Posted in Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Identity, Life, NaNoWriMo, Organization, Pediatric Feeding Disorder, Pets, Writing

2020 Was Lame, but NOT the Worst Year

Welp, it’s time for the annual “Oh hey it’s January!” blog post, which makes up probably three quarters of this blog since I started it. 🙄

It’s been trendy since January 2nd of 2020 to bemoan what a horrible year it is / going to be / has been. In many ways, it has been a stinker of a year, full of all sorts of mayhem and dumbassery, perhaps more than most years. But . . . This year has actually yielded some major blessings that I would not have taken advantage of, grabbed onto, or even noticed for what they were if everything hadn’t been thrown completely off-kilter.

I do feel like I’ve gone through at least ten different personality changes over the course of the last ten months. It’s been a weird mental journey, and I’m still not exactly sure where it’s going to end [Narrator: “Little did she know, it would NEVER END.”], but where I am is certainly different than where I was earlier this year.

Like, seriously, I can’t really figure out where my brain was two posts ago. I was feeling incredibly vulnerable, but also too outspoken (even though I didn’t say anything). “Now” Me doesn’t really recognize “Turn Off Comments” Me. I do recognize that I went through some kind of state of wanting to talk into a vacuum or scream into a void — while never being able to materialize any words on what I was thinking, and also being afraid of releasing anything that did materialize into the ether where it could be . . . what, criticized? Noticed? Read? What the heck do I have a blog for, again?

(FOR THE RECORD, I kind of want to go back and shake that version of me and explain that it was stupid. But I wouldn’t have been able to see that back then, because I hadn’t yet made the transition into this mindset I’m in now. All versions of me are very good at making things awkward, but Fragile Me has gone through some toughening up since August. The moth has emerged from the cocoon. Well, mostly. Anyway, ignore that dumb post where I was out of my mind. Comments are staying on.)

This year has presented some great challenges; things I didn’t really want to have to deal with, but did because I had no choice. Some of them were choices I could have put off, but my life has improved since making the choice to not put them off. Some choices were scary as all hell . . . but I am so glad I made them that I can barely contain my gratitude for what I now consider were blessings that had to be revealed at the Right Time.

That was convoluted. Let me be more specific . . .

THE OBVIOUS:

  1. We’re saving money on gas and bridge tolls. This extra money allowed us to give more charitably, but also afford groceries for two adults being home all the time, when up until February it had been mostly me at home, and not always that often. It also helped us pay off debt accrued in October 2019, when we had a bunch of expenses and the fear that we wouldn’t have a paycheck if they messed up my husband’s orders again.
  2. We sold an old, less-functional car and bought a far more practical vehicle for our family. Yes, more debt, but absolutely worth it. And now we are in a financial place where we can afford it.
  3. KITTENS! (Duh 😆) The fact that we’re home far more often now makes it possible to care for pets, and they have done wonders for my mental health. Also challenged it, because one of them developed pneumonia a few weeks after we adopted them, and has only JUST been given a clean bill of health — and, once again, we were fortunate to be able to afford the vet bills. We couldn’t have last year.
  4. We took the time to have a large chunk of garage storage hauled away. It’s only a fraction of what we need to get rid of, but it was going to be very hard to do it all by ourselves (mostly baby and little-kid stuff, as well as old, sentimental junk that I couldn’t just take to the dump). Paying someone else to do something with it was absolutely worth every penny — and I’m going to do it again.
  5. We replaced our water heater. It has been ailing for at least two years, but we just didn’t have time (or money) to deal with it. It was stupidly expensive (financial challenge), but now I can take hot baths again, which is a decent replacement for not being able to go to the sauna at the YMCA (we canceled our membership — more money in our pocket, I suppose, even if it means we’re back on our own for exercise motivation). This also works wonders for my mental health, and sore muscles. I’m loving it! Glad we didn’t put it off further! (Side note: This house was built in at least 2009. When the water heater guys came to install the new one, they told us our old water heater had been built in 1992 (!!!). I was 31 when the house was built, and 14 when the water heater was built. It was probably what my husband called “new old stock”, but WOW. I feel much better knowing that both the water heater and expansion tank have been replaced sooner rather than later.)

THE NOT-AS-OBVIOUS:

  1. Because so many people were staying at home and cancelling their medical appointments (and, sadly, probably losing their medical insurance; or, less sadly, moving out of this crazy state), two slots opened up this Fall with the speech therapist I wanted at the clinic where the boys had occupational and physical therapy. It does mean I’m driving 40-something miles round-trip twice a week to take them to their appointments, but it also means they are actually improving with the help of the right therapy, and we have a great advocate for the boys’ medical issues, if we have to see other specialists (N just had an endoscopy done — upper GI — and bloodwork, and will have an allergy test done later this month, because we think he may be very allergic to nuts). I didn’t have that before, and was afraid to pursue testing for either of the boys, because doctors don’t exactly know what Pediatric Feeding Disorder is, much less how to treat it.
  2. I deleted my NaNoWriMo account in October, and will only be participating in the future on a personal level, with close friends. I wasn’t thrilled with the confusing updates to their website, which shaved off several years of my participation history, anyway — among other issues I was having. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I don’t really need that community, because I’ve got one of my own. It was actually kind of a quick decision, once I decided to do it, and I haven’t been unhappy with my choice at all.
  3. While I’m still heavily involved with the local symphony association, I quit the chorale (choir 1) in early September. I already had too many Zoom meetings for the symphony, and the “rehearsals” I was attending for a community choral ensemble (choir 2, same director) were just about all the virtual “rehearsing” I could stomach for the week. It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t helpful or edifying. I also didn’t want to subject myself to having to sit through the dominant conversations during the “social” time, which was not only not social, but a major waste of my own time, and also caused nothing but stress and frustration. I’ll go into that in a little bit.
  4. In mid-November, after 10 years of participation, I quit the ladies choral ensemble (choir 2). This is a big one — a major blessing in disguise that I would never have recognized for what it was without being forced to take a break. I’ll also go into that shortly.

