Monday, December 24, 2007

It's Christmas Eve. Forget the clock!

I've been a bit frustrated with myself this holiday season with completing all of my Christmas chores. As I previously wrote, I intended to have my cards out earlier. I also planned on getting my house decorated a couple of weeks ago. As I write this, packages of ornaments are strewn about my living room, with half of their contents hanging on the tree. A few gifts, which have sat on my couch for the past several days, also need to be wrapped. And because I just figured out which recipe I'm cooking for company tomorrow, I need to hit the supermarket.

I'm not too worried about any of this.

On Saturday, I received an email newsletter that I occasionally read. I decided to scroll through it, and one quote in it grabbed my attention:

"Forget the clock and take the compass. The direction you are headed is more important that the time it takes to get there."

Wow. I wrote the quote with a Sharpie on a bright blue Post-it and stuck it to my desk. The quote struck me because, when I finish something, I typically bemoan the fact that it took me so long to get it done. Take my cards, for example - they have arrived at their recipients, yet I still think I could have got them there earlier. But, hey, I finished them!

One of the notions I've worked on reframing this year is that life's not about crossing everything off from my to-do list. It takes me, and most folks with ADD, more time to do a lot of tasks. But bit by bit, I do feel like I'm accomplishing goals. This year, I feel that I've accomplished many great things, which I did on my own schedule. Doing things on your own terms is powerful!

The things that I want to get done for tomorrow will get done. I didn't finish them on December 20th or 12th, but it doesn't matter because Christmas is the 25th. Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas accomplishments!

I'm delighted to announce that I achieved my goal of getting my cards done. I spent about 15 minutes each morning before work writing, addressing, and stamping. The last batch went out on Wednesday, and will most likely reach their destinations before The Big Day. Sweet!

I had a change in plans with one card. Several weeks ago, I started addressing envelopes, including the one for M., a friend of mine. However, I learned recently that our friendship's not worth the 41 cents it'd take to mail the card. Fortunately, M's card went to a better recipient. I whited-out his address, wrote out the card to a wounded soldier, and sent it to the American Red Cross to be distributed at one of the nation's military hospitals. Fellow ADDers, if you have any extra cards left over (or if you never got yours in the mail!), here's a good use for them. Face it, come next year, you're not going to remember who you sent this year's card to, so you may as well mail 'em away and spread some holiday cheer to a soldier.

While I'm crowing about my cards, here's a few other things I'm proud of achieving this week:
  • Surviving the employer's holiday party, which lasted 3 hours in the office and several hours at a nearby watering hole.
  • I actually baked something for said party, and it came out fantastic.
  • I finally dug out my fake tree. It's not yet decorated, but it's standing tall in my living room.
  • I ordered my last few gifts and they've all arrived. This means that I don't have to risk getting the vapors by going in stores and standing in lines.

To me, how I feel in late December is what I imagine that mile 25 of a marathon feels like: I'm tired and want to get this thing (the year) over with. Add in all of the holiday hoo ha, and no wonder many of us feel like zombies going through the motions. Hang in there, everyone...we'll make it through!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Me vs. Christmas Cards

I just read on My ADD Blog that one ADDer's facing with the challenging task of the season that is getting out the holiday cards. With all of the steps required for dealing with the cards, it's no wonder that ADDers get overwhelmed by the task. This year, I've heard similar gripes about card management from a few non-ADDers. One of my most organized relatives wrote and addressed her cards, but realized that she forgot to buy stamps. And my friends R and C, who send out photo cards featuring their adorable daughter, can't decide what picture to choose.

I thought I had the card thing licked this year. I ordered my cards a month ago, and made my card list on my kickass Christmas card spreadsheet that I fashioned a couple of years ago. (On the list of things that I totally rock at doing, designing spreadsheets is definitely up there.) I bought my stamps on Thanksgiving Eve, and even started addressing the envelopes that night. This should be easy, eh?

