I have always obsessed over are 1) raw meat and 2) my crockpot. 

1) I HATE raw meat; chicken bothers me the worst. No reason--there never is a reason. But I hate the look of it, the smell of it, and I HATE touching it!! One thing I have been doing is making myself be the person who touches and handles raw chicken because I used to avoid it. I used to let Bjorn do it. That way I didn't have to face it; I didn't have to touch it. 

The reason it bothered me so much, and still gets me just a little is the loop about raw chicken that plays in my head. My OCD tells me, "If you touch the chicken, it might contaminate you. The chicken probably has salmonella. If you let it touch your hands too long, the juices are going to penetrate your skin and seep into your body, and you are going to get salmonella. Then you are going to start throwing up. Then you aren't going to get better. You're going to end up in the hospital. People die from salmonella."

Now reading that, I think it sounds like a great premise for a new strand of salmonella that someone cooks up on some late-night tv show that just seeps through people's skin and kills them all. But, seriously, that is what my brain tells me. Even though I know it's crazy, my OCD brain gets me to doubt my rational brain enough that it causes me anxiety. And I don't want to touch the chicken.

So after some exposure therapy exercises, I am getting better at the chicken touching :-/ I blank out my mind (the crazy thoughts still come). And I completely ignore them. I did that today...

The chicken. That is all.

Not sure about touching the chicken, but I'm doing it!!!

I did it! And I look a hot mess btw! That's what touching chicken does to ya! Ha!

I only washed my hands once too after I touched the chicken! I used to be unsure if I needed to wash my hands more (if I was still contaminated--OCD brain). But now I tell myself, "You're fine; wash your hands once." And I do! Yay!

2) I have a love hate relationship with my crockpot. I love it because it makes lovely, quick meals for me and the hubs, but my anxiety and OCD do not like it!! Again with the obsessive thoughts and the crockpot. Lately I only use the crockpot if we're going out for a little while or stay at home most of the day on Sunday. I haven't used the crockpot and turned it on while I was at school the whole day since I was in college and student teaching! As I have gotten older and things have happened in my life, my anxiety has gotten worse and just keeps me from doing this one "simple" thing. 

My crockpot. Oh, crockpot. I promise to use you more. Seeing it plugged in really gets me!

My OCD usually tells me with regards to my crockpot, "If you leave the crockpot plugged in, there is more than likely some sort of problem in the plug or the wiring in the house that will cause an electric fire while you're gone. Then the house will go up in flames. The dogs are home and they won't be able to get out." --And then I lose my mind. 

I have failed miserably with the crockpot, but I haven't wanted to try. I think I'm ready now, so I'm going for it! I am going to use my crockpot for its intended purpose and not be afraid of it!Today I used it to make dinner. I didn't even continuously go back and check on it. I just turned it on and let it go! 

My goal for this month is to use it at least once while I'm away all day to get dinner ready. And with this goal, I will NOT obsess about it being plugged in while I'm at school all day either. This one might be a little tough, but I want to do it :)

Thor and Rufus said, "We're so proud of you, Mom!" and "Oh, can we have a treat, since we helped!"
Well, I think I had a good day. I did good, but I'm still working on it!

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Inspiration #1: Love and Understanding Conquer All

This makes me teary-eyed every time I watch it. There are amazing words and emotions attached to this poem and reading for me. It inspires me to keep on keepin' on!

Neil Hilborn, performing during Individual Finals at the 2013 Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam.

It's funny how sometimes words come to some of us better through the medium of writing. This has always been true for me. I've always written poems, short stories, journals, and 
the beginnings of books that never quite got finished. 

I started writing in junior high school. I still have many of my poems that I wrote in high school and most of the writing I have done from then through today. Looking back, it's funny to think that I realized sometime long ago that I had OCD, but had never specifically been told so. I knew I was different and my mind thought differently. I think I didn't really know how to go about changing it. I knew my mind was sometimes irrational, but I didn't know how to stop it. I wrote this poem during my college years:


An army of killer ants march past my window.
I rush to the door to check the lock, 
check the lock, 
check the lock. 
Must be my obsessive compulsive mind coming out to check the weather.
Wonder how those ants got to be so big?
Must be the coconut-flavored water?
Or maybe the acid rain?
Or maybe a trial study of a new muscle-enhancing drug gone completely and utterly wrong?
For some things, there are no logical explanations.

I remember sitting in my geography class my sophomore year at Miami University in Ohio, starring out the window and writing this poem. I had been stressed out a lot since college started, and I think my anxiety had really taken hold since freshmen year. I knew I had trouble coping, but I don't know if I could or did really understand my OCD completely then. 

I always could write more about something than I actually understood in my own head, if that makes any sense. Words just seemed to come to me when I wrote. I wrote this at a time when my life was not making sense, but I didn't know why. 

Today I'm glad I know the "why." And I'm also glad that I understand that my OCD and anxiety don't really make sense and that I do just have to work through them. They are not always logical, and that's okay! It's just the nature of the beast. Here's to things that don't make sense and just accepting that some things never will. Letting go of understanding has helped me to move on in huge ways. Here's to moving on :)

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Success #1: Relax, Refresh, and Try Something New

One thing about my OCD is that it always tells me that relaxing--sitting down and doing nothing—is NOT OKAY!!! My brain always feels the need to have a to-do list a mile long, and I always feel the need to be doing something that I consider productive. 

