A Pattern of Practice

I’m testing for my 4th degree black belt in two weeks and my brain is a jumble of theory, movements, pattern sequences, and exercises.

Luckily, it is finally starting to coalesce into something that feels doable, something I am building on because it has been several months of inching forward and my brain is not a fan of increments.

In fact, my brain would prefer it if I could spend a whole day learning everything and keep it permanently in my head.

If only that would work, one day of overload but then I’d know everything.

A GIF of a skull with flashing images where the brain should be.?
A GIF of a skull with flashing images where the brain should be.

May 1: Low Key

I want a lot out of this month but I am trying to teach myself to add things slowly instead of trying to do everything all at once.

After all, I know that successful changes, new practices, come from starting small and building up.

BUT

I also know that jumping right into a bunch of new practices all at once feels good. I feel engaged and energetic and accomplished…until I run out of steam.

And despite the fact that I run out of steam EVERY SINGLE TIME, my brain still wants to chase that excited feeling of doing ALL OF THE THINGS.

Without the benefits of medication and experience, I would be planning to do more art, more writing, more exercise, more Taekwon-do, more house organizing, more everything all at once, starting right now, maybe half an hour of each, on top of what I already do each day.

It would be fun today but by the end of the week, I would be out of steam.

So, instead, I am layering all of those things into my life during May.

I will ‘touch’ each habit each day but only really focus on one at a time.

Let’s see how it goes.

?a view of a backyard patio with bare trees in the background
My patio and trees are on the same plan that I am – the basics in place but we’ll add new things a little at a time and let them grow. Image description: The view from one corner of my patio. A lawn chair is directly across from me and beyond that there are trees that don’t have any leaves on them next to my red shed.

A different approach

I had a tangly kind of day. No crises, just a few vaguely unpleasant parts that I couldn’t shake loose from my brain.

My mind’s insistence on reviewing those unpleasantries kept me from work effectively for a chunk of the day. By this evening I was at loose ends and looking for a way to help myself feel better.

My initial plan was to do some journaling and then try to do some work but, frankly, I really didn’t want to do that.

So, instead, I exercised.

I took Khalee for a walk.

I rowed on my rowing machine for 20 minutes.

I did some strength training.

And I did some yoga.

That may sound like a lot but I didn’t overdo it, I paid close attention to how I was feeling and kept my efforts in the enjoyable range.

And when I was done, I felt so much better. The unpleasantries were still there but they had far less real estate in my mind.

I’m calling this method a success – not only is my mind clear but I feel good physically, too.

A light haired dog curled up on a blue yoga mat
Khalee is a fan of my yoga mat. Luckily she moved before I needed to lie on it! Image description: a light haired dog is curled up on a blue yoga mat (with lighter blue patterns on it)

Everything’s A Damn Practice

Well, I have kind of realized it before but I have only recently come to understand the full extent of it.

I’m not a ‘workaholic’ and I am not obsessed with productivity but my brain has a hard time prioritizing so even at my most relaxed, I am aways pushing away the idea that I *should* be doing something else.

And sometimes, I am also keeping an eye on the clock to see if I have been relaxing ‘too long.’

It’s easier if I have chosen an activity with a clear completion point but I can then choose, in advance, to say “I’m going to do this thing until this point.” That gets me out of the wondering about the time frame but it hasn’t saved me from having to consciously choose to ignore the ‘shoulds.’

For me, living with ADHD has often been about bracing for the fact that I may have misjudged the time, scope, or schedule for doing something important. There is always the chance that the thing that has slipped my mind is a key task or an important deadline that I have not allowed enough time for.

So, even though I take lots of downtime, it can take a lot of work to get my whole mind to corporate.

But, I am getting better at shutting those thoughts out in advance. Part of my success comes from being conscious of the issue and saying, aloud, “I’ve done X, Y, Z, and that’s enough for now, so I am going to read for half an hour.” but another part is just about sheer practice.

I hope it keeps getting easier.

A view of one side of a backyard patio with chairs and flowers and a shed in the background.
The view from my reading chair. Image description: The view from one side of my patio. Part of the sky, some trees and a section of my backyard is visible in sunshine and shade. You can also see my red and white shed, a bunch of plants in flower pots, a deck chair with a red cushion, a yoga mat hung over the patio rail (wooden with black metal uprights.)