If I could give advice to young people (and as a mom, I frequently do), I would tell them to just be themselves. Own It. Make It Fashion. You Do You. Sometimes, however, if your… More
My goal for this blog post is simply to write it and publish it.
I could end it here
but I won’t.
My last post was over a year and a half ago! Eeek! I feel very rusty– not just with regards to writing, but also in terms of the bigger picture; generating ideas which, when I’m writing regularly, flow through me faster than I can catch and hold them; finishing my book (that’s the big project I’ve been hinting at for a while– or at least that’s one of the big projects); personal development in general.
There are regular periods in the year where my personal work, as opposed to the work I do formally and informally for my family, gets put on hold. This is mostly centred around holidays and school vacations. It’s a cycle. Throw in the odd sick day or case of head lice, and you’re starting with a pretty limited schedule.
Last year, however, in the Year (and a half) of No Posts was the year that my status as a member of the Sandwich Generation came fully into itself. I had to organize housing for my mother– and in the meantime she was living with me for four moths. Then I had to empty out her house and get her settled in a new place, while trying to cover expenses by running an AirBNB out of her old place until we were ready to let it go. It was a full time occupation. Then came Summer break.
It took me a while to get organized and figure out a way to make a day for myself each week. Baby steps. Now here I am, back at my ‘writing studio’ which is really an art school my friend runs. One step I took a year and a half ago or more was accepting her offer of a key to this place. I had never wanted the responsibility of having one, but at the same time, I lost a lot of ‘me hours’ trying to coordinate a key pickup with her each time I needed to get in. Thank God for the generosity of friends.
Of course, since I had the key made I’ve only used it twice– once was to drop off two armchairs here at the studio for storage, with my friend’s permission, until I could figure out how to use them in my house. A few months later I let myself in to the studio again to pick up the same chairs. No writing involved. No work, no planning.
I feel very off-track. I can’t remember where I left off. I’m impressed I found the motivation to come back, considering how many projects I’ve abandoned over the years. I guess this is the real me. The thing I’m most passionate about. Though you wouldn’t know it from reading this blog post. I’m trying to warm up my brain, get organized, pick up the pieces I dropped, if they’re still hanging around, or put together a new system if I can’t restart the old one. Easing back in to the schedule that works for me. Organizing myself. Reading back.
Have I said enough?
The featured image on this post really captures the essence of my quest. I am the person on the left. I want to become, or have access to becoming, the person on the right. I like my thoughts, I like my ideas. I just need to make them usable.
Interestingly, I am a skilled yarn detangler. It’s something I started doing when I was a kid. I’d sit there with a ball of yarn that was masquerading as a tumbleweed and (in retrospect) hyperfocus on undoing all the knots until it looked like something out of a hair conditioner commercial. Smooth, no strand out of place. Can you imagine a kid doing that today’s digital environment? I can’t. My kids get nervous just sorting out their own clothes from the clean laundry pile.
I also once heard that if you want to ‘test’ a woman to see if she’s good wife material, you should give her a ball of yarn to detangle and see what she makes of it. I say that, clearly, this test does not work, as I probably rank about 60% to 70% as a wife, depending on the day (I’ll have to consult with DH on this one) but I’m somewhere above 95% when it comes to detangling yarn. Take THAT, misogyny. That being said, I do see some merit in the test– I mean, think of all the ways a person might react to this challenge. Detangling it shows infinite patience (for inanimate objects, anyway) and economy. Chucking it out and buying a new one shows either impatience or a different kind of economy altogether– time is money after all.
You know what? I take it back. You cant’ tell anything from the yarn test.
(I would love to give credit for this image to whoever created it but I can’t find the source. I originally spotted this on an Instagram feed, but the person who posted it didn’t know where it came from and a google image search didn’t turn up anything either. If you recognize this picture and know who drew it, please tell me so I can credit them!)
(I also don’t remember the source of the yarn test theory, though I’m not sure it deserves to be credited. )
I’ve been producing a lot of heavy posts lately, so I thought I’d interject here with a short, light review of all the careers I have considered (and some I have embarked on) in the last few years. The ones marked with an asterisk are those that I can see myself still accomplishing. The ones marked with at whatsitcalled (~) indicate a job that I am already doing. 😦 is for stuff that I don’t particularly enjoy. Any combination of indicators may be used for each career.
*T.V. sitcom writer
*~University application consultant
*Social media mogul
*Social media star
*Home reno and decor blogger
*Star of screen and stage
*Supporting role on screen or stage
*Bit parts on screen or stage
*Intern for housewares company
*Medical cannabis review website owner
*Distributor of wide-plank furniture
*~Honey production and distribution manager
*~Medical report writer
*Online retailer of vintage paraphernalia
*Found or secondhand furniture restoration and sale
*Hairstylist for little girls
*Teacher gift buyer and distributor
*Young adult fiction writer
*Children’s book author and illustrator
*Cookbook author (I know I don’t like cooking, but that’s what will make my cookbook so appealing!)
*Author of ADD book
….and that is not all, folks. These are just some of the things that have done, am doing, plan on doing, or hope to do. I’m sure I will remember some more very soon. All of these aspirations are TRUE. No joke, I seriously consider all of these options from time to time. Some career paths I’ve given up on are:
- Academia (because there are no jobs out there and I can’t be bothered with the politics that goes with it)
- Journalist (just not something I’m interested in anymore.)
- Park ranger – but I would encourage my kids to do this in their young-adulthood
- Child prodigy.
Neither of these lists include things I intend to do for leisure or hobby or just plain life maintenance. Things like hanging up all the art we took down from the walls when we painted house, and things like crocheting a Santa hat for my neighbor’s new baby. Things like putting together a photo album from our trip this summer. Things like that.
You know how people with ADD tend to lose focus easily? Well, that’s one of the reasons for the extensiveness of the list. We also have a hard time prioritizing, which makes it worse. Finally, we’re a very optimistic group of people. Some ADD-ers express this optimism in terms of risk—they do extreme sports or drive very fast. My version of it is to imagine myself as being good at many things.
Rationally speaking, I believe that I am capable of doing anything on that list. I think I really would be good at most of those things, if not all of them. I know I am a good actress, because I stole the show in community theatre. I know I am good at writing and teaching because of feedback I’ve received throughout my life. While the possibility exists that I can accomplish ALL of these things, realistically I know that I will probably never become a mechanic, and I might not get to star on screen AND stage. I can, however, picture myself successfully taking on multiple careers—many of them listed here overlap anyway. I see it as kind of a one-man band of jobs which, for a person whose focus naturally shifts like a weather vane, is an ideal solution.
You may call me overconfident or just plain crazy, and I wouldn’t blame you for it if your impression of me was based on this post alone. I understand that you can’t just waltz into Warner Brothers and demand a seat at the writers table. Trust me, I’ve read biographies of many stand-up comics and I know that at this point in my life, I’d never want to go through what some of them went through to get to where they are. I guess that the best way to say this is; I feel like I have the capacity for greatness. Nothing wrong with that.
What is wrong is that, if you read the list again, you may notice a certain pattern –or lack thereof– to the thinking. It’s the river of ideas that my mind follows. The career ideas are rocks that I jump around on, depending on what seems to be the most convenient or interesting at the present time. You know, and I know, and every motivational speaker on Instagram knows that if you want to get somewhere, you need to stay focused on that goal. My problem is that, of the 33 items on this list, I’m actively working on about ten. I have another ten somewhere in my to-do list, and I dream about doing all the rest.
Oh man, did this just turn into another heavy post?
Sometimes you need to be grateful for your own challenges.
I was reading through my blog post notes– the ones I send myself from my dictation app as I talked about a couple of posts ago. I have been really hesitant to put this up because it’s quite personal and really exposes my vulnerability. I’ve been told that, as a writer, I am not open enough and that I would benefit from showing more of myself. Also, since I’m documenting a journey here, scenes like this are a very real part of it, though thankfully, they don’t happen too often. With that in mind, I’ll go ahead and post this:
Was I more focused as a result of the meds? Hard to say. I didn’t feel the meds kicking in, as many people describe feeling when they take them. I didn’t feel them wearing off, so I don’t know if they ever did. They may or may not have curbed my appetite; I was sucking on a coffee the whole time I was in the store, so that might have masked it. Also, it ‘s difficult to measure my productivity in the grocery store. I wasn’t wasting any time, but then again, it did take me five times as long as I thought it would. If I’d been sitting at my desk after I took it or at any point while I was still supposed to be ‘on’ it, I might have a better point of reference of the drug’s effectiveness.
In some ways, seeing everyone and their grandmother walk around with a phone glued to their head is a turn-off and a rather ugly part of our social landscape today. Then again, how many of us would deny the benefit that these devices bring to our lives?
Here is a case in point: On one hand, I am spending waaaaay too much time on Instagram. I have three accounts, and I am constantly flipping between one and the other. I recently stopped following a lot of streams in order to cut down on the amount of content tempting me to indulge. On the other hand, I downloaded an app a few weeks ago which has changed the way I blog— and I consider blogging (here and on another site) to be a very positive activity in my life.
One trait of ADD is rapidly cycling thoughts. I think I have more ‘great ideas’ in a day than many people have in their lifetime. Many of them probably really are great, but of course it’s impossible to act on each one in order to find out. I’ve learned to let ideas go to a certain extent but I am always disappointed when I neglect to take down an idea for one of my blogs. I use this blog to document my journey through life as an adult with ADD, and I would like to try and stay faithful to this task.
In order to accomplish this, I finally had the great idea of downloading a dictation app to my phone. When a blog thought starts parading through my brain– and I often compose them all the way through before I commit them to paper– or the cloud, as it were– I can just speak the blog in to my phone. The app is not perfect. It definitely changes some words that it doesn’t understand, and sometimes I notice that it has not taken down an entire sentence or more. However, if I am able to get the idea and sequence down then I can always go over it and fill in the blanks where necessary.
Once I’m done, I e-mail the document to myself with the word ‘Blog’ and the date in the subject line. This way, I have a veritable storehouse of material. When I get the chance to sit down and type it in here, it’s already begun. The next few posts I put up here will probably be from this stash of half-baked ideas. I’ve been collecting for a while because I haven’t had an opportunity to write. I’m very excited to see how it. goes.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what a wonderful cook I am. This week I’m going to write about what makes me such an incredible mother.
I think I’m kind of the opposite of a helicopter mom. More of an earthworm mom. The kind that stays burrowed under the sheets early in the morning while telling you where to find the cereal and milk on your own. I foster independence in my children by not doing things for them that they can do alone, or which I think they can probably do on their own if they tried.
When I feel it’s appropriate, I raise my expectations of them. For example, once upon a time, setting the table meant the kids had to lay out plates, cups, and cutlery. But today they need to clear the table off, find the tablecloth, lay it out straight and even, bring the dishes out of the cupboards, carry them over to the table, and make sure everything is on it that we’ll be needing for the meal: The right number of settings, salt, trivets, napkins, the works.
Kids don’t need as much help as we think they do. They just need space and time to explore and build, develop friendships, make mistakes, and learn from them. A lot of parenting, I think, is trying to figure out when to interfere, when to offer corrections and advice, when to let them figure it out on their own, and when to just let it go.
Perhaps you now understand what makes me such a good mother. Or perhaps, knowing me, you’re waiting for the self-deprecating part of this blog post. Well, here it comes.
I have to admit– or at least I have to wonder— how much of my parenting style is due to my ‘phillsophy’ and how much is due to sheer laziness or– you guessed it– ADD.
I am distracted. I am lazy. I hate cooking. I hate cleaning. I would rather be writing. I’d rather someone else folded the laundry.
Of course, I do the housework that I need to do. I just feel a lot of guilt for not going above and beyond. Sometimes I wonder if I’m even covering the basics. I don’t have a healthy snack waiting for the kids when they get home. I tell them to wait until dinner, but is that a fair demand when I haven’t even started making the meal? I feel bad that the kids are late for school so often. Getting them there on time would require me to be a lot more strict on things like bed times and wake times — theirs and mine. These things all require the type of discipline that does not come easily to me — and that’s what really at the heart of the problem.
I am constantly struggling to stay on top of things that seem to come so easily to other people. Our house gets super messy super quickly. I feel compelled to apologize when people come in. (Some of those people even have the audacity to tell me that I need to put my kids to work cleaning up after themselves. Do they think I haven’t figured out for myself that I need to tell the kids to hang up their coats instead of dumping them in the front hall?) Keeping the kitchen in a relative state of order takes HOURS for me. I know this because, when our reno was done, I became hyper aware of the mess, and I tried keeping it perfect for a couple of weeks. This resulted in my evening activities being limited to just cleaning the kitchen. Just the kitchen. Every night. All this on top of trying to keep up with the mess throughout the day. Of course, it seems that as soon as you have one area of the house sorted out, another one has exploded into disorder, and you need to start sorting out that section.
Actually, cleanup is a great example of this grey line between good and bad motherhood. I believe strongly in giving my kids responsibility and having them take ownership for the state of the house. Every week, they are responsible for certain chores, from sorting the laundry to cleaning the bathroom, to helping in the kitchen. The problem is that enforcing these chores is a full-time chore in itself. If I am busy cooking ( I do cook; I just don’t claim to enjoy it) or working or occupied in whatever way with a time-bound task, it is not always possible for me to sit over the kids and make sure that they are plugging away at their jobs. Yes, there are consequences. Yes, there are rewards. But guess what– sometimes these methods just don’t work. Sometimes the tasks are not completed, consequences kick in, and nobody is happy. Now what?
