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Archive for May, 2011

The Order of Things

“Go do a little yoga,” the still, small voice in my head gently whispered.

“But I’m tired, and if I get online, it’ll help me wake up!” the competing voice argued with authority.

Guess which voice won out?  The louder, argumentative voice scored a victory this time.  However, not really a victory for me.  Oh sure, it’s a reasonable thing to check email and online networks and website.  But the timing was important here.  Instead of getting centered and grounded for my day, I began by dispersing my energy.

The order really matters.

It is important for me to connect with other people in person or online, but when I do that from a place of not being grounded and present and clear about my own priorities, I tend to jump willy-nilly from one thing to the next.  Perhaps it is a priority for the day, or perhaps it isn’t.  Perhaps it is something that needs to be done, or perhaps it really could have waited so I could have done something that really mattered for me that day.  Stopping to do even 15 or 20 minutes of yoga or  some other self-care practice is so small time-wise relative to the return I get for that time investment.  (And the form of yoga that I do requires more willingness than energy…)

Do you find yourself doing the same kind of thing?  You may have a vague sense or even a clear idea of how important it is to do something you know is right (often involving some kind of self-care…), but instead you end up choosing to do something else.  It may even be something that does need to be done or taken care of, but it is often something that could easily wait until you’ve given yourself the time that you need.  It’s the same idea that financial advisers use when they suggest paying yourself first, before paying for all of the other things that your money needs to take care of.  Give to yourself before you give to all of the other people and things that need to be taken care of!  The benefit of this is that you come from a place of solidity and increased focus versus feeling more scattered or unclear.

Getting Lost vs. Knowing the Way

What happened when I decided to get online instead of stopping to do some yoga first?  Well, I did check my email and wrote a couple of replies and checked Facebook and LinkedIn…but I know from experience that I need to be so careful when I venture into those tasks that I don’t get lost in doing them!  When I first do some yoga and/or journaling and give some centered thought to what I most want to accomplish that day, then it is easier not to get “lost” online!  (Or, if I do get “lost”, I find my way out more quickly than I would if I had not taken the time for myself.)

What is a self-care practice that you could engage in at the beginning of your day before you “jump into your day”??  Have you tried journaling?  What about taking a short walk or going to the gym?  Perhaps it is something as simple as having a few moments of quiet to sit and think about how you’d LIKE your day to unfold, rather than, “Oh my gosh, I need to do _________ and __________ and __________!  I better get going before I get behind!”

Can you feel the difference in the energy between the idea of the quiet moments to reflect on your day in a centered, positive frame of mind versus the anxious energy of the “behind before you begin” kind of thinking?  There really is something to this.  I have done my own personal experiments with it, and each way of thinking at the beginning of the day tends to set the tone for the rest of the day.  However, even if you start out feeling frantic or anxious about your day, there’s a saying that “You can start your day over any time you want!”  It’s not set in stone.  But you do need to stop to take the time to create some calm, peaceful energy to create a day that unfolds more smoothly.

“A.D.D.-ish”

  • Aha!  I finally found what to call “it”!  You know, that place where you kind of think you might have ADD, but you don’t know if you have ADD?  You’re not sure if getting distracted or being disorganized or procrastinating might mean you have ADD, or just that life is stressful and sometimes overwhelming.

“ADD-ish.”  I heard the term as an aside during a business teleclass I participated in, and I immediately liked it.  In our culture, it’s hard not to be “ADD-ish.”  With information overload and the constancy of communication, not to mention just our regular lives, there is a lot of information to screen in or out and then to process.

And More Questions…

So you wonder if your tendency to get distracted or be disorganized or stay focused is ADD, or is it just a sign of the times?  You are in very good company and plenty of company!  What is important about this question is the answer to another question.  How much is it affecting your day-to-day life?  How much does it bother you that you’re getting distracted or having trouble completing projects or being disorganized?  Do you manage to find some ways to cope with those challenges?  Or do those challenges feel like they’re near constant or looming very large in front of you?  Or perhaps you find yourself somewhere in between?

Answers?

Your answers give you some guidelines for how much attention to give this issue because there is already so much to deal with that we don’t want to unnecessarily add more to the pile!  Indeed not.  What I am hoping to do is to shrink your pile by giving enough attention to what NEEDS attention!  If you find yourself frequently

  • distracted,
  • disorganized,
  • and procrastinating,
  • and it’s causing you a lot of grief,

then it needs attention.  Funny thing is, we tend to put off giving it attention, thinking that we just need to try harder.  Haven’t you already been trying harder?  I truly do understand that it is difficult to answer this seemingly straightforward question because, to answer with a “yes” means that trying harder is not working.  That – is – very – hard – to – admit.  Believe me, I get it.  To say, “My best has gotten me where I am” requires a LOT of courage and humility.  And when we’re trying to save face because it feels like we keep screwing up, courage and humility tend to come hard.

