Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What are you waiting for?

I suppose you could read that subject line as either figurative or literal. And really, both are important questions. But for the purposes of this prose, I'm referring to the literal. That's because it's currently driving me mad.

A few weeks ago, I learned of a possible new job opportunity that's awesome. However, should it really materialize, it would not happen for at least several months. Do understand that I'm gainfully employed and fairly content, too, although the part of me that's discontent is rabidly so. (And rest assured that I'm quite thankful for what I already have.) But this new thing would pretty much entail exactly what I would want if I could design ADD Libber's Dream Job.

And so, I wait.

The thing is, my ADD brain's wired to want what I want and want it NOW. My brain is that little kid in the restaurant who didn't finish his chicken fingers and, consequently, his parents are withholding his ice cream dessert. And what happens then? He screams and tearily rants about what he perceives as utter injustice, even though he doesn't yet know what injustice means.

Now because behaving like that little kid isn't socially acceptable for an adult, not to mention quite unbecoming, I do something totally different: I obsess. A lot. I'd say it's probably my most avid pastime. It's sometimes therapeutic, but certainly not always. In fact, it goes in stages a bit like this:

1) elation - this is the immediate reaction, which goes along the lines of thinking "this is the best day EVER," and looping it through my head a good 500,000 times.

2) fantasy future - this is probably the most enjoyable part, in which I muse about what it'll be like once the object of my obsession comes true. The future is pretty much shiny and perfect.

3) irrational reality check - after repeating step two for a ridiculously long time, I regain my bearings in the present moment and tell myself to chill out. But instead of getting all zen about stuff, I start looking for what I believe is the irrational notion that said future plan is definitely going to fall through. That's not to say that I totally think negatively about it, but rather, I start to muse about how this fantasy situation might not be what I think it's cracked up to be.

Fortunately, my good pal B. has been an awesome ear throughout this mad thought process of mine. When I conjure up some of the thoughts that fall under step three, I call B. and she provides a rational reality check. B. is patient and rational about these things. And so when I mention that I sure hope that the person who offered me said opportunity doesn't forget that he did, she compels me to examine my nonexistent evidence for such a thought.

The worst part about waiting, though, is that we chew up time in our lives by thinking so much about moments that are far from the present ones. I hate that because that's mental energy best spent on other things. In the meantime, I decided that I need a few personal projects to carry me through this time (because what ADDer doesn't adore brand new projects? Certainly not this one!). I've started a new workout challenge with an online tracker, and I'm also trying to do something fun and a little bit special for myself each day, even if it's just a little lunchtime walk that's not one of my usual routes.

So yes, maybe I have replaced my giant obsession with a couple of smaller ones. But these take place in the present time, moments that require no waiting.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Welcome, ADDitude readers!

If you linked here from the ADDitude article, thank you for stopping by!

And to update my previous post, I just discovered that the article's already on the ADDitude site, so here's a link to it.

I'm back in the saddle again!

Hey to all of you in blogland! Just wanted to let y'all know that I'm alive and well and happy. Three things to catch you up on:

1. I have at least a dozen, or maybe 20, half-finished blog posts that never made it on here. I found that I would start to write, realize my writing was getting to something therapeutic, figure out that thing, and then carry on without posting what I wrote. So, maybe I'll get some of that stuff up here and maybe I won't, but there are a few things that I have in the works, so get psyched for those.

2. And speaking of getting psyched, the good people at the terrific ADDitude Magazine are excerpting one of my old blog posts in an upcoming issue! I'm ridiculously flattered and honored that they're reprinting my words in hard copy.

3. Lastly, since my last hiatus, I discovered that there's another lady out there who started a blog called ADD-Libbing, but that's not me. It appears that she's blogging as ADDMom, but the only caretaking I currently do for another living thing is ensure that my 6 month old bamboo plant gets plenty of water to drink. I'm quite proud of it, actually; it's the first plant I've had in years that's remained alive this long!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

One way only?!

I learned a lot in the writing class that I recently took. Interestingly, one of the things I learned wasn't something necessarily related to the craft of writing.

