Little ‘d’s.

‘With a small ‘d’, dharma and dhamma mean the smallest elements of existence that make up a moment of consciousness, such as the heat of a room, the background sounds or the lingering taste of the orange you have just eaten, the smell of incense, the thoughts you have. All these scraps of information are dharmas or dhammas. They are in a continuous pulse of movement, of coming to be and ceasing to be; nevertheless, we experience them as continous reality. THE DHAMMAPADA

I came across the above snippet last night and it has stayed with me all day. Somehow, pausing to consider the tiny, flashes of experience which occur as part of the day has made impermanence so much more meaningful.
I often reflect on impermanence, but I seem to have always considered it in relation to the ‘bigger’ things: the big emotions, difficulties, world events;  acknowledging their impermanence certainly and that they (in the grand scheme of things) are simply flashes in the pan of the universe,  but somehow today focussing on the impermanence of the micro-elements of my experience caused a shift for me.
Today during my short morning meditation, the things which normally would have distracted me and caused me irritation, someone banging pans in the kitchen, cars/trucks in the distance etc seemed nothing. Each one, I noted as one of those micro-elements, making up consciousness and then gone, only to be replaced with the next sound, feeling, observation. And I felt silly for having been irritated by these things in the past, when they really were so very fleeting. I realised that so much of my attention had been taken up in my annoyance over the disturbance to the tranquility I was trying to find, that I had inadvertently disturbed it further. I had created suffering.

I noticed more of these during the day, being with my children, and felt happy that I was noticing the precious fleeting moments and ‘being’ in them far more fully as a result.

Will be putting ‘little ds’ in my line of sight to remind me.

 

Archery and Meditation

archer silhouette(Photo- Andreas Overland)

The whole family has recently joined an archery club. A ‘Come and Try’ session led us into this, but the feeling of calm and peace is what had us go back.

Since then we’ve bought our own bows and now each morning before work, and on return from work, I head down to the paddock to shoot for a good half hour at least.
I can’t believe this isn’t a recognised therapy for ADHD.

Standing alone in the paddock feeling the sun on my face as it rises and the cool morning  air all around me as I nock the arrow is something really special. The day is new and I’m already out there enjoying it ahead of most other people.

I take a deep breathe, bring my awareness to my body, posture and balance and raise the bow, looking ahead at the target. I draw the string to my face – feeling it rest against my cheek – never taking my eyes off the point of focus, pause … and release. Thud.
As I squint to see the result, my hand is already reaching out to my quiver for the next arrow.
And the whole process is repeated.

There’s peace in the simplicity of this ritual. It’s a meditation that lasts only a few moments, but instantly has me in ‘flow’ and time freezes as I find myself repeating the sequence over and over, for hours when time permits.

Every ADHDer should practise archery!

Gratitude Journals

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Positive Psychology is a strong focus in our household as we aim to help our children manage their ADHD and anxiety (and it helps us too, of course).

Those of us with anxiety have a tendency to over-dramatise and fixate on the negatives. Our most recent tact in dealing with this has been to ask, ‘How long did that moment really last?’ and ‘Do we really want to drag that 5 second moment out so it affects us the rest of the afternoon?’ It’s done, leave it there. And that simple advice helps.

Additionally, we’re revisiting Gratitude Journals, but this time with more emphasis on the causal effects of these positives. The aim here is to highlight how much control we have over positives – how often we have done things which contribute to them ourselves – so that we can try to reproduce them (self-efficacy). And also, to allocate sincere gratitude to other people, specifically, when they have helped make our lives wonderful.

The kids have also created academic and social goals for the year whose progress will be reflected on in their journals. They fill them out at the dinner table straight after dinner (where we’ve discussed our day so positives are fresh in their minds) and are actually enjoying them.

So in case anyone is looking to create something like this for their children, I thought I’d share the questions which appear on each page of the journals.

List 3 things you were grateful for today.

1.

2.

3. 

What caused each of these to happen? (Someone’s generosity? Your courage/persistence?)

Recall a happy memory and describe it in detail.

Describe one kind thing you did for someone else today.