Unfortunately, things didn't unfold the way I'd planned. I had a work trip right after Thanksgiving, then I had to finish a major project at work. I intended to work on the cards last Sunday, but that wasn't in the cards. Instead, I spent that day and the next coping with an icky but thankfully brief stomach flu. And since then, I've took it easy in order to have enough energy to make it to a birthday party and two Christmas parties.

When I got back tonight from one of the Christmas parties, I decided it's onward and upward for the cards. Equipped with the excellent Minute Timer, my spreadsheet, my Palm Pilot, and all of the card stuff, I set the timer for 15 minutes and plowed through a few of the cards. That's all I'm tackling tonight, though. Sunday's weather will likely keep me homebound tomorrow, so I'm aiming to do a couple more of these 15 minute spurts. I shall report back how it goes!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Good grief!

Yay, I'm back! It's been a month since the last time I typed here. While I was away from blogging, I...
  • Flew a total of 6,777 miles and traveled to three cities
  • Quit therapy after 2.5 years
  • Bought my Christmas cards and actually started addressing them
  • Finished the heavy lifting for a major project at work that started 2 years ago
  • Baked a pumpkin pie for the first time (and there's a forthcoming post all about it!!)
  • Put together a really great Secret Santa gift box
  • Volunteered 8 hours of time to two worthy charities
  • Hosted out-of-town relatives
  • Attended a conference
  • Got to play supermodel in a photography shoot
  • Bought some sassy new glasses

And I'm sure there are other things I'm leaving out that I can't think of at the moment. Whew! No wonder I'm tired.

I wrote that list in order to inspire myself. Unfortunately, I've lately felt like Charlie Brown while my boss is Lucy holding the football. Just like the Peanuts TV special, November rolled around and I went to kick the hypothetical football. Sure enought, my boss pulled it away. As always, I think that it'll be different "next time". It never is. If only I had Snoopy and Woodstock cooking up some popcorn and toast for me!

I've started to make the scary step of looking for someone else to hold that football. Mentally, it's a tough step for me because, like like Charlie Brown did, I feel like I'm going to go to the slick Christmas tree farm and end up with the twig that can't hold up even one ornament.

I know why I feel so down about the job search. I've worked for my employer for a long time and have grown accustomed to not receiving praise and positive feedback. In what I partly attribute to an "ADD mindset", I think that that praise and positive feedback would come if I worked harder or beat deadlines by a bigger cushion of time or leaped tall buildings in a single bound. But intellectually, I know it ain't going to happen.

The cure for my situation is the same as the cure for Charlie Brown's tree. All I need is a little love. We ADDers thrive on praise, largely because we get accustomed to hearing what's wrong with us. And when I get used to hearing such criticism, I tend to feel like there's no way out of the situation that I'm in.

It's taken me a while to acknowledge that, indeed, there's some employer out there who will hold the football for me and let me kick it soaring clear through the goal posts. But first, I need to put on some eyeblack and cleats, then get myself onto the gridiron. I'm ready for some football!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fessing up about my landline

Most of my friends have abandonded their landline telephones in their homes, and solely rely on their cell phones. I considered doing the same. Having just one phone number and one phone bill definitely simplifies life a wee bit.

However, a far more compelling reason exists to hold on to the landline. When I'm home and cant find my cell phone, I just pick up my home phone and dial my cell phone number. Usually, I can locate it before it stops ringing!

Monday, October 29, 2007

My ADD, my compass

A month ago, I went on a first and last dinner date with a guy I met here on the Internets. Our evening agenda was supposed to consist of grabbing a beer or two and chatting, which is my preferred, low-key way of getting to know a fella. At the last minute, he insisted on taking me to dinner, and so we supped at one of my favorite local Tex-Mex eateries.

