ADHD is my Writing Partner

When I sit down to write, I’m never alone. And it’s not just because I have kids and am never physically alone. It’s because I have a writing partner. She’s always available whenever I sit down to write. Actually, that’s shortchanging her involvement in my life. She “helps” me with every aspect of my day. She’s my ADHD.

The great thing about writing with ADHD is that I’m naturally creative. My mind wanders and asking “what if” is practically a reflex. I’m not afraid to throw the rules out the window (after I’ve shown that I understand them). And when I’m researching something for a scene, I’m not just focused, I’m hyperfocused. I can spend hours reading articles, watching interviews, scouring historical texts and not bat an eye.

The hard thing about writing with ADHD is that I ask “what if” so often that I keep changing the story and never actually finish it. I can also become so intent on something that I end up burned out or overwhelmed. I can’t just sit down to write. I have to go through a list of coping techniques just to get started. Cut out as many distractions as possible. Have all necessary materials handy because if I have to get up and go searching for something, I might not return to my desk for hours–or at all. Set a phone alarm so that I stop working after a reasonable amount of time. Set small, attainable goals for a given time period so that I have a self-imposed deadline to meet. These things–and my other plethora of tricks–all seem so simple, but without them, I’m only setting myself up for failure.

It’s a gross oversimplification, but when asked what it’s like to have ADHD I sometimes say that it’s like someone else has the remote to the television in my head and they keep changing the channel without my consent. I’ve had to find a way to take the batteries out of the remote. But my ADHD, she’s a crafty one. She sometimes has back-up batteries.

To help give you a better idea, when my sister was diagnosed with ADHD and put on medication, she called me just a few days later in awe. “Kathryn, when I got home today, I realized that I could remember the entire drive home. It was so weird!”

We don’t black-out when we drive. We’re paying attention, but our mind dumps all that information as soon as we’re done using it because it’s deemed unimportant. We don’t NEED to remember that we stopped at the stop sign and waited our turn. It’s not required that we remember sitting at the stoplight until it turned green. We did it and now it’s gone. So we get home and unbuckle our seat belt to realize that we don’t remember actually driving there. But we can probably tell you every song on the radio during the drive, the entire life story of our favorite author, and what event signified the end of the Viking Age. Because that, for some strange reason, is what our ADHD brains choose to retain. It’s not so much “attention deficit” as it is “attention selective” and I don’t always get a choice about what’s selected.

When I was in high school, I would study for major tests with the radio on. Then when I was taking the test, when I came to a hard question, I would think about what song was playing while I studied that chapter. Singing the song in my head would bring back some of what I was reading during the same song the night before. I don’t know if this works for everyone with ADHD, I just know it was a coping technique that helped me.

So when I sit down to write, I have no trouble juggling an ensemble cast and remembering all of their life stories. I struggle with constantly wanting to change them. Writing a fun or action-packed scene is no problem, but writing the subsequent reaction scene is difficult. Finishing is difficult. Remembering to come up for air is hard. Not feeling like a failure when I spend hours at the keyboard and walk away with only half a page of words to show for my effort is a battle.

Whenever I sit down to write, it’s not just me. It’s me and my ADHD. Some days she’s a big help, other days she’s a massive hindrance to my progress. But she’s always there–dependable if nothing else.

Disclaimer: I only reference my ADHD experience and that of my sister because that’s what I am familiar with. Your experience may greatly differ. I have several other friends and family who are diagnosed as well and who experience it a bit differently than I do.

About Mother’s Day

The question arose why I didn’t choose to do a Mother’s Day post for 10 Things. First, thank you to that one person who both reads my posts AND is nerdy enough to enjoy my monthly trivia purge.

Second, quite frankly I wasn’t sure I hadn’t already done one. I couldn’t remember if I did it last year and I didn’t have a lot of time last week to go looking. My oldest graduated preschool and my parents were in town, so I tackled what I had time to.

My third and final reason is that sometimes Mother’s Day is hard for me. I love my children and feel blessed to be their mother. Their tiny little handprint crafts and sweet cards with “I love you” in crazy and horrendous handwriting are the most beautiful works of art that I have ever been gifted. I have a stepmother who has borne that title for almost twenty years. In fact, when I talk about her to others, I often just refer to her as “my mom”. But I also have another mother. Not my mom. My Mama. And she’s been gone a very long time.

My biological mother passed away over two and a half decades ago when I was still just a child. I still miss her sometimes and not just on Mother’s Day. But that particular holiday can sometimes remind me of the pain of losing her.

I have three older siblings. Last year, one of my sisters, the oldest of us, posted an old picture of her with our mother on social media and wrote a brief message about how much we still miss her. I cried because it was beautiful. I cried because it was sad. I cried because I was jealous.

Being the youngest, I had less time with my mother than my siblings did. There are fewer pictures of us together. There are a number of pictures that my mother took of me, but so few with her in them. So few, in fact, that I could only really find two that were of a decent quality. There may be more hiding in photo albums that don’t belong to me, but I only have two of us together. Two.

Time can be cruel. It can take things from you. The sound of someone’s voice. The feel of their embrace. The soothing calm of their presence. Sometimes when I comb through my memories, I hear my sister’s voice instead of my mother’s (they sound very similar, but not the same). I have to fight to correct it. I cling to the sound of her laughter and pull it back from the abyss. I have a stranglehold on the memory of her singing me to sleep. Each year time threatens to take a little more of her from me. I have to fight back. Some years I am more successful than others.

Mother’s Day is the same. Some years, the day is filled with so much joy and amazement that I have no time to be sad at what I have lost. I’m too busy rejoicing in what I have gained. But there are some years that amongst the sweet happiness there is also sorrow. The tears are sometimes happy and sometimes sad, but either way, they are common on such occasions.

After my oldest son was born, we were part of a special Mother’s Day tradition at our church for new mothers. A woman sat at my table and started a conversation with me and before we were through I discovered that she, many moons ago, had been one of my mother’s students. We were in a different town–a different state even–but we made the connection. It was like a message from Mama. “I’m here. He’s beautiful. Congratulations.” And my heart was filled with joy. I cried.

So you see, not all of my tears on Mother’s Day are sad ones. But I often cry at least once. Even if just for a moment or two. And this year, I wasn’t ready to write about it all before her day. I can’t explain why writing about her two days after Mother’s Day is easier than writing about her two days before. It just is.

That’s why I didn’t write about Mother’s Day this year for my 10 Things. And to anyone out there who can relate, it’s not wrong to cry. Perhaps our experience with our grief can help others who are just starting such a journey.

In any case, Happy (late) Mother’s Day. I hope it was beautiful and that your tears were happy ones.

Poor Doggo

My dog, Major, is ten years old. For a Boxer, that’s on the older side. He still runs and jumps like a puppy when he gets the urge, but there is a lot more gray in his face than there used to be. He groans sometimes when he gets off the floor and I relate more than I’d like to admit. Still, he’s pretty spry for an old pup so I don’t think all that much of it most of the time.

Apparently, neither does he.

This weekend, we visited some family members who have a back deck that sits about six feet off the ground. It has stairs leading down to the yard, but it’s not fully enclosed. While we were there, Major came to lay in the shade of the deck while we ate lunch together. He was perfectly content while everyone was sitting on the deck with him, but when we got up and began meandering about, he didn’t want to be left out.

I sent him down the stairs so he could walk around to where the kids had run off to. He lumbered down them and turn around and came right back. I thought he was coming to double check for any dropped crumbs from the table before I finished clearing it off. He did, but after he discovered that all the food had been eaten or properly put away, he gave up and began sniffing elsewhere. This activity took him to the edge of the deck, the side with no stairs. He sniffed. He turned his heads toward the kids around the edge of the house. And I knew he was going to jump. The big dummy.

He jumped down into the yard from the deck, no stairs. The drop was taller than me.

Of course, he limped a bit when he landed, but otherwise seemed just fine. We loaded him in the car and headed home. He was doing okay until he gave up on our stairs and had to be carried down them last night. This morning I took him to the vet. He has a sprained knee and the vet gave us some pain pills for him.

I explained the whole scenario to the vet. He said that when he was young, he and his cousins used to jump off the top of his grandmother’s chicken coop. It was a tall coop, but they never once got hurt. If he tried to make that same jump today, he’d be in pain for days, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be tempted. It seems my dog fell to the temptation, in more ways than one.

He’s a male, through and through. He refuses to accept that he’s getting older and still does things that his puppy self could easily accomplish, but that are harder on him now than they used to be. When he was younger, he could take a running start and jump our back fence. It’s six feet tall too. He hasn’t made the jump in years, mostly because he knows the food is on this side, but he was apparently still convinced he could.

Men.

In any case, he has some pain pills to help him through the soreness and has been put on exercise restrictions for the next week. No stairs. No jumping.

This should go over well.

Wish him (and me) luck. It’s needed.

My Anniversary

There will be only one post from me this week because I’m taking a long weekend. My husband and I will be celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary. We don’t have a ton of things planned since we already took the kids on a cruise in January. That cruise was our gift to each other, and the lion’s share of Christmas gifts for the kids. But still, we’re going to spend some time together and even see the new Avengers movie. I promise not to post spoilers.

My husband and I met when we in our Freshman year of college. We were just nineteen years old at the time. We’d only be dating for six months when he proposed. But we didn’t get married until after graduation. I had made a promise to my father that I would finish school before getting married, and I kept that promise. We graduated together in December of 2008 and got married in April of 2009. He was working in public accounting at the time so we had to wait until April to have a chance at the time off and a honeymoon.

A decade later our life together looks a little different. Not every day is easy, but all of them are worth it. The day I married him, I didn’t think it was possible to love him more than I already did. But now we have two kids together and I love him a little more every time I see him being a great dad to our children.

