My Creative Process

18 Feb

DSC_0001To listen along, click here:

I am part of a Creativity Bootcamp that began on February 1st. Each person is tasked with creating every day. That creating takes many forms; a sketch or painting daily, a set number of words per day, and more. I am in awe of the dedication of some of the creative people in this Bootcamp and their ability to focus. I am amazed at their ability to stick with one thing until they finish it. Consistency and focus on one project at a time is how they succeed. It’s a formula that works really well for so many of them, but I also know, that is a recipe for failure for me and for many who have ADHD as well. Having a single goal for me is boring bordering on torturous. Even worse, if I do find something that will hold my focus, I can do it to the exclusion of everything else, which means my home and my relationships can fall apart and that doesn’t work for anyone, especially me. I’m not saying that their way is wrong by any stretch because it obviously works for them. Unfortunately, that type of focus can either elude me or envelope me so completely that the rest of my life falls apart so I had to find a different way.

Some time ago, I met a man on an airplane and we began talking about our families. Within a few minutes of meeting him, I could tell he had ADHD, and I am sure that Divine intervention was at work that day because when I met this man, I was worried about my son’s future because he wasn’t doing well in school. In fact, I was worried if he would even graduate from high school because he just didn’t care about doing his work, studying for tests or finishing projects on time. My husband and I both did well in school. My husband didn’t like school much, but he had eight older siblings and had developed a competitive nature that drove him to excellence. I loved school and was, at the time, an overachieving people pleaser, so I worked hard and excelled most of the time. Those long term projects were a mystery to me, but we’ll get to that later. When I was telling this man about my children, he asked if my youngest had ADHD. I said yes, and he asked if he was on medication for it. I said no and he told me not to ever medicate him.

I want to put in a disclaimer here. I understand that ADHD meds have been a godsend for many families. I know that many children have benefitted from them, and so have many adults. I’m not against them. I’m sharing this story because it is part of my life. My son cannot be medicated for ADHD because of his medical condition. All of his doctors are in agreement on that fact, so we have to find alternatives. This man was the godsend to me that meds have been for many others, so please bear with me. This man had been recommended for medication when he was a teen, but his parents opted not to medicate him. He struggled through high school, but as soon as he began working in a field he liked after high school, he became very successful; so successful that he owns two homes, one in our home state of Ohio and one on Sanibel Island in Florida, a rather exclusive community with very expensive homes. He also owns and runs five businesses. He said he was convinced that most of the successful owners of multiple businesses had ADHD and needed the variety of multiple businesses to hold their attention. He said that there were two keys to his success; he loved to learn, and he had a personal assistant who was incredibly organized and helped him stay on track. He explained that his businesses were like the fingers on your hand. He would travel up one finger, working and focusing on that business and having a great time, until his assistant reminded him that one of the other fingers needed his attention, so he would back out of that finger and work on another one until his assistant reminded him about one of the other fingers that needed attention. It was an amazing analogy, and I began to understand my son’s obsession with YouTube videos and Ted Talks. This man assured me that my son would be fine as long as my son had a desire to learn. The key was to help him move in directions that held his interest. It was one of the most positive things anyone ever said about my son, and it also helped me to understand myself.

I began to understand why so many coaching styles and systems that were life changing for others never worked for me. I understood that many people could be single minded and fixed on a goal and that is what drove them to success. I also understood that for people like me and my son that is almost torture. Yes, we have to do it sometimes when we get backed up against a deadline, and I understand that sometimes when people say they work better under pressure, it’s because they need the adrenaline rush of meeting the deadline to help them focus. It’s actually very similar to what stimulant medication does for many with ADHD. I also began to understand why the systems I have followed successfully work for me.

