If you have a question …

and would like to ask me … you can do that now.

If you’re on my actual website (www.jackieleasommers.com), just click the blue doors in the sidebar that subtly read ASK ME ANYTHING.

Otherwise you can always click here too.

It’s anonymous or not, up to you.

Why did I add this?

  1. NOT because I’m some sort of guru.
  2. But people do have lots of questions about OCD and writing and faith and stuff, and they often email me. Especially about OCD.
  3. That can be a little overwhelming, and I’d prefer a more public platform to respond.
  4. This.
  5. Also, this way we all learn together. (P.S. I can totally do the dance below.) (No joke.)

Thanks, Wildcats! I hope you’ll use this! It will really help me know what readers want to hear about!🙂

Christmas isn’t fun for everyone

A PSA & a Prayer

JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

My roommate is a Christmas fanatic– every year, she chooses one day after Thanksgiving where we pause everything else to put on some Christmas music, drink hot cocoa, and decorate our apartment.  Every Christmas decoration in the entire apartment belongs to her.  Well, time out, I guess we each paid half for our little four-foot tree.

Desiree has this entire Willow Tree nativity set, as seen below.

Can you picture her as a senior in high school, eagerly opening up each element of the scene?  It makes me laugh– but in a good way!  Des is the sweetest girl ever, and this is a great metaphor of each of us.  Des is “steady eddie”– not that she doesn’t have her own issues to deal with– but she is strong and caring and clean and a good cook.  And then there’s me, a tornado who is still learning how to take…

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Operation: Adulting

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I turn 35 in January. I need to get my crap together.

I’m developing a plan.

So far:

1. I created a budget. I used mint.com. It’s free and quite brilliant actually. It takes a little bit to set things up, but once you’ve linked up all your accounts, it’s smooth like butter. I was pretty darn thorough– and I was also pretty reasonable with myself, knowing my spending habits.

2. I subscribed to nearly ALL of my recurring expenses. If you use target.com, you 1) get free shipping, 2) get 5% off, 3) set how often you want your items to ship, and 4) avoid the store. For me, avoiding the store is a three-way win: I hate stores, I don’t give myself the opportunity to impulse buy, and I save time, which is honestly a more precious commodity to me than even the money.

I created a fancy little spreadsheet, figured out all the costs, and for all of 2017, I will spend only $895.36 on contact solution, toothbrushes, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo (for the win!!), toilet paper, feminine products, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, makeup remover, deodorant [all from Target] plus three different vitamins [via The Vitamin Shoppe] plus two just-for-fun subscriptions. FOR A YEAR. (This is good for me– maybe some of you are laughing at me right now! I honestly don’t know what is a “normal” cost because I’m soooo bad with my spending.) Oh, and I get my razors through Dollar Shave Club (Interested? Sign up AT THIS LINK and I get credits!)

By the way, this hasn’t been an all-at-once thing for me. I’ve been moving into the world of online subscriptions for a few years now. It’s incredible.

3. I’m TRYING to take the time to cook … and to think ahead so that I have a plan for WHAT to cook … and get the appropriate groceries for it (which– shocker– I also order online).

4. I’m figuring out how often I need to go to the chiropractor and therapist in order to stay healthy.

5. I’m developing plans for reading, writing, and exercise.

6. For the first time in my adult life, even books are included in my budget.

7. I think I need a mentor.

8. Online dating. (For now just online window shopping.)

9. More to come.

Did you like how this list when from ULTRA-DETAILED to totally vague?

IT’LL COME.

Tomorrow is December 1st, which gives me one month till the new year starts.

My roommate always gives each new year a name– The Year of the Lady, The Year of Saying Yes, The Year of Living Simply.

What should I name 2017 for me? Ideas?

 

 

Ten Life Lessons from Harry Potter

All of this. And Hermione is bae. Yes.

Hardcovers and Heroines

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Hi friends! It’s been a long time (over a year) since I searched through a book for some life lessons. In the post-election days, I saw several friends turning to Harry Potter for comfort. I understand why. These books and their characters feel like good friends and great teachers over the same time. They also portray a world where great evil exists but good triumphs in the end. There are too many life lessons to gain from this book to write into a single post, or even glean in a single reading. Here are ten of my favorites:

1. Choices matter. 

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

2. People are nuanced. We contain multitudes. Also (in case the previous message didn’t get through) choices matter. A lot. 

