Tag Archives: ADHD

My Creative Process

18 Feb

DSC_0001To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8312685

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

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The Morning That Almost Wasn’t

22 Jan

Yesterday was what I would call a plot twisty day. One of my favorite quotes is that when something goes wrong in your day, you yell “Plot twist!” and move on. Yesterday was full of those moments. While I was running the Swiffer like I do every day to keep up with the dog hair, I found a packet my son was supposed to turn in. He is struggling in that particular class and I had to go to school at some point to pick up some volunteer work, so I left my home much earlier than planned. This rarely bodes well for me on the productivity front. On the way to school, I remembered I only had four eggs. My son has become interested in cooking lately, and the weather predicted here over the weekend is not conducive to leisurely grocery shopping. Eggs, bread and milk supplies are all in jeopardy with the approaching winter storm, although I guess it could be worse. We could be in the Washington, DC area that is predicting up to 30 inches of snow; those of you in the DC area have my sympathy. So, I decided to run to Costco to buy some eggs.

On the way to Costco, I saw a sale. It was one of those pop up sales we have in the US that you find in empty retail locations. Some have Halloween goodies. Some have clothing. Some have home furnishings, and since we need a new floor lamp, I decided to check it out. An hour later, I had purchased $100 worth of clothing for $35. This is a big deal in my world for two reasons. The first is because I rarely shop for clothes for myself, and the second is that I rarely shop for that long. I usually throw my hands in the air and just give up because the clothes don’t look right on my currently larger than I would like shape or they’re too expensive. These fit well and were from those more expensive stores I refuse to shop in, but all of the items I purchased had been marked down to a price range that made me deliriously happy. Now it was time to get the eggs.

If you’ve ever shopped in the US before a big snowstorm, you know that the store will be crowded. If you’re like me and you don’t bring a list, you know things can get out of hand. I only went into the store for one item: eggs. I came out with two packages of eggs, a huge bag of baking soda (because mine could run out in the next week or two), minced onions (because despite the smaller container I purchased just the other day, I might need the giant one soon), dried pasta (because my husband mentioned that he liked the kind we bought from Costco) and a 6 box carton of organic chicken stock (because I was in the process of making chicken soup for my sick nieces and I ran out of homemade broth) . Not the quick trip I expected and another hour burned, but I was finally on my way home. As I was driving, I was thinking about our weekend plans. My husband and I were planning a dinner out because I will be out of town for a few days next week. With the weather, I wondered if it would be better to alter the plans, so we did. We decided to move up our dinner so we wouldn’t have to fight the weather and panicked drivers later. I love to cook, but I love a night off so this was a welcomed plot twist, especially since I had a volunteer commitment that evening. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing my best to write, interspersed with volunteer work, cleaning up the house and trying to get the chicken soup I was working on to taste better. I love making soup and find it bothersome when the flavor falls short, and the flavor was definitely falling short on this batch.

Sometimes when making soup, the best thing you can do is to add a few ingredients, turn off the heat, let the flavor build and heat it up later to see how things are progressing. As we left for dinner, I did that with the soup. I added some spices and salt and pepper and turned off the heat. We had a lovely dinner out, and my husband dropped me off to my volunteer work so I didn’t have to find a parking spot in a very overcrowded parking lot. My job was to sign up new members to one of our marching band fundraisers. It is a way for students to build up funds for our marching band’s trip to Disney World this year. Traditionally, incoming freshmen have not been able to sign up until they have started at the high school which only gives them a couple of months to build up funds. Our goal was to give them more time which, for some, could make the difference between being able to make the trip and having to stay home. Unfortunately, we had no idea the website would be blocked (plot twist yet again)so; I could answer questions but couldn’t sign anyone up. It was not the way I would have chosen to spend the evening, but I got some valuable information and ideas to help new people become more familiar with the program.

After I got home, I flipped on the soup and tasted it when it was warm. It was still bland. Ok, now it was a challenge to see what I needed to add to make this soup come alive. I decided to start with some chicken base that I buy in the natural section of the store. Maybe that would help things, and after it got incorporated, I could shut things down for the night and work on it again in the morning. It had been such an unusual day, I hadn’t given the soup as much thought and care as I normally would. Perhaps I could coax it along tomorrow. We set about our evening routine, rested a bit and got ready for bed. It had been a long day, and we all were tired. It felt good to get to bed fairly early, and I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.

At 2:36am I woke up and smelled something. It was a horrible smell, and I knew immediately what it was; the soup. I grabbed my robe and ran downstairs to see the glow of the flame under the pot and the smell was even worse because there was also smoke to go with it. I turned off the stove. My husband had gotten up and joined me and suggested that we just put the pot on the back porch and wait until morning to open it. I agreed, thinking only of what could have happened if I hadn’t smelled that burning soup. In all my years of cooking, I’ve never done anything like this, and I wondered what was different this time. When I said to my husband that I couldn’t believe I had done that, he reminded me that he had shut down the kitchen and didn’t see the flame when he turned off the light. We both realized how close we had been to not waking up the next morning, and amazingly, all either one of us felt was gratitude. Neither one of us blamed the other one or ourselves. My family often makes fun of my extremely sensitive sense of smell and says I have a bionic nose because I can smell milk and tell you days before it will go bad; we’ve kept it to see if I was right and I was. I am offended by the smell of the trash can long before anyone else, and I can almost always smell something right before it begins to burn. I guess there is a delay when I’m sleeping because the veggies in the soup are burnt to a deep black. I’m not sure if the pan will survive, but I am so grateful that my husband, my son and I did. Last night, after we aired out the house a bit, we were lying in bed wide awake, and I burst into tears. Normally they would have been tears of regret and shame that I had “let” this happen. Last night, the tears were tears of gratitude for waking up. They were tears of joy that I would see my husband and children’s faces again. They were tears of humility and yet, the whole incident feels like a grace filled message. It feels like it’s time to put away false fears and drama. It’s time to step fully into my life, and today, that means telling the ladies in the school office how much appreciate what they do for our kids, which I did. It means thanking my son’s counselor for the incredible advocate she has been for my son and for seeing the potential in him, which I’ve done. It means telling someone I’ve worked with for years who has been told she is difficult to work with because she made people follow the rules how much I love working with her, which I have. It also meant holding my son’s and my husband’s faces in my hands before they left this morning and telling them how much I loved them and then texting my other two boys to tell them the same. Last night reminded me that life can change or end in the blink of an eye, and that I have much to do. I pray that I always remember and never need such a reminder again, so for those who love me, know I love you fiercely and sometimes too much but I’d rather love too much than too little. For those who are angry with me or are ignoring me right now, I love you and forgive you and wish you nothing but peace and happiness because we all deserve that and more. For those who are suffering, I am a fixer, and I love being that person. I am the person who will help you find the solutions if you want me to and sometimes when you don’t. If I overstep, you can say so. I’ll back off and appreciate your honesty and still love you besides. Today, I love life more than I ever have and though some might think that’s a bit dramatic after some burnt veggies in the bottom of a pan, the lingering smell that reminds me of what could have been and the memory of the look in my husband’s eyes last night tell me it’s not overly dramatic at all. It was a message and a gift, and it has been heeded. Thank you as always for taking time to read my posts. It means more to me than you know. Thank you for being you and have a great day.
Jamuary 22

Farewell 2015

10 Dec

To listen along click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8141659

I have struggled mightily with this blog post, which may be my last of 2015. I have a big pile on the plate for the rest of the year, and although most business coaches would say that I need to keep writing and blogging, I know where my priorities lie. I understand that some people have to work. I understand that not everyone shares my privilege of being able to stay home and create a peaceful place for their family. I understand that even having a home is a dream for some, but I’ve learned something else. It’s time for me to own my life and be unapologetically thankful for the blessing that it is. Recently, I had a disagreement with someone I care for deeply. In the past, I would have blogged about it and shared the journey but in deference to that person’s feelings, I’ve shied away from sharing. Today, I’ve decided to be brave and risk offending even more people because of what I’m about to say. I hope I don’t offend anyone. I always write from the heart and my heart is always looking to give and receive love, but sometimes I say or write things that don’t sit well with others. There was a time, when I was young and brash, that I would have spoken out in self-righteous indignation with a chip on my shoulder and more than a few hateful and cutting remarks. There was a time I would have dropped several sarcastic comments that never attacked anyone directly but were designed to let the other person know how incredibly right I was and how incredibly wrong they were. At this time in my life, I choose to keep loving. I choose to keep loving everyone, including myself, although each of those presents challenges.

You see, my ego wants to be right so badly. My ego wants to have all the answers and show everyone just how much I know. My spirit understands that we are all created so differently, and although I always try to help, sometimes my help is unwanted or perceived as something other than help. My ego believes that someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong and let’s be honest, none of us ever wants to be wrong. Reading the book Positive Personality Profiles changed how I thought about being right and living right. Because we all grow up in a family, we’ve all been conditioned to “know” what is right and what is wrong, and unless we learn to question that, we never learn to be understanding of someone who is different. I’ve shared before that I struggled with understanding a particular family member before I read the book because I love people and would stop doing whatever I was doing if someone stopped by. I am by nature a people person. My family member is by nature a task oriented person, so when I would stop by because I was in the neighborhood, she would continue with her tasks, practically ignoring me. I found it quite offensive at the time and asked my husband why she didn’t like me. As I read Positive Personality Profiles, I began to understand how important her task completion was for her. As I was standing there thinking how rude she was for not being attentive to her guest, she was continuing on with her tasks thinking how rude I was for not understanding that she had things to do, and when I shared that revelation with her, she looked at me and said, “Exactly!” Since then, I’ve learned that keeping my distance is a gift to that person, not a slight, so when I drive by her house and she is working in the yard, I honk my horn, wave and move on knowing that leaving her alone is the best gift I can give her. As a very social people person, that does not come naturally, but I’m so glad I figured it out.

Another book that has helped me on my journey is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It is a set of simple tenets to live by that make so much sense but can be so difficult to live by. The four agreements are to be impeccable with your word, not to take anything personally, not to make assumptions and always do your best. See what I mean? So simple to say, but wow the struggles we sometimes have incorporating them into our lives. Being impeccable with my word and doing my best are the easiest for me. I remember a conversation with a group of women where the question was posed whether we would tell a polite lie or the impolite truth, and I was the only person there who said they would tell the impolite truth, and I have on several occasions because with my ADHD brain, I cannot keep up with lies and half-truths. Age has taught me how to speak my truth more tactfully, or at least I like to think it has, and the other thing that being truthful has taught me is how to be positive. That may seem odd, but here’s the thing. I am generally a happy person, and I want others to be happy too, so I am always looking for the good. During the aforementioned conversation about truth, I asked people if their mother looked ridiculous in a particular outfit and asked their opinion, would they lie? Every one of them said yes because they didn’t want to hurt the person’s feelings. I, on the other hand, felt like I could look at my mother and say, if you like it you should wear it but I think you have other outfits that make you look much better. Who is to say which is right or wrong, but it is an interesting question to pose to people.

I must admit I struggle with taking things personally and making assumptions, although I’m getting better, and the better I get at those two agreements, the better I feel about life. It helps me to realize that when I take things personally and make assumptions, I can only look through my own lens. Through my own lens, I look at a homeless person and think, get a job. Through my own lens, I look at a mentally ill person and think, take your meds. Through my own lens, I look at someone who struggles financially and think, stop spending stupidly. Through my own lens, when I have a good life, I cannot clearly see the struggles of other human beings unless I’ve struggled in the same way. When I don’t take things personally and stop making assumptions, I can be understanding of the homeless or poor person who was raised without the resources I was to learn how to take care of themselves or who was, perhaps, doing well and one bad decision (even one that might have been beyond their control) changed everything. I can see that the mentally ill person feels so awful on the wrong medication that they stop taking it just to feel something rather than walk around in a haze. I can feel the terror of refugees that fled their homeland with nothing and are being sent to a country that may be receiving them with hatred and mistrust. I can see the rest of the world looking at our fear and with different laws, perhaps executing yet another genocide. It allows me to be a person who says that I would rather die living in Faith than merely exist living in fear. Faith extends love. Fear extends anger and mistrust, and I believe in the power of love and Faith to heal our world much more than I believe in anger. Yes, I know people want me dead solely because of where I was born or the color of my skin or the religion I was born into, but retaliation has gotten us where we are. Perhaps it’s time to try something different. Do I have all the answers? No. Do I still have respect for those in uniform who are dedicated to keeping us safe? Yes. There are no easy answers but I think the best answers will come from both sides meeting in the middle to create something the world has never seen before.

Yesterday a meme came across my Facebook feed that struck a deep chord with me, and I must confess that I giggle at the fact that I just typed that sentence. Ten years ago I didn’t even know what Facebook was and mimetics was a field of academic study; how far we’ve come. Anyway, the meme showed a sandwich board that looked similar to a USA voting sheet with a box you can check next to the words Republican and Democrat and a third option that was checked that said rational human being. I hardly ever share anything political because we don’t even have enough time to discuss my political leanings, but suffice it to say I’m fed up enough with the rhetoric and polarization of both side to have found that meme to be the best political post I have seen.

So, as the sun begins to set on the year 2015, here’s my view of it all. It started beautifully for me because I spent it with my family watching one of our favorite teams do something no other college team has done before, win a national championship through the new playoff system. We had many other ups and downs, including my husband being gone for more than half of the year for business. We’ve all grown and changed and evolved in beautiful ways and some more difficult ways. It hasn’t been perfect, nor should it be because what would we have to talk about if it was perfect? But it has been pretty darned good. For me, I’ll count my blessings, continue to send and gladly receive any love sent to me and I will wish you all a wonderful end to this year and an even better start to the next. I’ll see you in 2016 and until then, thanks for being you and have many great days.

Declarations and Manifestos

19 Nov

If you would like to listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8085913

As some of you know, I did a creativity bootcamp in October which has now become a creativity salon. In bootcamp, we were challenged to create every day of the month. In the salon, we are more focused on a longer term outlook on our creativity. One of the things we have been encouraged to do is to create a manifesto or declaration for ourselves, and I have enjoyed reading every single one of them. Some are bold and incredibly ambitious. Some are more pensive as the creative is searching for the path that feels best. Some are there to soak up what they can to help them understand their own creativity better. Each one is a treasure, a small piece of the creative soul shared with those who understand. I, however, really struggled with mine. I have wanted creativity to be my career since I can remember. I worked in advertising and media production because it was a way to build creativity into my career. The creative life calls to me and fortunately for me I have a husband who supports me in that and believes in me more than I believe in myself at times. I know I could immerse myself in creativity and forget everything else, but I also know I’ve worked too hard to get where I am to do that because as I age, I seek a life that is untethered rather than un-managed. I know I need some structure to my day or nothing will happen at all. That doesn’t mean that if I have a rush of creativity, I can’t indulge it. It means that by creating structure and doing the things that bring peace to my home, I am free to indulge those creative rushes when they happen. As I said in part of my declaration, I made a promise over 20 years ago to be the best wife and mother as I could be. Two of my children attend college, so my daily parenting for them is done. I have one more child at home with two and a half years left before he graduates from high school and heads off for his college adventure. Until that happens, my family comes first.

The peace I felt when I wrote that was extraordinary because for many years I felt like I had to apologize for being home with my children. I am college educated. I have been writing for years, but it wasn’t until recently that I found true peace with my life. You see, eight years ago, my youngest child was diagnosed with ADHD. Because of a medical condition, his doctors all agree that medication for his ADHD is a bad idea. I understand that medication is a miracle for some, but in my heart, I knew it wasn’t the best answer for my child. Instead, we have spent years working with behavior modification, dietary changes and other lifestyle choices to create the best environment for him. In the process, I began reading about the condition and several things clicked. It wasn’t long before I realized that apple didn’t fall far from the tree, and the more I learned, the better things got for both of us. I began to understand that I did well in school because I loved it, and he struggled with it because he didn’t. I also understood that even though I loved school, long term projects were a mystery to me because I didn’t know how to break up the work. I didn’t know how to make little bits of progress so most projects were completed in a flurry of adrenaline the night before they were due, and I failed several of them. Somehow I made it through not only high school but also college, and I think the only reason I did make it was because I majored in subjects that I loved. Otherwise I would have been doomed because doing things I didn’t like was like torture for me. It was the reason my room was a mess. It was the reason I could cook a meal fit for a king and leave the dishes sit for two days after. It was the reason I could work for 14 hours on a video shoot but couldn’t seem to clear my desk. It was the reason I had the idea for dozens of creative projects but few of them ever got finished. Until my son’s diagnosis, I truly thought there might be something wrong with me. After my son’s diagnosis, I was sure of it until I began to read articles that explained ADHD in a different way. I began to realize that often the greatest discoveries came from people who exhibited the same thought patterns my son and I had. The difference was that they found a way to elevate their creative gifts and deal with their organizational challenges. Now how in the world was I going to do that?

October 14, 2002 changed my life. That was the day that I signed up on the FlyLady website. I’ve discussed about this before so I won’t go into great detail about all of it. I will tell you, though, that if you want to improve the condition of your home, she has a great way of going about it. I would caution you also that it can get overwhelming, so I want to share the greatest lesson I learned; the magic of fifteen minutes and baby steps. It has been said we over estimate what we can do in an hour or a day, but we under estimate what we can do in 30 days, 6 months or a year. We tend to have short sightedness when we approach tasks, and if you have ADHD, that is especially true, but here’s something I think is amazing. I have been journaling for decades. I pitched some of my earliest writing because at one point in my life I couldn’t face the angry teenager I was, but I still have about 25 years of journals. Lately I’ve been reading some of the first ones, and it was been incredibly enlightening. I’ve always wanted to create a wonderful home for my family. I’ve always wanted to be a writer who helps people live their best life. I’ve always wanted to be a spiritually connected person. Those are the constants. When I began this journey, I was searching and almost pleading with the Divine to show me the way. It felt like there was a secret I didn’t know. It felt like so many had it together when I felt like a hot mess. I wanted and longed for better. FlyLady gave me that hope for my home. Little by little, my home came together, and I wish I could tell you I cleaned like Cinderella or Snow White, whistling and singing and being filled with joy. I didn’t. In the beginning, I was resentful and angry, but I kept moving and on August 1, 2004, nearly two years after signing up to learn how to clean my home, I finished my to do list for the first time. It was a joy to read about that day again, not because of the progress made in my home but because of the other things I wrote in my journal. I wrote about feeling like I was on the right path for the first time in my life and feeling joy about my life and its direction. My finances were improving. My health was improving, and I was in awe of how I had arrived at that moment; through a messy home and needing to clean it up for a child with extraordinary needs.

The journey has not been a straight line. I have had curves, hills and valleys with the occasional mountain and chasm to cross. A decade later, my home is not perfect, and that’s perfectly fine. At times life feels overwhelming, especially when I forget the magic of 15 minutes, but somehow I eventually remember and I address that overwhelm 15 minutes at a time and with baby steps. It’s how I got and keep my home in shape. It’s how I improved and continue to improve my finances, and it’s how I will continue to write books, blog posts and who knows what else in the future. When I wrote that in my declaration, at first I wondered if other people would understand. I wondered if I was turning away from the creative life I have always longed for, but two things became very clear. First, it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. If I was at peace with the plan and knew it would create a better life for me and for my family that was what mattered. Second, not only was I using a system that has created enormous success for me in the past, I might even help someone find their way to success as well. It’s an unusual way to approach life, but it works for me, and it brought me to the next challenge in the creative salon.

Someone asked if we had anything that we used for inspiration while we created and I do. I haven’t looked at them as much lately as I have in the past but it reminded me to do just that, and those things still make me smile and inspire me greatly. I have a picture of myself at 2 years old. I’m smiling the impish smile of a two year old with a secret, and it’s my favorite picture ever taken of me. That picture reminds me that I have an inner child who lived life fully before life got in the way. She is the best and worst of me and I want only the best for her. It reminds me to be gentle with myself and with others because we all have an inner child who needs love and nurturing and an occasional miracle, and that’s one of my other inspirations. An online friend sent me an amazing card when I was writing my first book that said Miracles Can Happen. That card helped me to crank out my first book, and I will be using it to help with every creative endeavor from here on, as will the other card that sits on my desk. This one was sent by a friend for my 50th birthday. Unlike some, I celebrated my entry into my fifties, and this card is something I aspire to be. The card reads:
Born to be wild,
Born to be outrageous,
Born to live your life out loud,
Born to be courageous…

Born to make some mischief,
Born to rock ‘n roll,
Born to spread your wings and fly,
Born to bare your soul…

Born to be a dreamer,
Born to dare and do,
Born to make the world a better place
Because you’re you.

Although I wrote my declaration for the creativity salon, this is the manifesto of my life and who I aspire to be whether I do that through my writing, my radio show or taking care of my family. It isn’t a traditional path, and I’m ok with it. It’s also why I thank you for being you every week because I think we all have unique and amazing gifts to share with the world, and I hope you have your own declaration, manifesto or incredible life plan as well. If not, start thinking about it and let me know what you come up with. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

The Hour and a Half Life Change

15 Oct

To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8000443
This has been one crazy week. As I posted on my personal Facebook page, it has been a week of perspective. A young woman I know lost a child, and a young couple I know have a child who is struggling to recover after her second open heart surgery. I’ve had a few challenges of my own in the parenting realm, but knowing the situations of these parents certainly keeps things in perspective. The other thing that gave me a jolt of perspective was attending a lecture about transitioning your ADHD teenager to adulthood. A friend invited me and since my ADHD teen is 15, I thought it was a great opportunity to learn something new and I did. The best way to describe the evening was eye opening. In the first place, the lecture was conducted by a doctor which had me concerned about how well I could pay attention; the apple did not fall too far from the tree mind you, but the doctor was so entertaining, I only looked at my cell phone once to see what time it was and that was when the moderator said that time was up. He talked for an hour and a half about ADHD, and I didn’t get bored once, even during the neurobiological explanation of how the brain works. That, in my humble opinion, is one heck of a speaker, and I learned more than I ever thought I wanted to know about ADHD. Bear with me because some of the highlights of this talk were incredibly eye opening to me, and I think they explain so much.

Do you know the first time the symptoms of ADHD show up in medical journals? I didn’t. I thought it might be the 1970s when my mother took sugary cereals out of my brother’s diet because he was fidgety at school. Nope. The first mention of childhood inattention in a Medical Textbook is in 1775 when Melchior Adam Weikard wrote about distractibility, poor persistence and impulsive actions in children. In 1778, Alexander Chrichton provided more detail and even mentioned the inability to focus, so the next time someone talks about ADHD as being a fad, you can share that with them. The observation of these types of behavior became more apparent and relevant when mandatory school began in the early 20th century and children were now forced to sit in one place all day and concentrate for the first time. Although my son is not medicated, I did find it very interesting to find out that stimulant medication for children has the second most studies of any drug on the market other than aspirin.

One of the other things I found very interesting is how those with attention issues handle time and punishment. We all know that small children struggle with long term thinking and detest being yelled at. Because of an under developed prefrontal cortex in the brain, those with attention issues have difficulty seeing life in the long term and they continue to struggle with being yelled at, although there is some research that suggests that children with ADHD can actually become addicted to being yelled at because it stimulates their adrenaline which then makes it easier for them to focus. For parents of those children, that idea explains so much, but then the question becomes what to do about it. The normal prefrontal cortex of the brain is fully developed by age 25. Guess how old you have to be to rent a car? In case you don’t know, it’s 25. Interesting, huh? For most people, their sense of understanding the correlation between behavior and the consequences develop as follows:
Children under 5 need immediate feedback to understand the connection between behavior and consequences. Reading a book, watching a video or playing a game must come immediately after a desired behavior is accomplished. If the reward is delayed, the lesson is lost. Children in 1st through 3rd grades have about a 1-2 hour time frame. Children in 4th – 7th grades have about a day, and as children grow through their teens, they develop to having a 5-7 day time frame. In children with attention issues, those associations are delayed, so your 15 year old, who “should” be able to understand a reward a week in the future may only be able to think about this day and just a few hours from now. I wish I had known that when my son was in 3rd grade because that was when it became so frustrating for me to try to incentivize him. It never seemed to work and now I know why. My “treats” were too far into the future. The other thing is that all children and adults need rewards, but I think kids and adults with ADHD need even more rewards. A few years ago, I stopped watching The Biggest Loser on TV because I knew that show wouldn’t help me. I didn’t need a trainer that yelled at me and pushed me to my breaking point. I had been doing that all my life, and I was still fat. No one had to remind me of why I wanted to lose weight, and I didn’t need a trainer to push me. What I needed was a kinder way of being. For me, losing weight isn’t about working out and starving myself. I have to focus on taking excellent care of myself rather than pushing myself with threats and negative self-talk. I had been punishing myself for decades. It has become time to pamper and take care of myself. The term the doctor used was forward thinking. Take this example:
If you don’t do your homework, you won’t get to play video games or as soon as you finish your homework, you can play video games.
To most people, that is basically the same statement; completing the homework means that you get to play video games. To a child with ADHD, the only statement they hear in the first sentence is that they won’t get to play video games. I heard someone say something similar to this years ago while talking about trying to get children to slow down while taking a walk. What do most people say to a child who keeps running ahead? They say, “Don’t run.” A child then has to think about the undesired behavior before they can think of the desired behavior and the adult never really stated the desired behavior at all. Instead of telling the child not to run, tell them what you want. Tell them to slow down. Tell them to walk, and if you really want to be extraordinary, figure out why you want them to do that behavior in the first place. Are you afraid they might run out into the street? Tell them that. If you want a child the thinks for themselves and doesn’t just follow the crowd, never tell them to do anything because you said so. Give them reasons, and it will make you think about your own motivations as well. This is a life skill that will serve you well and although it is simple, it is not always easy. This morning, I caught my 15 year old with electronics in his bed for the third time this week. I am so tired of this behavior, and I really wanted to lambaste the child. I wanted him to feel bad about what he did, but I found a better way. My son does not like to ride the bus and has been driven to school for the past few years. He truly loves being taken to school. I do it because I love my son and have done it for my other sons as well. The only thing I ask of them is to keep the morning moving well and be ready on time. When my son sneaks electronics into his room, he doesn’t sleep well and it makes for a very stressful morning. When I add the half hour it takes to drop my son off at school and the extra tank of gas each week, I get especially irritated when we have that added drama in the mornings. To make the point, this morning I called our transportation department and asked what I needed to do to have him ride the bus in the morning, and I called when my son was home and could hear the conversation. He hasn’t been punished and I explained to him that from now on, the choice was his. If he chose to have electronics in his bed, he chose to ride the bus. If he chose to go to bed on time and get himself up in the morning, I would take him. It wasn’t a perfect conversation, and I did get more aggravated than I would have liked to, but it has been a stressful and under slept week for me too and I have never even hinted that I am perfect in any way. I only say that each day I do my best to do better than the one before. The thing is that life will treat us this way as adults. If we make good decisions, life is generally better. If we make bad decisions, life is generally more of a challenge. Unfortunately, we’ve been more conditioned to beat ourselves up when we make a mistake than to lift ourselves up when we make good decisions. What if we decided to change that? What if we decided to turn life around?

One of the attendees asked the speaker what you say to parents who say that life isn’t forward thinking; that life has negative consequences if you don’t do what you’re supposed to, and his response was amazing. He disagreed. He said the reason he goes to work is to get paid. He loves his job, but if they decided not to pay him, he wouldn’t show up. There may be a small percentage who don’t, but the vast majority of people who work and are paid, so it for the money. I work then I get money then I buy stuff I want. You could see people understood this on a level they had never even thought about before, and I have to say I got it as well. I also began to see that I needed to do that more with myself. I needed to create more incentives and live with more joy. I decided to live forward and it has made a difference. For those who are friends with me on Facebook, you know that I have been asking for prayers for the people I mentioned at the beginning of the broadcast. In the past, what was happening to those people would have shut me down emotionally. It would have been my excuse for not doing anything, but I realize none of them would want to be responsible for that. Would you? Would you want your suffering to make others suffer? Instead, I decided to do as much as I could muster in the most kindly way I could. It’s why I kept my temper with my son when I would have lost it in the past. It’s why, when the doctor talked about raising children with ADHD being like working with butterflies, I nearly cried. He said when you work with butterflies you cannot grab them by the wings so that they cannot fly or you’ll kill them. You cannot pounce on them or run after them or you will scare them away. The best thing you can do with butterflies is to sit and observe and be very peaceful and when they feel comfortable, they will fly and land near you and eventually they will open its wings and show just how beautiful they are. I think that is one of the most beautiful descriptions of not only teens with ADHD but human beings in general. For that piece of wisdom alone, it was worth my time to attend. So my little butterflies, I set you free to fly. My two greatest joys are to see you fly and to see you land near me to spread your wings so I can see how beautiful each one of you really are. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

Tell a Different Story

3 Sep

To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/7900059

We all get stuck now and then and when we do, we tend to use those moments of stress to reinforce the stories we tell ourselves, usually in a negative way. We can eat healthy food and exercise for several days in a row and then blow it out on a weekend and convince ourselves we have no self-discipline. We can take care of our homes and clear some clutter then get distracted for a few days by life and beat ourselves up about the condition of our living space and tell ourselves what losers we are. Have you ever said any of these things to yourself?

I just can’t get organized.
I don’t have any willpower.
I’m just lazy
I’ve always been messy.
I’m such a loser.
I’m so stupid.
What’s wrong with me?
I suck.
I’m worthless.
I’m not a morning person.
I hate laundry, washing dishes, etc
My spouse won’t let me.
If my kids weren’t so messy…
If my kids would just behave…

The list could go on and on, and I’m sure everyone could add more than a few to this list, but why do we say or think these things? I’m sure we would all say because it’s true, but I would be willing to bet that at some point someone else put that idea in your head and you decided to believe them. Maybe you were just a little tyke when someone said something to you, but you’ve based your view of yourself on someone else’s opinion of you. In truth, nearly everything you think about yourself is based on what others think of you. Isn’t that an amazing concept to think about? The sad part is that most of us were raised and surrounded by damaged people who were raised and surrounded by damaged people. We have become the product of those fractured pieces of humanity and their opinions.

In addition, all through our lives we encounter other damaged human products in the form of teachers, friends, enemies and bullies. I was halfway through 2nd grade when we moved to a new school district. One boy in my new class decided to make me the target of his unhappiness in life. He made fun of me for being smart, for wearing glasses and for how I looked in general. He decided to nickname me bird because he said my nose looked like a beak. My heart breaks for my seven year old self when I think about not only what he said, but the reaction of the adults in my life regarding the incident. Back in my day, we were told to ignore the bully (impossible), to say sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me (big fat lie) or worst of all, he probably likes you and just doesn’t’ know how to show it. Ack!!! And we wonder how women end up in abusive relationships. That boy’s actions did more to destroy my self-esteem that anything else up to that point. So much of what I thought about myself was created by that boy; because I believed what he said must be true. Not once did anyone tell me that what he said was a lie. It wasn’t until many years later that I began to tell a different story about what happened to me in 2nd grade.

I had forgotten about Brian, my second grade bully, until I was doing some spiritual work that asked you to find the origin of some of your negative beliefs about yourself. It was then, through some journaling, that I remembered Brian and the impact he had on my life. I was stunned at first that something so long ago and seemingly forgotten was such a big part of how I thought about myself. Then I got angry, at Brian for how he treated me and at the adults in my life for shrugging it off. I let go of a bunch of rage, and it was cathartic, but that was just the beginning. Over the years I’ve learned many things from my encounter with Brian.

It took a while, but I figured out how badly this young boy must have felt about himself; this boy who spent nearly all of 2nd grade behind the giant flip charts in our classroom. I can clearly see how a new girl in class who was eager to learn, who loved school, who wanted to be smart and please the teacher would be the perfect target for a boy who didn’t like school, who had no problem and maybe even enjoyed displeasing the teacher. I believe, now, that Brian craved connection and for him, even negative attention was connection of some kind. Many of my teacher friends have shared the quote that children who need the most love often show it in the most unloving ways. I believe Brian was one of those children, and I now grieve for what he needed and didn’t get, from me or from anyone else I would guess. I have forgiven Brian over and over again as I realize how many of my negative thoughts and emotions are tied to my time with him. I’ve forgiven myself too for hating him, for returning his anger with some cruel thoughts and words of my own and even for feeling relief rather than sadness when Brian was killed in a single driver accident when we were in high school.

These days, I tell a different story about Brian. Instead of being angry and bitter about a boy who was unkind to me, I use Brian to help me forgive those who are unkind to others, especially those I care about. Just this week, someone was unkind to one of my children and my first thought was revenge. I thought about the many ways I could make life miserable for that person, but after thinking it over, I realized my son had learned some valuable life lessons, not the least of which is how much he can count on me to be there for him. It is the story we are choosing to focus on, and it is helping us to move passed the situation very quickly.

Remember the list of negative things I mentioned before? What if we changed them to begin to help everyone live better and look at themselves with a kinder eye?

What if “I can’t get organized” becomes I am learning every day how to live a better life for myself and my family?
“I have no willpower” and “I’m just lazy” can become I am learning to live my highest calling every day.
“I’ve always been messy” becomes I love my home and am taking better care of it daily.
“I’m such a loser” transforms into every day above ground is a successful one.
“What’s wrong with me?” turns into how can I become a better version of myself?
“I’m so stupid” changes to I learn something new every day.
“I suck” and “I’m worthless” are replaced by I do my best daily and that is good enough.
“I’m not a morning person” can slowly transform into I am learning to appreciate every part of every day.
“My spouse won’t let me” evolves into I choose every day how I live my life. If you believe this isn’t true for you, I suggest you get counseling or you get out. From previous life experience, I would suggest you get counseling if you have given that control over to someone else and don’t know how to take it back. If you feel afraid to even think about taking control of your life back, I suggest you get out as quickly as possible. This one is near and dear to my heart because I have seen so many women waste away in unhealthy relationships that become only about what the man wants. Please get help if that’s where you are.
“If my kids weren’t so messy” or “If my kids would just behave” turns into I am becoming my children’s best role model.

