Career Goals

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

*Stand-up comic

*~Freelance writer

*~University application consultant

*Mechanic

*~Graphic Designer

*~Web designer

*Social media mogul

*Social media star

*Home reno and decor blogger

*Interior designer

*Star of screen and stage

*Supporting role on screen or stage

*Bit parts on screen or stage

*Day trader

*Intern for housewares company

*Advertising exec

*Medical cannabis review website owner

*Distributor of wide-plank furniture

*~Honey production and distribution manager

*Bookkeeper  😦

*~Medical report writer

*~Homemade cosmetics

*Online retailer of vintage paraphernalia

*Found or secondhand furniture restoration and sale

*Hairstylist for little girls

*Teacher gift buyer and distributor

*Teacher

*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

*Empathy educator

….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 listedgiphy1 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?

 

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Let This Be The Toughest

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:

Not too long ago, I spent three quarters of an hour sobbing in my car. By sobbing, I mean the kind where your whole body is involved, lots and lots of tears, with the nose contributing it’s own fluids. There is gasping and choking. It’s not pretty.  In fact I think the internet has a name for it– ugly crying.
I was alone in the parking lot outside the gym– which I hardly ever get to, and definitely didn’t venture into that day. Thankfully, nobody saw me, or if they did, maybe I didn’t appear too approachable. I don’t cry like this very often. The last time I remember doing it was when I forgot to put my kid in a white t-shirt and send in a fruit for some themed day-care situation — that was about a decade ago. I was pregnant and working at least two jobs so I put it down to hormones and stress.  Prior to that, I remember crying this hard over a breakup. It was a bad breakup but, like so many bad breakups, good riddance. The common element between these episodes was, fortunately, not pregnancy, though who knows when emotion-inducing hormones decide to rear their heads. I was definitely stressed in each situation, but that’s to be expected. After all, we’re not talking tears of joy here.  The real common element was an underlying rationalization process.  Under the cloak of tears, my mind is racing: What’s happening? Why am I crying? Does the precipitating event really merit this outburst? No? Then what is causing me to feel so bad?
Concurrently there is a sub-thought process going on: I am so grateful for the things I do have. Nothing is terribly wrong here. Let this be the toughest. Let this be the toughest thing I have to face. Let these be the worst tears I ever have to shed.
I have a lot of things going on right now.   I’m trying to write an edit and make a living at it. I love writing and I love editing. I’m trying to build up my own business, which I haven’t really talked about in this blog, but it has to do with education and empowerment, and it’s something that I love to do.  I didn’t look so empowered making hoarse noises in the car that day — snot has a way of taking the edge off a power situation. I was, at that time, going through a renovation which is difficult on so many levels– a change in living conditions, keeping on top of the work day-to-day, managing all the people who come in and out of the house, planning, contending with surprises– things that I am grateful to have the opportunity to do, but which still cause a great deal of stress build-up.  Just the simple act of trying to have a meal is stressful because I don’t want to feed an entire crew of drywallers and painters every day, yet I feel a sense of responsibility to offer other people food when I’m eating. So I end up either not eating or sneaking food around my house and into my office to eat in secret.  Of course, then there is the day-to-day running of the family and the house and all the things that entails.  I also work in a couple of roles for DH’s business, and that work alone could amount to a part-time job. (In fact, if you add up all my  ‘jobs’ together you’d probably find that I carry several full-time positions.) But none of that was the trigger for this sob-fest.
The reason I started crying is that I found out I didn’t get a job I applied for which I really, really thought I was perfect for, and which was perfect for me, and which I thought I was definitely going to get.  It’s true, I don’t need one more job on top of everything else, but I would have dropped a bunch of my other ambitions if i’d gotten it– or at least I’d be able to relax about accomplishing them.  I’ve spoken about this before— that I need to be able to answer the question ‘What is it that you do?’ with a sense of pride and satisfaction.  This job would have helped me meet that criteria. Also, it would have gotten me out of the house and given me a chance to mingle with creative people. I put so much heart in to the application. I was dealing with my kids being home from school that week and  a friend whose husband was suddenly admitted to the ICU (he’s fine now), and still I pushed through and managed to submit a piece of work that brought me so much pleasure that I simply could not stop rereading it. Why didn’t they see what I saw?
Also, I know that I could have done the job really, really well. Judging by the job description, what they were looking for was what I do best. Still: Rejection.
On top of everything else, and I feel very petty acknowledging this feeling, much less committing it to paper, I am dealing with some serious jealously towards the business owner.  Why is their business taking off and not mine? My product is better! My personality is better! Good, old fashioned covetousness.
But that’s not why I was crying.
What really triggered my emotional outburst, though it took a few hours for it to sink in, was the fact that DH was disappointed for me. As in, he was disappointed on my behalf. Knowing that he felt bad for me made me feel the badness twice as hard.  We’d talked about it the night before, gone to sleep, woken up, dropped the kids off at school and then, when  the self-pitying thoughts were allowed to come in to my head, they took over and had their way.
Hopefully this will turn out to be a growth experience. Hopefully, one day I’ll look back on this job that I didn’t get and say ‘good riddance’.  I have been trying to channel my jealously into good wishes for that company, because their overall goal is to bring betterment to the world and not to screw me over. I asked for feedback on my application.  I am working on turning that frown upside down and using it to fuel my own growth.  Onwards and upwards.
Here’s another aspect of this situation to consider; one which turns this post into a Drupdate (if you’re unfamiliar with the expression, see here). I can’t remember which medication I was on at the time, but I’d just taken it that morning for the first time in two weeks.  I haven’t had an overly emotional reaction to a medication since adderall, way back in the beginning of my medication journey.  Concerta, as I’ve noted in the past, has made me a bit emotional, but nothing like this.  Could the medication have contributed to the outburst? Eight Ball says Maybe So. I did note over the days preceding this incident, that my mood would suddenly turn to blue– fleetingly, but strong enough for me to take notice.  Maybe I should have paid more attention.
I cried, and then I felt stupid for crying because I consider myself to be very even keeled, so I cried some more because I’m not being me, and then I didn’t go to the gym. A release of emotional constipation with a side dose of medically induced hysteria. That’s most of what I thought about and how I felt before, during, after, and about this episode. I did leave out a couple of things, but did the overall vulnerability add value to my writing?This has been a very difficult post for me to write, on many levels. Was it worth it?

