Staying Focused Awash in Grief.

Over the last three months I have struggled with focus. Why? Grief.  In the last twelve weeks there have been eight deaths that have directly, or indirectly touched me. The last time I lost this many people, this close together, was in the middle of the AIDs epidemic.

Grief is difficult for everyone. For individuals with ADHD, it it compounded by behavioral issues. I wrote about keeping it together when a family member faces a health crises here.  Some of the same issues complicate grief for individuals with ADD/ADHD, impulse control, issues with substance abuse, the inability to be still, discomfort in your own skin, and an increased incidence of depression and suicide.

My tips for handling grief can be summed up in a few sentences.

1. Do not self-medicate. I am talking about the urge to binge watch/spend money/shop/drink/smoke/eat chocolate/ whatever your make-me-forget-not-feel drug of choice is, don’t do it. Feel your feelings no matter how uncomfortable they are.

2. Pay attention. Being sad is normal. Not getting out of bed for days is not. Get help.

3. Find someone to talk to about your feelings. A therapist, social worker, clergy, your best friend, your family.

4. If you are a creative, create. Do the thing that feeds your soul.

5. Give yourself time. So many times we think that we should be able to “just get over” whatever it is that is making us sad. A very wise woman once told me “some things you don’t get over, you just get through.”

6. Find a peaceful view. Just sit with it. This is mine.

Please give yourself time to heal.

If you are struggling with depression, please, please, get help, don’t make a decision in a moment that is permanent. This link is for the National Suicide Prevention Organization their number 24/7/365 is 1-800-273-8255.

When it All Feels Like Too Much

My brain feels like this.

I often feel like this in February. The thrill of the New Year is over. It is usually so dang cold that going outside even for a few minutes feels overwhelming.  It is the time of year  when I start to question my ability to get it all done.

This is when it is time to step back, take a minute and remember the why of my goals. If you missed my post on setting goals, you can read it here .  Are you feeling the same way? Statistics suggest that at least half of the people that make New Year’s resolutions or goals abandon them after eight weeks.

Here are five tips to get back on track when you fall off the goal wagon:

1. Do one thing each day towards your most important goal. It does not have to be a huge thing, just do one small thing. Write one sentence if that is all you can manage, but do it. Set a timer for ten minutes and do as much as you can in ten minutes. If you are in a grove, set it for another ten minutes. The hardest part of momentum is getting started.

2. Get inspired again. Pick a theme song or make a play-list for working on specific goals. The play-list becomes your cue to get to work. I talk about the role of music in creating a habit of work in this post ,  and the prolific writer Megan Hart talks about the role music plays in her work habits here.  Make that play-list or pick the theme song. It will signal your brain that it is time to work.

3. Get off Social Media. You heard me. Take a break. Set limits. Do not compare your life/ achievements/ publishing record/ accomplishments to other people’s carefully curated life.

4. Review your goal plan. Do you need to rethink and re-plan? Has your life changed? Is the goal not important anymore?  Do you want to accomplish something else? Do not be afraid to abandon a goal if your life has changed dramatically. A new job, illness, birth, death, relocation, financial status changes may mean that you need to reexamine your goals and make a new plan.

5. Be gentle with yourself. Feel your feels, then get back on the bus and get going toward your goals.

When you are feeling overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, or confused : Jump into whatever creative thing feeds you with both feet.

All I Want for Christmas

 Every year I find myself more frustrated with the rampant consumerism and ridiculous advertising messages implying that what you spend equals how much you love someone.  I have always hated that part of Christmas, and the pressure I see people put on themselves to buy the perfect gift, whatever that might be. As the Grinch said, and I am paraphrasing here: Christmas doesn’t come from a store.
As a nurse, I have spent many holidays at the hospital watching families get the best gift of all, a new person to love in their life. I have held hands as families have let go of loved ones too. Remembering friends and family no longer with us physically, I am reminded that each year is a gift.
This year, all I want is more moments like this,


and this.


Take time to enjoy your family and friends this holiday season whatever you celebrate!

Tips for Traveling with ADD/ADHD

Road Trip 2014


Traveling with ADD/ADHD feels like this.


Traveling means a change in routine. Change combined with sensory overload is a recipe for major distraction issues, anger management issues, and overwhelm. I love to visit new places and experience new things, but getting there is stressful. It was bad enough when I just had to worry about getting myself from point A to point B but with kids it is complicated.

