This weekend, I stumbled across an infographic titled “17 Counterintuitive Things the Most Successful People Do.”  I didn’t agree with all of it, but the following jumped out at me:

Counterintuitive

“Seek Out Rejection.”  Huh.

I’m not convinced we can become fully desensitized to the fear of rejection, but there’s definite wisdom here. Humans are wired to avoid the pain that accompanies rejection. We instinctively run from it. Hide from it. And, when it inevitably happens, we quietly tuck it away in hopes that no one will notice–and with hopes that maybe we can forget about it, too.

Seeking out rejection sounds a bit a lot like playing with fire to me. Sounds like openly inviting the commentary that the haters and the doubters are dying to provide. Sounds like an adventure requiring the type of courage that usually takes me days to muster up.

However, I’m willing to consider that, perhaps, if we hear the doubters’ voices enough, we’re more able to let their negative chorus become nothing more than background noise.  Without their constant chatter, maybe what once felt scary and risky becomes adventure and opportunity instead.

If less fear means more willingness to take risks, then it also means more opportunity for big payoff.

…or for more rejection, of course.

Ah!  But if we’ve shrunk that fear, that’s a far less cringe-worthy, shame-inducing possibility, isn’t it?

 

What do you think? Can we desensitize ourselves to rejection? How do YOU move on from rejection?

You can check out the full infographic, created by Roda Marketing, by clicking here .  It’s worth the look!

By nature, I’m a fixer.  I like puzzles, and I like problem-solving.  It’s a great skill for putting out fires at work and helping disgruntled students, but no matter how hard I deny it, my fix-it strategy just does not cut it in my personal, relational, emotional, psychological world.

(please tell me I’m not alone in this?)

My brain is a constant whir of “fix it!”  I hear the whirring, and I hear its message:  If I could just figure out what’s bothering me, I could fix it.  If I could just find the reason I’m sad, I could fix it.  If I could just understand the underlying cause to student complaints, I could fix it.  Right?

Wrong.  So incredibly wrong.    Read More

Rumor in the blog world suggests I offer an apology after disappearing for months–and that I write a catch-up post when I return.  I suspect this is simply an opportunity to play “pay attention to ME!” rather than an actual expectation of anyone reading, but I’m opting in anyway.   I’ll make no pretense, however, that I’m doing so for any reason other than an opportunity to share a bunch of photos of our world since February (it’s my blog and I do what I want??)  That being said, here’s what I’ve been doing instead of writing:

Winter/Spring

Summer

Fall

Here’s hoping I’m back on track for more than quarterly postings!

IMG_1317

Today was supposed to be IT.  The BIG day.  The day that I finally returned to blogging.  Aimee invited us over, and instead of the Salsa Sistas, we were to be the Bloggin’ Sistas.  Brilliant!!  Teamwork and motivation!

I expected fanfare and inspiration and productivity!  Big things, people.  Big things!

So far, Cooper has finally decided to nap, Trey was falling asleep typing and has played the “I sleep when the baby sleeps” card, Lucia has puked from too much excitement (and all the baby lotion she’s licked off of Cooper), and I’ve eaten two cookies and a lot of chips and queso.  Not sure about Aimee.  She looks like a writing machine and I’m afraid to interrupt.

Oh.  And I just finished writing 600 words that I promptly decided were a bunch of BS that I don’t really believe.

Clearly my return to blogging is going to be less graceful than I’d pictured…

Just a quick update from my world.  I’ve been neglecting my friend the blog , and I’m starting to feel bad about it.  I really want to start posting regularly again, but right at this minute I can’t commit.  Will it happen eventually?  Yes.  Will it happen soon?  Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.

Which, coincidentally, is the topic of the day.

My parents came to visit in January (mainly to meet the new puppy–who is doing fabulously, by the way, see photos at end of post), and I spent some time venting to my mom about my frustrations with life.  That there are so many things I want to do–blogging and painting and reading and meditating and doing yoga and exploring, etc.–but that life wipes me out to the point that I don’t have energy left at the end of the day for any of it.  I realize this is very much a classic “first world problem” and that all of my readers with children are cackling right now at the preposterous idea of my complaining about my too-busy life.