Strategy: Dictation App

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.

What A Wonderful Mom

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.

 

 

 

Unloading. Warning: Not a funny post.

This is just a status update on my life. A bit of taking stock, a bit of letting off steam. These are good descriptors: My life right now feels like a big soup— all kinds of ingredients thrown into a pot together. Hope it’s a healthy one.
I’ve been going to bed at 2 a.m. every single night lately.  It’s a bad pattern.  What’s worse is that I wake up with a sense of panic… what do I need to get done today? I don’t usually feel this way,  but I guess I have a lot on my plate right now.
I’m definitely overloading myself.  I think that the new business I’m starting up can really do well, but I am simply not putting the time in that I need to be. I am not following up leads, not advertising, not updating the website, hardly putting in any development time at all.
I’ve also got my bookkeeping which, wouldn’t you know,  I’m really behind on.  I’m trying to pursue all of my different writing projects: There’s my blog and my other blog, my editing work which I really enjoy and might also be able to grow into a business, and of course the amazing books that I’ve been planning putting out there since I was a ‘tween.  Have you heard of Judy Moody? When I was about eleven years old I started writing a book called Moody Judy. I was beaten to the punch… it wasn’t hard.
My husband keeps asking me if I want to drop the report writing that I do for him. I wouldn’t mind, but it’ll be so expensive to replace me.  He could do it himself, but it takes him forever.
There’s another startup someone has just asked me to participate in. I agreed, because it sounds like fun, but now I’m really nervous about committing the time.  I spent an entire workday with him last week, and it was a tremendous sacrifice. Most of it was spent driving to and from the meeting site.  I hope this is worth it. The benefit of this particular project is that I’m doing it with another person, which is what I think I’m missing from many of my other endeavors. I need another person  to hold me accountable. Somebody  I can’t let down and somebody who will be accountable to me as well.
The reno is still dragging on. If you walk in to my house you won’t realize that it’s not completely done, but there are 100 tiny things that people keep coming in and out of my house to take care of, and it almost always means altering my schedule.
I got caught up in a pretty huge family matter that took up a good chunk of my day today and yesterday.  It looks like it’s not going to be over anytime soon. In fact, I am struggling very hard to not let it take over my life.
Did I mention that it’s tax season?