But they can come.  And having a bit of encouragement or support can help.  It is no easy task to admit that we need help and then to ASK for help.  However, how long have you been miserable going about it the way that you have?  That long, huh?  Me too.  I was miserable a very long time, first because I just did not know what was wrong (thinking that I was inadequate or incompetent or even meaner words…).  Then, when I finally did begin to suspect that I might have ADD, well, who wants to be diagnosed with ADD?  I certainly did not.  I thought that it was yet another confirmation that I was inadequate.  So, I didn’t go running to the phone to make my appointment with someone who could do the assessment.

“Insanity”?

For a while longer, I kept trying harder.  Have you ever heard this definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?  When I first heard that definition, I was quite insulted by the suggestion that I might be insane!  I wasn’t insane!  I was just frustrated!!  Well, no, I wasn’t and I’m not insane in the formal definition of the word.  But in the more casual use of “insane”?  Yes, I qualify.  Once I could loosen my grip on the formal definition, I came to love this definition.  It can help shake us loose from our own chains!

Taking Action

It was because I kept getting the same results no matter what I tried that finally led me to make the call to set up the appointment to get the assessment to be diagnosed with ADD.  And I am relieved and grateful that I did.  First of all, it put a name to all those years of misery and feeling inadequate and incompetent.  That was a relief in itself!  Secondly, medication can help improve my day-to-day functioning.  And thirdly, there is now so much more information available to adults with ADD.  There are books; there are support groups; there are oodles of resources online; there are coaches, AND there are other people with ADD.  You’d be so surprised to find out who all has ADD once you begin talking about it.  There are very successful people who are making their way in the world WITH ADD.  It doesn’t mean that they don’t have their challenges or setbacks or frustrations.  They do.  They’re human, and they still have ADD.  But instead of ignoring it or assuming that they are incompetent or inadequate, they give their ADD, and therefore give themselves, the attention that is needed.

So, is your “ADD-ishness” something that is just a small, manageable part of your life?  Or is your “ADD-ishness” something that is causing you enough frustration and self-criticism that it is TIME to do something about it?  If it is time, then go make that call to schedule the appointment.  Or go research it online.  Or go do some reading about it.  You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that you do indeed have ADD!

Drained, Dry and Devoid of Ideas

Oooo!  How inspiring!  “Drained, dry and devoid of ideas”!

As I went about the process of writing my article, I stumbled a bit.  Well, I stumbled a LOT!  I didn’t feel well on the day that I had picked to write it, nor the next day.  I had some ideas that I could have certainly developed, but I didn’t even feel like I had any thoughts about those ideas.  Uh-oh.  Kind of makes the process of writing a bit tricky, to say the least.

Instead of completely panicking, which used to be my response, I had learned enough to step back and practice at least a little bit of TLC, good ole’ tender loving care.  Instead of criticizing myself or attempting to push the issue, I backed off.  Instead I went for a short walk and attempted to be kind to myself.  The walk definitely helped, but I found myself in limbo, not quite able to really relax and take it easy, but not able to think clearly enough to write.  Yuck.

The Power of Wondering  

I had enough awareness to wonder, “What was going on, and what had happened?”  How did I get to this place of feeling drained, dry and devoid of ideas?  Ohhhhhhh.  Intuitive flash.  (The intuitive flash could come through because I finally slowed down and stepped back a little.)  I realized that I had not been stopping to do fun things or take a break.  I had been going from taking care of my aging diabetic body (checking blood sugars, taking the prescribed three-times-per-week walks, doing a reasonable job of eating nutritious foods) to coordinating my 13-year-old’s schedule to caring for my home to running my business to occasionally checking in with my husband to see how he was doing.  And, I had not connected with any friends for more than a “Hi, how are you?”-in-passing, kind of connection.

Taking Breaks and Having Fun

When I look at it, it’s easy to understand why I hadn’t taken the time for breaks or fun.  And I bet the same is true of your life, if you really stop to see what all you do in a day or a week!  Nevertheless, when we push and push and push, and we don’t take breaks or let ourselves have any fun, how can we expect to be full of life and ideas????  It’s almost like factory work, in that you need to do the same kinds of things over and over, then you fall into bed exhausted!

I don’t think that I’m particularly unusual.  We all have schedules or lives that tend to be very full and seem to lead us, rather than us leading them!  It is so important that we periodically assess HOW our days and weeks are going.  Yes, of course there are plenty of things that need to be taken care of.  However, when we slow down enough to stop and take a few moments to reflect, here’s a powerful question to ask.

Can any of it be:

1) Let go?

2) Delegated?

3) Done differently?

I’m the first to offer a quick “No!”  Obviously, no one else will be checking my blood sugars or figuring out how many carbs I’m about to eat so I can match my insulin to that.  Nevertheless, there must be some ways that I could go about my days a bit differently.  Delegating?  Perhaps I could find a playful way to gather my family and do some brainstorming or mind-mapping of all that needs to be done in our home.  Perhaps there are some routines that can be shared.  Perhaps there are some jobs that one of us finds really distasteful but that another doesn’t mind at all.

What about done differently?  Probably room for that as well.  For most of us with ADD, there is usually room for backing things us and doing them earlier so we’re not so rushed and frantic.  Or perhaps there’s room for doing a bit more planning.  It might be planning out which days you’ll exercise, or it might be planning out what meals you’ll have for dinner and then getting the ingredients all at once, instead of making several trips to the grocery store.

