Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Walking and Talking

A friend, fellow cynic and "stirrer of the pot" pointed me towards this article today:


I have been a fan and admirer of Henry Rollins since my teens. I don't always agree with him, sometimes he is bitter and raw, but he is always thoughtful, brilliant and unafraid to speak his mind. What I hear him saying is that we are failing our young men in that we would rather let them loose on a sea of media and machismo then take the time to instill the values that would make them into men rather than "dudes", and citizens rather than self-centered consumers and power-seekers.

There are lessons missing in their lives that say they can be athletes as well as scholars and gentlemen. They can be emotional and have a healthy sexual identity without objectifying, vilifying or fearing those of other gender or sexual orientation.

These two men were rapists. They made the choice to do what they did regardless of what they were surrounded by. But they were most likely horribly cheated out of all the things I just mentioned.

Now what?

We can complain about parents, teachers, and the media until we are out of breath but in the end what does that really change? Until the men (and women) chose change, real change, nothing is going to happen. I live my life every day as an example of what I believe is right and good to my fellow human beings. If that makes me a role model to my sons, daughters, and all the young people I have a chance to influence then great, but in the end its all about trying to follow the Bard and to mine own self be true.

If you're going to talk it then you gotta walk it.

Rock on Rollins.

Monday, March 4, 2013

ADHD Sucks

ADHD is not a joke.

It is not a "senior moment".

It is not a matter of "I'd lose my head if it wasn't attached", or "I'm such a spaceshot today, must be  the ADD."

Every day, all over the web, especially on places like Facebook, people rant and rave and rally in the name of justice and equality. They support human rights issues, LGBT issues, issues of class and race and gender equality. But through all this, ADHD remains a joke to so many people. It's sickening to think that an estimated 12% of the world's population (Yep, the numbers are that high. That's 1 in 8 people folks) are a laughing stock to people that claim to be so enlightened and politically correct.

If you think having an "ADD moment" sucks, try living with them your whole life. Every day. Without exception. Think about having to be medicated just to focus enough to get through simple tasks that are vital to a persons existence or having to create coping mechanisms so you don't end up locked out of your house every week when you forget your keys. Think about struggling with your job, your relationships, and your sense of self-worth because you can't regulate your emotions. The list goes on.

Sounds pretty awful, doesn't it?

Trust me. It is.

ADHD sucks. MY ADHD sucks, and I actually consider myself one of the lucky ones. At least I have some clue as to what the hell is going on with me. I often suffer in silence, but so many others suffer in silence without people in their lives that support and love them. Did I mention that I consider myself one of the lucky ones?

So the next time you'd like to to chuckle and blame your little shortcomings of mind or memory on ADD, give some thought to those people whose lives are often overwhelmed by their little shortcomings.

I feel much better now.

This rant has now concluded.

Feel free to go about your business.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Coincidence Field

The Coincidence Field

My life is full of weird things. So much so that I kind of take them for granted. People are often shocked and amazed by the things that happen to me. Some of the things are good, some bad, and others just bizarre.

Meh… you get used to it after a while.

Sometimes I get hit full in the face with strong feelings of “déjà vu.” REALLY strong. They feel more like prophecy fulfilled than simply ghosts of things that I have already seen/felt/visited before. That’s ok though, because sometimes I get strong feelings of “Vújà de”, which is the feeling that this has never happened before and is probably never going to happen again. They tend to more or less balance each other out.

Time is often weird for me. Future, past, present… they tend to jumble some times. Ever read “Dune”? The one by Frank Hebert about the desert planet? The one where the lead character, Paul “Muad’Dib” Atredis becomes the “Kwisatz Haderach”, a guy that can stand in the flow of the past, present and future at the same time. He becomes a prophet who eventually gets to see his own death coming. Ain’t prophets lucky folks?

Anyway. If you’ve read it you might get it. If you haven’t, it works like this for me. Out of the blue I’ll feel detached, separated from where I am and what’s going on. I’ll see a blast of the future and feel my age in excruciating detail. So hard it’s a panic attack. I feel the weight of it on my chest. It feels like the decades left in my life are going to be over in a blink.