There's nothing more awesome than taking a class with an instructor whose passion about the subject area is downright infectious. Unfortunately, that wasn't our teacher. Certainly, he's a nice guy, knows his craft well, gave lots of good pointers and feedback and such, but passion? Not really. Our teacher often seemed discontent. No doubt, a work week that included undergraduate composition class in the morning, noncredit adult students in the evening, and his own work during the day and late at night wasn't the most desirable. But hey, I have my own job to complain about.

On the first night of class, the teacher ticked off a list of what he referred to as the non-negotiable ground rules of the class. These covered writing assignments and class readings and such. And then he mentioned the key one: we had to pick a block of time, two hours, the same time each week, and that was going to be our writing time. Nothing, he said, was to take precedence over this block of writing time. According to our teacher, if we wanted to be serious writers, then this is one of the things that we must do.

I'm sure you can guess how this worked out for me.

Think about it: if you tell an ADDer that there's only one way to do something, it's only going to cause stress and rebellion. I tried our teacher's method for a couple of weeks, and it was an utter failure. I picked Sunday mornings, since I'm typically home at that time. I figured that he wouldn't give this advice if it wasn't going to work, so I'd do as I was asked.

On the first attempt, I stared at a blank Word document for about 20 minutes and then went to check my email, which led to a scan of the Sunday paper headlines and maybe a YouTube video...and magically, the two hours filled themselves nicely. Of course, I was kind of stressed that I didn't do my writing. But interestingly, I went about my day, and the story I was going to write started materializing in my head, which I then started writing later that evening.

On the second attempt, I was fairly hungover from my birthday party the previous night. Needless to say, I was yet again unsuccessful.

There was no third attempt.

I still felt some guilt about not being able to keep a writing appointment with myself. Do I not have it in me to be a serious writer? Oh, wait, do I want to be a "serious writer," anyway? Moreover, do I want to be a "serious writer" like my teacher purports to be?

I'd say yes, no, no. Yes - if I want to be a "serious writer," I can be. No - mainly because I don't know what that exactly means. And no - if it means that I'm going to walk around looking like I haven't eaten enough fiber and get cranky at my class, I'm not going to rack up tens of thousands in student loans to be that way.

Shortly after I came to this conclusion, I was telling my friend R. about this over dinner. R. was incredulous over the "writing block" notion. Certainly, R. thought that this may be a successful tactic for some people (which I certainly agree with). But, as R. said, "It's ridiculous for anyone to insist that there's only one way to do something. Especially writing! All you need to do to write is write!"

I really appreciated R.'s perspective on this. R's a non-ADDer, so hearing this assuaged my feelings that I wasn't able to comply with the teacher's edict because I lack discipline. In fact, I soon discovered that my way of kicking around story ideas in my head for a while before hitting the computer makes it a lot easier for me to write. This may not work for everyone, of course, and I wouldn't ever require anyone to try it if they knew of a way that worked better for them. In any case, you can thank my method for this blog post!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Back to basics

Recently, I passed the fifth anniversary of getting officially diagnosed with ADD. The fifth anniversary's referred to as the "paper anniversary". Accordingly, I'm sure that I spent that day looking through stacks of papers, and (for added drama) probably being late for something, too.

I'm going to rip off the "What I Know For Sure" column that Oprah writes in the back of her magazine to share a few thoughts about my diagnosis and taking ADD meds:

* Prior to Diagnosis Day, I had this notion that once I started taking ADD meds, I would be interested in taking care of everything that absolutely uninterests me because I know had focus, baby. That idea, alas, couldn't be more untrue. If a drug gets developed that makes me care about housecleaning or filing my taxes, then I'll be the first in line for it.

* If you think you're an ADDer and are unmedicated and wonder what it's like taking ADD meds, do this: tune a channel on your radio a decimal or so above or below the actual station number (if you're old-school, just turn the knob a hair). The out of tune station is how I felt before meds; the in-tune station is how I feel with meds. And either way, I still wanna rock.