A little inner voice I’m prone to ignore had been nagging me for some time for a break, or a rearranging of priorities. I really needed to stop being so busy with my activities and focus on the boys more. That seems obvious, but when things are moving at a constant pace, it’s hard to find the point where you can break away from them — especially if you’re committed, and it’s the thing you get to do away from home that is kind of adventurous and challenging, and even athletic.

I was extremely resentful of these lockdowns for putting the brakes on everything. I wanted a break, but I wanted to make the choice — I didn’t want to be forced into it. However, if I’d been honest with myself, I would have been able to recognize that nothing short of forcing me to take a break was going to make me take a break. I’m still resentful of the lockdowns, but no longer for that reason. 🙂 I am still upset that, despite the extra time with my family, I can’t make my normal escapes, because everything is stupid right now. This is another reason I’m glad we replaced the water heater. Drinking tea or wine while soaking in a hot bath behind a closed door makes me far less hateful of everything if it’s too cold and dark outside to sit in my hammock in the sun.

ANYway . . . In the before-times, as much as I loved singing and being a part of a team and blending my voice with others and performing — and all the things that came along with being a part of two choirs with very different repertoire — I was beginning to chafe. I won’t go into much detail on exactly why, but suffice it to say that I was definitely needing a change. I would have disavowed this on the basis that I was just tired and had a bad attitude sometimes, and eventually I would get over myself and be a better team-player — but that wasn’t the true problem.

After the lockdowns, when I learned that the chorale would still be “rehearsing” over Zoom, I stressed a little before notifying my director that I would no longer be attending. I was 99% convinced she would understand, knowing that I had a lot on my plate with the changes the Symphony was trying to make to the subscription model in order to keep the doors open while live performing arts were essentially being crushed to dust (she was in the same meetings I was), and that I was still choosing to stay in her smaller ensemble, despite the challenge of “rehearsing” over Zoom. What I didn’t tell her was that I loathed the idea of being forced to socialize with those who would dominate all conversation (read: listen to people talk about politics while I’m attempting to maintain a neutral expression), and not ever be able to talk about what I wanted to talk about, because my beliefs are not exactly tolerated by the status quo. There were only a handful of people I socialized with at rehearsal, anyway, and none of them were outspoken in the virtual format, either. Not to mention, when I rehearse with a choir, I rehearse with a group. Rehearsing by myself over Zoom (because you can’t sing as a group over Zoom) is neither something I want nor something I need — and especially something I should not be forced to do. I have means of learning music that does not require trying to hear the accompanist through my computer speakers while singing by myself. It had been frustrating enough sitting in the rehearsal hall late on a Tuesday night (or several nights the week before a concert), twiddling my thumbs while the director spent 45 minutes helping the men learn their parts, when they really should have picked up that information in sectionals. I could not subject myself to that over Zoom.

As time marched on, however, it became very clear to me that I just could no longer participate in any virtual “rehearsal” — pretending that we were still a choir, being reminded every week how “dangerous” it is to do anything outside our own houses (I’m sorry if you also subscribe to that narrative — I will not be responding to or even approving comments telling me why I’m wrong), and trying to learn songs in the most tedious way possible. It was frustrating, soul-sucking, not at all self-improving or group-edifying. Not to mention, we were trying to break into the “virtual choir” video world, and, honestly, we were rushing it. Few of the members (in either choir, actually) are either capable of that kind of solo work, or even technologically equipped. On top of that, I resented being forced to languish through a “rehearsal” that wasn’t helping me learn anything just so I could participate in stressful, rushed video performances that just weren’t in our bailiwick. But it was being made mandatory that we attend all the virtual “rehearsals” in order to participate in the videos.

No. I had to draw the line. If I wanted to do solo work, I would do it independently. If I want to be in a choir, I want to rehearse as a choir. There are some members who do benefit from that kind of rehearsal, but I’m not one of them. Unfortunately, even after voicing these concerns — and not being the only one who held them — participation in “rehearsals” was still going to be mandatory, even if the director did back down from further video production goals.

Additionally, I was looking at a very stressful few months, outside of choir participation, and the thought of scrambling to get home after church in order to spend two hours in an activity I was growing to hate was NOT how I wanted to spend my Sundays. But it’s hard to say “this is demoralizing and I hate it” to a group you do love, and into whom you’ve poured a lot of time and effort over the course of a decade.

I had heart palpitations for days before and after. I almost went to the ER, because I was afraid the stress was doing damage, and I was going to have freed myself from it just to go die of apoplexy.

But then I didn’t die. And, to be 100% honest, I’m intensely grateful to have finally given up my choir commitments. I get my Sundays back! No more taking the boys to my parents and picking them up late on Tuesday nights while my husband is gone! No more driving back and forth in the dark and rain to spend maybe 30 minutes of 2 hours actually rehearsing! I can get sick during concert season and it won’t matter! No dragging my sick butt to rehearsals, either (not that that will happen anymore, I bet), to sit in the back and not miss any important notes, or dragging my poor kids to rehearsals when I can get babysitters (especially when we’re all sick)! No more busy summers full of rehearsals and concerts leading up to a weekend retreat that takes place less than a month before the next season begins, because we couldn’t do it early enough to get two months off! No more— Um, I need to stop, or I’m going to get into the more personal reasons for leaving, and those don’t need to be publicly aired. Not right now, anyway.

Will I miss it? Sure! But not as much as I’m going to enjoy not having to do all that AND homeschool my kids, pay closer attention to their therapy, teach a homeschool co-op class, get my house under control, take care of two cats, and be mom and dad while my husband travels. Since we have so much newfound time at home, I can build up my editing business if I want to, and even start writing again. I sculpt clay now, and I want to improve my sewing skills. I also want to host a podcast, do radio plays with the boys, and maybe create my own music recordings. It’s time for a change, and it appears this is the time the change will happen.

I’ve never chosen a word for the year, though I know several who have (or several homeschool parents who choose a word for their homeschool year). I’m not that fancy. I usually go with the traditional half-assed resolutions that I give up on halfway through January. But, this year, a word got stuck in my brain, and it’s practically surrounded by flashing lights and filled with glitter, and pretty much impossible to ignore — so I guess I do have a word for the year: CREATE.

I can create new crafts, new words and stories, new ideas; I can create space in my house by decluttering; I can create ways of helping the boys learn, and make time for school, fun, and adventure; and I can create a better routine that will bring us closer to God and each other. No sweat, right? 😉

Go count your blessings, and have a great 2021!

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Life, Organization, Pets

This Has Been a Wild Year

I wish I could say that I got a lot accomplished, but I honestly feel like I’ve been dodging meteors for months. Maybe a few got me. I’m not sure. I should check for missing parts.

It hasn’t been a bad year, mind, just one of adjustment. Either I’ve been more aware of my ADD issues, or they’ve just become more prominent. Depression and anxiety have remained about the same, but my determination to power on through them (when I can, anyway) has strengthened a bit. It’s gotten busier, but maybe it’s not so much busy as the activities are just spread out more?

I’ve been parenting by myself for the majority of this year, I think, and 2020 will be no different. Well, maybe it will be different but I’m not going to expect it to be. The first half will definitely be mostly me. This is also not a bad thing, per se, just an extra level of busy to integrate into daily life. The boys are getting old enough that I can leave them home alone for an hour or so while I go to the store, but anything else requires a 20-minute (or so) drive to either a sitter or my parents’ house, as well as a pickup time that is 20 minutes PLUS however long it takes to get out the door. Also not a bad thing, but exhausting when it’s a week of late nights. And I miss my husband while he’s gone. It’s probably not entirely a good thing that I’m kind of used to him being away, but it’s not like I can really do anything about it. Our marriage is strong and it’s not really putting a strain on our relationship. There is an adjustment period when he comes home, but we get through it.

It’s amazing what one can adapt to, given the need. I might not like the need, but I have no power over it, so I must accept it and adapt. And keep a sense of humor — if I don’t laugh, I cry. And I hate crying.

Speaking of crying, I’ve discovered that my grieving process is…not normal. I shed a few tears, and then I’m done. But inside, I’m working to make sense of the death. If it’s a death that makes sense (old age, long-term illness, explainable medical condition), I can accept it. I will still miss the person and feel sadness, but I don’t shed tears anymore. This year’s deaths:

  • My cat, (put down) in March: old age, loss of function
  • My dog, (put down) in August: old age, potential cancer
  • My next-door neighbor (the one we called “Grammy”), in October: very sudden brain aneurysm — this one is still painful
  • A guy I’ve known online for almost two decades, with whom I’ve played Words With Friends for the past few years, in November: long fight with ALS
  • A woman who worked at a church and watch all the kids while moms attended a Bible study, December: long fight with breast cancer
  • My mom’s cousin, who sent us old family pictures and silly emails, December: old age, natural causes

This list doesn’t include a couple suicides I heard about from previous acquaintances. Neither does it take into account the anniversaries of friends we lost last year. In this regard, it’s been tough.

But good things have happened, too: I’ve lost some weight and inches for the first time in ages, and been going to a Pilates class semi-regularly (when the boys have PE at the Y); I’ve learned how to edit video while being a part of a YouTube writing group; I have a bow, arrows, and a target and can start practicing in my backyard now (left-handed, even! I’m a better shot with a left-handed riser); I started teaching choir for a homeschool co-op; I had two solos in our Symphony Christmas concert (I’m not happy with them, but everyone else seemed to think they were great so I’ll take their word for it 😉 ); I’ve helped develop a logo and tagline for our Symphony, as well as started writing press releases and proofing marketing materials; and I’ve been editing for actual money, which is just about as close to a dream job as I’ve ever gotten.

Conversely, my house hasn’t gotten any cleaner (except for a drastic reduction in pet hair); my kids still have too much video-game time and not enough school (but they’re still whip-smart, amazing little men); we’re really bad at therapy homework (but the boys do, at least, like their therapists); and I suck at wrangling and being super-proactive about insurance issues (not that I can really have much impact when the errors lie in a realm even the representatives can’t access — though I could have started the alternate-insurance process much sooner and made more progress before the holidays… It’s such a long story); I’m tired all the time, and have had trouble getting up before 7:30 or 8am, which sets me waaay back (I’ve just ordered a sunrise alarm clock and a therapy light to help combat this); and sometimes I feel terrified of being put in charge of anything (even my own children), for fear I’m going to screw it all up and disappoint everyone around me.