On the other hand, I’m pretty sure I’m not too much of a deadbeat parent. My brother heard DH and I discussing DS the other day. He commented that he wonders if other parents spend as much time as we do talking in-depth about their kids as we do. I know that, for all the bickering that goes on in the house between the kids, they’re well mannered and kind out in the ‘real world’. People tell me so all the time. I worry that my kids get too much screen time — though I realize that they get relatively little, based on conversations I’ve had with peers. And while I sometimes have to drag them away from the TV, I also quite often have to urge them in from outside for dinner or bedtime when they are organizing street-wide soccer games or trading Pokemon cards with one another. I consider all of these activities to be parenting ‘wins’.
Upon reflection, because that’s what this blog is for, I guess I am not the best mom out there. I could be more efficient in making lunches. I could be more insistent on them learning to touch-type. But on the other hand, by some will and grace, they somehow seem to be turning out OK. I can burrow down in my bed without too much guilt– in fact, If I did that more often, and at a normal hour, it might result in some of our other problems being resolved.
Even though the word ‘Capsule’ is in the title of this post, it is not a Drupdate. It is not about medication. I have a Drupdate planned, though. So stay tuned.
When we moved in to our current house, the first furniture I sourced was a pair of sturdy chairs. They were not for the kitchen, and they were not for the dining room. They were not even meant for sitting on. The chairs were positioned on either side of the master bedroom; one on His side, one on Hers. To this day they serve but one function: Dumping our clothes.
The clothes chair is one of my (and now my DH’s) ADD strategies. What do you do with the in-between clothes– the ones that are no longer fresh, but which are not really dirty enough to wash? I am no germphobe nor, clearly, am I a neat freak — as you can tell from this post— but there is something off-putting about folding up a t-shirt I’ve already worn and sticking it back in my drawer. As if it’s somehow going to ‘infect’ my other clothes with it’s worn-ness. Clothes can be worn over and over and even over again, but before returning to the closet, they need to go through a wash cycle.
This rule does not apply to all manner of garment. Sweaters — which I always wear on top of another shirt or dress– and skirts, if they’re somehow not stained by the time I’m through with them, can get hung back up or folded away. Things that I wear on my skin pretty much never go back to the closet without being washed unless it’s, for example, a tube top that I’ve worn just to give me a little more coverage when I wear a shorter shirt (it’s a great hack!). Something that is unlikely to come in contact with the more aromatic sweat glands.
To be clear, just because something is eligible for return to the closet, doesn’t mean I’m going to actually put it there.
Hence, the Clothes Chair.
when I’m choosing clothes, especially for day-to-day, non-special occasions, I will prioritize the clothing that is already on the chair. That’s how I keep the pile from getting too big. Once a month or so, I’ll sort through everything that is accumulated and decide what gets put away, what deserves to be laundered, and sometimes what will be put in the giveaway bag.
At this point, it’s probably been more than a month since I last did a chair purge. I know that the time is drawing near when I need to dump the entire collection on to the floor and sort through it to find a piece that I’m looking for. As I was doing that, it occurred to me that the system I have going on here is the same one– or at least a variation of the one– that has mombloggers (guilty as charged) and the like all in a tizzy for the past three or four years: I am the proud cultivator of a Capsule Wardrobe.
If you have not yet heard of the capsule wardrobe, don’t bother looking it up at this point. The capsule wardrobe is so 2017. It goes hand in hand with that other maximally offensive trend, minimalism, which urges us to pare our possessions down to the point where we could fit everything we own on to the surface of our kitchen table… which also happens to double as an ironing board, a room divider, and a stepstool… because you’ve thrown away all of your other furniture in a fit of minimalist frenzy (why do we need chairs when we can just sit on our rugless floor? Who needs lamps? We have the sun! Who needs clothes? We have each other!)
Back to the capsule wardrobe. The idea is that we choose a small number of garments that you love and which suit your figure (33 seems to be the prevailing wisdom). They should be suited to your lifestyle needs, and should be suitable for mixing and matching. This number includes shoes and sometimes accessories. Underwear, pajamas, and workout gear don’t count towards the total. Everything else gets either stored away or given away. Many proponents of the capsule wardrobe will swap out their clothes three or four times a year… are you seeing any parallels yet?