Sometimes it’s about the past. Sometimes I touch an artifact or visit a place with a history and all the years of its existence hit me like a Mac truck. I can feel the lives of the people who touched the thing or lived in the place. For a brief moment I know them, I get glimpses of them. It’s sometimes sad, sometimes scary, and sometimes wonderful. You know I worked in museums, right? That was a thrill. So many opportunities, so many occurrences.

Sometimes I’ll be stuck in a moment in the present. I’ll feel it stretch out far, far into the horizon. It feels like its going to last forever and time is meaningless. I tend to like those. They happen in the Fall a lot when I’m walking alone and the wind rustles the dry leaves and you can smell that “smell” of life getting ready for a good night’s sleep before waking up again to a brand new shiny day.

Best of all is the coincidence field. I mean, it’s the name of this entry, right? In the past I thought I was just subject to weird coincidences. Lots of them. All the time. A song runs through my head that I haven’t heard or thought about in years and I’ll hear it on the supermarket Muzak later that day. Old friends will contact me the day after they come to mind. I’ll see an actress on TV and swear I KNOW who she is. I’ll look her up online and who do you think is in every movie and TV show I see for the next 3 days? Yep.

Coincidence, right? Well that’s my point. But for me it is a daily occurrence. So much so that I don’t even think about it anymore. The oddest part is that it seems to be some sort of field that can reach out and draw others into its Kung-fu grip...

During the 2012 election season my lovely partner Terry would try to get a rise out of her liberal friends by subtly implying that she was a big Mitt Romney supporter, even though she wasn’t. Of course I felt it was my duty to play along and then tease her myself about her good buddy “Mittens.” After the election Terry and I were driving through North Conway during a trip to the “Wooden House”, which my true and loyal readers know about through posts gone by. The topic of “Mittens” somehow came up and I was poking her a little about it. She said that enough was enough and I told her that I was going to let it drop. Less than a minute later we rounded a bend in the road and there’s a billboard. A big one. What does it say? You guessed it. Mitt Romney for President. Best part? Someone has defaced the sign by crossing out Mitt and changing it to “Mittens.” There’s even a little drawing of a kitty’s face. Terry is more than a bit surprised until I point out to her that she sees this happen to me all the time.

That’s when the field reaches out and swallows her whole.

Now when she’s around me, and for some time after, the coincidences affect her too. Sadly, hers often happen in not-so-opportune situations. She tried to duck a meeting with someone so she could run some important errands and she ran smack into them while trying to do those errands. Oops.

Of course I feel bad for her. My coincidences are more harmless than bad and, like I said, I don’t really even think about them. They are often wrapped in good karma but sometimes I wish a winning lottery ticket would coincidentally fall out of the sky…

Who knows? Maybe all of these things aren’t that uncommon after all. Maybe all of you, my dear readers, feel and encounter these sorts of things all the time. But having lived a life where I often felt like an alien outsider it is often difficult to know what’s on the minds of the “normal” folk. I am curious to know, though. Maybe folks will stumble upon this and actually tell me a little about it.

Wouldn’t that be a great coincidence?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

ADD or ADHD, that is the question.

It's been a while. About two and a half years at this point. Still looking for that Brain Extractor but I don't think it's coming anytime soon. I've composed quite a few entries in my head over the years but without that Brain Extractor they just haven't made it.

Terry and I created a presentation on ADHD called (drum roll and fanfare please) ADHD 101. Yeah, real original I know, but it it actually describes it pretty accurately. Putting it together was a lovely combination of enjoyable and stressful. Terry put the research together and I used my past experience as a Park Ranger (you all know I was a Park Ranger, right?) to make it presentable in a way that is fun. When we present it (and so far we've only made a test run for her staff and some of their family) she delivers the facts and I'm the used car salesman. Wanna buy an "I model"? Low, low milage and it was only used on Sundays to help a little old lady get through her "to do" list. You see, that joke might even be funny to someone who has seen the program and knows what the hell an "I model" is. And oh, by the way (spoiler alert), ADHD 101 involves a lab coat and a superhero costume.