So, as you can see, this year has been something else. I’ve grown, I think, amidst the chaos. But now my brain is finally shutting off. I really should go to sleep now, so I can get up earlier than 7am. I guess I ought to set an alarm, too…

Anyway, I hope 2020 is short on deaths, but long on growth. If I make any resolutions, I might post them. One of them is to blog more in 2020. But I think I’ve been recycling that one for years. Oh well! Maybe this is the year I actually achieve it? 😉

Happy New Year, everyone!

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Life, Organization, sleep, Sluggish Cognitive Tempo

I Am NOT a Morning Person

I have tried. Then I tried harder, and tried again. But very, very little can get me motivated to be up and terribly active before 7:00am.

If I’m anxious about something, or nervous, about to embark on an adventure, or I have a commitment, I can manage to drag myself out of bed earlier. Those things are not daily occurrences, however, and I have a tendency to avoid commitments that would make them so — especially since I often have evening commitments that might keep me up late.

No, I am a night owl through and through. It’s difficult for me to be fully wound down and willing to go to sleep before 11pm, even on days I’ve been up since oh-dark-thirty and am completely wrung out. And now that my kids (who are homeschooled but still get up between 6:30 and 7:30) can entertain themselves for a little while in the mornings, it’s not imperative that I get up with them anymore. My early-morning motivation has dwindled mightily since my kids grew out of toddlerhood.

Don’t get me wrong, though — I’d love to be able to convince myself that being up before them and ready to attack the day is something I need to be doing every morning. If I could only force myself out of bed by 6am, or even 5:30, I’d be that much closer to getting a jump on things. I would have extra time to do just about anything: write, clean, read my Bible, do laundry, think . . .

I’ve managed to do that about two days in a row before it catches up with me and I can barely function, even at 7am. Doing any of those early-morning pursuits results in me falling asleep over them, or not fully comprehending them, or falling into a state of hyperfocus that I sustain until it’s too late and now I’m struggling to change gears to get anything else done.

So maybe I’ll remain a night person, and figure out how to work my habits and routines around being up later and getting up later. Sleep is still important to me and my mental health, so I can’t actively abuse my circadian rhythm anymore, like I did when I was a young college student or later when I had babies up all hours of the night. My husband and kids can be the early birds (until the kids are teenagers and their sleep rhythms change), and I’ll enjoy the quiet dark of the night after they’ve all gone to sleep and my brain is still active. There is nothing wrong with this.

That’s really all I had to say. I embrace my alternative lifestyle, because I have the luxury to do so right now. I’m also researching “sluggish cognitive tempo” and how it relates to ADD, because it actually applies to my historical and current symptoms in ways traditional ADHD doesn’t. I really ought to get diagnosed, or at least evaluated. I know I fight with my lack of executive function and various other atypical neural behaviors, but fatigue and brain fog often figure into that fight more than hyperactivity (mental or otherwise).

Anyway, speaking of executive function, I need to get moving now because I have less than an hour till an appointment, and need to start getting ready. I have more on my mental discoveries to talk about (and that of my kids’), but that will have to wait!

Now is time for more coffee . . . 😉

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Identity, Life, Organization, Writing

Ch-ch-ch-ch-CHANGES

The following is a draft from August 2015. I might not have posted it because it was the one I’d taken so long working on, that had reverted to an old version of the draft after I’d tried to post it. It’s complete, and has relevant information about my journey from then to now, so I think I’ll post it today. 🙂

—————BEGIN POST FROM AUGUST 2015—————

I remember updating my blog every day. I would have to resist updating a few times of day, because I had nothing else to do. Those were the early days of marriage, after I’d graduated college, and could clean my apartment in an hour. (This year marks fifteen (15) years of marriage for me and my Sweetie. Where has the time gone??) But now? It will take days to do the amount of cleaning I need to do in this house, and my rugrats keep my mind running in circles all day, even if I don’t accomplish a darn thing.

But those aren’t the changes I’m referring to!

Since posting about adult ADD, I’ve sought professional help, and it’s been lovely! I haven’t received medication, because I wasn’t seeking anything more than cognitive (“talk”) therapy, and while I still struggle with anxiety and depression, I have a better roadmap for dealing with it. I have also managed to pinpoint the less-obvious triggers and make some rather monumental (a.k.a. “hard”) decisions regarding my life that have made a big difference in how I treat myself.

The first big, hard decision was owning up to the fact that I’m a lousy Mary Kay consultant, and, well, maybe I should admit that it’s not a career I should be pursuing. I already knew that, and wanted desperately to improve, but I was not making the improvements. It was driving me CRAZY that I could not even make myself do what I kept planning to do, or what it would take to make me successful at this career. How hard could it be? People from all walks of life could make it in Mary Kay (or direct sales in general).

But I am not a direct seller. Approaching strangers (or even friends) to sell them stuff is just not in my programming, and trying to program myself to be able to do that was blue-screening my motivation to do anything. It took years to come to this conclusion, because I believed that telling myself I was not meant to do direct sales was “stinking thinking”. You don’t tell yourself you’re not good at something! You tell yourself you’re excellent at it! And you will BECOME EXCELLENT.

Dear readers, I’m going to tell you right now that there are wonderful things I’ve learned from Mary Kay that I will always be thankful for, but IT IS OKAY to say that I AM NOT A DIRECT SELLER. Forcing yourself to do something you do not enjoy in order to fit a niche you believe you should be in works only for certain personalities — but not for mine. Mary Kay is a wonderful company, with a great product. The troubles I had with my own business are completely separate from the business at large. I’ve just finally come to realize that direct selling is not something I enjoy or want to do with the rest of my life.

See, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve been writing stories since I could form sentences. The first time I “quit” Mary Kay was to become a writer, but I didn’t have the discipline for anything nor did I have the support structure I have now. I used writing as an excuse, rather than a true chosen career path, because even then I didn’t believe that it was something I could realistically pursue in my life. It wasn’t a “real job”. No, I wanted my “real job” to be motherhood — so when my husband came home from Afghanistan and we started our family, that’s all I had in mind.

Of course, then I signed back up with Mary Kay, days before giving birth to our first child. Again, for some, this is fine. For me, it was a spontaneous choice perhaps fueled by hormones and the fact that my husband was not thrilled with his job. Don’t sign up for life choices when you’re eight months pregnant, ‘kay? Wait awhile to see what you’re up for. Ian was a difficult baby, and my life and demeanor was just not geared toward making money off strangers buying stuff from me, or for being organized in any way, shape, or form. Home businesses require organization, and that is another weak point with me.

I was loyal to my team and to my director, whom I love dearly. But I can count on one hand the number of skin care classes/parties I held in my entire two attempts (about nine or ten years, total) at being a consultant. I was not a productive member. I was spending more than I was making, and I was constantly guilting myself over my inability to just DO IT. Was I scared, or was I just lazy? Why did I constantly feel this insane mental block when it came to picking up the phone, or trying to work out the logistics of a single party a week? Why did I never say a word to people in the store, even when it was obvious they were looking for skin care or makeup, and I could totally help them? Was I just that unskilled? Did I just need to get over myself?

But, then, I feel such great satisfaction in being in my house, creating worlds and characters and fashioning stories out of thin air, participating in NaNoWriMo (and winning!), and telling everyone about THAT? When it comes to writing, I can’t shut up! When it comes to singing, and telling people about Symphony and Lyrica concerts, I can’t shut up!

What I finally figured out (but probably knew for a long time) was that, perhaps, I needed to honor the fact that I have an artistic personality that needs to pursue artistic goals — and I needed to leave the business to the business people.

I’ve purged much of my old Mary Kay stuff that’s been sitting around, staring at me and waiting for me to sell it/use it/give it away, and am building up my artistic self. I have a great writing group, which is more like a support group than just a group I write with. I actually believe, now, that I really can publish a book, or use my word skills to make money if I wanted to. I’m jumping with joy that I will be joining the Bremerton Symphony Chorale for the 2015/2016 season (at least), which I couldn’t do in the past because it rehearsed on MK meeting nights. I’m trying to put together my crafting nook, so I can spend more time knitting and sewing, things that bring me great joy and sense of accomplishment.

I didn’t want to “quit” Mary Kay, because I felt committed to my director and my sister consultants, and it felt like if I quit, I was “not being true to my potential” and just “being a quitter”. I was avoiding the things that brought me joy, even through hard work, for something I thought would eventually bring me joy through the hard work I would have to force myself to do for years. It did scratch an itch for teaching and leading — which I enjoy very much — but not as much as running workshops for my writing group.

So you see where I’m going with this. It was scary to admit this to my husband, who never thought direct selling was for me (but greatly supports my pursuit of a writing career), but whom I wanted to convince I could cut it, and even scarier to admit it to my director, to whom I was deeply loyal and did not want to disappoint. Once I finally did these things, though, and gave myself the permission to dress the way I wanted to, and wear little or no makeup out in public, and spend my time not focused on my family or house in creative pursuits, my outlook on life began to improve considerably! I’m happier, my husband is happier, and my friends, whom I just don’t call often on a normal basis, are happier that I’m not only calling them to hit them up for sales.

My house is still a mess and I have a LOT of work to do in various other areas of my life, but freeing up that anvil over my head has lightened the burden immensely. And now I’m making actual progress on my novel(s), with a mind to publish them, and I’m ridiculously happy with my decision to follow that path.

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Life, Organization, Pediatric Feeding Disorder, Vision and Glasses, Writing

Rumination

A lot has changed here at WordPress since I started blogging here. Even since my last post! And it’s high time I started using it again.

I used to blog all the time — nearly every day — but that was before kids, and kind of before blogs became a professional industry. After that, I was conflicted: Do I join the industry, and try to make a blog that had the potential to be monetized? Write high-quality posts about relevant topics, or try to make my boring life funny and interesting? (Truth be told, the latter was already my favorite reason for blogging, but suddenly there was the pressure to produce, and I had far less time — and brain power — to spend doing that.) Or do I continue to just write whatever I want, in any format I want, and not bother competing with the professionals?

Obviously, the latter choice is the better one, for someone busy and not planning to make money at the task, but . . . writing is one of my joys, perhaps even strengths, and professional blogging looked like fun! On the other hand, with little kids running about and all the distractions that life brings, a single, well-crafted blog post took me hours — hours I didn’t have time for. And being as disorganized as I am, I couldn’t prioritize blogging like I used to, and couldn’t focus on it once distracted from it. And then I couldn’t decide whether to draft the whole post in the web editor or in a word processor, because I once had lost hours of work after proofing in the web editor (the old one) and losing it to a site glitch. It was an enormous setback, especially after I’d sacrificed so much time I should have been spending with my family to try to write something that wasn’t going to have any purpose. I put aside blogging for awhile, because the tedium of going from word processor to web form was taking even more time. I’m a ridiculous, nearly-OCD perfectionist, and I wanted to make sure EVERYTHING MATCHED. The things must match, or they would haunt me.

