It’s the last day of school…

here in Burlington, Vermont.  My twin girls will be seniors next year so I’m heading into my last year of parenting kids in high school.  I’m finding myself feeling uniquely nostalgic.  I’m not sad about the inevitable transition, but I am mindful.

Last Day of School Lucy and Willa

I have friends whose oldest or only children are graduating on Friday.  It’s big.  When my son graduated from high school in 2014, I was sort of a mess.  I believe there’s just something about transitions that requires us to take stock of our emotions.

The summer between my junior year and senior year of high school was rough for me.  I had a lot of friends in the class above me and they were all leaving for college and other adventures.  Every time during their senior year when we played a ball game, sang in a concert or went to the drive-in movie theater it felt like we were saying goodbye to our childhoods.

Last weekend in South Dakota I got to spend time with some of those friends who graduated a year ahead of me.  It was great!  I simply cannot believe how much time has passed…1983 and 1984 just don’t seem all that long ago in some ways.  I’m very aware of how my daughters are feeling this last summer before they graduate from high school…perhaps even a little too aware.

I guess to honor life’s transitions, we need to slow down a little and try to understand what it is we’re feeling…the good, the bad and the slightly confusing.

Happy Graduation Class of 2017!

 

In December I was…

diagnosed with ADHD inattentive presentation.  I’ve suspected this for years, but at this stage in my life it was becoming unmanageable.  As an artist and mother of young kids I naturally had to shift gears constantly just to keep things running in our household.  There were endless ways I could stave off boredom and feed my brain’s insatiable hunger for disruption, distraction and change.

brain its the way it is lillibridge unfocused-focused

I could hide my challenges quite easily because the whole universe was operating in a constantly distracted way. The endless buzz in the world rewarded my brain with “quick fixes” and made me believe I was managing just fine.

Then four things collided at roughly the same time

1. My children became more independent and my day to day responsibilities shifted. 

2. My husband, children and friends were telling me that I was leaving out crucial information in my communication AND I was getting defensive about it.

3. I studied positive psychology and the necessity on both a personal and societal level to quit spinning, slow down, reflect and get more focused on how I want to spend my energy and talents.

4. I turned fifty.

I know people joke about the endless diagnoses out there.  I’m a little OCD or that’s my ADHD talking or I can’t get that done because of poor executive function etc.  I was resistant for years because I didn’t want to be off the hook for the behaviors that were affecting my life and those around me.  I did however, need some answers and solutions for help to narrow my focus and allow me to better utilize my skills in both my private and public life.

Now being able to look back at the ways ADHD manifested in my life has provided a certain amount of ease and less shame about my deficits than before.  As a child I was highly adaptive, creative and curious about so many different things.  However, I also was a day dreamer, a poor tester, I rarely followed directions and was often told that I wasn’t working to my potential.  I was always armed with loads of ideas and didn’t follow through on them. I created a narrative around my deficits that I was less than.

I fell asleep during the science portion of my ACT test in high school. I got the minimum score required to go to private schools in South Dakota.  I also dozed off during the ADHD test I recently took with a psychologist.  I think my brain was bored and the competition of it all wasn’t enough motivation for me.  I wasn’t getting any juice so my brain just shut it down.

I recently remembered as a high school kid reading one page of the dictionary before I went to sleep to boost my vocabulary.  When I think of this now I believe I was trying to find ways to boost how my intelligence presented to others because it was less quantifiable than my siblings and my peers.  The really smart kids wanted to be friends with me, but my grades were very average unless I loved the subject. Then I could focus.  Thank you English and creative writing.

My husband remembered that my Dad told him when we got married that he would have to help me with certain things—paying bills, insurance and so on.  My Dad knew on some level that I had some challenges with organization.  I recently found insurance paperwork he had requested in the 1980s for me to sign and send back.  I never did.  I guess he asked me again.

I did all of the stuff I was told to do to quiet my brain and help my focus—manage stress, exercise, meditate, rest and eat well…and yet it just wasn’t quite enough.  I’m taking a low dose of a psychostimulant on the days more focus is required of me.  Now, with greater knowledge about my brain’s chemistry, I have renewed hope and focus about my life.

So, I’m unsure why I need to share this now on such a public forum.  I guess I feel that storytelling is what we need now more than ever in this uncertain world.  I believe that a willingness to be vulnerable and share our stories and fears is very important in 2017.

I don’t want to hide behind this diagnoses.  I really am the only one that needs to understand my brain.  However, if my story helps you share your story than this was well worth my time.  We are all in this together.

Go forth and be bold and share something personal or painful from your story.  That small act of courage could change someone’s life.

 

http://www.adhd-brain.com/adhd-predominantly-inattentive.html

the power of nudge.

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nudge defined lillibridge dakota

I read about this great behavior study program to help students be more successful during college IDEAS42 (link below).  With the school year approaching and entirely different rules of engagement nipping at my heals, I’m looking for strategies. This site is well worth checking out if you have kids of any age.  It really made me think about the partnership between parent and child required to aid success with transitions.  I’ve come to realize that NUDGE is a pretty swell word.

ideas42/nudging toward success

NUDGE is different than telling someone WHAT or HOW or WHEN to do something.  It’s a little bit gentler and it’s quieter.  NUDGING is setting up the possibility of a beneficial behavior being implemented.  And sometimes that’s the best we can hope for with ourselves, our loved ones or colleagues…the possibility.

I think about the use of NUDGE with food, money, exercise, reading, chores and so much more.  If I wash fruit, cut up vegetables and make them front and center when the fridge is opened by hungry customers…I’ve nudged them (or myself) to a good choice.

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If I leave out books that I think the kids would love or magazines opened to an article I think they would enjoy without saying a word…I’ve maybe nudged them into reading something I think they would be interested in.  This is way more effective than telling them. I read things to my husband Jeff and pretend I don’t want them to hear it.  I do that a too much.  Ask my kids.  It drives them bananas. A nudge is better.

This year I’m going to fill a basket with graph paper, binder paper, paperclips, tape, highlighters, pens, a stapler, a zip drive, a ruler and whatever else they may need to be successful…NUDGE them toward self sufficiency.  And potentially avoid a run to Staples late at night.  This helps me too.  Having a shelf with cards, envelopes, stamps and an address book makes it way easier to get a message in the mailbox.

As a WIFE and MOM, I don’t want to be a NAG.  I would much rather NUDGE.

I have a college age son and I know that I need to be on top of deadlines for him. I don’t mean schoolwork, but other things…dentist, applications for trips, health care, financial management, family birthdays (so he can call or send a text) and so on.  I won’t do this forever, but NUDGE is the right thing to do for a lot of young adults.  And they can have a sense of accomplishment.

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When I lay out my sketch book, charge my ipad, phone and put a note about my intentions for the day next to my coffee cup…I’m a tiny bit closer to accomplishing what I want to get done that day.  When I don’t, I’m less likely.  The same is true with automatic savings plans, laying out our exercise clothes, making to do lists or putting reminders in our phones, on the fridge or on a calendar.

I’m hardly saying I’ve got this organizational stuff nailed.  It’s an area of profound struggle for me.  But, NUDGE…well, that I can wrap my highly disorganized head around.

The power of NUDGE.