My wise mother suggested that maybe I need to put a few things on the shelf right now.  She reminded me that we have a new dog in the house who takes a remarkable amount of time and energy.  I have a new “big boss” at work, and, while all signs point to good things ahead, changes (both those that have happened and those that are looming) are stressful.  Shifting expectations are stressful.  Chasing around an adorable yet horrifically destructive adolescent puppy is stressful.

I listened but wasn’t immediately convinced.  After all, I feel like I can do more–like I have more to offer this world, better ways of using my time, a stronger impact to be making.  She told me to let it go (basically, anyway–and I love her for it!)

Last week I listened to a couple of ADHD podcasts a friend recommended.  One was about organization or time management or some combination of the both, and the presenter talked about a client who wanted to do everything and was making herself crazy trying to figure out where it would all fit into her already jam-packed life.  What struck me most profoundly was the presenter telling her client that she simply didn’t have time for everything–and that she might just have to wait until she’s retired to learn French.

While the concept bothers me a little (another day is never guaranteed to any of us… so should we feel ok putting things off until a later day, knowing it might never come?), she made her point.  Since listening to that podcast, I’ve found myself asking about both personal and work matters: is it possible I just honestly don’t have time for this?

For those who naturally manage time well or who are able to focus on one project at a time or have worked to master the skill of setting healthy boundaries, this probably doesn’t sound like a revelation.  For me, it kind of has been.

Does that make it easy?  No.  I feel guilty for not writing more.  I feel like I’m letting minutes waste away when I could be bettering myself.  I get antsy thinking about all of the things I want to do, then I kick myself for not being able to find the motivation to go do them.

I have a long way to go, but I’m trying.  I’m writing this post because I want to, not because I feel obligated.  I’ve started a few books, and the list of “want to reads” keeps growing, but I’m not forcing myself to pick up a book.  I’m trying to only pick up my paintbrush when it feels like the right way to express myself.  I’m practicing allowing myself to just let things sit.

Maybe they’ll sit for a long time.  Maybe if I’m lucky 40 years from now I’ll be around to find some of those things still on that shelf.  Maybe I’ll have more time, and I’ll dust off what still interests me and try again.

There’s no plan to learn French in my future.  However, “you can learn French when you’re retired” has become a bit of a mantra when I start to feel overwhelmed by my own unreasonable demands.

Remembering that it honestly, truly is ok to let a few things go, for a little while or forever, is remarkably freeing.

 

(and now the puppy photos you were promised…)

I’ve been waiting for a breakthrough.

I’ve felt uninspired for the past couple of weeks.  Beginning-of-the-semester crazy has settled and I’ve started cruising at work, but things just haven’t felt right.  Among the multitude of things tugging at my attention, the 11-month mark of Katie’s passing is just days away–meaning that the one year mark will be here far, far sooner than I’m ready to admit.

For some reasons not in my control, my healing process has been far bumpier than I could have expected.  Every time I feel I’m starting to make progress, the wound is torn open again, and I start to question if I’ll ever truly experience a sense of healing.

I find a lot of inspiration in music, and I overheard an unfamiliar song last week… And that was it.  The seed for the breakthrough was planted.  That’s all it took–two lines from the song “3 Things” by Jason Mraz:

 

The third thing that I do when my world caves in,
Is I pause, I take a breath and bow, and I let the chapter end.

 

That’s it.  That’s what I needed to help it all make sense.

I’ve been hesitant to let go of this time of my life–the part that’s included grieving and learning to navigate my new life.  Others might be re-opening the wound, but I’m also playing a role in allowing it to continue.  I’m playing a role by holding on.

It’s time to gracefully release my hold on grieving, and I feel a certain sense of peace in that, finally.  There’s relief in realizing it doesn’t have to be a struggle.  I’m not letting go of my love for Katie.  I’m not forgetting her or abandoning her.  I’m just ready to turn the page and see what’s next.  I understand now that she’ll be with me in spirit as I take that step (and all the ones after it).

I have a few things left to wrap up as part of this process, and I’ll be focusing on finishing those over the next couple of weeks.

Then, I’ll take that breath, and I’ll gently let this chapter end.

I see now that the next one is waiting to be written.

The daughter of a woman who was received an RAOKK discovered my blog while looking for more information about the project–how freaking cool is that??  I don’t know where she’s from, and I don’t know who started that particular act of kindness.  All I know is that she and her mom are connected now to the network of amazing people who gave of themselves that day, and that makes my heart happy.

She requested a post with more details about Katie’s life to share with her mother, and of course I said I’d be more than happy to provide one (I did not, however, anticipate it would be one of the longest posts I’ll probably ever write–I tried to break up my ramblings with photos!)

Forgive me if I have details wrong–y’all know I’m not always great with details, so let me know if I’ve messed anything up. (note–updated on 1.31.15… forgot to include a big piece of college!)

 

Since I didn’t meet her until college, I only know about pre-college Katie from stories and photos. She was born and grew up in central Ohio. Growing up, she loved Eeyore. She played the trumpet, and marching band was an important part of her life during high school. So were choir and Teen Institute.

Those were also the years when she started working as a camp counselor at Great Trail Girl Scout Camp—one of the things she was SUPER passionate about. She worked with the youngest girls who came to stay at the overnight camp, and I can’t think of someone more perfect for helping nervous 6 year old Brownies feel at ease in their new, often scary, surroundings. She had a sparkly cape she’d put on along with her propeller hat (when we met, she told me it was the “happy hat”), and to those girls she really was Super Katie—the one who would help them see how awesome camp was even if it was dark and there were sometimes giant spiders in their tents. It was more than a job to her—it was a second home where she found family among the other counselors and camp staff.

One summer in college I was lucky enough to visit her there over a weekend—we canoed in the fading daylight while bats flew overhead, we sang traditional girl scout songs around the camp fire, and we slept outside under the stars (a first for me). She was in her element there, and I’m so glad I got to get a glimpse of a place that was so important to her.  She loved being in nature and had a particularly great appreciation for trees.  She was known to literally hug trees… and I loved that about her.

I met Katie in college—my sophomore year she moved in across the hall from me for her freshman year in Woodlawn Hall at Wittenberg University. I remember clearly how we first met—my roommate and I decided one night the first week of classes that we needed to meet our new hallmates, so we marched ourselves into everyone’s rooms for introductions. From there…? Who knows—in that beautiful mess of day-to-day college life when time passes but you aren’t sure how or where it goes, we became the closest of friends.

Some of my favorite memories of that time with her:  She was the ring leader in convincing everyone to stop studying and come out into the hallway to finger paint on nights when we all needed a break.  We got in the habit of playing played racquetball together several nights each week.  We’d be so exhausted by the time we got home that we’d stop at the bottom of the stairs, grit our teeth, and yell the whole time while we ran up the stairs (some nights we really wondered if our legs would give out).  In the shared bathroom on the floor, she’d sing to me from her shower stall while we both got cleaned up.  When she finished big projects or got done with a big test, she’d stand at one end of our long hallway and toss her textbook down the hallway floor–imagine someone skipping a stone across water, and you’ll kind of get the idea.  (I tried it once and broke the binding on my accounting book.  Clearly she had a skill I lacked.)

She was my diamond sister (what others would call a “little”) in our sorority, Alpha Delta Pi.  We lived together in the sorority house my senior year, her junior year.  There was plenty of tomfoolery that year, and I loved it.  There were also quiet nights of sadness and end-of-college confusion, and I’m blessed that she shared those with me.  She brought her beautiful singing voice to our chapter–I can still hear her singing at special chapter events.  Such beauty and grace. (Read on for update!)  She was involved with the Weaver Chapel Association during her time at Witt–both as a member and as a leader, if I remember correctly.  I forgot about that in my first writing!  She was also involved with choir in one way or another over her years at Witt.  Both groups led to deep, lasting, loving friendships that played a role in helping Katie continue the journey to becoming the amazing woman she was.

After Katie graduated with her degree in Psychology (with a minor in music), she stayed in town for a year to work at a residential treatment center for girls ages 12-18 with severe emotional and/or behavior problems who were being treated in a therapeutic inpatient setting.  While I don’t remember a ton about what she did there, I DO remember her telling me about some of the crazy experiences she had when crises would hit.  Yikes.  It was a good spot for a temporary job, but definitely not what she wanted forever!  That was the year that she adopted Annie, the adorable puppy who turned into her loyal canine pal for the next 12 years of her life.  She was beyond cute but wild in those days, and it was love at first sight, as far as I could tell.

After that year, Katie moved on to grad school at LaSalle University (Philadelphia) to pursue a master’s degree in clinical/counseling psychology.  Once she graduated, she was finally able to start working in a therapy setting–the work she’d been born to do.  She was one of the most patient, intuitive, loving people I’ve ever known, even in the face of stress, emergency, and difficult people.  If anyone was destined to be a therapist, it was certainly her.  I credit her with helping save my life more than once…  Through a period of depression as an undergrad, even before she knew me well, she had the instinct to somehow know exactly what I needed.  Years later during one of the hardest years of my life, she supported me from 2500 miles away–reminding me that she cared, listening as I struggled, and keeping an eye on me (so to speak) to make sure I was safe.  It was in her blood.  She didn’t so much choose her career but rather tapped into what was an innate talent, her true life’s work.

Katie eventually settled into two jobs–she worked full time for Wordsworth, a non-profit agency in Philadelphia that allowed her to work as a therapist in the local community.  Her clients were children and teens from low income areas who were dealing with a range of often severe emotional and behavioral problems.  She did in-home therapy sessions with her clients and their families, the goal being to help everyone in the home develop the skills necessary to get on a successful path so the child/teen could remain in the home.  I asked her a few times if she ever felt unsafe in the neighborhoods she visited, and she told me that she didn’t–she said that as soon as the neighbors recognized her and realized she was there to help, they looked out for her.  She told me about a time when some teens were checking out her car, looking suspicious, and some local teens who knew it was her car actually chased them away.  Katie just had that ability–she could connect with anyone, including those from totally different backgrounds and upbringings.  She was able to convey to them how deeply she cared about their well-being.  Her job included trips to court, visits to schools, trips to the hospital and doctor appointments, and providing transportation so parents were able to shop for basic needs.  I don’t know how she did it, but she was amazing and touched more lives than I can begin to imagine.

That job also included a massive amount of paperwork, which Katie HATED.  We used to work together from different sides of the country when we’d both need to catch up over weekends.  The weekend Katie passed away, she and I were planning to team up to get caught up–I had work to do, and she told me she had at least 8 hours of paperwork to catch up on.  I couldn’t help giggling a little that weekend, even through the tears and pain, thinking of her throwing her head back and laughing in heaven knowing she wouldn’t have to finish that massive pile of paperwork!!

She also worked part time at a women’s therapy center doing individual therapy.  She loved the work she did there, as it gave the opportunity to help women work through a variety of struggles.  She always hoped to have a private practice someday that she could do from her home (with Annie as a therapy dog!)  While she wasn’t ready to take that leap, I think her work at the therapy center helped her keep in her mind and heart where she ultimately wanted to be.

Sometime over the last many years, Katie became involved with Essential Experience (EE)–a workshop experience that, in many ways, changed her life.  EE is an experiential workshop designed to help participants explore areas of their life/themselves they’d like to change–and to encourage them to experiment with that change in a safe, supportive setting.  The community of EE alumni is a tight one, so her involvement with EE and its community reached far beyond her first weekend workshop.

Katie’s life wasn’t an easy one.  That’s not my story to tell–just know that it took incredible courage on her part to begin, and continue, her journey toward healing.  The work she did through EE and the connections she made helped her grow, learn, and confront the pain she carried.  Her courage in doing her own work and in the way she supported others was beyond what I can explain.  Her courageousness gave me strength to start my own work–I can’t imagine the life I’d be living without the growing I’ve done, and I only was able to start thanks to her support.  Again, she changed my life on deep levels that are beyond explanation, and I’m certainly not the only one she shared her gifts with.

Other things about Katie:  She didn’t watch a lot of TV, but she loved Ellen and Bones.  She liked to read–she was a huge Harry Potter fan, and for quiet calm in the evening, she had been listening to audio books while she colored mandalas.  She loved fall–she loved sitting on her front porch on cool fall mornings, wearing a hoodie, snuggling in a blanket, drinking coffee, and writing in her journal.  She was a BIG time journaler, actually, porch or not.  She loved shopping at the farmer’s market during the summer and would taunt me with photos each week of all of her amazing finds.  She liked to try new recipes with the great veg she found… It was an outlet for her creativity, I think.  I only got to experience a couple of her creations, but from the taste I got, she was damn good at it!  She loved the colors purple and yellow.  She painted the walls in her apartment in awesome bold colors–yellow in the kitchen, teal in the bedroom, yellow and pink in the bathroom.  Her apartment felt bold and cheerful because of that, and I LOVED it.  She loved daisies and noticed beauty in nature everywhere.  Every now and then she would still pull out her trumpet and play duets with a friend.  They claimed that they weren’t very good, but she loved those sessions (and that’s all that matters!)  She also played guitar from her Girl Scout days.  I know of a few songs and poems that she wrote, and she had a true talent for sharing her emotion through words and sound.  She liked to travel–she loved imagining where she could go, finding a place to stay, and packing up Annie to head out on adventure.  The last big adventure she took was to Maine, where she had always wanted to visit.  She went on an amazing whale watching trip, finally got to hear loons in person, and spent time enjoying the outdoors.

She passed away on February 28th, 2014.  The world lost an incredible soul that day, and I hope I’ve given enough details about her life to make it clear how deep and far-reaching that loss has been felt.  Katie lived a life of love and courage, and she inspired those around her to do the same.  My goal is to make her proud by sharing the love and courage she taught me in my own life, in her honor and memory.

LYLT my sweet friend

LYLT my sweet friend

I posted on Monday about my revelations about the Catholic church and how my own confusion kept me from becoming legally able to officiate weddings.  I’m still a tiny bit disappointed I couldn’t officiate…  BUT, the wedding had to go on!

(Note: This would be a good time for you to stop reading if you don’t believe in marriage equality and don’t want to use this as an opportunity to catch a glimpse of my beliefs, if those we hold are different.  This post is about love, not about debate.)

On Wednesday evening, my dear friend Tracey married her partner (now wife!) Becky in the presence of a few close friends, officiated by my husband the “minister.”  While they plan to do a destination wedding next year sometime, the official wedding needed to take place this week to help ease complications caused by certain Utah laws.

My friend/co-worker Aimee and I took charge of making sure that even this intimate, quick wedding would hold some special moments.  On Tuesday I sent Tracey a text asking “Do you trust me?” and once she said yes, Aimee and I were on our way–choosing music, flowers, cake, and the wording for a short but hopefully meaningful ceremony.

The location they originally wanted to use didn’t work out (fenced of for the winter–what?), so we ended up near a local park at sunset.  It was a fortunate change, as the mountains at sunset ended up providing the perfect backdrop for photos of the occasion.  Beyond Becky and Tracey, Clint was there to officiate, Aimee stood in as a witness, as did Tracey’s sister Kristen, I took photos, and Aimee’s boyfriend Jason was a great sport who became the official holder of things (speaker/music, signs, flashlight, etc.)  It turned out great.  The ceremony was short but sweet, and we had time to grab some photos before we totally lost sunlight.  We toasted the new couple at the park and then headed to our favorite pizza place in town to meet up with a few other friends to celebrate the occasion together.

It was an awesome night, and I’m SO glad I got to be a part of it.  But beyond that, I also had an unexpected realization.  As I stood in our little circle of grass (it was like someone had cleared the snow there just for us), I looked around and realized that in a totally unexpected way, I’ve built a little circle of family here in Cedar City.  I NEVER expected that to happen here–especially when I think of all of the friends who have come and gone over the years.  I’ve been resigned to the belief that this is a place of transition and that the longer I stayed, the more people would quickly move in and out of my life.

But on Wednesday night, both at the ceremony and after, I looked around and realized I was surrounded by people who feel like extended family.  People who I’d do anything for, and people who would go (and have gone) out of their way to offer help and love in times when I’ve really needed them.  We might not be related, and we might be an odd hodgepodge of people from different backgrounds, with different families, with different careers, with different passions, with different dreams…  But we’re all connected here, in this place where a sense of belonging is hard to find if you don’t fit the local culture, in a way that’s really kind of beautiful.  We fit together in part because we don’t fit in, and I love that.

I love hearing about and being a part of my “family’s” lives.  I love watching them fall in love, and I love watching their kids growing and turning into hysterical little people.  I love getting to be a part of it all.  I tend to shut down and build walls when I lose people–it’s an instinctual reaction that I think will protect me.  If I never get close, then I can’t get hurt, right?  Except I know that getting close to people is what brings love and meaning to my life.  Luckily, there are people in my extended family here who have continued to reach out even when I’ve tried to hide behind my walls.

Nights like Wednesday make me realize what a blessing it is to have friends who don’t let me hide and miss my life.  After all, it’s these connections and the love and joy they bring that, in the end, truly make a life.

Today I had the opportunity to become an ordained minister (technically, anyway).  It’s a long story, but a good friend needs someone to be the officiant at her wedding in the next couple of days.

I was stoked.  How cool would that be??  I told her I was in–that if she needed me, I would be honored.

Bear with me, because this next part will probably make me sound really uneducated.  We knew that I could easily get ordained online, and that would allow me to perform marriages in Utah.  Until I started researching the process, though, it hadn’t occurred to me that doing so would mean becoming an ordained member of some non-denominational religious organization.  At first I didn’t think anything of it–no big deal, since the sites I was looking at proclaimed basic beliefs that match my own.

Then I hit a general “here’s how to get ordained online” page that cautioned members of other religions, as being ordained by one of these online churches can be considered an act of shunning one’s true/first/real religion.  Listed as a prime example?  The Catholic church, of course.

It makes sense, and I feel kind of silly for not realizing it earlier–but being ordained through one of these other religious organizations is viewed by the Catholic church as an act of apostasy.  Obviously.  Being a confirmed Catholic, which I am, I have stated that I believe in one God, one church, etc.  That commitment I made doesn’t really provide latitude for a quick online ordination.

Here’s the strange part.  I am not an active member of the Catholic church.  In fact, I can’t honestly remember the last time I went to mass.  When people ask, I tell them I was raised in the Catholic church, I believe in some kind of higher power, I consider myself spiritual, not religious, and that I find more God in nature than I ever did in a church.

Yet, once I realized what I’d be doing by getting ordained, I paused.  In fact, I took a long, hard, unexpected pause.  If you had asked me two years ago, I would have said the decision was a no-brainer–that I don’t believe that simply clicking a button on my computer means renouncing my faith and that it wouldn’t honestly make a damn bit of difference in my eternal salvation.

But it’s not two years ago.  It’s today, and today I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t click “ordain me!”

I’m still feeling a sense of surprise at my own hesitation.  At my  unwillingness to… risk it?  Risk what?  Excommunication?  The church will never know.  How would it?  Ah, but God will know, of course.  A God that just a couple paragraphs ago I mentioned being unsure of, at least in the form the Catholic church preaches.

I don’t know what all of this means, but there was no doubt that my gut said I wasn’t willing to do it.

It feels like a revelation.  A positive realization of some kind.  I’ve been reading about theology lately thanks to an interest raised by Katie’s death (and my subsequent questioning of what I believe about the afterlife) and by a beautiful collection of books sent by a dear friend.  I’m sure my recent reading and contemplation play a role in all of this.

More importantly, though, I’m feeling that maybe on a deep, previously unrecognized level, in the truest part of my being, I still feel connected to the Catholic church in ways I haven’t recognized.  Maybe in ways I’ve tried to downplay or ignore.  I don’t have a clue what to do with that, but I know it’s at least worth exploring.

I feel at peace in my state of unknowing.  This realization feels like an opening up of some kind, and, given my current spirit of personal change and deeper self-knowledge, that’s a great step.  Understanding will come with time and patience, I think.

I hope, anyway.  Because it’s an awfully strange feeling to be blind-sided by my own beliefs.

 

The official certificate is in the mail.

The official certificate is in the mail.

 

(Side note: Never fear–Clint said he was up to the job and got ordained tonight. He’ll officiate his first wedding this week!)

I don’t believe in resolutions for the new year. Too cliché and unreliable.

However, I DO love the feeling of the clean slate that comes with the beginning of the new year. What could be a better time to implement some of the changes I’ve been contemplating lately? (Does starting now define the “changes” as “resolutions?” I seriously hope not, because if so I’m going to have to wait a couple weeks to start just on principle.)

Whatever they are, this is one of the areas in my life where ADHD collides (in rather dramatic fashion) with making change a reality. Change is hard for everyone—I totally get that. But it seems like most people struggle with getting started (going to the gym for the first time) or maintaining the change (continuing to go to the gym after it’s not novel and exciting anymore).  My version looks a little different.

I can’t figure out where to start. My brain is exploding right now with things in my life that I’d like to do differently in the upcoming year.