“We’ve all got both light and…

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A Better Question

Did I ever share this article with you guys? It’s important.

Instead of asking, “What do I want?” ask, “What is worth struggling for?”

I hope you’ll read this and share your thoughts.

It begins:

Everybody wants what feels good. Everyone wants to live a carefree, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when you walk into the room.

Everyone would like that—it’s easy to like that.

If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.

A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

Click here to read the rest.

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Series Review: The Heirs of Watson Island (No Spoilers!)

Last weekend I finished Illusion, the third book of the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy by Martina Boone. This book, of course, builds on its two predecessors, so– in order to avoid spoilers– I just want to share with you what this series is about and the things I like about it.

Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

Barrie Watson is a girl who, newly orphaned, moves to South Carolina to live with her Aunt Pru. There, she finds family secrets she never knew; magic that is hard to understand; and a super-cute boy who knows what she wants better than she knows herself.

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What I liked:

Eight. My gosh, dream boy. Eight Beaufort is sweet and thoughtful and gorgeous and funny and smart. Love him to pieces.

Barrie. She’s sassy and brilliant and refuses to be trampled on. My kinda girl!

The writing. It’s gorgeous. English is Martina Boone’s second language, and yet she has total mastery of it. The descriptions are to die for.

The south. Southern culture infiltrates every part of this book– but in a totally natural, not-at-all-distracting way.

The cultures. The book has stories and legends from diverse backgrounds, and they make the series so rich. I really appreciate that Boone did her research, and she even includes additional details in the pages after the books end.

Also interesting to note, the second book was my favorite one of the series– which is really unusual for me! Usually the second book in a series is my least favorite, as it often seems to just be a bridge. But Persuasion was my favorite!

Have you read this series? What did you think?

 

Perfectionism & Writing [& OCD Too]

messyYou’d think being a perfectionist would be beneficial for an artist, but I really don’t think that’s true.

(Neither, apparently, does Google: search “artists are perfectionists” and you’ll get the following:

 

For me, being a perfectionist means that writing a book can be a slow form of torture. You see, it takes a long time for a book to even begin to resemble perfection. You have to spend months, even years, sitting uncomfortably in the middle of a mess, working through sloppy drafts and chasing rabbit trails into very disorganized forests.

Or maybe that’s just me.

In any case, it’s a continual lesson in learning to enjoy the process and not just the product. If I only enjoy the product, I will get to be happy about 24 hours out of every three years. This is a journey of embracing uncertainty, letting myself wait in the cold water till I begin to adjust.

And that’s the story of my life with OCD too. Heck, the story of my life, period.

I– a perfectionist, an OCD survivor– want pretty things in pretty boxes with pretty bows on top. I– an artist, an OCD survivor– know that’s not what life looks like. Life is full of doubt and wrong directions, wasted time and imperfect choices. Life is full of discomfort and years and years and years of tolerating discomfort … with the hope there is a pretty thing in a pretty box with a pretty bow at the end. But it is not guaranteed.

So, is art in general– or writing specifically– a difficult career choice for a perfectionist? Heck yes. But it’s fulfilling, worthwhile, hard, dirty, beautiful work– and it is helping me appreciate this fulfilling, worthwhile, hard, dirty, beautiful world.

 

A Weekend of Poetry

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of lounging in my bed and reading three (!!!) collections of poetry. They were all wonderful, and all very different from one another.

Ultra-Cabin by Kimberly Lambright is described as post-ironic, a clever collection that showcases her total command of vocabulary. Fascinating and provocative.

Yes Thorn by Amy Munson is full of beautiful, thoughtful poetry that reminds me why the mysterious calls to me. Really unique rhythms to these poems, incredible depth of subject matter.

The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins features the poet’s trademark humor, which is always used in thought-provoking ways.

Bottom line: I need poetry. I’d forgotten how much.