Instead of just my own needs, I need to worry about two other people getting where they need to go, safely, and to have fun on the way. It is one thing to get lost, miss a flight, or forget items of clothing, when it is just you, it is very problematic with kids.
These are the things that we do at our house to make it easier when we travel by car, and when we take plane trips.

 1. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! Sorry to be so shouty but if you don’t follow any of the other tips, please embrace this one. The sooner you get your tickets, plan your route, pack your bags, put in your mail hold, and make reservations, the less chance you have of screwing everything up beyond repair.
2. Set reminders in your phone or on your computer to remind you to do the things in number 1.
3. Take time to make a plan, using Who, Where, When, What and How for your trip. Think of this as an outline, not etched in stone.
4. Make a packing list. If your want to get fancy you could make a permanent one that you laminate and write on with dry erase markers.  If you travel a lot a permanent list that lives in your suitcase is helpful.
5. Make kids responsible for their own entertainment bag/carry on. Young children will need guidance, older kids should be told they are on their own, and that they will have to be responsible for carrying it and keeping track of what they bring. The rule for older kids is you have to be able to pick it up and run with it, in case we have to try to catch a connecting flight.
6. If you or family members take medications be sure pack enough for several days in your carry-on luggage in case your bags are lost.
7. I can not travel without music. It helps me relax and keeps me from being overwhelmed and aggravated by the noises on a flight. Although the last several flights I have been on have been really quiet. Thank you smart phones and tablets.
8. Pack healthy snacks and lunches. When we travel by car we always pack a picnic lunch. This saves money, time, and we are not forced to eat crappy fast food. This is more difficult traveling by air. On long flights, we pack healthy snacks, and sandwiches that do not need refrigeration.
9. Pack earplugs or noise canceling headphones for flights. Most ADD/ADHD people have sensory issues, and a plane flight is very difficult as we can’t move about, and we are overstimulated by all the people energy, and noise around us. If your kids have ADD/ADHD, find kid sized headphones for them. Understand that travel is hard on kids without sensory issues, it is magnified in kids with sensory issues.
10. Be understanding of yourself. If keeping track of the tickets is stressful and you have another adult or responsible older child with you, let them keep track of the tickets.
11. Breathe. Focus on the fun you will have when you finally get where you are going. Remember if it gets crazy it will make a great story later.
Peace and safe travels.
Why yes,  that is a giant bottle of ear plugs.



Zoë Kessler ADHD Accoding to Zoë _ A Year of Women’s Voices

Zoë Kessler’s book ADHD According to Zoë : The Real Deal on Relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (2013) is the first book I recommend to women with ADHD.

Ms. Kessler’s book offers suggestions for the issues that ADHD folks deal with everyday, and she does it with humor and honesty. Her poignant stories and examples of the effects that ADHD has had on her life left me laughing, and a little teary remembering some examples from my own life. She effectively articulates the belief that many individuals with ADHD have: everyone else must know some grand secret way to keep it all together AND remember where they put it.
Ms. Kessler’s book differs in her honest approach to how ADHD affects social relationships and sexuality, a topic that most books address fleetingly or not at all.  Ms. Kessler’s suggestions and tips are truly helpful. The solutions presented are things that folks with ADHD would able to accomplish, not some solution dreamed up by someone who has no idea what it is like to be wired 24/7/365 with a short attention span, unless we are hyper-focused.  Ms. Kessler’s warmth and genuine desire to help comes through in her writing. Reading this book is like having a conversation with a close understanding friend.
Ms. Keller also examines and addresses the stress that comes from being a woman with ADHD and the social construct that women are the center of the family, able to take care of everyone and everything else in addition to themselves, addictions, disorganization and time management,  sexuality, social issues, impulsiveness, the need to move, financial issues, creativity, and overwhelm. She encourages women to embrace their differences and find ways to work with who they are, instead of trying to force themselves to become the imagined perfection of everyone else.
Her message of hope that everyone diagnosed with ADHD treat themselves “with the respect, kindness and love that you deserve” is a welcome one.  If you only have one book on your shelf that deals with ADHD make it this one.
As a writer and fellow club member this is what I have learned reading  Zoë Kessler’s book and her very helpful blog ADHD from A to Zoe



