Lately I’ve been thinking about my “shitty roommate”. This is my personal inner voice—she makes me doubt myself all the time. She puts those snarky thoughts in my head that I’m “not good enough”, “not reaching my potential” or “if only you were more like…”.
Shame is the inner language of self-attack and self-blame AND shame is my shitty roommate’s jam.
Instead of trying to kick her out (which is exhausting and nearly impossible), I’ve decided to get more curious about her…even love her up a bit. Yes, she’s manipulative AND she also has pushed me. We’re really quite competitive. When she has my ear, she’s granted me the opportunity to self-correct behavior that doesn’t line up with my values, seek forgiveness from those I’ve wronged or offer myself a little grace.
But now, it’s time to change the rules of engagement using one short sentence.
The more I say it, the more power it has for all sorts of situations in my life.
When I question her language, my shitty roommate just puts her headphones on and leaves me alone until the next time…and there will always be a next time. She hates those three words, however, we do seem to be getting along a little better lately.
I love street photography. The raw moment when something sparks me. Be sure to scroll down and check out the pigeon slideshow. My daughter Willa had an interesting encounter near the royal palace.
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.
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.
I was reminded this morning of how I can be an ALL or NOTHING sort of person in my proclamations. I LOVE CHANGE. I love change so much more than the rest of my family and it drives them totally bonkers. EXAMPLE: If I could flip the rooms where the kitchen and the living room are I would do that. I have to satisfy that part of my nature somehow and it’s abundantly clear that I must largely do it on my own. No public proclamations…or at least a helluva lot fewer of them.
I can be a little unrealistic: I WILL NO LONGER eat potato chips, drink beer, read news, use FACEBOOK, watch TV, eat meat or sugar, drive when I can walk, be critical of my kids or my husband, spend money on X…blah, blah, blah.
Thankfully, over the course of the positive psychology program I took through the Wholebeing Institute. I was taught something quite valuable and rather easy to incorporate into my daily life. The simple trick of five percent.
I can improve 5% of damn near anything in my life…
then I can build on that incremental change.
I will try to exercise 5% more. I will try to spend 5% less. I will try to eat 5% less sugar. I will try to watch 5% less TV. I will try to eat 5% fewer potato chips. I will try to drink 5% less. (NOTE: I’ve discovered a great trick. My beers are now 1/2 club soda and 1/2 beer. Bartenders aren’t crazy about this order. Who cares? It’s half the calories, half the alcohol and it’s much better for staying hydrated.)
SO, the next time you notice something you would like to improve in your life— think about a relatively painless 5% shift and just do it.
This might be all you need to get started on a desired new path.
Good luck! Let me know what works for you.
What we focus on can give us more clarity OR get us to hyper-focused, losing sight of the big picture. For me, I think this is a crucial distinction to understand right now. Take a look at the very subtle differences in the photos. I focus on the fungus in front and the whole picture shifts. I focus on the fungus in the back and everything changes…even the light a little bit. Perspective.
I feel this shift a lot when parenting teenagers. What do I need to pay attention to right now? Should I use a different lens here? Why am I so focused on this right now? Should I take a broader look OR get in there and really explore one singular issue, letting other things fall out of focus?
These are really hard questions for me to manage in a split second. However, as a very visual learner, a subtle shift in perspective made more sense to me when I thought about it in terms of photography. What we focus on grows and sometimes we need a ridiculously wide lens and sometimes we have to hyper-focus.
I chose to focus on these mushrooms and not focus on other thins for a few minutes. Aren’t they magnificent?
even when they start out pretty funky. That’s what happened to me today. I’m glad I was paying attention. I drove to Putney, Vermont to see my son at Landmark College. As the parent of 20 and 16-year-olds, I have to stay on my toes and I was this morning…tippy tippy toes, actually. I headed south from Burlington and made some remarkable stops along the way. Good golly, Vermont is staggeringly beautiful in October. WOW!
I stopped at the Red Hen Baking Company in Middlesex, VT for coffee and a cheddar bacon scone. They didn’t have them today—bummer…coffee and reading my book for a while is nice even without a cheddar & bacon scone. I’m reading “A Short Course In Happiness and Loss” by one of my psychology instructors, Maria Sirois. I graduated with a certificate in Positive Psychology last Friday after finishing a year long certification program through the Wholebeing Institute . I have that post big project and deadline sense of loss. I like deadlines. I guess I’ll have to set some new goals now.
Since, I’ve been home and working mostly alone in my studio for two decades, a certificate in anything actually feels pretty damn good.
I’m not exactly sure how I took this picture, but it captures a moment for me anyway. I had the windows down and the music blasting because, even after coffee, I was still sleepy. The air was heavy and dark. After I saw my son I was heading North on I91 and I missed my exit. The sun was now shining and I was hungry, so I decided to explore White River Junction, Vermont. I’ve driven by this town for 26 years and never stopped. It’s so awesome. I think we all must explore a lot often. Our hearts and brains depend upon exploration My whole day shifted by stopping in this funky Vermont town.
I parked downtown and ate lunch at Tuckerbox, a Turkish restaurant. I had a meze platter—haydari, hummus, babaganoush, Turkish salsa, stuffed grape leaves. YUM!
