A kick in the pants

Wow, seeing this in my WordPress account sure made my day.

I started this blog back in October 2020 and have admittedly been jealous of people who have thousands of followers. (My other blog started in 2015 – The Caregiver’s Corner – has 18 followers with a total of 857 views. I should get a similar announcement on that site in….. about two years!)

Of course, I am not a very regular poster, and have not purposefully marketed myself; I have nothing to sell (yet), and I’m not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking.

In truth, I only publish maybe one out of every ten WP posts that I start. I do write every day, and many times more often than that, but blogging has to bubble up and smack me in the face.

I begin almost every day with Morning Pages (MP), a process coined by Julia Cameron from her book The Artist’s Way that helps me to clear out all the cobwebs of my mind and set down top issues that need addressing. I’ve done this now in one form or another (paper or electronic) for over 40 years.

Similarly, at the end of the day I do Evening Pages (EP). Recently I have used a 5×7 calendar for this purpose to bullet point everything I’ve done: phone calls, shopping, accomplishments and a ‘rating’ word. I also use it to schedule tasks in advance as I’ve given up on to-do lists, except what is revealed in my MPs.

In between, I read and write about everything. I have boxes and cabinets filled to the gills with my ‘stuff.’ All waiting to be finished.

Only one of many boxes and books

I admittedly have ADHD although I have never been diagnosed. (If I eat bread, it makes me want to sleep, and at those times I only have ADD.) Unfortunately, this ‘condition,’ which may only be the belief that I have a monkey-mind, makes me jump around from project to project, and it is only with intense self-discipline that I accomplish anything at all.

Timers and stopwatches have become my best friends. CDs of conferences or hour-long YouTube music videos and 19-minute TedX Talks also serve as a sort of ‘policeman’ as I tell myself I must stick with one task until the end of the lecture or until the bell rings.

When my sister and I were young, Mom called it ‘Beat the Clock’ and we’d run around trying to make our bed, get dressed and tidy our room before that all-too-familiar sound of the Lux Minute Minder would start. If you could get to the timer before that, you could turn the dial gently, cover it with your hand to smother the sound, and get it to stop before it broke your eardrums.

This past Christmas, my dear Uncle Julian sent me a Beethoven timer out of one of the dozens of catalogs that he loves for their unique gifts. It’s chime is Fur Elise, the piano piece that I learned to play umpty-ump years ago. After I memorized it and had my recital, I quit. I never wanted to play another musical instrument as long as I lived. And until I was about 40, I hated classical music!

My sister, on the other hand, took lessons for many years and eventually taught students. I don’t think she ever played Fur Elise though. (Our uncle sent her a Mozart timer that plays Rondo Alla Turca; she was much more advanced.) And for some reason, she is able to finish everything she starts!

So what I now try to do is get to Beethoven before he starts playing that tune over and over and over again. It’s like a broken record! I hear my mother in Heaven laughing. I can still feel as well as hear that metronome going ‘tick-tock-tick-tock’ as I practiced my scales, all the while crying to her that I didn’t want to play the piano! I see myself moving that demon Lux a minute here, a minute there until it finally signaled to my ‘jailer’ that my sentence was over.

“Did you move that clock?” She’d frown as she looked into my face, clearly trying to remember what time I had started practicing.

And I looked right back at her in complete innocence and lied through my teeth.

She’s not here now so I can’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. If I don’t do something, or quit in the middle, or jump to something else, there’s no one here to set me straight again.

Recently, I’ve bought myself an hourglass. It’s a gentler, kinder prod.

So far, it’s working.

Looking at the world through the sunset in your eyes

I still can’t get used to writing the year, let alone adjusting to the the time change, and 2020 is almost over.

Remember how we’d say, “Only six months until the election”? Now we have to wait until almost Thanksgiving, and who knows maybe until Christmas to find out the results. The goalposts are always being moved.

Before I dreamed of becoming a writer, I wanted to be a ballerina; it seemed more attainable at the time.

We’re always waiting. When we were little it was our birthdays and Christmases that were always elusive, but then we had to wait until we graduated, or turned 21 or got the new job or until the wedding day. Before I dreamed of becoming a writer, I wanted to be a ballerina; it seemed more attainable at the time.

But that’s not the happily-ever-after we dreamed of because first, we needed to buy a house, or wait until the children were in school full-time, and on and on it went, and before you knew it, you’ve waited for the divorce (or two), you’ve retired, and your next birthday has another zero in it.

Photos are startling reminders of those touchstones, but in between are those days and events that are never recorded except in the recesses of our minds. I used to wonder what my mother was thinking about during those last years as she stared out the window for hours on end, but now I know.

woman holding teal pillow
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I did a fair amount of staring when I was a child in school, and was often reprimanded by my teachers to stop daydreaming. I suppose there are people who look through windows and see only what is really out there, but my mind was light years in the future and a million miles away.

Today, people are more inclined to accept the possibility that girls have ADHD as often as boys, but it takes on a different persona in them. They may be chaotic and curious, overly-sensitive and often overwhelmed, sometimes irrational and impulsive, but always interesting!

I once had a supervisor who worked in the entertainment industry with Michael Jackson, and he proudly exclaimed that his ADHD was the best thing that ever happened to him! He was a master at thinking out of the box and coming up with creative and lucrative solutions to seemingly impossible situations. He was also a bit of a maverick, but all the other accountants secretly admired him for his je ne sais quoi.

People with ADHD have no problem finding things to do and delight. Their dance card is filled with dozens of possibilities from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again. I could spend an entire afternoon exploring the etymology of sayings such as the one by Thomas Paine to which I just alluded. My mother often reminded us that there is no excuse for boredom. She would sometimes quote Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame (1958), “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!” (I actually can’t recall her using the word, ‘suckers;’ that wasn’t her style.)

Photo by Free Creative Stuff on Pexels.com

How would most people entertain themselves during this current pandemic if they didn’t have Netflix and YouTube and all the offers of seminars on how to make money creating videos? Market predictions report that e-Learning will grow to $325 billion by 2025! Working at home in your pajamas at the kitchen table was a dream to commuters a decade or two before the Internet, and now it’s here.

Perhaps we ADDers do take too many detours and too many chances which don’t always work out right. But the alternative is to have lived an ordinary life, which to us is tantamount to having your teeth pulled out by a barber. Some of the most memorable events in my life were the ones that ‘fell out of the sky and into my lap.’ I can’t express them any other way.

There was the time my sister called to say she was driving her MG Midget across the country to be shipped overseas and would I want to come with her. Yes, ma’am! What a blast we had! Similarly, when my mother called from Germany to ask me to, “Come on over!” I got on a plane a few days later. If I hadn’t, I may never have visited all those wonderful European cities.

I might say that flying by the seat of my pants has been a hallmark of some of the largest and most important decisions of my life, but to say that would negate the hours and hours of contemplation, daydreaming, researching and thought behind those decisions. It is easier to lambaste a woman for ‘irrational’ behavior than to call her decisions quick and decisive, as would be said of those in leadership. The concept ‘Know-Think-Do’ is not a binary skill only available to a certain subset of the population.

Falling down an Internet Vortex may seem like a waste of time, but to a retired researcher (which is what I now call myself), it is an exciting exploration of the human experience. If I am no longer able to travel across the ocean, I can dream, and perhaps, one day, I will find myself on the train from London, through Barcelona and on to Marrakesh…

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