1.  Tell your story honestly.
2.  Humor makes it easier to talk about difficult topics.
3.  Real life examples are an effective way to tell your story.
4.  It is possible to make writing about self-help FUNNY and helpful.
5.  Embrace you unconventional self, let it show in your writing.
Here a short bio and contact information for Ms. Kessler.
Zoë Kessler ( is a best-selling author, journalist, and motivational speaker who specializes in topics relating to adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).
A top blogger at Psych, Kessler‘s blog, ADHD from A to Zoë has garnered a loyal readership from around the globe. Kessler also blogs for The Huffington Post, and is a frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine. She’s created radio documentary and standup comedy about being a woman living with ADHD. Zoë’s been interviewed on international radio, and has been featured in print media, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD, including Scientific American Mind Magazine.
Kessler’s most recent book, ADHD According to Zoë: The Real Deal on Relationships, Finding Your Focus, and Finding Your Keys has been described as a must-read, spellbinding portrayal of a woman with ADHD.

Holiday Hell or How to Survive the Holidays with ADHD

This is my face when I know that we are heading into the holidays. I am happy but cautious. I know that for me and folks like me the normal everyday distractions that cause us to wander off into our own little world multiply like rabbits gone wild.


 Many Christmas mornings I have felt like this, off center and out of focus,
 after having indulged in things like this,


and this.


I love the holidays, but I am easily overwhelmed by the lights, shiny objects, people, and activities that go with the holidays. Parties, gift buying, gift wrapping, kids off from school, travel, big family dinners, New Years celebrations are great and horrible at the same time. I loose track of everything, my routines are interrupted, and I get very little done. For many years it would take me until February to get back to center. Here are my top ten survival strategies to make the holidays less overwhelming

1. Plan some time each day to just sit. Even if it is just ten minutes, set a timer and forget about everything, let your brain and adrenal glands rest.
2. Limit or no alcohol.  I know it sounds harsh, and I know it is the season to be merry, but too much merry makes for a rough day the next day. ADHD folks often have issues with substance abuse, and the holidays make it so easy to over indulge. We like to quiet the noise in our heads with libations. Be honest with yourself about this.
3. SET A BUDGET for gifts, entertaining, and decorations. Really. Managing money is tough for folks with ADHD.  Impulsive spending feels good, and combined with the distractions of the season can cause debt to balloon to epic proportions. Do it. You will be grateful when you are not still paying for the holidays in July of 2018
4. Say No. You can do it. Say NO to those events, and situations that have caused you stress in the past. This will be impossible if it involves family. In family situations, if your really feel that you have to participate, set time limits. If you know that certain family members become total nut-cakes, and act out after a few glasses of eggnog, leave before it happens.  If this is you, see tip #2. Remember, their drama does not have to be your drama.
5. As hard as it is, keep up with your exercise routine. Be creative if you are traveling. Go for a walk, ride your bike, heck even shoveling snow is great exercise.  For folks with ADHD, some sort of movement each day is essential self care.
6. Eat well. Have some holiday treats but beware of the stress-eat sugar-max out my caffeine-screw it because it is the holidays trap. Loading your body with stimulants only exacerbates your impulsiveness and makes you do crazy things.
7. Avoid busy shopping times. I pretty much stay away from big box and chain retail stores from November until the middle of January. I shop local. Small stores are great, less overwhelming and have fewer choices. I also like supporting my neighbors and small businesses.
8. Go back and read this post about getting better sleep .  Really.
9. If other family members have ADHD remember that they are struggling too. Help your kids by modeling coping skills for sensory overload and situational overwhelm. Remind them that they can take breaks when ever they need to calm down. Help them moderate their sugar intake. Be aware that the stress of the holidays can make kids with no issues act out, ADD/ADHD just stacks the deck.
10. Enjoy yourself. Do what you need to do for your own self-care and your family’s well-being. If folks judge you for that, that is their problem, don’t let it be yours.

I hope these tips help.

My daughter trying to make the Grinch feel better.

My smirk, perpetuated by my son…

Flexibility and ADD/ADHD: Why it is hard to shift gears

So my driveway has looked like this for the last three weeks. Yes, that is my backyard on the other side and the only way to get to it is to walk around the block to the back gate. The second week of driveway repair, my tub leaked into the ceiling, which then looked like this,

and the plumber couldn’t get back to fix it for a week.