I have issues. 😆

There are a lot of things I want to talk about, besides my stupid eyes (I really can’t believe I spent so much time posting about that; I’m feeling a little self-conscious about it now — though I did recently, FINALLY, get new glasses that work just right, but there’s more to say about it than just searching for glasses). My kids have eating disorders and we’ve finally gotten therapy for them; I’ve passed on to them Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, which I’ve just learned is a thing, and explains SO MUCH that was not previously explainable, including visual weirdness; I’ve been learning more about ADHD, ADD, “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”, and executive function difficulties; depression and anxiety are very real, potent manipulators of my productivity (or lack thereof); military life, even as good as we have it, brings a measure of experience and “fun”; and I need more writing motivation. Among many other things.

There are more reasons for blogging than not blogging, and I need to work on getting over my issues so I can get back into it. That may still take some time, but maybe I’ll have something here for my imaginary friends sooner rather than later. 🙂

Thanks for your patience with me!

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Life, Organization

Hijacked by Stress

We’re taking a short break from my prissy eyes. They will come up in this post, but Take 4, Part 4 is being delayed by life right now. Not that you even expected it this soon, of course — all two of you (and that’s probably being generous) who’ve stuck around to see if I ever post again. 😉

I can already feel the tsunami of overwhelm taking over my mind as I struggle to think of how to even begin, and am forcing myself to push on through this tedious sentence to make myself commit to this post. I’m also listening to the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony, and it’s nearly the thing that overflows the bottle I’ve been shoving all my feelings into this week so I can get stuff done. (Not that I’m getting a lot done; just the bare minimum to get by. Depression is a hell of a thing.) I love this music so much I can barely handle it.

In addition to my stupid eyes being stupid, and an inability to buy glasses without having to send them back multiple times (and allergies making my eyes feel raw and tired all day long), I also have some mild family drama that I tend to forget about until it crops up at random times and becomes emotionally conflicting; a good friend I’ve only had for a year has moved away (though I am very happy for her; she really needed the change); there has been a lot of drama with the Symphony I’m heavily involved with, and we’re scrambling to finish up the 75th season with a bang so there’s also a lot of planning and activity to keep track of; I still have a ridiculously messy house and no productive routines to speak of; I’ve barely written anything but the last blog post in months; and, on top of it all, we found out recently that one of our old friends has basically committed a long, slow suicide by alcohol, and lied his ass off for years about it and a whole bunch of other things that make us question everything we thought we knew about him forever. It’s extremely emotionally draining, and there are so many feels to feel that I can barely process them. They come in waves, when I least expect them, and the residual fatigue from all of it is kicking my butt.

My heart hurts right now. It’s heavy in my chest, and tight. And it’s not just emotional pain, it’s also the overwhelming nature of all the emotions put together. If my mind drifts over to a thought about needing to clean off a section of my table — or even just fill in the calendar for this new month and put it on the fridge — I feel this surge of sadness that kind of sticks in my throat and behind my nose. It’s as visceral as it is psychological — but it’s not enough to make me shed actual tears. I’m not much of a crier, honestly, and haven’t been since adolescence. It takes a lot to get me worked up enough, or it takes a very particular trigger (and there are very few of those). I can feel like I’m going to cry all day, but I probably won’t actually shed tears. If I do shed tears, they might not even leave my eyes. If they do, there aren’t many. I just have to blow my nose a lot. But it’s the same kind of rush and ache from head to gut that steals your breath and makes you want to go curl up under a blanket for a few hours. Not fun, and not easily ignored.

Since I’ve been researching ADHD and Executive Function Disorder (EFD), I’ve learned a lot about the signs and symptoms of each, and I know that at least with ADHD, it’s much easier to be overwhelmed with or by strong emotions (link is a slide show, but it’s not annoying like the click-bait ones), and have your actual brainpower hijacked by said strong emotions. I’m usually pretty good at regulating, but when I am bombarded by stress from several angles at once, the regulation goes a bit haywire, and — to use a Star Trek reference — I have to make the decision whether to take power from the engines (barely running on impulse control) to run the shields, or drop some defenses and less-important functions in order to keep the engines running and maintain life support.

For example, in the struggle to try to stay positive and on task — or even start a task — I feel like I’ve lost the ability to speak in a coherent manner, or I’ve lost whatever tenuous control I had over my ability to concentrate long enough to remember what it is I’m doing and why I’m doing it. If I do manage verbal coherency, I feel tension in my chest, and laughing — even genuine laughter; I don’t usually fake it — feels painful. The loss of concentration is like staring at a shelf in the grocery store (something I did today) and knowing there is something there you need to find, but the memory of it keeps sliding out of your head as you become overstimulated by all the labels and things around you. You can even stare at your list and hope you can concentrate long enough to find one of the things on it that should be in front of you, and suddenly all your energy is directed at this one thing, and you walk out of the grocery store utterly exhausted after having only bought maybe ten things…

I get angry, too, but lately I feel like sadness has kind of overwhelmed the anger, especially when it comes to our friend dying in the hospital. I want to be sad, but I’m also kind of angry with him. But I can’t stay angry, or even grieve for him right now. I’m just…depressed. Depressed with a side of tension. I think I’m sad for my husband, too, who was closer to our friend than I was, and has been spending the most time with him and his family. I have no problem with being emotionally supportive, but I hadn’t realized how much of it I’ve been taking on, myself, until this weekend.

I have things I have to do this week: commitments to fulfill, kids and pets to take care of, cleaning and shopping to do, a big Symphony gala to make it through next Saturday. I’m not so depressed that I’m completely nonfunctional, but there are other daily things I’m letting slip by, because managing to do the caretaking and socializing that needs to be done takes all the brainpower I have. I feel like I’m moving through molasses — like there is not enough caffeine in this world to wake me up all day. Crazy weather changes and allergies are not helping with that, either. Ugh.