Anywho. While we were putting it together we came across kind of a dilemma. What the hell do you call it? Is it ADD? ADHD? Does it vary? Who, whom, po-tay-to, po-ta-to, you get the picture. Turns out that it doesn't really matter. To most folks who are really connected to the front edge of the thing the terms are interchangeable. Interesting news to me, but if you really break it down, all ADDers (we decided to use that term to refer to all those swell folks we were talking about) tend to have some form of hyperfocus or hyperactivity so to "H" or not to "H" really didn't seem to be the question.

I'm sure I'll get lots of replies and emails disputing this (yeah, right! Like enough people read this damn thing to make "lots of replies and emails") but it works for me. I'm keeping the "H" because it makes for a snappier acronym. Those of you who know me might think that's a bit silly because I don't exactly seem to be a jumping jack, hyperactive kinda guy, but you might be surprised at what hyperactivity might be like. I might even surprise you with it in a future entry. I'm certainly dying from suspense so I hope it gets written soon.

Brain Extractor, anyone...?

Monday, May 10, 2010

When it Rains, it Pours (Then Your EZ-Up Blows Away)

Here's an entry that's both artsy and ADHD-y.

I did a Craft Show this weekend in Hampton Falls, NH. I woke up at 5am on the day of the show to the sound of thunder and lightning. Not encouraging.  It was raining buckets outside and I was supposed to start setting up in an hour and a half. Not to mention the fact that leather items and copious amounts of soaking water are NOT a friendly combination.

So. Being ADHD and subject to emotional hijack, rumination, and overwhelming and disproportionate emotional responses I began to stress and freak out. I mean, I paid $200 for my spot in the show and another $100 for the hotel room I had booked for that night. Time to panic, right??

Well... actually... wrong...

I didn't freak out at all. I was stressed. Of course I was, that seems pretty normal to me. The situation was stressful and unanticipated. But I held it together and started to think. I focused on making realistic decisions based on the facts at hand rather than the nasty little voice screaming useless negative things in my head.

I did... what?

No, really! I did. I figured that the hotel was paid for and Terry was already planning to meet me in Hampton Falls. The car was packed the night before and was safe and dry in the garage. Might as well drive out there and give it a shot. If the show site was soggy and boggy I could hang around until check-in time, check out the hotel and its indoor pool until the weather dried out a bit, and then I could set up for the following day.

So I did it. I overcame the irrational and drove up tp Hampton Falls. By the time I got there the downpour had become drizzle and I was able to get set up in time for the show's opening. The show opened and the crowd was ok, decent in number and a fair amount of them interested in my wares.  I was upbeat, outgoing, friendly, and ready to sell stuff.

There was rain at times, some times LOTS of rain. I cleared puddles off the EZ-up's overhang again and again. The day was gray and miserable and I began to feel the same. Gray, miserable, and despondent. No one was buying. Fewer people were even looking. What was I doing? What was I thinking? This was nuts. When was I going to get real and get a real job and grow up already.


But again I was able to stop and think about things in a realistic and rational way and get past it. Again, it's normal and rational to be down-hearted when your work isn't being connected with. It's normal for new businesses to not make money, or even lose money when they are in their infancy. All of this probably seems pretty straightforward to most folks but for nearly forty years it has completely eluded me. I thought it was just the way things were.

T-Rose came by in the afternoon and the afternoon went fine. We set up the site for the night and went out for a great dinner and a fantastic evening together, despite a pretty poor quality hotel. We woke up to no more rain and were ready for a quick set-up before Terry headed home to spend Mother's Day with her little-uns.

It was a bit windy out.

Kinda very windy in fact.

So windy that as we were approaching the site we began to notice that several of the vendor's tents were bent or knocked over. Thank goodness we had staked the tent down the night before. I felt bad for all those folks who were trying to straighten and re-configure their spaces.

At least their booths were still there.

Mine wasn't.

Parts of it was. A leg or two. The tables were there with all of the merchandise safely stowed away in totes under said tables. Even our trusted and beloved "Monique" (we named the mannequin head we used to display the masks... she's hot) was still tie-wrapped to the top of my display stand. But the booth was about 20 or so feet away in a bent and tangled ruin.

Yep. Sucked.

