Another 10 Random Facts about Me

1. I do not eat fish.

2. My celebrity crush is Theo James. I made this because I’m a nerd:

3. I’d like to travel to Australia, given the chance.

4. I love cats but am allergic to them. (We had battalions of cats growing up– farm cats, not house cats.)

5. I was terribly shy when I was young. This shocks most people, since almost all traces of that shyness evaporated long ago.

6. I’m quite captivated by Dickon from The Secret Garden. I’m not sure if I want to marry the grown-up version of him or keep him in my pocket as a magical child.

7. I scored higher on my math ACT subscores than in my English subscores. I was a straight-A math student all the way through college calculus II, where I stopped.

8. I really dislike being cold and remember that every winter that I stay in this forsaken state. (I love you, Minnesota, but come on: 30 below is too much.)

9. I’m sort of obsessed with wind turbines. I even managed to include a wind farm in my book.

10. My three self-proclaimed leadership principles are faithfulness, humility, and creativity.

Three Endorsements

I wanted to share with you three services that I love– and if you think you might love them too, you can sign up through me! Thanks for bearing with me through this self-benefiting blog post– please know that if I didn’t really love these services, I wouldn’t throw them at ya!

1. Dropbox.

Dropbox has revolutionized my life. That probably sounds extreme, but it’s true! Dropbox works like a freakin’ wormhole between all my electronic devices. It installs a folder, and I can access anything in the folder anywhere else I’ve downloaded Dropbox– as well as online! I have it on my personal computer, my work computer, and my phone. No more worrying about Oh, that file is on my other device. I always have access to everything in that folder. In addition, I love saving my work to a cloud. It’s such a nice backup in case my hard-drive ever self-destructs. And you can get 2 GB of space for FREE. If you want to start a Dropbox account, sign up here (because then you and I will both get an extra 500 MB of space!).

2. Dollar Photo Club.

I want my blog to look as amazing as possible, and my creativity was really feeling squelched by having to search the Creative Commons images all the time (these images are free and available for use on blogs– there are varying levels of license which dictate how much freedom the poster has to alter the image). So, I decided to shell out the small fee of $10 a month to get 10 downloads each month that I can choose from among over 25 million images. This way I can always find something that fits my post perfectly– and I can modify it to add my post title, website, etc. I love it. Below are some of the images I’ve downloaded through Dollar Photo Club and modified over at PicMonkey (including some spoilers for some upcoming posts!). If you want to start your own account, sign up through me here (so I can earn commission!).

dollar photo club collage

3. Dollar Shave Club.

I hate buying razors. They’re expensive and a nuisance to purchase. I signed up with Dollar Shave Club, and now I have my blades delivered automatically once every other month (you can sign up for every month too, if you want), and the blades are inexpensive, awesome, and I don’t even have to think about it. There are three different kinds of blades to choose from. The most basic blade starts at just $1 (plus S&H) a month– though I’m a big-shot (ha!) and get the executive plan (4 cartridges of six-blade awesomeness every two months for just $9 [and that includes S&H]). If, like me, you hate the inconvenience and expense of buying razor blades, you can sign up through me here (and I earn dollars against my next payment to DSC!).

Thanks, guys. If you have questions about any of these, just ask!

Back to my regular blog topics on Thursday.

(Although, it’s not like I’ve never promoted stuff I really, really love before:

Sites & Services I Love
Sites & Services I Love, Part II
Sites & Services I Love, Part III)


OCD Awareness Week 2014

ocd awareness weekIt’s OCD Awareness Week! Yahooooo!!!

Last night, here in the MN metro, we kicked off OCD Awareness Week with Jeff Bell, spokesperson for the International OCD Foundation, sharing his personal story. It. was. AWESOME.

I knew it would be.

I met Jeff Bell two years ago when the IOCDF flew me out to Boston to read an excerpt of the novel I was writing before Truest (it was called Lights All Around, and I’ll let you read it if you’ll promise to remember that I’ve grown as a writer since then!). Jeff interviewed me– both one-on-one at Starbucks before the event, and then again on-stage in front of the crowd after I’d read my excerpt.  Jeff is brilliant, charming, a tireless advocate for the OCD community, and all-around fantastic guy. When Alison, president of OCD Twin Cities, and I started throwing around names of guest speakers we might invite, he was at the top of our list– and he agreed to come!

I’m writing this immediately after the event, and I’m so tired, but I also know this post is going to go live in less than two hours, so let me just briefly share the things that Jeff spoke about that hit me the hardest.

* There are no shortcuts. This is so, so true. In order to achieve health and freedom from under the tyranny of OCD, you have to go through the hard, HARD work of treatment. Jeff didn’t mince words, just like I try not to here on the blog: ERP IS HARD. It is the second hardest thing I’ve ever had to do– but, you see, the first hardest thing was live with untreated OCD.

His cold pool analogy. When you jump into a cold pool, it’s shocking to your system. But if you stay in the pool, the temperature goes up … WAIT.  No, it doesn’t! What happens is that you GET USED TO IT. This is ERP therapy, and it works.