Then there is just Life and Parenthood and housekeeping and all the mundane stuff that also kind of gets jilted.
I know it’s all a matter of prioritizing. I know I need to choose one or two things and do them well. There are a bunch of things that I already have dropped, for better or for worse.
On the plus side, I invested one half day last week cleaning up my office. It was in a real state, and things had been piling up and piling up since before winter break.  I finally got everything sorted out. So even though I haven’t gotten through all the stuff I must do, at least I have a reasonable idea of what needs to get done now, and I got some of the more urgent stuff off the table. Literally.
Here’s the part where I outsource the blame for my predicament:
Last week we had a guest from out of town. She wasn’t even staying at my place but she relied heavily on me for about a day and a half of my week. I only have about three working days worth of time in a week so a day and a half is a big sacrifice. In that same week, a friend of mine asked if I could pick up her kids from the airport. I agreed, but on the morning of the flight, I got a little panicked.  For one thing, it was another half day of my time, because it’s 40-minute drive there and a 40 minute drive back.  I would have still done it for this friend because I know that if she asked me, she probably didn’t have a ton of options.  Then I realized that the flight might be delayed and that I might not get back in time to pick up my own kids from school.  I guess I really did not think this through before I agreed to it, but I really wanted to be able to help out.  The irony is that this friend is the one who taught me to turn things down and just say no to people.  Further irony: She taught me this value with regards to the friend from out of town who I mentioned earlier in this poaragraph.  Life.
I texted airport mom with my concerns. She was a bit taken aback, but it all got sorted out in the end.  I called to apologize. When I call to apologize and don’t just send a text… you know it’s serious.
Before that, it was the week after winter break. I spent most of the time just running the errands I couldn’t run when the kids weren’t around. I did have one milestone– I ran a program for my afore-mentioned business, and it went really really well. But prepping for that meant most of whatever hours I wasn’t running errands. Of course, nothing got done at all during the school vacation– I mean, nothing work-wise.
Of course, vacation means that I don’t go into the studio for the ‘doing my own stuff’ day that is the arrangement I have with my husband. It’s the day he picks up the kids and I get to work as late as I need to from a work-conducive environment.  On top of that, the kid’s after-school schedules got switched around so there is no longer an ideal day for him to do pickup. Today he had to leave work early– but I’m holding my ground. I have to. This keeps me sane.
When’s the last time I got to the gym? I may be sane, but I’m not really fit right now.
I feel like there’s more…
There’s more.
And more.

Drupdate: The Pillbox Strategy

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.

Remember this little guy?
Remember this little guy?

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:

20171201_120221

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.

 

Living At The Limit

I live at the limit. Can’t help it;  It’s the kind of person I am.

On any other ADHD blog, this statement could, and probably should, be taken to mean that the writer enjoys extreme activities such as cliff diving, bungee jumping, or roller coasters (basically anything involving throwing oneself off great heights).  Those are the people who put the ‘H’ in ADHD.  I, however, am not the hyperactive type. My ADD leans toward inattention. Tetris is my idea of thrilling.

In my particular case, living at the limit is actually a strategy I employ in order to curb the negative expression of an underdeveloped executive function.  In other words, limits help me get stuff done.

In my previous post (which started out as an intro to this post but quickly went in another direction), I mentioned how I, as a youth, resented having limitations imposed on me.  I still think that a lot of the limitations people choose to live by are either silly or unnecessary.  I consider myself to be a highly creative person. However, in my life, I’ve learned that limitations are not necessarily obstacles. Rather, they can be viewed as structures upon which –and inside of which– we can layer our own inspired visions.

Also, limits are a way to fuel productivity. You know that you’ll work harder when there is a deadline looming. In fact, perhaps you, like I, have stayed up all night just to get that paper in before the due date. A due date is a limit.   Junk food manufacturers understand this concept.  Today you can buy sweets that are packaged in calorie-controlled units.  Presumably, they help you eat only a limited portion of forbidden fruits.

