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?

No Way To Know: Drupdate

I was determined to be productive today. Just in case the meds help me to be productive, because after two years you know I’m still not sure, I planned on taking a dose his morning. The problem was that by the time I got it together to take action on this thought, I was far away from my stash. Lucky for me,  I know myself well enough to plan for this in advance. I had a little bottle of 10mg Methylphenidate in my purse. This is the same medication I would usually take, but the dose is lower and this formulation is short-acting. I got this supply when for the days when I forget to take it in the morning but don’t want to take the slow release too late in the day because it’ll keep me awake.
The directions tell me to take either one pill or two. I took two, which, if you’re familiar with my early should I/shouldn’t I medicate days. I figured that if it was too strong, at least it would wear off in a few hours.  I don’t remember if I’ve ever taken any pills from this bottle. I’ll have to count them up to see. Certainly, I don’t remember what effect it has on me, if any.
 That being said, I’ve been feeling a lot of acute disorientation lately. Like, in the past I wasn’t really aware that I was being distracted or that I couldn’t prioritize.  However, lately, I’ve found myself  wandering aimlessly or ‘waking up’ suddenly from a daze in which I wander about without realizing that I am directionless. I don’t know if I was like this before or if my radar is just much more accurate now for this type of behavior and so I notice it more. My fear is that these drugs are messing with my mind and actually making me worse. Possibly, this is a symptom of sleep deprivation, pure and simple. Or perhaps it’s a combination of things.
I was on my way in to the grocery store to pick up a few things when I took these 20mg.  I thought I’d be in and out in about half an hour, but it ended up being closer to two and a half hours. Why? Where did the time go? I really can’t figure out what I was doing in there for so long. I will say that I bought a LOT of things. I haven’t stocked up in a while and our fridge and cupboard were looking pretty bare.

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.

 

When you make a big purchase, it takes a long time to pack up into bags. It is difficult balancing those bags on the way to the car. It takes ages to get them in the house, and it took me about an hour to get everything put away because of the amount of stuff and because I needed to repackage some items for freezing. Then I spent some time cleaning and organizing my kitchen and some parts of the basement which have been neglected for months…. and then it was after 2pm.
Where did the day go?
I was very excited for today– it is the first time in many many weeks, due to changes in kid’s and DH’s schedule that I get ‘my day’ when DH picks up the kids and I can stay working on my own projects as late as I want or need to. Ideally, I should be able to spend all day doing this, and when I headed in to the grocery store, I fully intended to devote most of my day to my own enterprises. In fact, I ended up getting down to work in my friend’s studio, due to assorted delays, only after 4pm.
Where did my day go?
I didn’t accomplish as much as I’d hoped to today. I’d had such high hopes. I’d meant to sit down and map out my activities for the next few weeks.  Instead I wrote three blog posts– which is good, but it should have been a warm-up for the rest of the day.  The day is now over.  I’m not much further ahead than when I started.
This is kind of a depressing conclusion for this post, but I feel optimistic about making a lot more progress in the weeks to come.

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.

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Sleep Guilt

I can’t sleep.

I can sleep.  I can fall asleep as soon as I get in to bed. I can lie down, roll on to my side, and cross the threshold into Dream Land in a way that many people would envy. I can fall asleep within a surprisingly short duration after having drunk an espresso. Like many parents, I can fall asleep faster than my kids– at their bedtime. Which is dinnertime for most adults.   But I don’t.

But I do. I fall asleep before the bedtime story is over. I can sleep-read. I want to sleep. I am so tired. I tell myself that I need to stay awake because there are so many things to get done that I didn’t get around to during the day.  I’ll just take a ten minute nap.

But I don’t. I wrench myself out of the twin bed and untangle myself from pudgy little arms because there is laundry to catch up on, exercise to catch up on, blogging to catch up on… are we seeing a pattern here? OK, I admit, sometimes it’s just Netflix I want to catch up on, though Netflix is often combined with laundry folding or exercise for me.

The kids like us to lie down with them, and I comply.  If I am really really tired at 7pm , I’ll have an espresso first, because I know how very hard it can be to get up again.  Despite this, I will still fall asleep with them sometimes.  My day can’t end at 9 pm  (which is when they actually fall asleep, not when they’re meant to fall asleep).  There is always too much to catch up on.

You don’t need to tell me that I would be more productive after a good night’s sleep. I know that I should have a steady bedtime, and that it would lead to an earlier morning and a better start to our days.  I know, from those days when I fall asleep at a normal hour, without forcing myself to stay up until some or all of my intended tasks are done, that I can rise without having to battle the sandman for the right.

Certainly, I am more functional in the morning. The quality of my work, when I can get right to it, is fueled by fresh ideas and the potential of a fulfilling day before me.  So why don’t I just shut everything down at 11 and turn the lights off at 11:30? I’d be able to get up at 6 or 6:30 with no problem and, at the very least, I’d

It’s something of a vicious cycle, this staying-awake business, and I am certain that it has to do with ADD.  I did some reading on ADD and sleep, and, on the surface, it seems like it’s not ADD that is preventing me from getting into bed. Rather, it’s this self-diagnosed disease called Sleep Guilt,  discovered by none other than the author of this blog.   Sleep Guilt is a condition which causes an otherwise sane person to remain awake out of a sense of obligation to complete a task, and remain awake either until the task is completed or until moments before the otherwise sane person can no longer physically sustain a state of consciousness and must drag her (or him)self up to bed.  When suffering from sleep guilt, the otherwise sane party might never even get around to starting said task, often because she (or he) is just too tired to really sustain any meaningful momentum, or sometimes because they get distracted by other, less obligatory but more entertaining things.

