Let me start by saying my name is Deanna O’Leary and I have never claimed to be “normal.” What fun is there in that anyway? I am as goofy as the day is long but God did not create me to be boring! I am an absolute believer in God and His word. I do not apologize for my beliefs or my passion about my Lord and Savior. I do not stand on the corner preaching or go knocking on people’s doors. I do not ram my beliefs down anyone’s throat but I have always been willing to stop whatever I am doing in order to discuss God and His word any time someone has asked about it or is open to it. It is the absolute core of who I am and it is the principles that guide me in every aspect of my life. Don’t get me wrong here. I totally fail constantly in my walk with Him and I mess up and make terrible decisions just like everyone else. I am the farthest thing from perfect you will ever find, but I take great solace and comfort in the fact that every time I mess things up, I have a Father who is standing right there, ready to pick me up, dust me off and set me back on the path He has always had for me. He has a purpose for my life and from this point on I am committed to pursuing that purpose no matter the circumstances. I may do it with my knees trembling but I believe that everything does truly work out for our ultimate good. It is time to trust that belief entirely.
That all being said, I’ve served in a local church in many roles over the course of my life so far (Sunday School Teacher, Music Director, and on various committees). I have been the Music Director at my current church for over 15 years now, and being entrusted with the care of the music program is a blessing at which I am continually amazed. I’ve served in many community organizations, including co-writing the business plan for a children’s museum (ImaginU in Visalia, CA) and serving as Vice-President of a local organ donation group. Whenever I get the chance, I also teach a class now and then for the House of Hope at Visalia Rescue Mission. It is, by far, one of the most beautiful experiences I get to have. These beautiful women don’t realize what an inspiration and encouragement they are to ME when I am with them. There’s something beautiful about dropping all the walls and just being totally honest with people that will salve over the wounds of feeling different or all alone at times. And I am speaking about myself!
I will share some information which may surprise many of you who know me and make the rest of you say, “Well, that explains it!” I have lived with a form of mood disorder all my life. Yes, I said it. There it is (finally) for the world to see. I have never been ashamed of my wiring but the stigma surrounding brain disorders and mental health issues has made it a very challenging thing to be open about. Here is my opinion: God made me as I was intended to be, wacky wiring and all. I am not a mistake, nor is my “disorder.” So if I believe it was not a mistake that I am created this way then there must be a reason for it. I have worked diligently, more than you can ever imagine, to trend and analyze aspects of my life (food, sleep, dreams, barometric pressure, you name it!) so that I could gain as much insight as possible and learn as much as I could about myself and my triggers. As a result, I have been able to do things that doctors have told me couldn’t be done. I have enjoyed a very successful professional and personal life. I have self-published three books and have several more in the works. I was unable to have children but I have been blessed with an amazing marriage and family. I have been blessed with all these things and it is far beyond my comprehension because I have been able to enjoy them without the effects of being on medication. Make no mistake, I am in no way against medication for brain disorders and illnesses but I was commited to go after EVERY other option, no matter how time consuming it was, how much it energy it took, or how “inconvenient” it seemed before I would consider starting the medication dance. (Some of you know exactly the dance to which I am referring.) I can’t guarantee I will always be able to be medication free, but for now, I am enjoying the blessings and fruits of over 20 years of labor and God’s infinite grace. It has not always been easy. As a matter of fact, it has never been easy but it has been more than worth it. It has kept me on my knees in humility. It has kept me on my knees in weakness. It has kept me on my knees in gratitude. It has also made me leap and praise God for the successes all along the way.
I will tell you the intensity of my brain chemistry, coupled with my overly pathetic appreciation for life and the people in it, has always caused an openness of expression that often brings wonderful creative results. I do not claim these results as my own but simply share them as they come to be. They speak to me and touch my spirit and that is enough. If somehow they happen to touch someone else, then that is a truly amazing thing to me. My husband laughs that I get so amazed when someone else appreciates or can relate to something creative I have done, whether it is music, poetry or painting. I suppose he sees it all much differently than I but it truly does still amaze me when I find that someone has been affected by, or can relate to, something I have expressed.
To say I love to love would be an understatement. I love from the depths of my soul without reservation. It is not because I am a wonderful person but because God created me to love, no matter what I get in return or how I am treated. I have been made fun of for loving as I do. I have been teased because I am so “sappy.” I have been hurt and wounded by people often over the course of my life because loving others also means you will be open to getting hurt. There have been times over the years when I have certainly had to temper my expression because people can be very judgmental of things they do not understand. One thing I have never done is temper the love within. I believe in love; not love as our culture has made it to be, but love in its purest form. In its true form, love has the power to do more than we can imagine. Even the Bible tells us that of all the “gifts” in life, “the greatest of these is love.”
So welcome to my world. Welcome to the cadence of my soul. I pray the sharing of my cadence allows you a place to think, reflect, laugh and sometimes even cry. Above all, I pray you are able to see the love behind the words and compassion between the lines!