how to jingle all the way…and get other things done…

img_4065I am like the queen bee of starting things and not finishing them…so this kitchen towel totally cracked me up. It’s not that I’m a half-ass jingler. When I jingle – I jingle with all my heart – for the moment that is. Then something happens (attention shifts or I get overwhelmed) and I forget that jingling was ever important to me in the first place! My sparkly bells  just sit there, unjingled, and lonely.

Now clearly I’m not just talking about jingling bells. In fact, the last time I really put effort into jingling bells was in high school show choir. I’m talking about all the other projects and things I pour my energy into like a gargantuan waterfall, only to quickly leave behind a lake of pieces unfinished and undone.

So how does an adult that struggles with ADD sustain a nice full ass jingle throughout the completion of a song? I am still in the process of learning that…but here is what I have discovered so far.

  1. Focus the attention waterfall: Those of us with ADD often have multiple waterfalls flowing in our head. We are constantly inundated with information and easily sucked into things that are unproductive. I can spend HOURS on Facebook doing absolutely nothing if I don’t choose to harness up my waterfall – meaning set a period of time and focus on a productive task. Jingle your bells with a full ass jingle for so many minutes a day.
  2. Let the waterfall move on: Sometimes we get so focused on working one set of bells, and can have difficulty shifting focus, that we neglect other sets of bells. So set your time period, but don’t overspend time doing one thing. It will still be there tomorrow, your brain will be refreshed, and there are other things around you that are important.
  3. Jingle in the direction of your values: If you don’t value it, don’t spend time on it. Facebook is cool, but it doesn’t move me towards my values. I am way better off working on something that involves committed action towards things that are really important. Don’t know what you value? Take a second to think about it and figure it out.
  4. You are capable of and worth a good jingle: If you have a habit of leaving things undone, starting and not finishing, or feeling like you constantly fail…it’s easy for interest to peak with a great idea only to be shot down by our own negativity. Some jingles will work out and others won’t. But that’s not because you are incapable or a failure. You deserve to give yourself time to work on that jingle. Sometimes the best ideas come out of those who process a bit differently. Shut the negative committee down and jingle till they move out the way!

I hope those things are helpful for you. I’m certainly – and will likely always be – in the process of figuring out what’s helpful for me. And process is a beautiful thing. It means growth. So get out there and jingle sister…the world is waiting to dance to the tune only you can provide.

don’t be a sloppy lovahhhhhhh……

love

I love me some Saturday Night Live. Especially the old stuff. One of my favs (I know it is so inappropriate but I can’t help myself) is Will Ferrel and Rachel Dratch playing the Professors Roger and Virginia Klarvin. They are so over the top with their hilarious PDA’s. I almost pee my pants every time I watch. Here’s a link…but warning…like seriously inappropriate adult humor…don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I feel weird even trying to bring an SNL skit like this and Jesus into the same blog post, but hey, now that I know I officially have ADD – I feel a little more freedom to do weird crap. So how did I draw a connection between the two? These three words that popped into my mind last night…

Don’t be a sloppy lovahhhh……

Jesus? SNL? A combo of both? I’m not really sure…but Jesus took it and taught me something.

I like to love people. Not in a weird ewwwwwwwww kind of way. Not that at all. What I mean is…I like to care for people. I crave doing it. God put a little bug in my heart that desperately wants to make sure others know they are okay. Even if they did the unthinkable…or experienced someone else doing the unthinkable…we learn, we grow, and we move on. I like to help people figure that out.

But at times…I like it a little too much. The consequence? I provide awesome lip service with little follow through. And I know it’s not just me, I see other lovahs struggle with the same thing.

So what is Jesus teaching me? That the best lovahs need good boundaries. Otherwise their awesome loving skills never get a chance to be properly used. The love-ah feels unfulfilled and like a failure and the love-ee feels like they are were misguided and perhaps not good enough. (and yes I just made up those terms)

But how on earth do we go about setting those boundaries?