My clothes chair is a default capsule wardrobe! It usually holds between 15 and twenty items — highly CURATED items that I love and which fit me well. It does not usually hold my pajamas (these get thrown on the bed), and my socks and underwear go straight to the laundry at the end of the day. I periodically sort through my clothes chair and restock it with more items that are suitable for the weather or my current activities, at which point the items previously included in the clothing capsule are returned to storage… in m closet. As for accessories, I hardly wear any jewelry, but when I do, it becomes part of my capsule as I leave it on my night table when I’m going to sleep instead of putting it away. Any other jewelry is stored away.
I’m pretty much Mari Kondo. I’m not. But my capsule wardrobe works for me.
Funny thing. I get a weekly Friday Funnies e-mail from TotallyADD.com . I find that their memes often really hit the nail on the head. Here’s one they sent out recently. I guess I’m not the only one with a clothes chair. The difference, is, I totally embrace it!
I had to scroll back through my blog before writing this post to try and figure out how long I’ve officially been medicated. According to the earliest reference I can find, it’s only been about a year. I was sure it was at least two.
(If you’re new to my blog, the post I’m referring to above is really a good one to read to get to know a little bit about me and where I’m at.)
Since getting the prescription at that time, I’ve never really managed to take the pills faithfully. The problem is partly intentional; I don’t really want to take it on weekends or days when I’m not meant to be putting any emphasis on focus. Partly, it’s a matter of organization; did I remember to take them early enough in the day? When I remember to take them, do I have them close at hand? Am I in a place where it’s appropriate or where I feel comfortable popping a couple of pills? I tried to resolve this issue by keeping a pillbox in my purse which, ostensibly, is always nearby.
This back-up plan worked to an extent, but I would still occasionally forget or not find the opportunity to take them until later in the day, and anyway, I managed to somehow lose this little pillbox a few weeks ago. Shame.
Part of this problem was resolved as of my last shrink visit. I got a prescription for short-acting medication which I could take later in the day in case I forgot to take my pill earlier. In fact, I took one just a few hours ago. I was given the option to take a single pill or to double it, according to need. Because it’s my first time trying this particular format of this particular medication, I took the smaller dose. Upon reflection, however, perhaps I should have taken the bigger dose. Today is my one weekly dedicated work-on-my-own stuff day and, assuming this medication works, it’s a waste of time to underdose.
I have promised my shrink and my temp shrink that I would make an effort to take the meds regularly and to try and track the results. Tracking is not an easy thing to do, as I have no regular workday expectations to measure myself against. Tracking is the reason I started the ‘Drupdate’ series on this blog– to document my progress relative to the drugs. After a year, I am still not sure that the medication is having any positive effect on my life. I don’t know whether it’s worth my trouble to take them or to try and switch to another formula. I need a better strategy.
I recently had an idea that might help to resolve the tracking issue, if not actually remind me to take my medication. It’s this:
This, as you can plainly see, is a pill box. I did not intend to buy such a fancy one with a folder-style case, but that is what the local dollar store had to offer me in the pill box department. The feature I was looking for was a grid layout which, as you can see, this pill box possesses. I thought to myself that if I laid out the medication in labeled boxes, one for each day of the month minus weekends, it would be easy to see which days I’d taken them, just by checking to see which boxes are missing pills. In other words, I don’t have to take action on keeping track (except for when I sit down to fill and label the boxes). Rather, I take stock retroactively.
If you think that it’s not hard to keep track of a simple thing like how often I take my medication, you’re right. You probably also think it’s not such a big deal to remember to take my medication on a daily basis. You’re right again. None of these things are hard for most people, but for ADD types, knowing to do something is easy. Actually doing it is hard. That is what happens when certain elements of your executive function are stunted or underdeveloped. Sucks for me.
Luckily, I’m creative and motivated. Luckily, I’ve learned to identify my weaknesses and to build structures around me in my daily life which keep the essentials in place and help me to get things, people, and ideas to the places they need to be.
That being said, I’ve been sitting on this pill folder idea about a month. I actually thought it up a couple of weeks prior to that. I found some white circle labels and put the days of the week on them, as you can see in the picture, but that is as far as I’ve gotten so far. You may notice that one of the coloured boxes is missing as well. I used that for a different project. So we’re off to a slow start. But that’s better than no start.
Also, if I had started the pillbox project when I’d first bought the box, it would have been relatively simple. Now that I have these new set of ‘backup’ pills, I will have to rethink my strategy. Definitely, this post needs a followup. In the meantime, I welcome your comments and ideas.