One of my favourite views

The trunks and leaves ?of four large maple trees very close to one another next to a fence.
Image Description: The trunks and leaves of four large Maple trees very close together next to a fence.

This is me in my hammock.

Image description: Christine, a woman with short brown hair wearing a purple hoodie, can be seen from the shoulders up, lying in a gray and orange hammock. She is wearing sunglasses and smirking.

This is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

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.)

Doing Nothing

I am currently reading two different books about doing nothing.*

Yes, I do see the irony in that.

I’m really interested in the idea of doing nothing and what “doing nothing” means for different people.

I rarely, if ever, do literally nothing.

My ADHD brain won’t start for it.

BUT that doesn’t mean that I am always working or always being “productive.” (Blech)

I make a distinction between work (for pay or for purpose) time and my other time. I spend my other time in a variety of ways but I have almost always planned what is going to happen during that time.

I might be doing a household project or I might be reading. I could be drawing or going for a walk.

Knowing the plan and how long I will spend at something is a crucial element in my relaxation. If I don’t decide in advance, my brain will keep trying to figure out if I am spending enough time at the activity or if is time to switch to a different one.

I’m not stuck with the plan once it is made either, I can choose to change it. But the choice has to be conscious or I will not stay relaxed.

So I may have chosen to lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling for 20 minutes. (Which is technically doing nothing but for me is an activity I chose in that moment.) At the end of 20 minutes, I can choose to spend another 20 or 10 or an hour. That will all still feel relaxing.

But, if I try to just lie there for an indeterminate amount of time, my brain will be full of questions “Is this what you should be doing? Have you forgotten something? Have you been lying here too long? Are you done yet?”

For me, lying on the couch for a specific amount of time is not ‘doing nothing’ – it’s lying on the couch.

Anyway, I do understand that there is a lot of pressure on all of us to be working hard and being productive all the time and I can just as easily fall victim to it as anyone else can.

But I also resist the idea that having a plan or a schedule means that I am not relaxed ‘enough’ or that I am ‘always working.’

I’m interested to see what the books have to say about ‘nothing’ and what insights they might have for my busy brain.

These flowers have nothing do with this post. I just think they are pretty.

A patch of small purple flowers surrounded by green leaves
Image description: a patch of small purple flowers surrounded by green leaves.

*The books are ‘How to do Nothing’ by Jenny Odell and ‘The Lost Art of Doing Nothing’ by Maartje Willems.

What I’m Reading

I am happy to report that, even though I am only part way through Morgan-Cole’s Most Anything You Pleaseit is every bit as terrific as her previous books.IMG_1019

Reading Trudy’s work is an immersive experience. Whenever I get the opportunity to read her work, I look forward to sinking right into her story and making friends with her characters.

Trudy doesn’t create worlds, she creates neighbourhoods, and, then, she fills those neighbourhoods with people you know. You feel like these are characters from your own past, or perhaps people your parents have told you about.

They feel familiar, perhaps that even if you don’t exactly know them, you know people like them. They make sense and you care about them.

What more could you want out of a story?

 

 

 

Reading: T Kingfisher’s Toad Words

51eoLxCu+BL._AA218_I’m not finished reading ‘Brainstorm’ but I don’t generally read non-fiction without also having some fiction on hand to relax with. I have read T Kingfisher’s book of short stories Toad Words before but I needed to refresh myself on the details when I hosted the Storytelling Circle during the St. John’s Storytelling Festival last week.

I have been trying for years to find the right angle to tell the title story from. Even though it is in first person, and very well-written, it wasn’t quite in the right language for *me* to tell it aloud. Meanwhile, Kingfisher’s language is delightful and playful, and it feels like she is telling you the story personally, like her phrasing is an in-joke for the two of you. It’s really fun.

I like how she takes well known tales and spins them a little to get a new perspective and I often find myself saying, ‘Huh, never thought of it that way.’ when I read her work.

I’ll be telling other stories of hers once I have her permission and once I find the right angle again.(Yes, I had her permission to tell Toad Words.)

She has a variety of short story collections and books available and if you like quirky stories based on traditional tales, you should check them out.