Some days, like everyone else, I have decent focus. I can get through my daily routine with minimal effort and the day seems automatic. I focus especially well when I have somewhere to be in the afternoon because it provides me a deadline of sorts to keep me focused. Everything lines up so that I can get out the door for the afternoon commitment. The day without commitments is far more challenging for me. Time seems to slip through my fingers. I wake up with a grand plan and before I know it, it’s after noon and not much is accomplished. TV, social media and texting provide all the distractions I need to let the day completely slip by. It’s maddening sometimes, but knowing that it’s part of my makeup is comforting too because I’ve learned what to do about it. It’s so simple that people dismiss it. It’s using a timer. Isn’t that crazy? My best adaptation tool is a timer, and I’ve learned that even fifteen minutes over the course of several days can make a huge positive impact. I’ve learned to clean my home this way, get rid of clutter and keep my kitchen table clear. I’ve written and published a book, and I intend to write and publish several more including one that will be going to the editor at the end of this month. It’s unconventional and weird to some, but it’s been a life saver for me. I’ve often wondered why this works, but I watched part of a video series by Darren Hardy, who is the former publisher of Success magazine. He is also an author, speaker, mentor and expert on productivity, and this particular video was about focused productivity. He talked about focusing for 90 days on anything can change your life forever. There was a time I would have stopped listening right there, but I’m smarter than I used to be, so I kept with it. It’s all about focus. Yes, he talked about 90 days, and for some people like me, that seems like a huge chunk of my life. It seems like an overwhelming task, but here’s what else I’ve learned. Fifteen minutes is magic.

At first, when I told my husband about this fifteen minute idea, he was incredibly skeptical. He supported me in the effort, but I don’t think he held out much hope. He’s convinced now because he has seen a transformation in our home and in me in ways neither of us could have dreamed. I’m happier and calmer because I don’t feel obligated to spend hours doing anything. I can transition from task to task so that I never seem to get bogged down in anything that bores me to the core, and even the things I would rather ignore seem easier to address if I only have to spend fifteen minutes at a time instead of diving in until it is finished. I know it wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for me. Currently, I’m painting my kitchen that way and writing two books. I had taken a few days off because of the side effects of some medication, but I’m back on track and the ceiling is finished. There’s no rush at this point, and as long as the job is finished by Easter, I’ll be a happy girl.
I read once that people often procrastinate and resist starting something because of perfectionism. I laughed at the time because I thought if people saw my home, they would know for sure that I wasn’t a perfectionist. That person was right, though, because I had this idea that if I didn’t have a minimum of two hours to clean my home “properly” (or perhaps perfectly) I didn’t have time to clean. When I would spend hours cleaning, I would be exasperated the minute someone messed up all my efforts because it was such monumental effort. What I found was when I spent fifteen minutes at a time, I understood more clearly that most messes could be cleaned up in a fifteen minutes or less. I no longer needed things to be perfect because whatever might happen, I could handle it. Good enough became the norm and perfection got chucked out the door. The same thing works for my writing. The first few blog posts were excruciating because I wanted them to be perfect. I was so worried about being judged and criticized. These days, I’m more aware that even if I write what I think is the perfect post, someone won’t like it or won’t agree with it, and while I never set out to upset or offend anyone, it still happens now and then, and I can only hope that when people know my heart, they know everything I write comes from a place of love and wanting the best for everyone.

This week because of that magical timer, I’ve moved forward on two books, kept my house tidy, learned more about technology and social media which included overcoming a bit of fear of technology in general for me, and I am in the process of decluttering my email list. Many days I’m using the timer to move forward. Some days I use it to tell me when to stop and move on to something else. I have my timer to move me forward when I’m unfocused. I have my Creativity Bootcamp to move me forward when I’m uninspired, and I have my Better Living Daily Facebook Page, my blog and this radio show to help me connect and share it all with you. It may not be perfect, but right now it is perfect for me. By the way, the Bootcamp ends on February 29th, and I am hosting Easter on March 27th. I am thinking of doing a March Madness challenge on my Facebook page with updates in the blog and radio show to help me and whoever wants to join in get ourselves moving in March toward our best lives. Stay tuned for details, but until then, thanks for being you and have


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: