Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yes, Virginia, There Are Positives to Having ADD

Everyone is always willing to give you a list of the problems that occur in one's life when you have ADD or ADHD. Forgetting things, losing things, losing concentration during a conversation, clutter, blurting things out, messy, negative self-talk and the list goes go on. They can rattle off the bad things and all the negatives, but you rarely hear about the positives of having ADD. 

Seriously, there are positives to this disorder. 

Lately, I've been writing about my personal campaign to bring more order in my life. I've been looking for ADD coaches and how they might help me. I found a great website called "Adult ADD Strengths" by Pete Quily (he's an ADD coach in Canada). His blog has a page that is a list of the 151 Positive Characteristics of People Who Have ADD. (It's not really 151 because several are the same thing, just phrased differently, but still a great list)

It was just what I needed to read - to remind myself that ADD isn't the worst thing to happen to me, that perhaps it's been a blessing because of the skills it has forced me to learn. I printed out the list and have posted it on my refrigerator to be a daily affirmation system. 

I'll write about many of them over time, but starting at the top of the list:

The Ability to Find An Alternative Path - growing up with untreated ADD, I created coping mechanisms for things most people don't give a second thought. I had to find a way around barriers because I didn't want to be left behind. ADD'ers think outside of the box largely because that's where we've spent the majority of our lives - outside of the box looking in. 

Adaptive - This a great positive to ADD. I have never had any problems adapting to anything new because new things engage me (and ADD'ers like to be engaged). I'm always curious and willing to try new things. Change rarely upsets me. I've found myself to be socially adaptive, too. I can be put into most any situation without feeling trapped. (Except on airplanes, sitting next to people who think I want to know all about their life. I don't. I usually want to sleep.)

Artistic/Creative - Those aforementioned coping mechanisms? I think I'm creative because I've had to be. And that creativity helping me cope, spills over in to my personality and keeps my creative spirit alive.(Occasionally a little too creative with multiple projects going at once.)

Adventurous - Here's that negative "impulse control" is turned around. I'm always willing to take a risk. When I started doing social media at work, I did it without long discussions with leadership (Who would have required a large amount of education) and I did it on my own because committees don't get anything done. Oh, sure, that pesky impulse control issue can be a problem, but if life isn't an adventure, why bother?

Honestly, in the last couple of weeks, I've had one thought cross my mind many, many times: I rarely regret saying "yes," but usually regret saying "no."

I hate saying no. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Declutter de life, declutter de house

One of the worst parts of ADD is my complete lack of organizational skills when it come to my house, my desk and my car. When I've admitted to this problem, I often surprised friends as they've seen me organize huge events and such. I can't explain why I can do one and not the other.

At a time when I'm been struggling to manage the chaos over flowing from my job, I know that coming home to a place that is equally chaotic is not helpful. I've been reading a blog by Molly Snyder that talks about her 500 lb declutter challenge. While it seems to be an overwhelming feat, she's doing it one drawer, one shelf, one closet at a time. She's getting rid of at least 500 pounds of things that are cluttering up her life. Donate, recycle, put away or throw away.

And tonight I started. I started with the front hall closet. Decluttering is a great form of therapy as it forces you to look at all your material things and determine if you could really live without it.

In just one night, I've already figured out:

1. Out of sight means out of mind (and out of my memory)
Recently my niece asked if she could have my old set of dishes; "Sure, not a problem - they're in the front hall closet." As I dug through the tub, I have not one, not two, not three, but four sets of old dishes. As with most sets of dishes, they're incomplete. The largest set was the one my mom gave me when she moved into a senior living apartment. It is a set of 16 place settings. I live in a 950 square foot condo - When would I ever need 16 place settings?

2. My front hall closet was my toxic waste dump with four cans of paint

3. I'm not good about recycling phone books - I found four phone books in there.

4. I am a magazine junkie and throwing magazines into the recycling bin is painful (cuz what if there is something I need in there...)

I've been working on getting better on this one, but there are two magazines that cause super glue to appear on my fingers - quilting magazines and Cooking Light.

I have little post-it-note flags throughout the Cooking Light magazine - marking all the recipes I just have to try. One small thing - I Don't Cook! At least not with the regularity that I would ever actually try all the recipes I have marked up.

The quilting magazines contain patterns of quilts that I really like and would like to try some day. For instance, there's this great pattern for a "Storms At Sea" quilt from a 1993 issue. 17 years! I guess I'm just pacing myself with that plan.

One thing that didn't get tossed are my family home movies - dating back to Christmas 1960 -that I will one day get transferred to a DVD before the Super 8 film completely deteriorates.

I still have to weigh the trash to find how much I'm tossing...

Oh, just discovered that my most recent issue of Real Simple just arrived - cover story on "Organize Your Life."  Wonder how long it will take before I toss that magazine into the recycling.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Waiting for someone else is like waiting for Godot

Each day, as part of my job, I schedule tweets for the work account. The tweets are part of our website's "Thought For The Day" pages, which are incredibly popular. Usually one or two each day seem to apply to my life, but none so much as one from today. 

Karen Casey's wonderfully written daily meditation book, "Each Day A New Beginning," features a quote from Kathleen Tierney Crilly in today's message: 

To wait for someone else, or to expect someone else to make my life richer, or fuller, or more satisfying, puts me in a constant state of suspension; and I miss all those moments that pass. They never come back to be experienced again.

Those are words seem to describe the first forty years of my life.  I was always waiting for that person, that someone to come along and make my life complete. I couldn't fathom a life where I was enough; where I could be comfortable with myself, just myself. 

And I know that I have missed much in my life because I had those expectations. 

I saw the play "Waiting for Godot" as a college production. The play itself (not my favorite) is painful to attend, let alone a college production of it. I just remember really, really wanting to get out of the theatre before I shouted out "Godot isn't coming! Get on with your lives." 

Maybe the reason I was waiting was due to the messages I received growing up. I really didn't have any role models in my life that were single women. Everywhere I looked, people were coupled up and then had families.  Growing up in a small town, I never had friends with divorced parents until I was out of college. 

I know I missed so much in that state of suspension. I don't remember any conscious choice to walk away from an opportunity because I was waiting, but it is possible that I didn't take risks that I might have.

Today, while watching President Obama announce his nominee for Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagen, I realized that she was single (as was his first nominee, Sonia Sotomayor). Two highly successful career women moving into the ultimate job for their vocation.  Did they have single women role models? Or maybe they just figured it out long before I did. 

From everything I see today, the current generation of young women have role models at all levels of success. While I wouldn't see myself as a role model, I could offer myself as a cautionary tale- "Don't wait for someone else to make yourself whole - You already are." 

Image: "Waiting in Cuba" by wahoorob 80