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Supplements, Nutrition, & OCD: Guest Post by Leah Adair

Leah is on the board of OCD Twin Cities with me, and she’s got the loveliest heart! She is a tremendous encourager, and she also knows more about natural ways to treat OCD than anyone I know. Leah herself has undergone ERP, and I know that she would never argue to replace ERP with the following … these are meant to complement exposure therapy.

With that said, here’s Leah!

xoxo Jackie

***

Jackie asked me to share a little bit about my experience with supplements/nutrition and treating OCD. I am not a doctor, dietitian, or a nutritionist. I am someone who suffers with OCD and I’ve done a lot of research on ways to treat it.


When the beast of OCD first began, I researched all of the possible ways that I could fight it/defeat it.


An interesting fact is that our gut is our second brain. 90% of what we feed into our body transfers to our brain. Fascinating, right?


I started taking a variety of different supplements that have been proven to help with OCD and also anxiety/depression.


I’ve been on meds combined with supplements and I’ve also done strictly supplements. It’s important to find what works for you. It’s also important to talk with your doctor or psychiatrist if you are planning to make any major changes. I had two sessions with a certified dietitian to help me understand supplements.


Nutrition:


It’s crucial to try to eat a healthy fat, protein, and carb at every meal. Carbs = fruit and vegetables. I’ve found that limiting dairy, gluten, and sugar has helped decrease anxiety quite a bit. I still LOVE pizza, , but I definitely feel a difference when I don’t eat a balanced meal.


Healthy fat is so important.
Think: BUTTER!!!  Our brains store fat and we are often lacking healthy fats in our diet. Examples of healthy fat: avocado, dark chocolate (who can argue with eating more chocolate!), eggs, olive oil/olives, fish, nuts, chia seeds, coconuts/coconut oil.


Exercise:


It’s super important to be active. When our bodies are moving, they produce endorphins which trigger a positive feeling equal to that of morphine (with out the addictive component). If exercise seems daunting to you, start small. Walk around the block or do a short video online.


This article highlights 13 reasons exercise benefits our mental health.


Supplements that help OCD:


My top 3 recommendations paired with medication are fish oil, a probiotic, and a multivitamin.


Fish oil: Fish oil helps support serotonin and build it into our bodies. It might sound like it would taste gross, but you don’t even notice the fish taste. I would highly recommend getting the “burp-less” kind. When I forget to take fish oil, I notice that my mood is much lower.


Probiotic: Probiotics are anti-inflammatory microbes that affect the gut in a positive way. Remember when I said our gut is our second brain? Probiotics have some similar effects to an SSRI. Probiotics can be purchased at Walgreens, CVS, or Target. They can also be purchased online. I get mine (with free shipping!) from www.nutrikey.net


Vitamin D: Vitamin D is what we receive from exposure to sunlight. Unless you are a lifeguard, work in construction, or some other job where you are exposed to the sun for several hours each day, you are lacking Vitamin D. This is especially important if you live in a colder climate. I actually take  take 3000 IU’s a day which is 3 tiny capsules. This article is by the Journal of Internal Medicine and highlights they ways that Vitamin D helps fight depression.


Multi-vitamin: It’s important for take a good quality multivitamin. Multi-vitamins have a lot of key nutrients that help our bodies beyond just mental health. Look for a multivitamin that has B vitamins and magnesium/calcium, like this.


5-HTP: I took this for awhile instead of an SSRI. It helps raise serotonin levels in the brain. 5-HTP is the closest natural alternative to an SSRI.


NAC:  I know of a few people with OCD who swear by NAC combined with an SSRI.  I do not take NAC, but I’m definitely considering it. It’s an amino acid/antioxidant. It significantly reduces glutamate which is a major neurotransmitter that leads to over stimulation. Here is an article from the International OCD Foundation on the benefits of NAC.


Inositol: Inositol is able to cross the blood/brain barrier and provide relief from over firing nerves, the stress reaction of over taxed, hyperactive minds. The multivitamin that I take has a small amount of Inositol in it. Inositol is in the B vitamin family. This can be purchased in powder form or capsules. Learn more here.


I hope this was helpful. Be kind and patient with yourself in this journey. It can take time to find the right combination that works for you.