As the guy and I exchanged the usual get-to-know-you small talk, I noticed myself tinkering with the tortilla chips and playing with the straw in my water glass. To someone else, I might have appeared nervous with my fidgeting. But really, I was bored, and playing with the table items kept me engaged. I couldn't relate to his delight in spending all of his vacation time with his parents at their beack house, and he certainly didn't endear himself with his little snarky comments about his ex-wife. So when we suggested that we head to a local watering hole for a nightcap, I told him that I was ready to call it a night.

Many folks who read this will likely think I didn't give the guy a chance. Some might want to regale me with tales of first dates with the love of their lives who didn't wow them on Date #1. Others might gently point out that a late thirties lady like myself should probably resist being so picky. Believe me, I've heard these things before.

One thing I've realized in learning to manage my ADD is to trust my gut more. We ADDers are an intuitive lot. But sometimes, the chaos and disarray in our heads makes us ignore our intuition and either go against our gut feelings or seek advice from a third (or fourth or fifth) party. Often, we take the advice of others or buck our intuition and then feel frustrated by the results. In my case, I often sought advice from friends who were married or in long term relationships, because they obviously were successful in the love game, right? Never mind that many of them haven't been on a date since the before the Soviet Union broke up!

Thanks to my rockstar of a coach, I've learned to trust my intuitive compass much more. Doing so has curbed those opposing viewpoint thoughts that bubble up in situations that don't seem to be working for me. So instead of tolerating situations that I know don't work for me, I've learned to cut my losses.

So, the hunt continues for the future Mr. ADD-Libber. I don't know yet who he is, but I do know who he isn't.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: How to help your ADD and the environment!

Today is Blog Action Day, where bloggers write about one topic -- the environment -- as it relates to their blog. If you think about it a bit, it's possible to save the planet and manage your ADD at the same time. Here are three ways:

Go paperless. Just about every financial statement or bill can be obtained and paid electronically. You can save them to your hard drive (and back them up, too!) for your own recordkeeping. This means that you won't have to file these documents in your desk, stash them when company arrives. You also won't accidentally throw them away or spill anything on them...not that I would know anything about gravy-stained brokerage statements...

Reducing your use of paper at the office also helps you to keep your desk organized. Scan documents into .PDF files and save them on your computer, rather than in piles on your desk. I've found it much easier to organize files on my PC than on my desk. Even when I don't organize them well, searching on my computer's easier than rifling through a pile. When you receive a document as an email attachment, review it on your computer and print only if necessary.

Freecycle your junk. The Freecycle Network connects people who want to give away stuff and those who want the stuff. No money can be exchanged in the process.

Sure, you can make a few bucks by having a yard sale. But that requires all sorts of non-ADD friendly steps such as pricing your unwanted possessions, hanging up signs, dragging everything outside, and dealing with early-bird buyers. You'll then be tempted to toss unsold merch into the trash (Destination: Landfill) rather than drag it all back into your house.

Or, you can Freecycle your stuff. Just list your items on the Freecycle listserv in your area, and folks will gladly take your stuff and pick it up from your house, too. What's not to love? Thanks to Freecycle, I've found happy new homes for many items I'd had stored away for years.

Stimulate your brain with foot power. Dr. Hallowell and many others underscore the benefits of exercise for the ADD brain. When you have a bunch of errands to do on a Saturday morning, grab a tote bag as well as a portable music player or a friend to gab with, and do your errands on foot. As a result, you'll have toned calves, raised endorphins, and a cheery demeanor for not trying to find a parking space at the Post Office on a Saturday morning. The environment will thank you for reduced consumption of fossil fuel.

Who knew that ADD would be so good for the environment?!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hotel Zen

I just returned from my second work trip within the last 3 weeks. I'm glad that my job gives me ample opportunity to travel, because there's nothing that ADD Me likes better than getting out of the office to shake up the routine of the workaday world.

Actually, there is one thing I like better than getting out of the office. I love hotels!

And why do I love hotels? Let me count the reasons...

Pristine white towels hung on shiny chrome breakfast cooked by someone who's not me...flatscreen TVs...a king-sized bed...ahhh!

