ADHD · fitness · meditation · mindfulness

A short reflection on 22 days of meditation

A few weeks ago, I posted about finding ease by doing the easy thing and, at that point, I was on my 9th day of yoga and meditation.

As I write this (on Monday night) I am at Day 22 and I feel really good, really at ease.

A screen cap from a meditation app that shows a small round photo, text reading ‘22 Consecutive Days’, and a row of stars.
I chose this profile photo in Insight Timer ages ago, I didn’t realize until now that the teeny version looks either smug or disconcerted – I’m actually smirking of course. Meanwhile, I love that the app has given me gold stars. Image A screen capture from the ‘Insight Timer’ app that shows a small photo of me, text that reads ‘22 consecutive days’ and a row of 5 stars – 2 bronze and 3 gold.

Not every minute of every day but, at any given point, it’s a little easier to find that space, that breathing room, when I need it.

And, to be clear, I’m not saying that I am meditating here and there in search of that ease. I mean that, because of my short daily meditation sessions, there’s a little bit of extra room in between my thoughts – I just have to choose to look for it.

Given my galloping ADHD brain, sometimes it is a bit tricky to remember to make that choice but I am definitely making it more often than I ever have before.

An up-close view of evergreen needles.
Looking closely at these evergreen needles also makes me feel peaceful so I thought I’d share. 💚 image description: an up-close view of evergreen needles on a tree.

I know that I have tried to develop a meditation practice several times before and my results were mixed, to say the least.

This time, though, doing the easy thing, not making a plan, just taking it a day at a time has worked out marvellously for me.

It has become easy and straightforward to include meditation at the end of my day – sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes for 2 minutes – and I feel great about it.

In case you were wondering, Khalee is also a fan of my quiet practice…

A light haired dog rests in a burgundy armchair.
When I finished my practice a couple of nights ago, I looked up from my mat to see Khalee looking off in the distance like this. I can only assume she was mindfully paying attention to her breath like I was. Image description: Khalee, my light-haired, medium-sized dog, is resting in a burgundy armchair. Her head is resting on the seat cushion and she is deeply relaxed while she looks forward but off somewhere to left of the camera.

ADHD · fitness · yoga

Finding Ease By Doing The Easy Thing

Over the past few years, in an attempt to counter the natural ‘but what if…’ tendencies of my ADHD brain I have been reminding myself to ‘do the easy thing’ whenever I can.

This isn’t the same as ‘taking the easy way out.’

Instead, it’s about 1) figuring out the easiest/most straightforward way to get something done 2) making sure that approach will cover the key details/meet the needs of the people involved 3) only adding more complexity if needed.

So, instead of letting my brain branch out into every possibility, I try to find what feels easiest and check if that will work before letting things get more complicated.

Sidenote: Recently, I was thrilled to hear a similar concept when listening to a 2020 episode of the Translating ADHD podcast called ‘Letting It Be Easy With ADHD’

Yes, some things are inherently complex, difficult, or challenging but not everything has to be difficult and complexity for complexity’s sake doesn’t really help anyone.

Can I remember to do the easy thing every time?

No. I cannot.

Do I *try* to remember to do the easy thing whenever possible?

Oh hells, yes.

How does ‘do the easy thing’ play out in real life?

Like this:

At the beginning of last week, I noticed that I was really worn out

Not sleepy. Not tired.

Worn out.

My brain immediately started with an elaborate and overwhelming plan to address the problem but I somehow managed to put the brakes on and ask myself…

What’s the easy thing?

The answer was not more sleep, it wasn’t time off, it wasn’t big discussions about my workload. The answer, the easy thing, was to do short sessions of yoga and meditation before bed.

It felt so straightforward, so easy and so good, that I was drawn to do the same thing the next night. And the night after. And the night after that…

Now, at day 9, the easy thing has made a wonderful difference in how I feel, no complex plan required.