You get what I’m saying. You can turn your life around and just because you say these things, your life will not magically change into everything you ever wanted it to be, but it’s a start. The irony is that the story doesn’t change at all because you don’t deny anything that happens or happened. Instead, you change because you take the lessons from the story and use it to empower yourself rather than imprison yourself. In essence, you set yourself free.

I’m doing that right now with my ADD. I’ve never been formally diagnosed but as I learned about ADD and ADHD after my son was diagnosed 8 years ago, I realized that apple didn’t fall far from the tree. The difference between us was that I loved school and he doesn’t, and since only hyper boys with emotional issues were diagnosed when I was a child, I was relegated to the ranks of being scatter brained and flighty. I learned and coped and eventually found systems that helped immensely. Then, I went through menopause and things got nutty. I still keep a clean and mostly tidy house, but it seems to take more energy. I started to berate myself for backsliding and trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with me. Through my own research, I found out that some women with ADD see changes after menopause. Apparently, the hormonal changes can affect some of the symptoms. I’ve never been medicated for ADD because pharmaceuticals and I have a bad history but I was almost ready to dive into the pharmaceutical world to see if they could help me. I was feeling overwhelmed and cynical and defeated when I found a more holistic approach to helping those with ADD. I am just beginning to look through the extensive program and I’m excited to give their approach a try. I’ll let you know how it goes, but it is already taught me to look at that story a little differently. In fact, it’s helping me tell a completely different story about myself because I’m seeing how my weight and my clutter are attached to my ADD. I’m realizing I’m not as lazy as I think I am. I am also realizing that I do fairly well at life, but as I get older, keeping it all together is getting to be more of a challenge, which shows me that can happen for my son too. The most exciting part, though, is that we now have some tools which can help us create and then tell a better story for our lives, and that is what I would challenge everyone to do. Search out the tools that will help you tell a different and better story. Get counseling if you need it. Find resources online, through your library or through retail sources if you need to. Everyone loves free resources, but trust me, if you pay what I did for this program about ADD, you will look it over thoroughly, just to get your money’s worth. That’s kind of what I’m hoping to get out of it as well. I’m hoping to get my money’s worth and to improve my life and the life of my son. I’m hoping he can tell a different story about how well he does in school. I’m hoping I can tell a different story about how I take care of my family. If not, I’ll keep looking because I know the story I want to tell and just knowing that keeps me moving forward.

I hope you know the story you want to tell about your life. I hope that story is deeply intertwined with your highest purpose. If not, get to it so we can all live better daily. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

The Neurotic Procrastinator Assassination

19 May

To listen along, use this link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/betterlivingdaily/2015/05/14/the-neurotic-procrastinator-assassination
I am currently reading The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, and it is mentally and emotionally kicking my butt. In just the first few pages, I’ve been mentally gut punched by having to face my own emotional issues in a way I haven’t in a long while. The first zinger for me was about procrastination. I have been a master procrastinator for as long as I can remember. In grade school, I would get an F every time I had a long term project because that was back in the day when you were given the assignment and were expected to do it. I had no idea at that time about ADHD. I had no idea about time management, and I certainly had no idea about breaking work down into manageable chunks, so I failed, over and over again. It was humiliating because I would get A’s on homework, quizzes and tests, but I could not manage the long term project. I also had difficulty with organization. My room was a wreck and the thought of cleaning it up always seemed overwhelming. I didn’t ask for help because I knew my mom would tell me to just clean it up, but I didn’t understand what that truly meant. My car was a mess from the time I got one. The thought of my dorm rooms make me sad for those who had to share with me, and if any of them would ever read this; Terri, Mimi and Johannah, I apologize for what you had to endure while living with me. At the time, I didn’t know any better, and I thank you for putting up with my mess with little to no complaining. It wasn’t until my third child was born that I finally began getting a handle on how to run a household. I truly didn’t know how to organize my time, my possessions or even my thoughts to make our house truly a home, but I found the resources and our home began to be a place I loved to be rather than a mess I could hardly wait to get away from. I’ve been at a plateau, albeit a good plateau for a long time. I’ve gotten to a place where my home looks good. I love my life, most days, and we’re doing well, but I know there’s another level. I know my health could be better. I know I could declutter so much more from my home. I know we could up the progress on our finances but knowing and doing are two different things. What I’m doing is getting tons of things done in the morning and thinking that’s enough. I’m maintaining but not gaining and while that is a good thing, it feels like great is out there, taunting me. I didn’t know why I couldn’t make myself do more until I read something in this book. Essentially, the idea is that if you value yourself, you value your time. I’ve heard something similar in the past but it never stuck with me before. This time it has.

I had an epiphany about the wasted afternoons and evenings in my life. I place a high value on my morning time because that is when I tend to have the most energy. I am truly one of those annoying people who is happy and cheerful in the morning. I know that is rare and I do my best to keep my cheerfulness on low for some of my family members’ sake. I usually get more accomplished from 6:30 am and 10am than I can accomplish the entire rest of the day. It has always baffled me how that happens but with the help of this book, I’m beginning to face things I’ve never faced before and I can already see a shift and it all has to do with responsibility. This book says there are two tendencies regarding responsibility and we all lean toward either neurosis or character disorder. Neurotics assume too much responsibility and those with character disorder don’t assume enough. That’s not to say that we all have some kind of mental disorder. It’s just saying that when it comes to responsibility people tend to think either everything is their fault or everything is someone else’s fault. I happen to fall into the first category. I always think things would be better if I could just be better. My house would be cleaner if I spent more time cleaning. I must not be a good enough house manager or my home would look like a magazine. My finances would be better if I could just manage them better because there are people out there who seem to be doing so much better than us with less money coming in. My body would be in better shape if I could just be more consistent in my eating and work out patterns. No matter what my genetics, body type or life circumstances, I should be able to overcome them by sheer will and determination. People on the character disorder side of the equation tend to deny their own responsibility for their life circumstances and place the blame elsewhere. As a stay at home mom, they blame their children for their house being messy and cluttered. In the financial realm, they just know they would be better off if their spouse didn’t spend so much money or their kids didn’t cost so much to raise. They would be in better health if their family would pitch in and help so they could have time to go to the gym. Does any of this sound familiar? It certainly did to me, and the most amazing thing is that both tendencies make us feel like powerless victims, but there is a cure and it is called awareness.