That being said, I have had better luck trying to replace our windows. The windows in our property have needed replacing for some time now. As windows get older they can often get damaged by bad weather and this can cause them to let in a draft. Over time this can actually have an impact on your utility bills as you end up having to use more energy than necessary to keep your home warm.

Anyway, a friend of ours who lives in Missouri told me that she managed to find an amazing window replacement company online by searching for ‘replacement windows kansas city‘. We all search for things online nowadays, so if ever you need a home renovation expert to take care of any remodeling work on your property, doing some research online and comparing your options can help you to find the best possible contractor at the most affordable price for your budget.

Ultimately, I was able to find a great window company in our area and they have promised to visit us at some point over the next couple of weeks.

So what has all this got to do with flexibility?

For folks with ADD/ADHD we struggle to find our equilibrium when our routines are disrupted. I have misplaced my keys three times in one day, because my driveway is still under construction, and we can’t use our normal route in and out of the house. Where do I hang my coat and keys? Where are we going to keep the leashes, shoes, coats, bags, and everything else we have organized to make getting out of the house easier?

Most people can adapt and adjust to a disruption of their routines pretty quickly. ADD/ADHD folks find it much harder to adjust. It often takes us a very long time to find a routine that enables us to accomplish our goals. We seem inflexible because any disruption of our routine makes it that much harder for us to get out of the door and accomplish anything because we feel frustrated, confused, and angry at the disruption.
We can’t let go of our routines, and we can’t let go of our desire to return to what was working. We sabotage ourselves so often, that when our routine is disrupted from the outside, we freak out, call it a wash, act out, and get nothing done.

Here are my five tips for coping when an event disrupts your routine.

1. If your normal staging area is blocked (your landing/take off pad), take the time to establish a new one. You will waste less time in the long run.
2. Forget about keeping all of your routines in place. Breathe. Decide what is most important. Enlist help from other people if you need help with sorting important tasks from unimportant tasks.
3. Understand that home improvement projects are unpredictable. Estimated completion times are just that, an estimate.
4. Remember to eat well. Do not fall into the uber-caffeinated/ junk food/ drink a lot/ screw all my good intentions/ I’m stressed out because my house is broken, excuse.
5. If you work at home, try and stick to your office routine. If you can not work because the noise of the project is disruptive, or watching the large equipment is hypnotic, find another site to work. Libraries often have study rooms you can use during school hours. I call the local library my branch office.
6. Do not start any new projects, even if you really, really want to because of the stress.
7. Remember renovation/ home improvement projects are hard on other family members, including pets. Work together to figure out what works for everyone.

I hope these tips help. Remember if it all is too much, you can always watch the heavy equipment.



Reminding Myself to Slow Down

Many of my friends posted pictures of their kids going to Homecoming dances this week, and my oldest had a birthday last week and just started a new job that involved a move.  I was reminded that life occasionally feels like you have been shot out of a cannon, and as my oldest friend used to add “without a net”! I know my kids will not always be happy having imaginary train trips on the stairs with all their animal friends. I know that soon the sand box at my mom’s will look like this:


And I know that I will look back at the time and wonder where the hell it went.
ADHD people often live life in a blur, we have a great time but sometimes in our rush to get to the next thing we forget to stop, and soak up life,  we are distracted.  Being distracted and busy can interfere with all of our relationships. Establishing respectful communication and listening skills are lessons kids learn best by practice and modeling.
I know if I want my kids to learn how to listen and focus, I need to stop and focus on them when they talk, to really listen, and ask questions if I don’t understand what they are trying to tell me. It is sometimes a struggle when I feel like I need/want to do fifty other things, besides stoping to read a book we have already read a least a hundred times, or listen to them telling me about an event at school.

My goal for myself is to slow down,  remembering to appreciate this time, when boo-boos can still be healed with a kiss. Exploring, getting your hands dirty, and playing are what life is.  I will take the time to do the little things, to ride a magic carpet made of cardboard, to sit in the playhouse and read books, and to stop and dig in the dirt with my kids if that is what they want to do. I can pretend it is for them, but really, it is for me.