By this point, however, I was WAY beyond any of this. I have to admit that if the leatherwork had gotten trashed it might have been too much to bear. But I didn't make the EZ-up. Though not cheap they can be readily replaced. One of the other vendors, one of several VERY helpful and kind vendors, helped me realize that we were about 2 miles away from Seabrook. Seabrook has a Sam's Club. Sam's Club sells EZ-up tents.

With the help of my lovely T-Rose (aka Tabi-G... ask her if she wants to share that one with you) crisis mode became focused, albeit stressed, mode. We got a new EZ-up. We found great folding tables at a reasonable price which I bought to upgrade from the ones I was borrowing from ACiM. We bought bungee cords and stakes and rope and set to work.

The wind was still pretty horrendous so we used the EZ-up frames without sides, or even a roof. We put out the new tables and bungee-corded everything in sight. Terry told one of our neighbors that if anyone could figure out how to make it work I could. She was right, of course...

I did make the whole thing work and began to sell sell sell. Terry left to spend at least some of the day with the kids. If it wasn't for the extra cost of the new EZ-up it would have been a pretty decent show financially. I learned a lot about audience taste and how to connect the right folks with the right items.

It was a success.

I have to admit that. I'm learning a new definition of success. Success does not always mean perfection. Success does not have to be defined by those around me. Success can be about learning and growing and evolving and changing. After nearly forty years I'm finally beginning to get it.

This post and my last one show some pretty serious changes that are going on in my world. Part of that change can be attributed to personal reflection and self-searching. An even larger part can be attributed to my ADHD coach. Yep. There are folks out there who specialize in helping folks with ADHD get their lives in order and succeed. I'm lucky enough to be engaged to one...

It was funny at first. When Terry first started her coaching classes she was like the stereotypical freshman psychology student, seeing ADHD everywhere and analyzing everyone around her. Then, much to her surprise, she was herself diagnosed with ADHD. Welcome to the club honey.

Having a coach is an amazing thing. They really help put things in perspective. They make ADHD real. They make it just a thing, like being left-handed. I've always believed that ADHD was like being left-handed. It's not a horrible disease. It's just a different brain set. Get some left-handed scissors and move on.

Having a coach is like having a whole box full of left-handed scissors.

I know there are lots of you out there who have ADHD or have friends or loved ones who do. Help is out there, even if it isn't easy to track down. Terry, and folks like her are available to help out, often in sessions scheduled over the phone. To find out more, you can contact Terry at a.community.in.motion@gmail.com or check out her Facebook page.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Boldly Moving Forward (in a Terrified Manner)

People can often be their own worst enemies. I think that with many, if not most, ADHD folks this is very true. For decades, a little voice inside my head has been telling me I will not succeed, and it has been doing everything in its power to make sure that is true. Up till now it has been pretty good at its job and I have often felt underachieved and unsuccessful even when that couldn't be farther from the truth.

I've had folks in my life that have made great allies for the little voice, but I'm not allowing that anymore. You see, I've begun to make some terrifying discoveries of late. I've been shocked and horrified to discover that I am often VERY successful, at any number of things. It boggles the mind to even consider it but I'm a pretty capable and talented guy.

That might sound a bit vain and conceited, but not so. I am quite aware that for each of the things that I am great at there are other things that I am completely TERRIBLE at. I've always been comfortable accepting the terrible bits. It was the pride of success that often eluded me and made me downright sick to my stomach.

In my case, the things I have been successful at have often come back to haunt me. My beloved T-Rose learned in her ADHD coaching class that when folks with ADHD do something well, it often gets held against them for the rest of their lives.

Huh? Yep, you read correctly.

For me, I can often do things that are REALLY difficult for most folks with relative ease. Figure out how to fix things around the house? No prob. Figure out how to solve a computer problem? Yawn. Take one look at something and then reverse engineer a version of my own? Well, duh!

To many regular folks these things often seem amazing, and they try to praise me and give thanks. But the little voice in my head says,

"They can't be serious. That was pathetic. What sort of praise do you deserve for such a simple task?"

It was a compelling argument for most of my life. Why did I deserve praise? It was easy to do and didn't challenge me in the least. The praise seemed hollow and didn't do much to help me feel successful.