It has always been difficult for me to sit down and enjoy my favorite tv shows, just chill out on the couch with my puppies, or do absolutely, positively nothing. I would worry that if I wasn't doing “enough” schoolwork, I wasn't a good enough teacher. If I wasn't cleaning my house all the time, then my house wasn't clean enough. If I wasn't planning the grocery list, thinking about what needed to get for the next week, thinking about the projects that I needed to do next on the house, then I wasn't doing something productive and it didn't need my attention. The problem was, I was working myself so hard, that I would end up exhausted by mid-afternoon and fall asleep and then feel like I failed at my crazy to-do list for the weekend.

This is really what was making me tired and emotionally drained. I was not taking the time I needed to refuel and refresh myself for my job, the people who love me, and myself.

So this past summer I made a goal for myself: I was going to be okay with no plan AND doing nothing.
I have to say I scored a 100% on this goal! I went full-out on this one and gave it my all! I had an AMAZING summer full of fun, relaxing, and doing whatever the hell I wanted! I told my OCD brain to shove-it and we went from there…

Well, I told it to shove it, but it was not always that easy. The OCD brain always creeps up when you don’t expect it and pokes at you, trying to get you to believe its lies. “You shouldn't be relaxing. You have better things to do. You need to clean the house. If you don’t, you’ll be a horrible person!” I know it doesn't make any sense, but the anxiety it causes is horrible, and it’s not easy to just turn it off—I actually can’t. I just have to sit with it, realize the anxiety will go away, and continue on with what I want to do, and literally, then, tell it to shove it!

So here is how I found my happy this summer and shushed my OCD brain for a little while…

I read books—lots of books! I love reading!! I sat down on the couch whenever I felt like it to read. Some of my favorites were The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, Escape by Carolyn Jessop, The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis, Dwarf by Tiffanie DiDonato, and Bossypants by Tina Fey.



I cooked. My husband and I love cranking up the music in the kitchen and cooking together. It’s been one of our favorite things to do together since college. We tried some new recipes, especially on Pinterest. We have a few favorite recipes, like beer can chicken below, and then we like to "jazz up" ones that we find on Pinterest.

Beer can chicken with jalapeno cornbread
For the jalapeno cornbread recipe follow this link
Bjorn flambeing some sweet vidalia onions in bourbon for our sliders.
See the recipe on Pinterest here!
Follow my board Great Food...Tried it...Loved it! here
I offer suggestions for how we "jazz up" the recipes ourselves!

We went to fun places in Cincinnati! We went to Findlay Market (can you believe I've never been!) and the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Gyros and mixed olives at Findlay Market.

Our favorite place in the world (and where we got married!)--the Cincinnati Art Museum!

We took a vacation! We went to Disney World and Naples, Florida, in July with my mom, Bjorn, my sisters, and their husbands/significant others. It was SO FUN!!! I did so many things that I never thought I’d try. My OCD usually tells me not to try new things, but this time, I didn't listen!

Beautiful beach in Naples, Florida

I HATE flying because I don't have control of the situation. My OCD brain loops the ENTIRE flight thinking, "The plane will crash. Something will go wrong," with every small bit of turbulence. I was so proud of myself for this flight! I had my OCD thoughts, but I talked myself through them! I seriously told myself, "The pilot is competent. He knows what he is doing. He is trained. He is a safe flier. I trust him." I was great the whole flight! I had a few anxious feelings, but I sat through them, and they went away. I even slept on the way home!

Sissy, Rachael, me, and Bjorn pooped out on the flight. No anxiety while we're sleeping!!

I used to always worry, especially when I was in high school and my early twenties, about what people thought of me--if I looked silly or incompetent or just plain dumb because of something I said, or did, or the way I acted. I have to say, I have been much better about this as I've gotten older, but my OCD does still tell my crazy irrational things as I replay things that I've said over and over in my head, questioning if I did it "the right way." This summer, I let go and did silly things with my sisters and just had fun! I didn't care, even though my OCD told me I should.

Dancer pose at the "Singing in the Rain" umbrella, even though people stared at me :)

Accepting our Greatest Sister of the Year Oscars after the Backstage Movie Tour ride at Hollywood Studios.

When I was younger, I LOVED the villains in the Disney movies. I was crazy :)! So I had to try on this Cruella de Vil hat!

I also tried some new things that I never have before. I usually don't try new things because my OCD tells me that I will be a failure, but I have always wanted to do some of them. So I did it! Some of them, I haven't done in a long time, so I refound how much I liked doing those things too!

I haven't fished since my grandpa took me when I was little. We relaxed and fished with the boys off the back deck in the bay. The boys caught a fish. I just smiled pretty and sat in the fishing chair. It was fun!

I went canoeing! Usually I don't get into lakes, or bays for that matter, because my OCD tells me strange things lurk in them. Well, I got in the bay and went canoeing. It was super fun!
This I am the most proud of! I went paddle boarding! It was so much fun! I wasn't going to try, but I just went for it. I LOVED it! It was so much fun!

Me and Rachael in the water.

Okay---this sounds nuts too, but I usually don't get in to ocean either. My OCD tells me crazy things lurk in oceans too--who knows what could be in there, right? Well, motto of the summer, shove it, OCD! I went swimming in the ocean! It was fantastic!

We also got a new camera, so I tried taking some pictures with it. I've always wanted to learn about photography. No fear of failing! I just had fun! Here's me practicing with my camera. A seashell on the deck.

And here's me practicing again--my sister Ashley and her husband Luke canoeing down the bay.

Overall, I had a great summer! I think I did such a great job controlling and handling my OCD and anxiety. Now I'm looking forward to this year and next summer :) and all the great fun and relaxing things that I plan on doing in my free time. I know that my OCD and anxiety still find their ways to sneak up on me, but I feel so much more confident in being able to handle them when they do come around.

Have a FABULOUS Saturday!!

Love and happiness <3 Holly