1. Recognize it may go against everything that is within you. Your heart and mind will long to say yes, but your physical limitations sometimes have to scream NO…even if it feels awful and like you are letting people down.

2. Recognize there are other awesome lovahs and network with them! Despite your mad loving skills, you are not the only one who loves to love and care for people. If your love plate is full…pass on the next portion to someone else who can love well!

3. Have someone hold you accountable to your boundaries. Why? Because lovahs love to love and we are not good at keeping them!

4. Relish in the awesomeness of being able to fully invest in those God lets you love…and love the crap out of them. Love them like Jesus. Love them beyond what they deserve. And do it well because you of all people are not a sloppy lovah!

Looking back on my life the people who made the biggest difference were not famous. They didn’t write books, or flash up on the TV screen, or make millions of dollars. They were regular people who chose to love God and love people. They were and are amazing lovahs. And they stay that way and sustain their love because they also recognize their boundaries and limitations. Brene Brown does an awesome job of explaining this in this video. Worth the watch if you have time. But either way, remember this…

God did not call you to save the world. He had a son named Jesus who already did that. Love those whom He entrusts you to love. Let others love those whom He entrusts them to love. Making the choice to set boundaries in a love opportunity may just be the best thing that ever happened to them because it opens the door for the right person for that season to step in. And above all know that Jesus – the ultimate lovah – has got this. He’s got them. And He’s got you. Do your best. Love with your whole heart and leave the rest up to Him. He’s a good good father. The very best.

hypersensitivity, fear of failure, cocktail waitressing, and the making of a therapist…

ripped

Hypersensitivity to failure, disapproval, and criticism. I never knew this was a “thing” until I started researching emotions and ADHD. ADDitude magazine describes it like this…

“The emotional response to failure is catastrophic for those with the condition. Perceived criticism and withdrawal of love and respect is just as devastating as the real thing. The term “dysphoria” means “difficult to bear,” and most people with ADHD report that they “can hardly stand it.”  ADHDers are not wimps; disapproval hurts them much more than it hurts neurotypical people.”

I always thought this was something to hide…some sort of character flaw. But no matter how hard I fought, I just couldn’t get past it.

Over the years this hypersensitivity has come at a great cost. For me…it often led to lies.

I hated lying, but I was terrified of disapproval.

As a CPS worker fresh out of college with a toddler and a baby, I failed miserably. I couldn’t keep up with my files, I was emotionally overwhelmed, and would say that I got things done that I hand’t which eventually led to me looking irresponsible and negligent.

Was I?

It was never my intention to hurt or disappoint anyone, but while my heart was in the right place…I couldn’t get my brain to follow.

This has been the story of my life. A huge heart wanting to do and be everything to everyone. Passion that bleeds endlessly but never has the stamina or skills to implement.

So I left CPS quickly with my tail between my legs. At that time I was accepted into the Master’s Program in Counseling, but that was not all…

Cue embarrassing story…

I decided to cocktail waitress and bartend at night to make sure I could pay the bills. I didn’t even know how to make a margarita or the names of any other drink…but that’s what an impulsive spirit running from her hypersensitivity to failure and criticism will do to survive. Just about anything.

I went to grad school and I was successful. Looking back I have no idea how. It must have been the grace of God. There is no other way. Apparently He knew someday my particular take on life and set of experiences would be beneficial to the children who grace my office. To those sweet little souls with unspeakable traumas and behaviors that everyone else misunderstands and sees as ugly. My own mistakes have given me the perspective to see past their messiness into their hearts. Because God did the same for my own.

I feel their pain. I know what it’s like to come undone. To feel like you can’t quite harness up your brain so you can use it. It’s my honor to help them figure out how to take what they have – though it may be little – and rock it.