* I spent so many years out of focus that I didn't really know what it was like to be focused. For example, I used to think all of my work was hard to get through, but I then realized (once medicated) that it was easier to maintain a train of thought on tasks that I indeed enjoy.

* On that note, drugs don't change your psychology. So, you will still dislike your coworkers or have commitment issues or be bored by what you consider busywork. Perhaps ADD factors into your issues, but solely blaming ADD for 'em isn't going to help you cope. (Even though I've worded this in the second person, I'm also talking to myself here.)

* Lastly, and most importantly, taking care of yourself has to come first, above everything else. I learned this big-time when I got coaching after my diagnosis. Getting enough sleep, eating right, planning your day, and doing stuff you enjoy is key.

So, I'll be honest and 'fess up here: I've been missing the mark lately on that last point. Skipping sleep's been the biggest culprit. Staying up late to "catch up on stuff" never pays off in the long run. And hey, let's be honest: I look so much better when I'm well rested and not haggard looking. And when I don't get enough sleep, everything else seems to fall apart to some degree. I don't eat properly; instead, I become a Dyson vacuum for carbohydrates in pursuit of energy. And of course, the combo of these two things certainly wore down my resistance, resulting in me being knocked out sick a couple of weeks ago. As far as planning goes...I've taken to jot appointments down on post-its and stick them in the canyon of my work bag, rather than put 'em in my calendar.

One thing I have made an effort of doing, though, is making time to do stuff that I enjoy. I recently finished a writing class that's made me realize how much I've been missing my favorite creative pursuit. Which, actually, is what got myself back here, so yay for that. The grind that is my job seemed to curb my social life, and I've been making more of an effort to connect with my pals.

So, it's time to take all of the knowledge I gained in years 1-5 as an ADDer, use it, and live it. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

You can't be a writer unless you write, and other statements of the obvious sort.

I live in two worlds.

One is the material and physical world in which I exist as the real person behind ADD-Libbing, with all of my quirks and qualities and expertly covered grey hairs.

The other is the life I sometimes (OK, often to always) live in my head. This is the life in which I created a pretty sweet mindset that includes all of the awesome things I'm going to do and try and enjoy.

Now, both of these things are fine. Except for one thing: the ADD mind is like that Fourth of July carnival that comes to your town (or one near yours...or if you're outside of the U.S., a festival for another occasion) filled with sno-cones and ferris wheels and dunk tanks and junky prizes that seemed important at the time that they're won.

There's one difference, though. The carnival in the mind never ends. And so, as I've often thought, we ADDers need to separate the not-so-great-for-us parts of the carnival (like eating six candy apples a day) from the better parts of the carnival (like the scholarship fund's raffle that helps deserving kids go to college).

Lately, I've been guilty of the metaphoric candy apple indulging. After a busy 2009 doing a lot of enjoyable things and having the requisite challenges and such, I've now realized that I've been cruising way too easily through 2010. I've been traveling a bunch for the employer, which has been a good thing, but sometimes the hubbub that goes along with being on work travel masks the fact that I've not been attending to my own goals and interests.

As I mentioned in the subject line for this post, you can't call yourself a runner unless you write. Which, duh, is obvious. But in that little world that I've created in my mind, I'm totally a writer. I'm also totally a dozen other things, too, like a cook and an athlete and such. But microwaving is cooking as much as paying for a gym membership without going makes me an athlete.

I've repeatedly reminded myself in the last couple of months that I needed to blog. Yes, needed. There are a lot of things I've figured out for myself as I've typed them here. Many of these can be read on this blog, but others have not made it onto the blog for public viewing. (Yeah, heavy...I know!)

What brought me here today is that I got a comment on a post from a reader that began with, "I really LOVE your blog!" I blushed a little, admittedly, and thought about how my experience with ADD helps others with ADD, just like other blogs and similar resources helped me when I was first diagnosed. And those things still do help me, too.

But what I often forget is that when I don't blog or don't comment on stuff or don't do the things that I really want to do and instead reach for the remote or click around Facebook or eat convenient frozen meals or say that I'll go to the gym tomorrow or not work on that really great idea for a novel that I have is that I'm missing out on the good stuff. To get back to my carnival analogy for a minute, candy apples are good things in small doses. But they never compose an entire meal, nor should they.