* “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink … but you can salt his oats.” I can’t force people to get proper treatment for OCD, but I can try to make them thirsty for it. I really need to think on this one and see what ideas come to mind!

And lastly,

The ah-ha! moment. I almost started crying when Jeff told about the moment he opened a book about OCD and found an example so true to his life on the very first page. (He even thought, “I don’t remember writing a book!” Ha!) That moment– when you finally know what’s wrong and, better yet, when you learn there is treatment— it’s so beautiful. I can hardly describe it. It’s the moment when you realize I am not alone and this has a name and I am not a freak– I am just SICK.

I want to help more people get to that point– and, even better, to the point of recovery/remission through ERP therapy.

Over at the OCD Twin Cities Facebook site, we’ll be giving away signed copies of Jeff’s books this week for various contest winners. Come check us out!

I think I might also be hosting an online chat about religious scrupulosity. I will keep you posted on that. In the meantime, I’m going to try to be active on my personal Facebook page this week to help break down stigma and misconceptions about OCD. Not sure what that is going to look like, but I’m ready.


What are you doing for OCD Awareness Week?


Writing Ergonomics: Investing in Myself, My Career, & My Wrists

I’ve had problems with my wrists for years. At their worst, I couldn’t carry a book with just one hand or open a car door. Mercifully, the pain wasn’t constant but would come and go.

This year, I asked the chiropractor for help– and it turned out not to be an issue with my spine, so she sent me to my regular doctor, who said my problems were from overuse. Overuse? Me? I’m just a writer and blogger and … oh. You mean typing directly on a laptop at work all day and then directly on a laptop (on the couch, at that) all night might be rough on my hands and wrists?

I talked to my supervisor about getting an ergonomic set-up at my office desk. We elevated my laptop, located a better chair, and purchased an ergonomic keyboard.

This beast of a thing:

work keyboard







At home was a little trickier. I didn’t think I had room in my small apartment for a desk, so at first, I purchased some wrist pads for my laptop, but it was pretty clear that they weren’t doing much– plus, they got in the way and slowed me down.

So, I did some rearranging in my head, hopped on Craigslist, and found an amazing old desk that I immediately fell in love with.

Here it is, in my apartment. Isn’t it gorgeous?

new desk


After that, I did a ton of research about keyboards. I knew I didn’t want such a huge keyboard as the one I used at work, but I wanted a good one that was still affordable. I kicked out a little more than I’d have liked for the Kinesis Freestyle, but I love it:

kinesis freestyle










I thought it would take me longer to get used to it, but I just did a ton of my line edits on it, and I’m adjusting quickly. It’s amazing so far.

I also bought:

Goldtouch gel-filled palm supports











an Innovera mouse pad with gel wrist pad











and this TeckNet wireless mouse.












I love the whole set-up. It feels so good.

In addition, my mom reupholstered my desk chair to add a LOT of padding.

Didn’t she do a great job??

mom chair















Also, I’ve taken to icing my wrists after long bouts of writing.

I use these TheraPearl wraps. I just toss them in the freezer, then wrap them around my wrists. They stay cold for about 20 minutes or so, feel good, and keep my hands and fingers free to keep working.

thera pearl










Did this cost me a lot? Yes, but not as much as you might expect. All told, it was about $300, including the desk, which is either an antique or at least looks like one!

I’m a 32-year-old writer. I plan to be writing for many, many years to come. It was time for me to invest myself and my career, and I’m so glad I did!

Recent Reads

anne lamott 3Help Thanks Wow Stitches by Anne Lamott | It’ll be no surprised that I adored these books. Anne Lamott’s words– whether I’m reading one of her books, listening to her speak, or gulping down her Facebook posts– feel sacred, true, and deep. I absolutely adore her as a writer– and as a person. I would read her grocery lists. Help Thanks Wow is about the three essential prayers of the title. Stitches is about “meaning, hope, and repair.” I listened to both of these books on audio, at night, in the dark, and each one was like applying balm to my broken heart.

what we buriedWhat We Buried by Caitlyn Siehl | I purchased this book of poetry after bumping into some of Caitlyn’s free verse online. There were some gems in this collection, though I think her youth showed in the book (she is in her twenties). Not one I’ll revisit often, but it was still worth the read!

lips touchLips Touch: Three Times Laini Taylor | I would not have ever picked up such a book except that it was written by the indomitable Laini Taylor. It’s a collection of three short stories, and they were a treat.  Short stories are not my forte, and I’m bowled over when a short story can capture me in such a small space. These ones were fantastic, full of the powerful, literary prose you’d expect from Laini Taylor. When I finished the book, I was flummoxed and got into a little tweet-happy mini-convo with Laini and her husband Jim.

lips touch tweets

all our yesterdaysAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill | I love time travel in books. I love when two stories are really one story. This book had both, plus a shocking twist ending. Picture this: in the future, your best friend becomes evil, so you need to go back in time to kill him. Only your childhood self is in the past, working hard to protect him from you. Yup: mind-bending. An engrossing read, though not a new favorite (I’m pretty darn picky).

jandyI’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson | Oh yes. I pre-ordered this book at my first sniff that it existed. I’ve been so, so looking forward to this book, and it did not disappoint. This is the story of twins Noah and Jude, told in dual POV: from 13-year-old Noah before the tragedy and from 16-year-old Jude after it. So clever!  I loved it, loved the characters, loved all the art, loved Jandy Nelson’s mastery of language (she’s studied poetry, and it shows), loved the complicated emotions it evoked from me. It was a sad, heavy book. It occurs to me now that The Sky is Everywhere is sad too … but I felt that it had more light than this one (probably thanks to Joe Fontaine). Regardless, this book is incredible, a must-read.