One Small Change

With even some small changes, I then have the opportunity to slow down and take some breaks and even find time for some fun activities.  Making these changes is NOT meant to create the way to get more stuff done, but to create some balance in my life to slow down and enjoy it more.

How about you?  What is ONE SMALL CHANGE you can make to 

  • slow down?
  • take some breaks?
  • put more fun into your weeks (and even days!)?

Is there something that you can let go of?  It might be an unneeded or unused item, or it might be an activity that is taking up time without really being necessary or nurturing.  Is there a task that someone else could do or someone else could share doing?  Or what about a way that you could do something differently?  Taking the time to reflect on your schedule or perhaps planning meals for the week?

What might it be for you?  I bet there is something.  And if there is something, then you have a chance to create some balance in your life by slowing things down a bit and putting in something joyful.  We all cope better with rest and with joy to break up the routine of our days.  When we’re also managing ADD, the balance of enough structure (but not too much) is even more important.  Making sure there is joy in our lives can give us the energy we need to manage the rest of our lives!


“I DON’T WANT TO!”

Is Your Inner Child in Your Face?

Mine has been lately…

"I DON'T WANT TO!"

Very adult-like (I thought), I set out to make some changes…

“AAAAAAAAUGH!” screamed that little person inside my head, followed by “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

This response didn’t happen right away, and honestly, the words in my head weren’t exactly those, but they do quite succinctly summarize the feelings behind my adult response to the challenge of change.  In my head it sounded more like, “I don’t really need that much sleep…” or “I will just be on the computer a few more minutes…”  (Yeah, right…)

I have been attempting to get more sleep by cutting myself off from the computer past a certain time.  I have tried to use 9:00 p.m. as my cut-off time.  Sounds very reasonable, doesn’t it?  (Well, not for some of you who I know are awake at 10 or 11 p.m. and are on Facebook or writing emails!)  All that I have read about getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep (including those deep sleep stages when your body is doing important repair work for you) — says that it is important to disconnect from electronics for a period of time before you go to sleep so that your brain can slow down and sleep well.

Knowing vs. Doing

Well, I know what they say to do, but can I DO what they say?!  “Simple but not easy” the saying goes.  Very simple to understand what needs to happen, but another story to follow through with what I know.  When I pay attention to what I am doing, (like heading back to the computer or just staying on the computer past my 9 p.m. time), I hear myself trying to justify what I am doing, in an attempt to make it OK to continue with my old habit.  If I were only two or three years old, it would probably sound more like “I DON’T WANT TO!”  Really so much more honest and straightforward, but the more I learned that it might not be OK to say, “I DON’T WANT TO!” when an adult asked me to do something (and the better my verbal skills became), the more I learned to justify and rationalize my behavior.

I don’t want to totally knock justifying and rationalizing.  Sometimes we do really want someone else to understand the bigger picture of what’s going on with us.  Or we want to understand it.  But in cases like this, I’m just throwing in extra obstacles for myself to deal with.  It can be helpful to ask, “What is going on here?”  It is more productive to ask when I’m not trying to justify why I’m currently heading to the computer, by asking at a time that is more neutral, when I am actually receptive to my own answers.  And, it is SO important to ask in a way that is compassionate, like I am asking a dear friend.  Otherwise, I’m just setting myself up for unproductive, defensive answers.

Food for Thought

1) What is going on here?                                                                                   

2) Why am I wanting so much to be on the computer?

3) What is it that I like about being on the computer?

4) Is there something I am avoiding?

5) Is there something I am afraid of?

Kind Questions, Not Mean Ones!

1) Are there other ways to be on the computer that work better in the long run?

Perhaps I could be proactive and conscious about computer time and actually give myself the computer time I want by consciously putting it in my day somewhere?  I think that part of what is at play here is a “I’ll do what I WANT!” mentality.  By proactively giving myself what I want, I “take the wind out the sails” of that toddler mentality because I’m going about it in a way that is more reflective and aware, instead of in a mind-less way that is so easily a part of computer use!)

2) If there is something that I am avoiding, what is that?  Is there a way of handling that thing I’m avoiding differently?  Do I need support?  Do I need to look at it from a more detached perspective and see if there is something missing for me?  Would it help to talk to a compassionate friend?  Do I need some “down” time?  (Probably.)

3) If there is something that I am afraid of doing, who or what might be helpful?  Could I offer myself some compassion?  Is there perchance some kind of resource I need to shrink my fear so that it is more manageable?  Maybe I just need more information.  Or maybe I just need to know that other people have similar fears.  (You can be assured this is so, no matter the fear!)

What is important is to    being mindless and to   being judgmental!  Then I have a chance to practice being objective, to practice viewing myself and my habits from a more detached, compassionate perspective, as if I were a wise master studying her student and wondering how best to help.

Just this shift will go a very long way.  Compassionate viewing of something creates a shift and just enough of a change to create space for a little more change…

As for my own computer time and trying to get more sleep, a wise friend suggested that I ask my 13-year-old what I might do differently.  What a great idea!  The willingness to consider other perspectives is what allows us to keep growing and changing.

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