In my life I have consciously and subconsciously created limits as well– though I couldn’t tell you for sure which ones I took on intentionally and which ones I discovered in hindsight.  I think that I’ve been at this ADD life architecture for so long that I don’t know what structures are standard code and which are new.

For example: I used to play DOTS on my phone.  DOTS is a highly engaging game in which the object is to connect dots of the same colour.  I used to play DOTS, but my relationship with it was borderline obsessive. The game was definitely taking up too much of my life and so I deleted it. I am definitely mature enough to discard things that are damaging to me.  It didn’t hurt that I was also in the process of switching to a new phone just then.

Now I have a much more ADD-friendly game on my phone which I play all the time, but not without limits. That game is TWO DOTS and yes, the object of the game is to connect dots of the same colour. It is also highly engaging.  The difference between DOTS, which I (OK, inadvertently)  rid myself of and TWO DOTS is that TWO DOTS only has five lives, and those lives don’t regenerate for twenty minutes after you’ve lost them. In other words, TWO DOTS has natural limits.  Unless I am having a particularly lucky streak, I can not play the game for more than about ten minutes at a time before I lose all my lives and am drawn– nay, COMPELLED to return to the task at hand. (there is always a Task At Hand [TAH] that I need to return to. I rarely feel truly free to recreate.)

Have you ever listened to a good radio show in the car and found yourself at your destination before the show is over? I listen to a lot of talk and public radio, so this happens to me quite frequently. Well, sometimes the topic is particularly relevant or useful for me.  In these cases, which are not all that frequent, I will sit in the car with the power running until the conclusion of the program.  However, in cases when I am merely interested in the program, but where I am unlikely to put that information to practical use in the foreseeable future, I turn off the car.  I know that the radio will keep playing for a minute or two, so I don’t need to quit the show right away. However, when the battery switches off, that’s when I know I’ve reached the limit. I can’t spend any more time loitering in the car, and I need to get on to the TAH.

I learned about limit setting and how it would help me move my goals forward when I worked at an educational center in my early 20s.  I was struggling to find dates to run my programming at the institutions I was affiliated with and to whom I had an obligation.  My boss at the time coached me to set up meetings with each affiliate and plot out the next few months AND the next meeting date.  Perhaps this is an obvious and well known strategy, but as I was just starting out, this was news to me.  I took his recommendation and found that setting up programs well in advance forced me to work forwards towards deadlines, and created a two-way obligation between myself and the affiliate to fulfill the goal we’d set out for ourselves.  Whereas prior to taking on this job, when I was still in school, I’d always relied on teachers or school policy to set limitations for me.  Out in the real world, I learned, I was responsible for setting my own.

Life without limits might sound like fun to many folks, but I’ve definitely come to appreciate that limits can be my friend.  When applied judiciously, limits are the walls that keep my time and my creativity from escaping me.

Reno Zone

I mentioned in a previous post that there are things I really should be blogging about, such as our home reno. I wrote that post back in July.  Right now it’s the end of October, and we’re nearing the end of the reno. I’ve taken lots of pictures, sent lots of text and e-mails but blogged zero times about the process.  I missed an opportunity to build up a follower / fanbase in the reno blog market. Another big idea bites the dust.

The bigger problem, as I realized when I took a look at my most recent blog post  (to catch up on who I am and where I’ve been, since it’s been so long since I’ve logged in here), is that my family and I are living in some alternate universe compared to the life I was living just over three months ago when I wrote it.

At this stage, our lives- or at least our material objects, the spaces where they’re kept, and all of the routines that are associated with those things and places —  are completely off balance.

From an ADD perspective, this is akin to waking up in the centre of a corn maze.  You know that there is an end goal, and you know that you can get there, even though each path you have the option of taking looks equally promising. It’s dizzying. It’s disorienting. Oh, and there are unicorns in the maze and they are so pretty that you know you must follow them even though they lead you crashing through the undergrowth and then when they disappear into a cloud of cotton-candy scented powder, you have to retrace your steps to the last place you were on the path and ultimately, you’re just looking for your prankster friends who led you into the corn maze, blindfolded, in the first place. And last you checked, your friends are not unicorns.

It’s just like that.