What have you read recently? What’s up next for you?

Self-Directed ERP Therapy

???????????????????????????????????????If you’ve spent any time hanging around this blog, you know that I’m a huge proponent of treating OCD with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, which is the best treatment available. It’s the first and only* treatment I recommend.

People often balk at it, which I understand: it’s difficult. Very difficult. People want an easier option. But I wouldn’t recommend a bandaid for a cancerous tumor, and I won’t suggest anything else.

But I’m too embarrassed …

But I can’t afford it …

But there are no ERP specialists in my area …

Those are all very valid reasons for seeking another treatment option, but the GOOD NEWS is that you can do ERP on your own, if you are committed to it, and if you’re willing to work hard.

It’s still important to have an expert guiding you, so please track down one of the following books:

Stop Obsessing by Edna Foa
Amazon | B&N | Fishpond
Freedom from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Jonathan Grayson
Amazon | B&N | Fishpond
The OCD Workbook by Bruce Hyman and Cherlene Pedrick
Amazon | B&N | Fishpond
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders: A Complete Guide to Getting Well and Staying Well by Fred Penzel
Amazon | B&N | Fishpond

With the help of one of these books, you can be starting your own ERP journey for under $50 (most under $20!).

Read the whole book from cover to cover and do all the exercises. Throw yourself wholeheartedly into pursuing wellness, freedom, and peace. You can have your life back. Believe me. I languished in the hell of OCD for 20 years before just 12 weeks of ERP therapy broke that torturous yoke. This can be your story too.

If you’re not convinced, go to and read my posts about ERP. Then drop me a comment or an email with your questions!

* I think medication can definitely help too– but ERP is a better option than meds, and in my (non-MD) opinion, meds should come alongside ERP, not ever replace it.

How to Stop Enabling OCD Sufferers

Good stuff here from my friend Janet. This is so, SO hard to do … but such a critical part of the healing process!

ocdtalk by David Castillo Dominici by David Castillo Dominici

Over the years, I’ve written quite a few posts that discuss OCD and family interactions, and the general consensus seems to be that the single most helpful thing loved ones can do for those suffering from OCD is not enable them. While our instincts might tell us to do whatever we can to reduce our loved one’s suffering, instincts are typically not correct when dealing with OCD, an illness that follows no logic.

Okay, so we know we are not supposed to enable. But how, exactly, do we stop? When I’ve been posed this question before, I usually recommend families discuss their individual situations with their loved one’s therapist. Unfortunately, I’ve heard from many family members who are shut out completely from their loved one’s therapy, and are left trying to figure it all out on their own.

So let’s take an example. Perhaps…

View original post 468 more words

OCD Twin Cities event with Jeff Bell!

Residents of the Twin Cities, mark your calendars for Sunday, October 12: Jeff Bell will be speaking at our event to kick off OCD Awareness Week 2014!  If you have never heard Jeff Bell speak, let me tell you now: you do NOT want to miss this!  He is amazing. I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff back in 2012 when he interviewed me at an OCD Foundation event. If you’ve heard or met Jeff before, then you already know that this event is not to be missed.

Details are here.  Let me know if you have questions!

ocd twin cities

Wizards and Princesses and Unicorns, Oh My!: That Time I Met Peter Beagle

The Last Unicorn is one of my all-time favorite books, so when I found that its author Peter S. Beagle would be in Minneapolis for a special screening of the movie, I knew I had to go. My roommate Chelsea agreed to come along.

It’s safe to say we had no idea what we were getting into.

Peter Beagle 4The Riverview in Minneapolis is a 1950s-style theater, and it was packed to the gills with an eclectic bunch that night: bronies, high fantasy enthusiasts, Lady Amalthea cosplayers, and even someone in a unicorn “suit.”

There was Q&A with Peter Beagle (in which he said of one of his favorite lines, “It was either dumb luck or some kind of blessing”– my thoughts here), and the movie was fun (it’s been a while since I’ve seen it). Afterward, Chelsea and I waited in line for nearly two hours in order to meet Peter himself.

I had so many things I wanted to tell him– how much his novel mattered to me, my favorite line from it (“He thought, or said, or sang, I did not know that I was so empty, to be so full.“), what a huge fan I am … but what (lamely) ended tumbling out of my mouth was that I am a writer too and that my first book is being released next year. Peter was so sweet; he signed my book and smiled and said softly, “I remember that feeling.” Then he told me, “Don’t believe your best or your worst reviews.”

Peter Beagle crop

All in all, it was a fun, strange, lovely evening.