And I sit here tonight with my intellectually disabled son napping by my side, my ADD daughter (who didn’t fall even a centimeter from the tree) crafting her little artsy heart away, and my amazing husband cleaning the kitchen because he knows cleaning just isn’t my thing. I am blessed beyond measure. I have found what it takes for me to be able to slow my brain down enough that I can keep up with things like files and notes so that the part of my practice I excel at (loving people) can be successful. I am still sensitive. I still want people to like and approve of me. But I know if they don’t, it doesn’t define me. I have learned to handle rejection and that it really is okay to mess up sometimes and just be human. And above all, with Jesus I continue to find that not matter what, it is well with my soul.

one handful of peace…

real-not-perfect

Art by Valerie Wieners Art: www.valeriewienersart.com

I find it tremendously valuable to work harder. To be the best. To be the one that others envy due to my consistent willingness to sacrifice. In fact, my mom’s favorite phrase that sticks with me to this day is, “Stephanie has been in a hurry all of her life.” And it’s true. I want to do more or be better. Never have I been able to be settle. To realize my enough was enough or that it’s okay to be right where I am. I need somewhere to go. And quickly.

I supposed that’s been the greatest lesson of learning that I have ADHD. Understanding why I have been in a hurry all of my life. Because if I’m honest, I rush about, but rarely get much done without chasing my tail in a thousand different directions.

My family and friends try to keep up as my hair catches on fire with ideas about a new project, but then move on just as quickly to something else. I am a doer by design. And I embrace it! But treating this lack of dopamine in my brain has helped me to slow down and make sense of some things.

The other day I looked closely at what I want out of life. One word came to mind. Balance. I want balance. I don’t know that I’ve ever had it. So I began looking at what I would need to get it. Worthy and Capable. To slow down enough to achieve balance, I need to trust that God has made me worthy and capable.

I started looking up Bible verses about balance and came across this:

Then I saw that all hard work and skillful effort come from rivalry. Even this is pointless. It’s like trying to catch the wind. A fool folds his hands and wastes away. One handful of peace and quiet is better than two handfuls of hard work and of trying to catch the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4-6

Chasing the wind. All hard work and skillful effort come from rivalry. Rivalry with others – maybe – I do like to be the best. But mostly it’s a fierce blood bath that occurs right inside the darkest corners of myself. Impulsive decisions, lack of being able to organize even when I try, forgetting things that led to someone I care about getting hurt, or abandoning an idea too quickly and leaving others behind has left me feeling so unworthy and inadequate that I wondered if God just made me a faulty human. I tried to do better, but it was like spitting into a hurricane force gust. I kept messing up.

Enter profound depression and anxiety dominating my thoughts: You are a mistake. It doesn’t matter how hard you try. You will never be good enough. You were an accident. There is no reason for you to be alive. You should just give up before you end up hurting someone else. You are too needy. Stop trying to get better. You never will. You are a failure.

Like a bad rollercoaster…I would feel awful about myself, try to do something amazing, sometimes fail, sometimes succeed…but it was never enough. My mind would continue to turn itself like a washing machine stuck on the spin cycle with a combination of worries, ideas, and thoughts that never stop. And who wants to be still when your brain is stuck on the spin cycle? It makes you dizzy. So dizzy that you just can’t stand it. Never finding peace because even when you try to be still, your brain makes it exhausting.

One handful of peace and quiet is better than two handfuls of hard work and of trying to catch the wind.

One handful of peace. That is what treating ADHD has given me. One tremendous overflowing amazingly profound handful of peace. It’s the sloppy wet sloshing in between my fingers that I have been looking to find my whole life. It’s my worthy. And my capable. For the first time I can look back on things and think…wow…that was pretty cool what God allowed me do to there. I can tie up the details of a project or organize my closet without getting overwhelmed and giving up. And then I can sit down and be still. I can experience peace.

So it may sound strange to some that finding out and treating ADHD has been an answer to prayer. No one really wants a diagnosis. But when you have suffered for 35 years and finally find the answer it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s the gift of being able to sit down and enjoy the cool brisk movement of the wind as it touches my skin rather than getting up immediately trying to chase it. For the first time, I am content.