I should explain here that, early in August, the entire contents of my main floor got moved to my bedroom in tote bags and boxes, including art and kitchenware but not including the large furniture. The big pieces were all squished up on top of each other in what was formerly my dining room while the rest of the house got ‘done’.  The garage, which was also getting worked on, had been packed with junk which all got moved to enormous and impenetrable piles all through the basement, so you can’t really move around down there either.

Now that the flooring is done in the main parts of the house, we were able to release the furniture from it’s sardine-like positioning in the former dining room and distribute it in the newly opened space on the same floor so that at least we have some couches to sit on— but still no kitchen.  Our fridge has remained plugged in throughout this process and we’ve been keeping everything in there including paper plates (don’t hate me– I can’t keep washinhg gross oily foods in the bathroom because the grease will clog up the pipes!) and napkins and plastic grocery bags that currently have no home.

All of this contributes to ample confusion and general disorganization.

The incident that inspired this post happened this morning. I was all ready to take the kids to school and, for once, we were on time.  The kids were outside waiting for me, and all I had to do was grab my keys and go… and that’s when I realized that my keys were missing.

It’s a stretch to say that they were ‘missing’. For something to be missing, it has to have a place where it belongs. There has to be a spot where it should be, but isn’t. Right now, there is no natural or contrived place to put my keys when I walk in the door. My key hook, which I am fairly religious about employing, had been sitting on the floor of my office ever since the demolition stage of the reno. I got sick of looking at it last week and it’s currently atop a pile of candlesticks in my bedroom.  In short, I no longer have a default place for my keys to be. Somehow, I’ve managed with this handicap until now, but yesterday morning we’d gone so far as to call an Uber to get us out the door when I finally found the keys– under the cushion of our newly accessible couch. I guess I’d been sitting there last night prior to my DS bouncing on it as he ate his post-bedtime snack. I also found my hat and a pair of socks.

Routine is central to the functioning of an ADD individual. Take away the routine, and we need reinvent the passageway from thought to action.  It takes so long to form a habit, and when the rug gets pulled out from under you (in this case, literally as well as figuratively, what with the awful old carpets getting ripped out and thrown away), it’s difficult to find your footing again.

Take, for instance, the making of school lunches.  Pre-reno,  this was also a fraught process. Find the lunch bags, negotiate sandwich contents and snacks, find missing sandwich bags (why can’t they just STAY where they BELONG)?  Sometimes I get distracted, but ultimately, lunches are one of the three tasks I need to get myself and the kids through in the morning, so I’ll get there.  But when there is no kitchen and not even any plumbing on the same floor as the fridge, putting baby tomatoes in a baggie* can take half an hour when I need to take them to the upstairs bathroom to wash them off first…  and I’m back in the corn maze. Distractions abound.  The side roads are numerous.  Here! Is a girl beating her sibling that I need to attend to. Here! Is the bottom of the pajamas I’ve been searching for. There! Is a pile of library books that is out of control and need stacking. Now, What! Was I up to? Why did I come upstairs again? I’d better go back down and try to figure it out.

In the meantime, the box of tomatoes is sitting forlornly on my dresser, all but camouflaged amongst the scarves and hats that I’ve somehow, miraculously managed to dig out of Basement Mountain now that the weather has grown colder, but which I have no place to put.

Yesterday I discovered a bowl of soup that I’d heated up for DH in the microwave. The microwave is on a chair in my bedroom. I had nowhere to pour out the soup in that moment so the bowl went on my dresser.  Of course, I forgot about it and it was still there this morning. Gross, I know, but at least it’s nice and cool and it didn’t rot or attract flies because of the windows we had to leave open to release the smell of plaster drying on the ceiling downstairs.

Oh, how I miss my plumbing. What do you do with all of the sparkling flavoured water that’s been poured  into cups by kids with eyes bigger than their bladders and left on the table? You open the door and pour it on the ground. What do you do with a bowl of soup that is probably edible but you don’t want to find out?  You can’t spill it out a window. In retrospect, I should have flushed it (yes, we have toilets), but I ended up just dumping it in a garbage bag and hoping for the best.

Speaking of drinks, I have been attempting and forgetting to bring the (compostable!) plastic cups up from the basement for three days.  I just keep on forgetting what I originally went down for.