  • Read more books, watch less TV.thinking
  • Write more (blogging or journaling), spend less time online.
  • Lead a more scheduled life that includes intentional practices like meditation, stretching, and intention-setting both in the morning and evening.
  • Be more intentional about being authentic in my relationships with others.
  • Finish some in-progress projects (a memory book, creating books from my saved greeting cards, etc.)
  • Take a psychology class.
  • Put myself out there more—network, engage in intelligent conversation, intentionally connect with people and opportunities that are going to lead to the next steps in my life.
  • Take better care of my holistic health.
  • Be a better mama to my puppies (more intentional time with them, more exercise, etc.)
  • Take an online course in water colors.
  • Take steps to prepare for making my next career move.

With so many ideas flying around my head, it’s hard to grab on to just one or two. I know that’s what would be most helpful. Pick no more than two or three goals and focus on specific action steps for them. I teach this stuff in class. I know how it works.

But my attention and interest wander SO much… Today I’ll be reading books (never just one book at a time, by the way—that’s just crazy talk) about theology, and tomorrow someone will hand me a new book on brain-based learning theory, and I’ll want to immediately start reading that.

Today I’ll find an online water color class that I want to take. Tomorrow I’ll decide I want to take a class on nutrition instead. Then I’ll decide that maybe I should sign up for an online photography class with my dad so we can work together on it.

The most frustrating?  Today I’ll have a great conversation with a colleague about an awesome opportunity for enhancing my job-related skills and experiences, and I’ll be SO fired up about it that I can’t stop talking about it. Then by tomorrow I’ll be distracted by one of the goals/dreams/ideas above (or a totally different one) and I won’t follow through on that awesome thing I’d been all fired up about.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m NOT flakey by any definition of the word.  Follow through isn’t a problem for me when, say, I have an assignment at work.  I never forget to pay a bill.  I consider myself quite responsible.  When it comes to choosing how to spend my personal time, though, my head is a tornado of ideas.

My ADHD head thinks it has the answer to this dilemma. The conversation with myself goes something like this*:

ADHD Brain:  “Make a list! Make a giant list of everything you want to do, everything you want to accomplish. The books to read, the people to meet, the changes to make. EEEEEEEVERYTHING!!” (my ADHD Brain can be a bit overly-dramatic)

Rational Kelly:  “That’s a good suggestion, Brain. But you know that will just overwhelm us.”

ADHD Brain (ignoring rational me):  “Put it on BIG paper! Once it’s all written down, it must be BIG so you’ll SEE it! If it’s BIG you’ll be able to decide!”

Rational Kelly:  “Yes, Brain, sometimes that does work. But then it will just be a BIG overwhelming list.”

ADHD Brain:  “And COLOR-CODE IT!!  YES!  There must be COLORS and PRIORITY numbers, and maybe some little icons!”

Rational Kelly:  “But…”

ADHD Brain:  “You need NOTEBOOKS, too!! To record ideas, and plans, and books, and notes!  Notebooks with TABS!  COLOR-CODED TABS!!”

You can see where this is going.  Giant lists help when I’m juggling a large number of tasks that I MUST complete and absolutely cannot forget.  Here, though, I’ll throw myself into creating fantastically organized lists– but the completed lists and notebooks will be works art that I promptly stick somewhere for safekeeping. Invariably I’ll find them several months later and excitedly check to see how many things I can cross off. This generally leads to serious confusion about what the hell I’ve been doing for the last several months, because it’s NEVER what’s on that list.

It doesn’t work. Ever. Having my options laid out in front of me simply does NOT help me narrow down and choose one or two things to work on. The options overwhelm me, so I ignore them and do whatever I feel at the moment.

When no one is depending on me except for me, that pressure to see projects through to completion is absent and I’m free to bounce from project to project, idea to idea. Because I like that freedom to bounce around, I don’t usually have a clear statement of purpose about these things–I resist that kind of structure. I’ve been reading about theology lately because I’m interested in knowing more. I keep reading because I still have books in my pile to read. What am I hoping to learn? I don’t have a damn clue.

I wish I could end this post by saying I’ve found a solution. I know there’s nothing inherently wrong with bouncing around between interests depending on what catches my heart from day to day. But I thrive on seeing that I’m making progress, and bouncing around doesn’t lend itself to obvious signs of progress.

I think the key lies in understanding my own purpose for doing what I do and in my own definition of and rules about “making progress”–but that’s for another post.

(*I don’t actually have conversations with my ADHD self–please don’t overestimate my crazy.)