But this, too, shall pass. Times of refreshing will come. And I have The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild to help me escape once in awhile. I’m trying to use it as a reward for getting important things done this week, and I have sort of managed to keep from letting it be too much of a draw on days I have a lot to accomplish and no time to play.

Anyway, that’s what’s up with me right now. I have more developments in the saga of my stupid eyes that I need to finish documenting for your entertainment. Even if it’s tedious and annoying, it’s more fun than this.

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Life, Mommyhood, Organization, Pediatric Feeding Disorder

January 2017

Oh, look, it’s January! Time to make resolutions I probably won’t keep! Time to renew my commitment to a mental facility to do more writing, especially in my long-neglected blog!

This time, I have incentivized myself. I’ve purchased the domain “coffeeandlollipops.blog” AND made calling cards with that info, and the forwarding email “deltasierra47@coffeeandlollipops.blog”. (It’s clunky, but it’ll serve for now. Especially since I’ve already printed cards. But if you want to contact me, use that address!)

This is in anticipation of launching a big plan to, among other things, document my struggles, failures, and successes in helping my kids learn to eat. I’ve mentioned before that they have feeding issues, but it’s kind of long past “issues” now into “disorders”. As in, I feel safe diagnosing them both as having “SED” (Severe Eating Disorder), without the need of a medical professional to do it for me. Granted, SED is an umbrella term, but one that is becoming more widely known and accepted, as “SPD” (Sensory Processing Disorder) and “Autism Spectrum” have been.

Before anyone worries that I’m one of those WebMD parents who thinks they know better than doctors, I want to remind or inform you that my kids are not toddlers or speshul sneauxflaykes. They’re eight- and six-year-old boys who have been eating five foods or less since introducing solid foods, have been to a few years of OT and feeding therapy (with small progress), and who would rather starve themselves past the point of feeling hunger rather than try to learn to chew anything, including treats like Jell-O, ice-cream, or cookies.

If that doesn’t convince someone of the severity of this situation, nothing will.

They do love lollipops, though. I daresay it’s the only solid food my six-year-old eats. So there’s hope!

In addition to blogging here, I hope to start vlogging, as well, and might set up a separate blog the boys can contribute to in the far future, which will feature their own videos. I bought them an inexpensive action-camera set-up for Christmas so we can create cooking videos. I homeschool them, and realized that cooking classes would be a great way to learn all kinds of concepts, and my eight-year-old mentioned that it would be fun to put some of our cooking exploits up on a YouTube channel. (He’s been angling for a YouTube channel for months; this is one way I can cave to his request while also making it educational and limited in scope. If it were up to him, he would post videos of himself rambling on about everything and nothing, pacing back and forth in our cluttered living room, and I just can’t let him do that. I’m a mean mom for promoting meaningful web content. 😉 ) So watch this space for kitchen antics!

Before that can happen, though, I have to address another extremely severe issue in our house: Ridiculous Overabundance of Clutter (and dog hair). It has gotten so out of hand, I could ALMOST make it on the TLC “Hoarders” program. Yes, really. I am not exaggerating.

I’ve always been a messy person. I know now that it can likely be attributed to a level of ADD (and OCD, but not the clean kind) I’ve always had, but got out of hand after I had kids and lost my ability to keep up with it. Now, I fight fatigue and motivation every day, and can just manage to stay on top of most of my outside commitments, making the kids’ food (for home and travel), doing the dishes, and emptying the trash. This is compounded by the fact that my husband is on a nine-month deployment (Army, someplace that rhymes with “Little Beast”), and it’s winter, so depression and anxiety are at their highest, too. I admit I haven’t really done much school with the boys this year, even though it’s the first year I’ve had to declare to the school district that the eight-year-old is homeschooled.

I’m a hot mess, y’all.

Which is why I need to blog — or, rather, “document” — my journey back up the downward spiral I’ve been on for awhile. In about a week I’ll be leaving for the Feeding Matters Pediatric Feeding Conference, which I managed to talk myself into going to this year. I’m really looking forward to it, not only because it’s in Phoenix, AZ, in the middle of January. 😉 I’m hoping I’ll be able to network as well as learn some new things and gain more advocacy for our situation. I wasn’t happy with what I’ve had available to us in the past, but I’ll address that in a later post. For now, I need to go make lunch.

Here’s to a successful 2017! 🙂 Feel free to post your own resolutions, struggles, recommitments, etc., in the comments. Please refrain from advice at this point, however, though well-wishing is welcome. Soon I’m going to write a more comprehensive post about feeding disorders and the issues we’ve had to deal with, and why conventional advice for “picky” children just cannot work for us.

Thank you! See you again SOON!

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Organization

A.D.D.? Me? Why do you say th––hey SHINY!!

My husband was listening to a radio station the other day, and a woman was speaking about how ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) usually manifests differently in girls and women than it does boys. Female ADD tends to show itself through clutter (can’t concentrate long enough to finish a project), being late to everything (no real good concept of time), and traits that tend to characterize a person as flighty, lazy, undisciplined, and directionless. She also said that it’s extremely underdiagnosed in women, because usually one sees, say, a homemaker with the above traits and just thinks she’s a slob who never learned how to run a house. And the woman characterized as such believes that, and addresses the fallout (depression, anxiety, shame) instead of the root cause (inability to focus long enough to Get It All Done).