In my last post, I mention being able to drink an espresso before the kid’s bedtime to prevent myself from falling asleep. The espresso machine is now buried somewhere in my garage— I think . So if I want to stay up late, it’s instant coffee for me (downstairs for the milk, upstairs for the sugar, down again for the coffee and hot water…)

Oh, and then there’s the laundry. Normally, we just throw our laundry right down the sitars to the basement (there’s a straight drop) where it accumulates in a pile in the curve of the staircase. It is an extremely convenient practice for me, though it can be alarming for a visitor to see a pair of pants flying past them from the upper landing. There are a number of reasons we can’t do this anymore until the reno is over. First of all, there are people in and out of my house all the time.  I don’t need them seeing (or smelling) our underthings. They see enough of my messy life as it is.  Second of all, there is the dust and all of the debris that, although, bless them, the Guys are really careful and clean, I can’t imagine that it would be in good taste for anyone to have to shake the wood shavings out of my dirty clothing at the end of the workday.  Did I mention that my old laundry machine broke and we can’t get our new laundry machine to work?  Piles of laundry behind every door is just one more layer of confusion we have to wade through every day.

I’ve been asked why I we don’t just move out for the duration of the reno.  In fact, we were out of town for more than three weeks of it and when we returned, we had to stay with my mom for about four more weeks because the house wasn’t safe enough for the kids.  My mom’s was relatively comfortable– at least I could cook macaroni instead of microwaving veggie dogs, however I found it incredibly difficult to be living in two worlds at once. Here, I can’t cook eggs but there I just didn’t have the basic things I needed. Like my office. And my desk chair. And my desk drawers. You get the point.

So this is our life for now. We’re managing, but I am really, really looking forward to being able to come home, now that the reality of what a home is has changed for me.  It means being able to hang up my keys , sit on my couch, and empty leftover cereal bowls without having to worry about if I’d ever make it back.

*normally I use reusable tupperwares for this purpose, but my dishwashing mojo is off when I don’t have a kitchen so DON’T THROW RESUABLE DIPER LINERS AT ME!

 

 

 

Sensitive Me

I think of myself as a relatively insensitive person.  That is, I am resilient and I let a lot of things just slide off me like teflon*.  However, there are some things, sensory things, that just drive me batty. For example, here I am sitting in the studio (it’s my friend’s work space that she lets me use when it’s empty so I can have some privacy and uninterrupted work time).  I realize that I am feeling tense, and that the source of my tension is music coming in through the wall that is shared with a auto-body shop next door.  Although it would probably have to be blasting in there for me to be able to hear it, It’s not overly loud in here– I can recognize the songs though I can’t necessarily hear all the words. And it’s not the type music I hate  — it sounds like a top 40s radio station. Yet, there is something about it; the tone? the background-ness of it? The bass? That was causing me low-grade distress.

Sometimes, when I sit in the home office I share with my husband, he’ll have something playing in the background. He likes to listen to music while he works.  I can’t handle it, not even if it’s on the very lowest volume.  I simply can’t focus on whatever is in front of me. It’s different if I’m in a coffee shop or a library or a mall– places where there is a relatively uniform amount of ambient noise and familiar sounds.  But at home at night with the kids sleeping, and the only other noise being the one on his computer–  it’s so distracting.

ADD is often associated with sensitivity disorders. I hesitate to call my irritation a disorder, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it’s linked to the ADD.

My solution to this problem is to pull out a set of headphones and turn on an online white noise app.  His music, assuming it’s quiet enough, disappears, and I am in a Zone of My Own.  Really, it’s like being transported.  I think it’s even better for me than medication.  I’ve had very poor sleep for the past couple of nights (partly work, partly Netflix), which carries with it it’s own level of stress.  Add that to the tension I get from background music, and my stress level goes from a 2 to a 5 without my even being aware of it until I’m suffering from the symptoms.  Just now, I put on the white noise app (with a pink noise app playing on top of it for good measure) and as soon as the sound started coming out of the speakers, I felt a huge sense of relief.  It’s like my head had been in a bind and I did not even realize it until it came off.  I was all clenched up, but wasn’t even aware of the need to relax.  It’s a crazy sensation, but very satisfying.