Then there is the other side of things. There are MANY things that most folks do with ease that I am absolutely awful at. Call to make a Dentist appointment? Shiver. Remember that it is Sunday night and the trash needs to go out? Oh, yeah, right. Travel from one end of the house to the other and remember what you were going to do? Ummmm....

Mess up "simple" things like this and folks don't praise you. Far from it. They criticize you and harp on you and make you feel pretty awful. How can you be capable of so many difficult things and forget to put the trash out? What's wrong with you?

Three guesses how that would make me feel...

The problem was, those things are NOT easy. They are VERY VERY hard for me. And the way that folks would treat me when I screwed them up would do a good job at negating any praise I received for the hard (although not that hard to me) stuff. It gave the little voice inside me plenty of material to work with. It made sure that no matter how successful I was, I never felt content with it.

A lifetime of that can get old. A lifetime of that can get frustrating, and defeating, and make you furious in ways that you try to keep down but pop up at the worst possible moment. You can endure a whole lifetime of it while that nasty little voice in your head pilots that flaming train wreck all the way down to your grave.

Screw that noise.

I have simply decided that enough is enough. So with the help of someone very close to me (closer in fact than anyone else has ever been) I am moving forward.  I am going to a place where I am not only successful, but I can embrace that success and, dare I say it, be happy and prideful and content with it.

Not as easy as it sounds.

It is, in fact, rather scary and uncomfortable and, to be blunt, often sucks. But why should I care? Isn't success and contentment something we all seek? Something we all deserve? Up until now I have believed that we all deserved it, even me (well, sorta), and I still believe that. It's just that now I actually mean it about myself as well as everyone else.

Where will it take me? Who knows. That's kinda the scary part. But anyplace would be better that where I was.

I'm excited.

I'm terrified too.

Sound the bugle. Wish me luck. I'm going in...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Wooden House

No, contrary to some comments from the peanut gallery, it is not made of sticks, nor does it abut the Straw House. It is the Wooden House (I know... most houses are indeed wood) and it was so named by my kids in their infancy. I have been taking them there since Zak was born. His first visit was weeks after his birth. It is a pretty amazing little rental house that my Mom has been going to for decades and we have been added to that tradition.

It is a wonderfully peaceful place outside of North Conway, New Hampshire with a wood stove and lots of windows that overlook the woods of the White Mountains. While there we hike, shop, and hike some more. It is truly one of my favorite vacation spots and it means the world to me. I'm pretty sure it means quite a lot to the kids as well...

We have started letterboxing quite a bit around the area. Letterboxing? Yeah, it is really kinda neat. Folks hide boxes (more accurately small plastic storage containers) and post directions to their location online at a letterbox site. Inside the box is a rubber stamp, often carved by the folks who placed the box, with which you can stamp your letterbox journal. There is also a notebook in the box that you stamp with your own stamp. Did I mention that you have to have your own stamp? I designed ours and had it made up from an company online. The design was a bit too complicated for me to carve on my own.

I used one of my leather journals this year to start making things "official". I'm hoping that it is a tradition that we keep on all of our trips for many years to come. We found a "hitchhiker" this time around. That means that someone visiting a box added a stamp of their own and the next folks who find it are supposed to carry it to another letterbox, possibly far far away. We're planning on planting a box of our own after Thanksgiving so we'll start him there and see where he ends up.

Did I mention the hiking? We love the hiking there. This year I made walking sticks for the kids, and for myself while I was at it. It was part of teaching Zak how to be responsible with a pocketknife. The kid is crazy about the idea of whittling. I think it actually rivals video games as far as getting and keeping his attention.

This year I was able to share our experience with my wonderful partner Theresa. We explored the shops of North Conway for hours and had a wonderful dinner together. Despite that fact that it rained for an entire day that she was there I think that she's hooked. Now it is her tradition too.

Life is about experiences. You only get one shot to gather them up (at least in this lifetime). The wooden house is a place that to me represents calm and peace in a near-zen like fashion. It is my yearly reminder to slow down and take a breath, and it re-enforces and recharges my belief in a simpler way of living. I hope to return there many times in my life, and even if I don't get to I will always treasure the trips I have already made.