During the hotel stay I had a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that I got plenty of rest and didn't rush around from place to place. Heck, I even took a quick nap before going out one evening and ironed my clothes before going to bed, two things that merit entry into the ADD Libber Book of World Records. During the hotel stay I just returned from, I retired to the bed before 10:00 with a book and no TV. Again, that's an atypical behavior for me!

I've mused about the calm and peaceful feelings I've had during these hotel stays. Certainly, the fluffy towels and egg-white omelettes contributed to my bliss. But here's the root cause: when I'm in a hotel, I have everything I need and nothing extraneous. I bring my belongings in a bag that fits in a plane's overhead compartment, and the hotel provides me with and a tidy and orderly space.

About a week ago, the desire to purge a lot of my clutter bubbled inside of me. I ended up getting rid of 32 pounds of stuff that I no longer wanted. No doubt, this urge to purge was a positive side effect from Recent Hotel Stay #1. The downside was that hyperfocus kicked in and I ended up spending a good part of my Columbus Day weekend on the endeavor.

My ADD coach gave me the brilliant idea to create a plan to deal with the clutter in my house. I'm happy to say that it's going well thus far. I'll be able to work on purging stuff that I no longer want, but in a way that doesn't consume my leisure time. Certainly, pairing down my stuff is work very much in progress. But I've already seen the end result during my hotel stays, and it's going to be well worth the effort!

Friday, October 5, 2007

My story: part one

I've read a lot of stories over the years about how adults discovered they had ADD. Mine began in an Irish bar somewhere in Atlanta.

Eight years ago this December, The Employer sent me to Atlanta for a Monday morning meeting. For once, I didn't mind giving up my Sunday afternoon to travel, because I was going to get to see my friend J. who lived there. Shortly after I arrived, he picked me up at my hotel and gave me a tour of the city, which sparkled with twinkling Christmas lights. We then chatted nonstop over dinner at a Thai restaurant, and then retired to a nearby pub to continue catching up.

At some point while we drank our pints, J. set down his glass and unknowingly changed my life by saying, "I think I have ADD." His disclosure surprised me; after all, that's a kid problem, right? J.'s not the type to dart around restaurants like a banshee.

I asked him why he thought that, and he said that he'd been having problems focusing at work. He'd often get distracted and couldn't get anything done. If he heard someone in the next cube speaking, he'd lose his train of thought.

I told him that, to me, it didn't sound like he had ADD. Why? Because I was exactly the same way, that's why. In college, I always had to study in the library and keep away from the whisperers who would distract me. At work, I often couldn't focus on the task at hand, but I chalked it up to not being as interested in it as I was in, say, fashion magazines. But that wasn't ADD, I said. And you certainly don't see me running amok!

J. then told me about a book he'd read called "Driven to Distraction". He said that when he read it, he felt like the book described what he was going through at work. He also noted that ADD's not just a kid thing; it also afflicts adults. That surprised me, as I'd never heard that before.

J. planned to see a psychiatrist after the holidays to get an official diagnosis. To my knowledge, I didn't know of any friend of mine who had seen a psychiatrist, and so I wanted to be as supportive as I could. I told J. that I would check out the book he'd read in order to learn more about what he was going through.

When I came home from my trip, I borrowed "Driven to Distraction" from the library. Midway through reading the first chapter, I burst into tears. I felt that the book had been written about me.


I'm addicted to reading blogs. And then I thought, hey, I'm a good storyteller and I have many good stories to tell. Why not throw my hat into the blog ring?

It seems that the best stories I have to tell have to do with managing my ADD after discovering as an adult that I had it. And I've chosen to blog about these stories because not everyone in my life knows about my diagnosis, this I don't get to tell them too often. (Note that I did not write "knows about my ADD", because they perhaps may already know that!)

Though I'm not putting my own name to this blog, I do hope that by telling my stories, I and other adults with ADD will feel less alone about managing their ADD. Please comment on my posts; I'm interested to hear what you have to say, too!