Thunderstorms. I don’t like thunderstorms. In fact, thunderstorms were my very first panic-driven fear. I had a very bad experience at age 11 with tornadoes and thunderstorms in Kansas that I won’t go into, but suffice it to say, it left me very scarred when it comes to storms.
For years I couldn’t go for a walk in the summer without analyzing the skies and checking every available weather report. Severe storms had me running for cover in the basement, occasionally in hysterics or the shakes. It wasn’t OCD, it was just very strong, deep rooted fear.
I’ve gotten much better over the years, leading me to view this fear of storms as one of my first truly conquered fears. As I grew up I conquered it naturally… and then the final blow was placed by living in Philadelphia where we were fairly sheltered with the PA mountains on one side and the ocean on the other and storms were infrequent and weak.
And then we moved to Ohio. And natives might think I’m ridiculous but storms here remind me a bit too much of some of the storms of my young childhood in Missouri and Dallas, blowing off the flatlands. The air turns eery and grayish green and electric, the sky grows still, and finally the winds come, winds I forgot living in mountainous Pennsylvania, in homes nestled among forests and hills.
In Pennsylvania the thunder boomed, reverberating off the hills. Here it growls, spreading over open lands and skies. Here you can feel and hear storms coming and going from miles away, whereas in Pennsylvania it seemed that they moved quickly beyond the next mountain.
And so the old storm fear has reared its ugly head… although only twice since we’ve lived here. Once I ended up in my thankfully freshly cleaned bathtub (the only room where I could not see the storm or lightning) with a tin of muffins, a slew of pillows, a book and the overhead fan roaring to block out the sound of the wind and rain pounding my little corner apartment. Last night I awoke in the middle of the night with that prickly feeling that comes with impending electricity and still, warm air about to be swept away and ended up in the guest bed, tucked into two inner walls, with the box fan on to cut out the sounds and the light on to minimize the lightning.
Both times though, I found hope. I found hope in remembering what it was like to hear thunder and lightning and be able to push aside the fear and hysterics. I found hope in my ability to keep that fear monster from clawing its way out in panic. I found hope in being able to objectively view it as one more chance to view God as a refuge and comfort in my distress, instead of just feeling helpless.
And in that I found strength, both times. Because with my OCD, I’m usually playing a mind game, needing to remind myself that really, there’s nothing to be afraid of. With a storm, there is something real and tangible to fear. When the tornado sirens sound, there’s something threatening me that I completely can’t control. And to be able to push back against that real and present fear, to be able to drift back off to sleep in the midst of the storm as I focused my mind on resting in God’s arms, gave me hope for my OCD struggles too.
A few days ago, I unashamedly enjoyed the sight of two innocent ducks accidentally plowing through the fragile ice layer on my pond.
Yesterday, the ducks were actually being blown down the fully unfrozen pond by the wind, their tail feathers flying.
Stan the Heron’s combover is going completely inside in the wind.
They’re all basking in the sun out there like little beach goers.
It’s all awesome, because spring is coming.
I’ve been sick for eight and a half days now. Eight and a half days. The only other time I can remember being sick with anything for that long is the respiratory flu in ninth grade.
Today, I stepped foot outside my apartment for the first time in seven days. I hacked, snuffled, moaned and whined for a half an hour as I threw on some clothes and makeup, gave Andy dirty looks and crawled into the car, going through half a pack of tissues and several cough drops on the way to church. We pulled into the parking lot, I came close to both tears and nausea and we turned around and headed back home, where I crawled right back into bed and slept for another three hours.
I read a 300 page book yesterday. I read 50 pages of a super boring book today and spent the rest of the day watching nine episodes of Psych Season 2. I’ve barely left my favorite corner of the couch for a week. There’s been take-out, and varied medicines, there’s been 7 am bowls of ramen soup and an entire bag of baking chocolate chips consumed.
Why? I’m a healthy individual. It’s just a cold. I spend every day resting, eating loads of antioxidants, drinking more fluids than my body should be able to contain and taking frequent three hour naps. I’ve even worked it out so that I can watch TV on my iMac from the couch without getting up to change episodes, once I realized that my wireless mouse and keyboard worked from across the room. Each evening I go to bed confident that I will wake up renewed and refreshed and ready to move on with my life.
And what happens? I wake myself each morning around 5 or 6 coughing a lung up. I drag myself out of bed to a hot cup of cocoa and a bowl of whatever soup is handy and spend the rest of the day croaking.
So why, I ask you???
Andy’s theory is that it’s the coffee I drank each morning for a week a little while ago in an attempt to get up earlier (he also calls coffee, DayQuil, Ibuprofen, and chai tea “drugs” with that special inflection reserved for only the most nefarious of items).
I think that the culprit is rest. I think that, just like sleep, my body is making up for the years of enforced containment of colds and sickness as I refused to let it get in the way of work, fun, homework, studying, or anything. It’s saying Leah, you WILL stay on this couch until you’ve paid your debt to your immune system.
So here I am. Going to bed with more dreams of grandeur while, deep down, the hope is gone. How many episodes of Psych will it be tomorrow? Ten?
To make up for the horrid blueness of this post, here’s a few pretty pictures of fall in the area – my last memories of the outdoors before I became chained to my living room -
I had so much fun getting to know Philadelphia that I decided it was high time to at least do SOMETHING in our new city.
When my sisters were visiting this past weekend, we decided to do something a little bit boring and head down to walk around University of Cincinnati campus, which we’d heard was beautiful. It was. My sister M shot away on her gorgeous new 50mm Canon lens. I was not very inspired by my pathetic 3.5 f-stop after I gave hers a mini test drive, so I didn’t shoot much. When I flipped through my camera at the end of the day, the only photos I liked were the little ones that could have been taken anywhere.
And I was reminded that it’s the details of things that I love. I’m not very good at the big picture. I get overwhelmed easily by too much – too many colors, too many textures, too many things. When I’m running up a staircase, instead of looking at the view, I am usually watching my feet.
That’s what I remember from their visit… sharing about the details of our lives. The things we never talk about; the things that everyone else would find boring. It’s those sketches that form the foundation for the beautiful finished picture of our lives.
I’m writing to you, once again, from Western Pennsylvania. Home.
In Cincinnati, it’s hot. It’s so hot, in fact, that I still wear sandals and shorts and tank tops every day, and hopping into the pool is not an uncommon occurrence. The grass is dry and brown, there are heat hazes above the asphalt, and I get a headache just doing my afternoon shopping. I still wince at the thought of going outside.
But here, it’s fall. I can nestle onto the front porch loveseat with a cup of cocoa and an oversized cardigan in the mornings. And when it gets warm in the sunny afternoons, it’s still a jeans and boat shoes type of warm. The leaves are falling, there are pumpkins on the front steps and I am about to head out to the apple orchard to pick up some cider, pumpkin muffins and fresh apples. This evening, there will be an apple pie in the oven, graciously provided by B and myself.
I like it.
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