My Homework Assignment – Part 1

I was keeping my youngest son company while he did his World Religions assignment today and after he finished writing his personal 10 commandments, I was inspired to write my own.

Just like him, I am more into the shalls than the shall nots and my list is not so much about morals as about helping myself to be at ease in my own life.

In no particular order, here are the first five commandments that I came up with today.

1) Respect how your brain works

My brain doesn’t work the same way as neurotypical people’s but it only causes me trouble when I try to make it work like everyone else’s. When I respect how my brain works, life is much smoother.

2) Choose how to spend your time

If I am not careful, my time gets eaten up in small tasks (and their resulting rabbit-holes of related tasks.) If I consciously choose my time, I spend it in ways that are much more satisfying.

3) Dance whenever possible

Yes, I am one of those people dancing in the car at stop lights and bopping around the kitchen while I cook. I might be awful at it, I don’t know, but I sure as hell like it.

4) Be kind to yourself (past, present and future)

This is not the same as being ‘nice’ to myself. ‘Nice’ might mean avoiding tasks or practices to avoid temporary annoyance. Being kind means taking good care of myself right now, getting the me of right now to do things that will make life easier for future-me, and it means forgiving past-me for the things I did poorly.

5) Whenever possible, turn your face toward the sun

I am relentlessly hopeful. That doesn’t meant that I pretend that everything is perfect all the time. It means that I acknowledge what’s difficult (or even awful) and then I take action to find hopeful steps forward.

(continued tomorrow)

May The Force Of Carrie Fisher Be With You

It’s Star Wars Day

May the Fourth Be With You

(And also with you)

(When you grow up Catholic, you just can’t shake some habits.)

I should be prime Star Wars audience. Almost everyone else who was born in the early 1970s seems to have formative memories of the first time they saw the movies and they have STRONG OPINIONS about different aspects of the films.

I do not.

I may have seen one of the movies, or parts thereof, when I was young but I haven’t seen all of them, even now. I did, however, play the hell out of Star Wars with my friends when I was a kid.

I didn’t know much about her but I thought that Princess Leia kicked ass.

I still do.

And, luckily, I’m not burdened by any details from any of the movies that might contradict that.

However, even more that Princess Leia, I think that Carrie Fisher kicked ass. She lived life out loud and she did it on her own terms.

How could you not admire someone like that?

So, when Star Wars Day rolls around, I celebrate by thinking about Carrie Fisher.

Image of actor Carrie Fisher with the quote 'Stay afraid but do it anyway. What's important is the action. You don't have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow."

PS – Sometimes I have themed snacks, too, obviously. I’ll take any excuse for a themed snack.

Decisions, decisions

Someone asked me yesterday if I ever just did ‘nothing.’

I find it really interesting that I give the impression that I am ‘always busy’ or that I don’t have any downtime.

It’s true that I am always up to something (muahahaha) but it’s not a matter of seeking to be busy or productive, it’s a matter of finding ease by making a conscious decision about how to spend my time.

I know that some people can wander through their day, going from task to task, allowing their intuition to guide them to their priorities.

Thanks to ADHD, that’s not an option for me.

That kind of wandering would be stressful and depressing for me because I can’t rely on my brain to cough up my priorities when I need them.

I *could* spend a whole day filing papers even though I have a deadline because my brain is convinced that I need to get the filing ‘out of the way’ before I get to my writing.

Instead, I choose my tasks in advance so I can be reasonably sure that my efforts line up with my priorities.

A white person’s hand holds a mug  in the foreground,  in the background, a light-haired dog rests on a winter-dried  lawn.
This morning, I chose to have my tea on my sunny front porch and I could let my mind wander because I had turned off the imp of ‘What should I be doing instead?’

Even when I don’t have a deadline, I consciously choose (as much as possible) how I will spend my time so my brain will be quiet.

If I say ‘I’m going to draw until 11’ or ‘I’m just going to lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling for 15 minutes,’ then I can do what I planned (most of the time.) But if I just grab my pen or fling myself on the couch, one part of my brain will be constantly searching from planning errors ‘Is this the right thing to be doing right now? Is there something I’m forgetting? Should I be getting lunch ready? Maybe I should read?’

Not having a plan or schedule might be relaxing for you but for me, it’s like inviting an imp into my head. Making a decision in advance is actually MORE relaxing for me because it frees me from the stress of endless options of what I *could* be doing.

And, like I said above, it’s not as if I need to choose a ‘productive’ activity – I just need to have made a conscious decision about what to do.

Of course, doing things this way doesn’t cure my ADHD, it’s just a tool to make things a little easier. It reduces the challenges involved in managing my time and my brain, it doesn’t eliminate them.

Long stretches of time with no decisions attached are frustrating and they’re bad for my mental health. I spend plenty of time relaxing and plenty of time doing ‘nothing’ but making a decision about it in advance makes it true relaxation instead of an exercise in frustration.

PS – I can also change plans if something more fun arises (I am very much pro-fun) but at that point it just becomes a choice between a) the thing I am doing and b) the thing that I could choose to do instead of an endless scroll of all my possible options.

Drawing Strength

My title is a pun. Or maybe a play on words. I get those things tangled sometimes.

Since I always have so much going on in September, I tend to lose time and find myself dumped unceremoniously into October before I even realize it.

Then, of course, we get into birthday season (I swear, half the people I know were born in October or November) and then I find myself bewildered in December wondering how I got there.

I’m taking a couple of measures to make sure that September goes a bit more slowly this year. I’m basically putting some time ‘anchors’ in my day so I notice that time is passing and one day doesn’t spill into the next.

One of those anchors is the yoga I was talking about in my last post. Another, is a drawing project about an octopus.

Every day, I have been drawing a little ‘note to self’ in the form of a quick sketch of an octopus named Octavia who is learning to take better care of herself.

It might be twee but I’ve never let that stop me before. AND, besides, drawing octopi is fun.

I set some rules for myself – a quick sketch in pencil, not very detailed, minimal erasing, and while I can go back after this month and correct errors, for right now, I am just leaving the drawing however it landed in the first place.


a pencil drawing on white paper depicts an octopus holding a scroll. The text above reads 'Octavia has decided two things about her to do list 1) She needs to delegate 2) It's okay not to get everything done today.