When you become aware of your tendencies and your own value, you begin to live differently. Even though I know my self-worth has nothing to do with how much housework I get done or how many projects I accomplish, I know I feel better when I am active. If I spend an afternoon and an evening doing nothing but watching reruns on TV, I feel like I’ve wasted the day. I feel like I’ve wasted a part of my life I can’t get back, and it makes me angry with myself. Some people do the same with video games, online games, reading or crafting. They use it as an escape from life rather than a part of it. They use it to ignore the many things they think they “should” be doing, and I put that should in quotation marks because only you can choose what you do, even if it is at the prompting of someone else. That is an aspect that most people fail to understand. In most of our life circumstances, we have so much choice. We have so much power, and we choose to give that power away usually through blame, criticism and internal dramas. What if we just quit complaining and faced our circumstances? What if we decided to live the way our internal senses tell us we should live? Do we think our spouse will be angry with us? Do we think our parents wouldn’t approve? Do we think others would have to change for that to happen? Does any of that matter? When you first suggest to someone that everything circumstance in their life is something they chose, most people get angry because they say they wouldn’t have chosen their circumstance, which may technically be correct but when they use it as an excuse to live a less than life, is it the circumstance or is it the readily available excuse that rules?

I’ll give you a few examples from my life. I realized at age 40 that I had ADHD, about the time my son was diagnosed. It explained a lot about my life, but because I didn’t want my son to use it as an excuse, I chose not to either. I began looking for all of the holistic ways to deal with ADHD because my body generally does not respond well to pharmaceuticals. I have found several ways to help and even when it gets the best of me one day, I can now keep things from spiraling for two or three weeks because I know what my tendencies are. I have a son with a medical condition that prohibits him from taking medication for his ADHD. Because his needs require a large amount of my time and attention, I have chosen not to re-enter the workforce. It requires me to live differently to maintain a positive cash flow in our lives. I could go back to work. I could leave him to fend for himself academically. I choose otherwise. I’ve been able to make the big decisions. What I didn’t realize that I wasn’t applying those principles to my everyday life, so for the past week or so, I’ve been consciously thinking about my time each day. When I choose to sit on the couch to relax, it is a conscious decision rather than an exhausted flop that may have no end that day. This book has helped me realize how much of my life I have been wasting, and the change has been amazing.

My list is as long as it has ever been, but instead of being overwhelming, it is just a list. If I cross ten things off, I move on. If I cross off one or two, I move on knowing I can address it again tomorrow. My time means something to me, not just in the morning but all day. Whether I am cooking, cleaning, watching TV, exercising, sleeping, running errands or playing with my friends on Facebook, every moment is a choice. Every moment can be peaceful or it can be chaos, and sometimes it’s good to have the chaos because it helps you define what you truly want to have in your life and what you are willing to let go. In my family, two of us love golf. Three of us could take it or leave it. Two of us would be out there every day if we could. The other three could find much better ways, in our opinion, to spend a day and our money. If the two who love golf did it every day, without it becoming their profession, our family life would cease to exist. If, however, they never got to golf, it would seriously hamper their quality of life. They choose to golf once per week because it brings them joy. The rest of the family wishes them well. It isn’t a compromise. It is a choice to live in a way that brings harmony to everyone, and it works.

I have a house that I could clean every day and never be finished. I have laundry that I could do every day. I have a body that I want to get in better shape. I have dreams and goals. I have children that still need my attention for them to become well disciplined, happy adults. I have begun to see how precious and valuable my time truly is. I have begun to understand how valuable my contribution is to my home. I won’t say it doesn’t matter what my family thinks because I choose to make that part of my parenting to teach my children to appreciate those who support them in their lives, but what matters more is what I think of me and my life than what others think of me and my life. In the US, this past Sunday was Mother’s Day. I think days like that make us face what I call “the ugly” in our hearts. It’s a time when we see what we think we’re missing, where we haven’t finished grieving, where our perceived short comings are and generally what isn’t right with us. What if we did something different with that pain the next time we feel it? What if we express gratitude for it? What if we look at it for the gift that it can truly be? If we think we’re missing something, make plans to do the things you think you’re missing, or at least make plans to do one thing; just one thing. If we feel grief, be thankful for the love. Celebrate the life. I love that saying that it is better to forget and be happy than to remember and be sad. Do any of us have a loved one who has passed that would say to us to be miserable every holiday? Do we think our loved ones are watching and saying, “Yeah. Boy! I must be the most loved person in the world. Look how miserable and sad my loved ones are. That’s some good stuff!” You know what? I miss my dad sometimes, but he lived in a lot of pain physically and emotionally while he was alive. I choose to believe he is better in every way, and I choose to allow him that joy and not tether him to me in grief. Instead, he is tethered to me in love. He is connected to my boys in love. I free him from all sadness because I wish only joy for both of us and it feels selfish to think otherwise. So, forty four pages into The Road Less Traveled, my life has changed immensely. I can hardly wait to see what the next 250 pages brings. If this keeps up I may hardly be recognizable when it’s all over. If you want to join me on the journey through the book, you can send me a message on Facebook or email me at betterlivingdaily@gmail.com. I thank you for being you and have a great day.

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