(If you don't value your teeth, then perhaps this analogy makes little sense. But, I'm guessing that teeth are important to you. So, good, we're on the same page.)

Honestly, this post didn't necessarily go where I thought it would when I first started writing it. But, I'm glad that it went where it did. As Newton's first law of motion states, "Every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed on it." And if there was anyone's butt that needed a figurative kick impressed on it, it's been mine.

So yes, I'm getting myself back in the game here. It's great to be back. Part of me wants to go back through this and edit it to pieces and navel gaze about what I've written and save it as a draft. But nope, it's going up for all to read, warts and all!

Thanks for reading this, folks. And if you stop by, please comment and say hello. Because knowing that we're all in this together is something that we always want to remember.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Aw, what a card.

Because of some insane spark of inspiration that washed over me, I eagerly decided tonight to blog about Christmas cards. I was pretty sure that I once wrote a post about cards at some point. And whoa, I did indeed write one -- one day short of 2 years ago and available here for your reading pleasure. The timing coincidence on that is cute and all. But you could have knocked me over with a candy cane when I read my follow up post. Seriously, my eyes bugged out like one of those kids on a creepy oil painting when I read this:

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.

OK, two things:

First, someone really needed to spike the eggnog for my 2007 self with a big ol' shot of get over yourself. Basically, I expected M. to read my mind about something that I also blew out of proportion, and he didn't. I'd go further with the story, but then you'd be thinking, "why am I reading this middle school girl's blog?"

Second, and even more hilarious, M. recently moved and emailed me his new address today. You know, so that the card I'll be sending reaches him. And I'll be getting one from him, of course. After we went back and forth on email for quite a while, we finally chatted on the phone for a bit and had a nice conversation.

My point with the M. story is that sometimes (ok, often), the ADD brain gets all caught up in chasing after the shiny thing in front of it. And, if you're me, that's great if the shiny thing is a sweet patent leather handbag like I got last year for 70 percent off. But if the shiny thing is some petty drama that you can't release from your craw, then for us to spend our mental energy on it is a futile mission that has one victim: ourselves. I maybe see M. once a year, and I do recall that it took me several months to "get over it". And I'm glad that I did, as he's an even bigger goofball than I am, and we always have a hilarious time together.

I'm glad that I could catch you up with the happy continuation of M. and my friendship. But now, on to the main point that I wanted make here about Christmas cards.

As per usual this year, I fired up the ol' spreadsheet shortly after Thanksgiving and started to type up the list of folks to whom I'd be sending cards. I was going to be placing an order for cards, so I wanted to make sure that I ordered the right amount. I did weed out a few names (sans the middle school drama), but I noticed that I added many more this year.

The completed list included 50 names, which is more than I ever had on my Christmas card list. And weirdly enough, I didn't feel my typical dread of writing, addressing, sealing, stamping, and mailing. Instead, I looked at the names and realized that I was happy to have these folks in my life. I even thought that about my cousin who openly bemoans my dubious urban singleton lifestyle to anyone within earshot, never mind the fact that I like to travel outside my area code. (Having a million entertainment stories, dates with cute guys, and seeing the world? Priceless!)

I think it very easy to get caught up in the hullabaloo of the holidays. TV ads tout "the perfect Christmas" and equate love with some mass-produced geegaw from the mall jewelry store. Just like my silly situation with my friend M., it's easy for ADDers to fixate on the interesting thing right in front of us and forget the stuff that grounds us. And that's usually the people in our lives.

So when you tick off another name on your card list, think about why you're sending this person a card. Maybe they remember you from back in the day with your big ol' 80s hairdo (and I'm not just talking about the ladies here). Or maybe they're a new pal who, wow, totally understands you. Or perhaps they're like my cousin, and they're an imperfect judgemental being...you know, just like we all are. Or maybe they're like M., and you finally realize that all the stamps sold by the U.S. Postal Service aren't worth as much as your friendship does.