We dated for six months. We were engaged for four years. We’ve been married for ten years. It’s been almost a decade and a half since this relationship started. It hasn’t all been easy, but it’s all been worth it.

So this week, I’m taking a little time off to celebrate. Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller famously stated that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Life does indeed move fast, so my husband and I are going to stop and look around a little this week. We have a great life together. I’d hate to miss it.

The 7 Day Book Challenge

books in black wooden book shelf
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m related to a librarian. I don’t want to brag or anything, but she’s pretty cool. I mean, to a book nerd that’s like being related to an Avenger. Last week she tagged me in the #7DayBookChallenge where I was supposed to post a book, each day for seven days straight, that I loved and offer no commentary, explanation, or review.

It was hard.

First, I had to pick only seven books. Do you know how hard it is for a book lover to pick ONLY seven books? Each day was a debate. I ended up mixing it up, genre-wise, so that I spread the love around. It was still tough.

Second, I want to talk about the books I love. I want to offer up commentary. I want to share even their flaws with other readers who would enjoy them. Each day I tagged a friend to also complete the challenge. One of them didn’t even try to post without commentary. She said it wasn’t in her nature and so every book came with a post about why she loved it and when in her life it meant the most. I enjoyed that too.

So I’m challenging all of you. You can participate in the #7DayBookChallenge, you can talk about your favorite books in great detail, or you can just commit to talking about the books you love a little more often.

Also, if you’re looking for my picks for the week, check my Instagram (kswatts).

Trifling Tuesday

The unplanned blog absence last week was because my kids were on Spring Break. I lost track of what day of the week it was at first and then I decided to roll with it. I’m sure my tens of readers were sorely disappointed and all, but my kids start back to school again this week so I’m back. Go ahead, break into a happy dance.

I jest.

Anyway. While I was on hiatus, a lot happened around the world. In happy news, my younger son turned two! It was a small celebration, but it was pretty momentous for us. He got a big boy bed and we dismantled his crib. I’m still struggling with how I feel about that. My baby isn’t a baby anymore. But he’s so excited to have a bed just like big brother. The smiles and giggles are magic.

News from elsewhere isn’t as happy.

Storms ravaged….everywhere. Here in the States, Nebraska is mostly underwater. I’m sorry. Eventually, the floodwaters will recede and you will surely not be alone in the recovery efforts. For many, too much has been lost, I know. I’m not good with condolences, but you are not forgotten. Know that. You are still on the hearts of your countrymen.

In New Zealand, hate struck hard.

To the Muslim community, I’m sorry for your loss and the hurt you must be feeling. I don’t know what else to say. I don’t hate you. For what it’s worth to know that one, random, rambling, Christian, white girl from the States, does not hate you. My God tells me to love my neighbor. You are my neighbor. No matter where in the world you may be.

You’d think I’d be better with words as a writer, but I’m not. The truth is out.

One word I do know is trifling. In English, if something is trifling that means it’s trivial. Small. There are enough big problems in the world. I, as an individual, don’t have a lot of power to change that. But I can do small things. I can show kindness. It won’t solve much, but it surely can’t make it worse.

If anyone wants to join me, please do. Look for little ways to be kind, to take care of each other. Recycling. Nice words. Help someone up. Listen. Something small. It may be trivial to you, but maybe it won’t be trifling for someone else.

It’s corny. And maybe stupid. I’ve certainly done things that are plenty of both. But I’m starting today. It’ll be a trifling Tuesday. And then maybe tomorrow will look a little bit better.

 

 

Blind Date with a Book

For the month of February, my local library is hosting an event called “Blind Date with a Book”. A selection of books has been wrapped up so nobody can see the cover. This means you have no idea who the author is or what the title might be. Each package has a card with a code for the library staff to use to check the book out to you (so they don’t have to open it on the spot) and a genre for the book inside the package. You find a genre that you usually like to read and pick a package at random, take the book home, and fill out the rating and review card to return with the book.

I checked out my book this week. I haven’t had a chance to open it yet so the only thing I know about it so far is that it’s a Romance. I’m stoked. Even if I end up disliking the book, the concept is fun. As my librarian put it while she checked out my “blind date”, “If you love it, great! You might have just discovered a new author to follow. If not, no harm no foul and you can always try again if you’d like.”

As far as Valentine’s themed promotions go, I think this one is the best I’ve seen in a long time. Nobody is left out. It doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, dating, or completely uninterested in all things romantic. Anybody can find a genre they like and have a fun “blind date”. Just like in real life, there is no guarantee your “blind date” will go well and you may end up abandoning it early on. Or it might be fun and refreshing. You might have a hot date with a Thriller; an out of this world good time with a Sci-Fi; a magical night with a Fantasy. Okay, my maturity level is dropping. I’ll stop.

Anyway, here’s hoping my blind date goes well. I’ll have to check in with y’all next week and let you know!