The type of sleep disturbances associated with ADD aren’t really in line with the sleep guilt diagnoses.   People with ADD often have a hard time falling asleep because their minds are racing, and they have trouble staying asleep because even though their bodies have fallen asleep, their minds are still churning.  Their restful period of sleep starts late, making it extremely difficult for them to wake up in the morning, because when their alarms go off, they are still going through the deepest part of their sleep cycle.  Interestingly, people with ADD are known to actually fall asleep when forced to engage in an activity they are not interested in. I remember feeling very sleepy in class throughout my childhood, and needing to put my head down on my desk.  Now I understand why.

The thing is, I have rarely, in my life, had any trouble falling asleep. As I mentioned above, if I’m tired, I’m sleepy. When I’m sleepy, I sleep. However, I wonder if what I call Sleep Guilt is really just a derivation– a unique manifestation, if you will, of the first two kinds of sleep disturbances I mention above. Perhaps I go through the mind-racing and the sleep-falling stages before I even get in to bed.  By the time I lie down, poof! I’m done. It’s an efficient system, if you ask me.  Also, when I look at it that way, I feel less guilty.

Now I wonder if I can train myself to stick to an 11:30 bedtime.  Challenging? Yes. Impossible? No. Beneficial? Very likely so. I might have to unsubscribe from my Netflix account.

 

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

The Blogs In My Head

One of my biggest and most frustrating symptoms of ADD is that I start projects and then don’t finish them. Notice I don’t say that I never finish them. I sometimes do finish them, but their completion has no noticeable correlation to financial pressure, spousal aggravation, time constraints, or any other logical element.  If I had to choose one thing that ‘triggers’ the eventual completion of a project for me, I would have to say that it’s mess. When there is a mess, I will eventually clean it up.

And when there is a clean spot, all other members of my family will gravitate there and fill it right up again with beloved yet misplaced objects. That’s my life, but I digress.

All of the above does not apply exclusively to tangible projects. If I make space and time in my life to work on, say, the business I’ve been trying to get off the ground for a few months now, or the course I was taking which cost us several thousand dollars, or the business BEFORE that which I have abandoned and actually whose web address seems to have been scooped up as I neglected to pay for the web hosting; somehow, the time I set aside for those things will get nipped and nibbled at, if not entirely chewed away by the needs of the people around me.

If I sound resentful, I sometimes am. And sometimes I’m not. Them’s the shakes when you’ve got a family. It’s also what happens when people know you to be nice and giving and know that you work from home, which makes you perpetually available.  Right now I experiencing heightened feelings of bitterness because it’s been weeks since I’ve had my ‘day on’ where I am granted an entire day with no interruption at the studio to work exclusively towards my own endeavors.

But I digress. Not the name of my blog, but it should be.

In addition to ideas for work, home decor, social events, etc, I also have ideas for blogs.  I suppose that I could write about any topic on this blog here, but I feel like I need to limit the posts here strictly to ADHD-related material.

I feel like a blog is a timeline, and if I keep my thoughts on different ideas in separate blogs, then I can reference them more easily.  If, in May of 2026, I want to find out how I felt about the month of May in 2017, I will be able to just look it up.  Things like this are important to Present me. Not sure if Future me will give a hoot. Sometimes I am afraid of this ego of mine which causes me to behave as though there will one day be enormous value to the ever-accumulating archive of my life.  Like I’m van Gogh.  Maybe it comes from my life in academia where specialists are always arguing about whether a body of work is attributed to the correct author, or where every tiny detail we discover about the life of a composer is paraded through headlines like it was a cure for cancer.

For example, I would like to have a blog about the weather. I would like to have a blog about the weather in the same way as most people would like to have a cottage in cottage country. Or the way my husband wants a farm. I want a place where I can spend time puttering around with no goals but the pursuit of serenity, and where I can look back and see the impact I’ve had on the place over, or how I’ve changed because of it. That’s the weather blog.  Pure, gentle ego.

I want to do a blog about my upcoming home reno.  Maybe it’s because, in this day and age when you do anything that requires research, you start out online and you get caught up in the figurative web of information.  You can spend all day jumping from site to site as the different ideas pop into your head — or is that just ADD me? Just today I ran a new idea for the kitchen past the contractor. Which gave me a great idea about the bathroom, which led me to do a google search for that feature, which led me to Pinterest, which is it’s own hellish wormhole.  I took a look on Etsy to see if I could find some parts, and then on Craigslist and Kijiji to find some coordinating furniture. I never got around to looking at all of the correspondence between me and the contractor and consolidating it into a usable document as I’d meant to do this morning.   . A blog is a good way to document all this, and it’s also very interesting, I think, to read about other people’s processes. For example, it took us years of hemming and hawing to even start getting quotes. Once we settled on a contractor, it took me six months to get back to HIM (as opposed to the other way around, which is usually the case. This is not, by the way, a DIY kind of reno that we’re talking about.  When you’re ADD, there are some projects that are better left in the capable hands of other people.  First we had to get good and tired of washing crumbling particle board out of our pots and finding creative ways to cover the holes where there used to be cupboard doors (but where the particle board is too busy high-diving into my cookware to adequately reattach the missing pieces).

I also have ideas for this blog which I never get around to writing.  It’s now almost 1:30 am. It’s finally quiet and nobody is interrupting me. I’m letting the laundry wait.  This is how I get real productive time.  I haven’t posted in weeks and my last post is not really meant to be read.

Sometimes I think about making a blog about my backyard birds, which are the best pets ever.  I also, while I’m cooking, entertain grandiose thoughts of a cooking blog featuring all the crazy recipes that I make crazy fast. I might also turn that one into a book. Another project. Will it happen? There’s no mess involved but the one in my head. Will it be enough?