Then I just decided to take a walk around town before I headed back to Burlington. I bought a vintage denim shirt at REVOLUTION. One can’t have too many of those…right?
Then I walked around the block back to my truck and this is what I came upon…let’s review. 1. I miss my exit. 2. Great Lunch. 3. Cool denim shirt.
4. Then these pedals were all over the steps and sidewalk. Who doesn’t need a little MAGIC in their day?
I was floored…it was so amazing to come around the corner of the street and witness this. I was so wiped out. I was gone all of last week at school and I really needed to be home, but I would’ve missed those pedals. Thank you VALLEY FLOWER COMPANY. You have no idea how much you made my day. Yes, there’s still more…
So I paused for a minute to just take in the pedals on the sidewalk. I took about 11 steps and there was this interesting little jewelry gallery called SCAVENGER. I popped in and the work is right up my alley. One of the artists makes casts out of bugs, twigs, flowers, sea urchins…gorgeous, organic shapes. I bought myself an early birthday present. I even had it wrapped, so I don’t have a picture and I can’t open it until next week. It’s a persimmon flower, very cool shape, greenish, bronzy, patina…her work made me feel like I had uncovered the bracelet on an archeological dig. I’m now a big fan of Stacy Hopkins. Nice people helped me make my choose the piece of jewelry I purchased as well. Yes, really. I felt like I was on a movie set.
Then I headed north—smiling from my adventures…listening to Aretha Franklin really loud and singing along. It poured for a while. I LOVE RAIN. Then it cleared off and the color was just staggering…Aretha and I kept singing and heading north to HOME.
White River Junction, you have a new fan!
When my kids were little I wanted to see all of the similarities to me and other family members…moles, mannerisms and so much more. Those observations were really fun—welcomed and celebrated.
However, as a parent of young adults I’m acutely aware of how they are differentiating themselves now. It isn’t easy to “parent” their emerging adulthood and separateness, but it’s really quite necessary.
I’m trying to understand their choices and what they represent—freedom, a (hopefully) healthy sense of self and discovering their place in the world. This is really important work for all of us. I feel more compassionate and slightly less pissed off when I access how I felt at sixteen or twenty years old. Sorry Mom and Dad. I had to do what I had to do.
Our kids are trying to understand this brand new adulthood thing and the process is a little clunky (to say the least) for everyone. Young adults that on occasion still need us like they are little kids. Little kids who want the privileges that come with adulthood. And parents who would much rather be snuggled up reading bedtime stories than watching the clock and waiting to hear the car pull in the driveway.
I don’t want to spend a lifetime feeling like there should’ve been one more book read. One more camp. One more trip. One more lesson. One more skill taught. One more ______________ (fill in the blank). If I don’t let go of the ONE MORE(S) they will keep us all from moving forward. I’m pretty sure we all want to keep moving forward.
First, I must acknowledge the loss.
Then I have to let them go and trust our imperfect past.
After visiting my family in Burke, South Dakota (population 670ish) last week I’ve returned home to Vermont and made a few discoveries. I thought I’d share them and maybe you’ve experienced something similar at some point in your life. As always, I would love to have you shoot me an e-mail and share your thoughts.
This is a mash-up of where I’ve spent the most time in my life.
South Dakota/23 years • Vermont/25 years • Massachusetts/Lots of summers/holidays
1) As a nearly 49 year old woman (October 12th) I no longer visit my childhood home feeling like a child. It helps when my husband comes with me. I feel more in touch with my adult life…and much less so when it’s just me and the kids.
2) My children are rapidly growing up and I’m no longer a parent of “young kids”. GOOD.
3) I don’t feel particularly old except that I need “readers” in every damn room.
4) I basically like who I’ve grown to become AND I know that I’ll spend the rest of my life getting to know myself better. I’m up for the challenge and hopefully the people I’ve chosen to date are up for it too.
5) Life isn’t easy and sometimes during the hard stuff all we can do is “show up” for our people. However, the hard stuff makes you grow and the good stuff is just pretty wonderful. And I’m slowly learning (very slowly) to let the bullshit slide. It isn’t worth my energy now.
6) At this age I am more deliberate about my time, my people and choices. I think “deliberate” feels awesome in nearly every context.
7) Sometimes this age feels like a second adolescence. I like it, my twin daughters and I are in it together—which is sometimes adorable and sometimes really NOT…but always interesting. One day they will find it all very funny, I think.
the period following the onset of puberty during which a young person develops from a child into an adult.OR, the period before menopause when you no longer have to take care of little kids, naps are OK, preparing meals is optional & you worry a helluva lot less about what people think.
This photo is our shared sorrow over the end of the “van years”. I had to fake my sadness, actually. I now drive a VW Passat and I don’t really miss my van…except maybe listening to movies on road trips. But, now we listen to the TED Radio Hour, This American Life and The Moth on NPR. We save them up for our trips and they always provide remarkable discussions.
Here are a few links you might enjoy:
A great TED Talk on aging: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/19/414999589/why-should-we-look-forward-to-getting-older
This is an interesting site that was referenced on the TED Radio Hour last week—Stanford Center on Longevity. http://longevity3.stanford.edu/