When the bothersome background noise is done, I can turn off the white noise and get a secondary sense of relief from that.

Here  are some other things I am sensitive about:  I hate fans blowing  on me.  I don’t mind them too much if they’re the swivel kind, but I can’t stand the constant breeze on any one part of my body.  I’d rather be sweaty than have a fan pointed directly at me. On the subject of fans, I hate the way they make the light pulsate, depending on where they are positioned. I once worked in an office where the ceiling fan was positioned under the pot lights and directly above my desk. Also,  it was a windowless space I shared with about 7 other people– all of whom really really needed that fan.  Of course, I had to concede, but I always worried that I’d have a seizure.  I hate having my stomach touched. It actually makes me recoil, even if it’s my kids doing it.  That particular sensitivity started around the time of my last pregnancy, so maybe there is a physiological aspect to it.

On the other hand, I love to run fabrics between my fingers, just for the feel. Love having my hair brushed– even though it’s quit tangly, it never hurts.  I dislike shoes and love to feel the ground under my feet.  Sensitivity, I suppose, goes both ways.

Here is a link to my favorite online noise generator.  I am not getting compensated in any way for this endorsement. Just passing along a good tip.

*In no other way would I compare myself to teflon. I no longer own any more teflon or nonstick cookware except for my beloved waffle iron, and that’s on it’s way out too.

 

Featured image from pixabay.com by Pexels

C(K)eeping Up With The Concertas

I saw my new shrink last week.  She was nice, friendly, positive, and generally affirmative (affirmational? She affirmed what I said) but, as she pointed out before we even sat down, it was a bit of a mismatch.  She deals with palliative care patients, and not at all with ADD.  She was only handed my file* because they needed people to take over for my regular shrink, who is now on maternity leave.

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Not My Shrink.                         …ok now tear your eyes away and go back to the blog post…

I was a bit disappointed because I had been imagining this new doctor-patient relationship as the one that would complete me, mental health-wise.  Alas.  I need a Tinder for psychiatrists.

She asked me, at one point, probably because I was rambling at high speed and holding a Grande Pike Place, whether I was self-medicating with coffee. I am not, and I told her as much. I usually have one coffee in the morning and one, if I am desperate to stay awake, around the kid’s bedtime.

She also told me, as my last shrink told me, and probably everyone in the medical profession will tell me, that I need to get on the meds and just stay on them if I want to have a good idea of whether or not they’re having any effect. As you may recall, this is one of the great questions that surround my decision to medicate.

Since taking them intermittently, as I have been doing (sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally)  for more than a year, is not a viable option for me at this point, I have a problem.  Even if I ‘set an alarm on my phone’  (which everyone thinks is the answer to everything ADD), taking them on a regular basis has proven to be much more difficult  than it would seem.  It’s not that I don’t remember to take them. It’s that if I remember, and I am not seated at my desk (where I keep the bottle) or in a position to get the ‘travel pack’ out of my purse immediately, then the task will get put on an indefinite ‘snooze.’

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The Elusive Travel Pack              Writing About it made me remember to refill it!

At the behest of Dr. Affirmational, I decided to try once again. She asked if I could commit to two weeks straight and I told her, without much confidence, that I would surely try.  My appointment was on a Thursday, and I decided that the following Monday would be my first day. I took a pill on Monday. I took one on Tuesday. I took one on Wednesday. I forgot them on Thursday and Friday and then didn’t bother over the weekend.

Correction: I did not forget them on Thursday and Friday, Rather, I remembered on Thursday but I was in the car, driving. And I remembered on Friday but I was in the supermarket, and I  was in a rush to get out.

Today is Monday, the start of a fresh new week.  I took one this morning. It made me jittery after an hour. I calmed down. I am finishing my blog post that I’ve been meaning to write for 11 days.  Thanks to the shakes, I know it’s having an effect on me, but I don’t know if it’s actually fulfilling the intended purpose.  Hopefully, if I can keep up with the Concertas,  I’ll be able to tell you in two weeks. Wish me luck.

 

*Interestingly, she was actually NOT handed my file.  So most of my visit consisted of me recounting all the things I do and the things I don’t get around to doing and how I feel about it all. What else would we have talked about, really?