Now, I’m not advocating more medication for women (or anyone) with ADD. I still believe ADD is as overdiagnosed and overmedicated as autism. But just because it is overdiagnosed does not mean some people don’t struggle with it. Adult ADD has kind of become a thing in recent years, and I’ve joked about having it in the past (never taking seriously that this could be my problem, too), but I have to face something in my life: There is something about my brain that does not function like a normal human’s is supposed to function, and it is Making. Me. Crazy.

I’ve always been cluttered. AL.WAYS. I have always been a daydreamer, a people-watcher, more effective at night when it’s dark and quiet and I can pinpoint what I need to focus on. As an adult, I get overstimulated very easily, and I’m anxious, scattered, HORRIBLY cluttered, and exhausted by a busy day — especially a busy morning. I have always sabotaged myself and as much as I intend to finish some things, it just never happens.

When my husband told me about this woman who was basically describing me, he said he began to think that, maybe, ADD wasn’t some kind of throwaway diagnosis, after all. I did a little research on my own, and realized that, sure enough, I now had a name for my dragon! This beast I’ve been fighting for years, and that’s gotten worse with the chaos of having children (and subsequent hormonal and activity changes).

What I don’t want to do with it is use it as an excuse. It’s not that I was poorly disciplined as a child or never taught such-and-such — I’m an adult, and have access to anything I want to learn about how to conduct my life. It’s that I have only ever faced these problems as things to be ashamed of, reasons I am a lousy, unproductive individual — character issues, rather than issues of brain/hormone/emotional dysfunction. What I need are strategies to overcome it. To harness that dragon and make it MINE.

I’m reading a book now called “Your Life Can Be Better: Using Strategies for Adult ADD/ADHD”, written by a psychiatrist with ADD. It’s probably one of the most straightforward, ADD-friendly self-help books I’ve ever read, and I’m enjoying it so far. 🙂

I want to go on and on, but part of my problem is the inability to judge the flow of time. I have ten minutes before I have to leave, but I don’t know if I have ten minutes’ worth of tasks to do to get out the door. So I’ll wrap this up for now, and write something more later. See? Progress! 😀

Posted in Mommyhood, Organization

Routine Thing

I really need to work on my cleaning routines. I’ve known this for a looooonnnng time. Last night, I cleaned the kitchen after I put Beanie to bed. I realized that that was a routine I could get behind: Put Beanie to bed, tidy/clean the kitchen. Then play on the computer. 🙂

It’s a start, anyway. 🙂

I’ve been putting off a lot of my computer use during the day, because a) I don’t have a good place to put the computer for easy access by me and no access by munchkins, b) it’s not as easy to use the computer while nursing Beanie anymore, and c) I’ve been on the computer too much as it is. If I use my phone to check Facebook and email during the day, I don’t really need to check the computer except in cases where the phone can’t handle what I need to look up, or I need to print, or whatever. Like updating this blog, for instance. 🙂 There’s an Android app for it, but the reviews are not pretty, so I’m not even going to bother.

I’ve always struggled with a morning routine, though (mainly because I hate getting up earlier than my children–who already get up too early, in my opinion), and that’s the most important time of the day to have good routines set up. But I often don’t gain momentum as much as I fight inertia all morning. By the time afternoon rolls around, I sometimes feel like I’m just waking up, or falling back to sleep again. Bleh.

I am usually an all-or nothing person, but I’m slowly teaching myself that small changes build up. What I ought to do, though, is find someone to watch the kids (preferably somewhere else) for a few hours while I attack my bedroom or another area. Or take a nap so I can do it another time. 🙂

I should revisit my Flylady book again . . .

Posted in Identity, Mommyhood, Organization

If my day were a tag cloud . . .

. . . the word “NO” would be utterly massive in the center and eclipse all other words, with perhaps the exception of “GENTLE!” and the boys’ names. (Incidentally, Beanie can say “no no” — his second word after “da da”. You’d think he’d be more proficient with “ma ma” with as often as Pie says it, but oh well!)

I was just thinking of that, as I told Pie for the fiftieth time this evening to NOT BE WILD AROUND YOUR BROTHER!!!11!

Anyway, remember my last post? Oh, well, neither did I. I had to go reread it. 😉

A lot has been going through my head lately, much of it centering on “Oh my word, HOW do I organize my day when I can’t even find the time to put away my own laundry??!” I know there are lots of tips and tricks out there. My father- and mother-in-law recently visited, and she helped me with some cleaning and organization. That woman cannot sit still! I wondered how I could be like her. I, personally, LOVE sitting still. Which might actually be my problem . . .

I’ve been noticing a serious lack of movement on my part (other than carrying a ten-month-old on my hip while making the three-year-old’s food, or lifting the three-year-old up to the changing table — which will hopefully end soon, as we’re trying to potty train), due to a serious lack of energy, which has led to an increase in bodily aches and pains. I’m just barely under 170, which is pretty good for me, but I’m sure more of it is fat than muscle, like it was when I was first pregnant with Pie. I desire activity and exercise, but not quite as much as I desire not having to wake up before 8am. Obviously, I have some priorities that need to change. 😉

(By the way: This is why one should have children at a young age. Because starting when you’re 30 means you’re dealing with energetic toddlers and preteens on your way up and over the hill!)

I have lots of other whining I could be doing, but I find I have no desire to. I’m actually in a pretty good mood, though I could easily crawl into bed and go to sleep right now. But I just got the kids in bed! I have time to myself! Umm . . . what should I do with it? I have LOTS of choices. One might say too many choices, because I get overwhelmed and don’t do anything. Argh! I should make a list. But first, some tea . . .

‘Night!