What is one thing you did today which will take you closer to achieving your goals?

(Accompanying illustrations encouraged!)

Virtual Reality – Thoughts

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The Husband has always been a keen gamer and  carefully negotiated with me to get a VR set today. I myself am NOT a gamer – the games themselves agitate me and I resent the life-sucking lack of something to show for any time spent playing them

But Hubby convinced me to have a go at the VR set…. Wow.  Just wow.

I’ve had quick trials of VR before and wasn’t too impressed, but this… this was something else.

 

And after 15mins of play (understandably there were impatient kids wanting a go) I was left with a mind full of questions… and concerns.

First thing is the kids won’t be playing any fighting/shooting type games on it – period.

Second is… far out, I could seriously start to enjoy gaming…..NOOOOOOO!!!!!

And there were others but they are for another post.

The experience is incredible. There’s a period of transition as you go from reality to entering the world. At first you are aware that you are ‘in the game’ but very quickly, with the ability to ‘see’ 360 degrees with no visual or sound interruptions from the real world, you forget that nothing is real.
In the scenario I played I was in a wizard’s castle, standing behind a large table with a cauldron and various items on the table in front of me. I was able to pick these up and manipulate them. The room itself is huge and the detail was amazing. A movement to my left caught my eye and turning around I saw it was rat. He scuttled around throughout my session doing his thing. I cast a spell with the items and turned things into butterflies which flew up and around me and then landed gently on my outstretched hand. I watched them up close and in detail, glowing and softly beating their wings.
It was beautiful.
And what was interesting was my physical responses to nothing but image and sound. My husband laughed at my incredulous delight and the fact that I had stooped, as he had to look at the shelf beneath the table.  And been careful to move so as to not bump my head on a protruding part of the table, a hindrance which in reality did not exist. I believed it was there and so I acted accordingly  – despite the fact that somewhere in my consciousness I knew it wasn’t real… that part was inaccessible in the moment.

And it makes me think… we talk about cages of our own making, but what an amazing example presented itself today.

How many more obstacles do I navigate around purely because I believe them to be real?

 

 

 

Who needs a genie? Not me.

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An interesting exercise in a Positive Psychology book I’m reading led to an unexpected insight yesterday.

The task asked the reader to imagine being given 3 wishes by a genie. What would you wish for and what do the wishes tell you about your life and approach to things?

My first immediate thought was for Younger Munchkin to learn to manage his ADHD so that he can be happy, successful etc.
What struck me is I didn’t just wish it ‘fixed’ because I really do love him the way he is and the ADHD is a part of that, and who we all are. My desire is simply that he learns to manage it, so it doesn’t lead him into trouble or hurt his relationships later down the track  with others whose love is not so unconditional. My wish isn’t based on a need to change who he is, but out of fear for his future happiness.

And then I realised, that I really need to stop dreading and feeling exasperated at all the difficult situations we encounter on a day-to-day basis with him because it is THOSE many   scenarios which are providing on-going training for him and will eventually lead him to achieve my wish. In fact, there’s nothing else that could teach him better. We NEED them!

This new perspective hit home throughout today as I found myself grateful (yes, never thought I’d say it) for the spitfire and stubborn moments. Grateful for the teaching moments that arose so frequently and that these are happening now in the young years with just family (mainly) to witness it – a safe place for him to be this way and learn as he goes on his journey.

And for me to learn alongside him, all the many lessons he can offer me.

Happy New Year 2017

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I listened to Ajahn Brahm’s 2016/2017 New Year’s Eve Dhamma lecture this morning whilst I worked. He urged people to let go of their baggage from past years before entering this new one, giving several analogies which highlighted that to make room for embracing new experiences, we have to let the old stuff go.

Such good advice, and timely for us as both munchkins are now into a new phase of schooling and about to embark on new adventures. I was reminded also to let go of the future, something my anxiety makes very hard to do as I know how badly the ADHD impacts on my kids interactions and I have a lot of fears about their year ahead. The quote above from Thich Nhat Hanh perhaps sums me up?

Part of me thinks this is fair and reasonable as ADHD taints our lives so strongly, but part of me thinks we could possibly all find reasons why letting go is hard, and perhaps my ‘reasons’ are just as unjustified.

The thing that struck me most though, was Ajahn Brahms comment that all we can do is focus on the present. And if we are truly in the moment, doing what needs to be done/can be done… then THAT is what will take care of the future. It’s the ONLY thing that can lead to good things in the future. We create it now.

And with that sage advice firmly in mind, I am pledging to do my best to being more present and mindful this year.

This means:

  1. First and foremost, taking my medication every day because this is what will ensure higher rates of success in everything else I do.
  2. Eating well and getting adequate sleep, regularly
  3. Doing things I enjoy several times a week – drumming, art, sculpture, whatever.
  4. Recognising anger is useless, and unnecessary and disengaging from it for all the reasons I know I should.
  5. Being kinder to myself and allowing myself many, many chances to fail and succeed as I develop these habits.

I notice as I write that this year doesn’t involve planning to stick to routines or being more organised….for the first time in …forever.

I finally realised, that these things done now, will lead to those other things later.

Happy New Year!

A Seed is Planted

I’ve found myself encouraging my students with story ideas this term as several have chosen to write a children’s book as their personal project.
Amidst the many ideas we bounced and played with (some of them highly amusing and potential gems), I’ve found myself thinking that I’d really like to write a children’s book before I die.

Jackie French, when asked about the writing process said, ‘If you need to do lots of research for a book, you don’t know enough to write it – you won’t know what you don’t know. Books need to come from primary material, not books others have written about a subject.’

It’s made me think. I have an awful lot of ADHD related ‘primary material’ to borrow from. And I wish there’d been some good children’s books to support my children’s journey through the younger years.

I have the seed of an idea, a handful of sketches…and a dream to do something special with them.

Feeling purposeful. 🙂

 

Gratitude

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There are ti8a9b0051ce9f960096191b970a470ff0mes when despite all the everyday rubbish which makes you want to tear your hair out, you realise you’re doing something right as a parent and are in fact succeeding in raising wonderful human beings.

I’ve spent the last 24 hours laid out on the couch in and out of sleep as I try to  manage a migraine (spot the end of term burnout I have ). Hubby left for work at midday and I realised the best option for everyone was just to let the kids have an afternoon of computer games – a rare over indulgence opportunity. But short of turning them into grumpy little goblins, they dutifully turned the screens off this evening, served up dinner including mine, organised dessert and brought me some, were polite and respectful to each other the whole time, put on ‘Deadly 60’ so we could watch together in the lounge, then cleaned up (even taking my dishes up to the kitchen) scraped plates, put the dishwasher on, fed the dogs, brushed their teeth, got hot water bottles sorted (even mine) and got themselves to bed. All I had to do was say goodnight and tuck them in. And THEN when I got to my room, I found my bed had been turned down and the heater had been put on for me so the room was warm.

Just amazed. What gorgeous, gorgeous children I have. So blessed.

Getting the wrinkles out of the irony.

irony_definition_the_opposite_of_wrinkly_t_shirt-r99af3ef9de814db5875c17aaeb54b9ef_8nhmj_324I have a strong desire to keep the posts here positive, in an attempt to provide some inspiration and perhaps support to fellow-ADHDers, but if I’m to provide a true picture of what this life is like, then that’s not always possible. In fact it would be the equivalent of all the fake ‘check out how together my life is’ pictures I know so many people post on Facebook.
Fake is something I’ve never been.

So at the moment I’m going through a bit of a blue patch. It happens. It seems to happen about this time each year and leaves me always feeling that I really need to just suck it up, stop whining and get on with things. I put it down to work stress or the lack of sunshine this time of year, low vitamin D or iron or…
But I’ve been trying to shake it for a couple of months now and still I’m constantly a few seconds away from tears on most days if I pause long enough to feel.
And I thought no-one could tell, but then a colleague I don’t even see too often saw me today and said she could tell I need holidays as she hadn’t seen me smile in ages.

I smile – always at my students throughout the day to welcome them, chat with them, console them etc etc. But I’ll admit it’s been ‘work smiling’.

I think something that really hit today was that another colleague, whom I always support and who always needs supporting, asked for a favour today and I had to offer it in another way as I was spreading myself too thin. I sort of explained a few reasons why things were a little rough at the moment and the person was pretty dismissive and uninterested.
It just made the aloneness feel bigger and also made me make a mental note not to invest in this individual anymore – a conclusion I seem to have reached later than anyone else as usual.

I’m battling the same things as always – feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion. I’ve been ill on and off again for months, the kids are just hard everyday – not a day goes by without some sort of conflict which leaves us all absolutely drained. I wonder sometimes if they’re on the spectrum because there are enough traits. I’m just so tired, worn out, burnt out.

Today, to add to this,  I found out the new paediatrician we have to see (the other one resigned) is going to cost us an absolute fortune! And THAT makes me angry too – especially the fact that families like ours have to cover these costs ourselves with no funding or support while others with similar issues that happen to be ‘funded’ disabilities have the costs covered.
ADHD families surely have enough stress in their lives without additional financial burdens.
And then there’s the irony of the downward ADHD spiral I’ve been in.
Putting off my own psych appointments (despite needing to refill a prescription) because of the financial issues, which made me stress that I would run out of medication before then, so I’ve been rationing the tablets…. and thus my ADHD has been poorly managed the past few months, procrastinating and getting stressed and not coping as well as I could with everything, being tired again…. and then feeling horribly guilty about being so miserable , ungrateful and piss-weak and no fun for my kids etc etc when I have so much to be grateful for in reality and….. well, it goes on. And let’s not forget those niggling thoughts of, ‘Well, I haven’t died/been sacked/had anything terrible happen despite not taking my medication so maybe I don’t really have ADHD – I’m just a bit pathetic…
Yes, those thoughts still manage to intrude even though it’s been 2 years since the diagnosis and I’ve learnt enough since to know there’s little doubt. I meant to go to the ADHD support group meeting this week…. and forgot! (of course!) Oh the irony!

Today panic set in that my licence depends on seeing my psych every 2 years at least and that was coming up soon, and that the holidays was a good chance and I’d left it so late I’d miss that chance etc….. so that spurred me into action and I just called (even though the internet site said they were closed) and what do you know, a receptionist picked up and got me in, in 2 weeks.
So now I know I can be properly medicated for the next couple of weeks and funnily enough by the time I see her, I’ll probably be feeling happy and well.

And if the irony of that wasn’t enough, my day job predominantly involves supporting kids and their families with strategies to manage their ADHD! Ha!

Tomorrow will be a better day. Tomorrow will be a medicated day, the last day of term, and less ADHD tainted day.

Tomorrow I’ll write the positive post I’d hoped I’d be able to write.

You can’t be ADHD…

“You can’t have ADHD, Miss. You’re smart.”

“You’re too organised to have ADHD.”

There are more. People who genuinely dismiss the idea as though I’m being silly.

Then recently, I came across this; “ADHD is not an excuse; it is an explanation — a totally physiological explanation,” Dr. Littman says. “The smarter you are and the better you compensate, the more people will doubt you. The harder you struggle to cope, staying up late at night to pull things together, the more people will doubt your ADHD. They don’t see that the cost of your success is terrible depression, anxiety, and burnout.”

Dr. Littman pretty much nails it. People don’t see the worst of ADHD because those of us who have it cover it up as best we can. Why? Because given that so few people understand the condition (or even believe in the condition), the inevitable outcome when they see ADHD behaviours is the labelling – lazy, stupid, reckless, unmotivated, undisciplined, ‘blonde’, rude, stubborn, weird, anti-social etc. And who wants to be seen in this way?

So ADHDers try their best to act ‘neurotypical’, succeed a lot of the time and with no need for understanding, compassion or sympathy being deemed necessary are thus locked into that pattern of trying their bums off, and weeping quietly on their own in private when they fall in a heap every once in a while.

This is why advocacy and education is so important.