An evening shot of a yoga mat and blocks on a patio with flowerpots and string lights. A dog is sniffing the yoga blocks.
Khalee is uncertain about yoga blocks so she had to do a sniff test. This photo makes her look like she has flipped a block with her nose but actually the cork block is propped up on the other one. Image description: An evening shot of a yoga mat and blocks on a patio with flowerpots and string lights. There’s a shawl thrown onto the mat and Khalee, my dog, is sniffing the blocks.
A post meditation shot. I found meditation relaxing but I think Khalee was on guard the whole time. image description: a sort of selfie of me and Khalee. My face and part of my right upper body can be seen on one side of the image but the majority of the shot is of Khalee sitting low on the patio, staring past the camera to some dog-determined minor threat. My patio sliding door and part of the inside of my house can be seen behind us. The lights on my patio rail are reflected in the glass door.

ADHD

Experimenting with ADHD-specific exercise

When it comes to exercise and writing and, well, everything else, I am trying not to let thinking get in the way of doing but it is a real struggle.

I know that everyone struggles with this from time to time but for those of us with ADHD it is very much a default mode in our brains.

Our busy minds can cough up all kinds of reasons why now is not the right time to do the thing we have planned and those reasons are VERY convincing.

If I am trying to get something done, I have to work hard to recognize/remember that there won’t actually be a time when I will be more motivated/find it easier/magically have more skills or time. And there probably won’t be an ideally logical time to do it. And I probably don’t need more information before getting started. And if my challenges right now are internal, they will probably be there later, too.

So, it’s not just about me deciding to when to do something and then jumping up to do it when that time comes – it’s also about fending off all kinds of reasonable-sounding objections, over and over.

On Friday past, at the end of a very frustrating week of trying to make my brain go (some weeks are far worse than others), I started reading Your Brain Is Not Broken by Tamara Rosier and I immediately thought ‘Oh, once I am finished this, I’ll be able to make a good plan to get things done.’

That thought was followed by, ‘You have thought this before.’

In fact, that train of thought is of the most stereotypical ADHD things I could have done at that moment. But instead of being hard on myself about a recurring thought pattern, I decided that recognizing the pattern was an important step. And the fact that I could 1) create a space between the first thought and the second and 2) decide not to judge myself for it means that my meds are working well AND the efforts I have put in to help myself deal with my ADHD are paying off.

So, after that victory, I decided that I would keep reading the book (it is SO HELPFUL) and I would take immediate action on something.

I was feeling a bit bleh after a week of ADHD battles* so I chose to get my body moving instead of trying to push my brain around.

First, I just put on some music and flailed around a bit – some dancing, some bodyweight exercises, bits and pieces of TKD patterns. My brain protested that it was probably a waste of time to do so much movement without a plan because it wouldn’t add up to anything and I would have moved around for nothing (See what I have to put up with? I know it is nonsense but my brain persists.) but I kept doing it anything.

Then, I felt the need for something a bit slower and more focused so I searched YouTube for ADHD yoga and found this video from Yoga with Zelinda.

An embedded video of Yoga for People with ADHD from the Yoga with Zelinda YouTube channel. Still image is in the middle, the left side has ADHD written in black and the right side is a pink toned image of the instructor wearing black leggings and a black tshirt standing with her legs apart twisting the her left arm toward the ceiling while her right hand reaches for her left shin.

The video moved more slowly than the usual Yoga videos I practice with but I really liked her instructions and her choice of movements. If you had asked me beforehand, I would have said that a slower practice would be annoying for my brain but that wasn’t the case at all.

I enjoyed the practice and I felt really good afterwards.

And now, I am on a mission to experiment with ADHD-specific exercises.

I know that martial arts are good for ADHD – TKD can keep my brain and my body busy at once – but I am intrigued to figure out if it is easier for me to convince myself to exercise with videos designed for brains like mine.

If you have ADHD, do you do ADHD-specific exercise videos? Which ones?

If you don’t have ADHD, do you do videos specifically designed for how your brain or body works? Which ones? How did you find them?

*I usually describe it as feeling like my brain is a drawer that is off its runner. It still works ok but even simple actions are waaaaaaay harder than they have to be.

ADHD · equipment · fitness · gadgets · play · Tools

Not leaving it to chance: Christine plans her own exercise dice

I love a good set of prompts. I have dice, cards, apps, and prompt sheets for writing, improv, storytelling, drawing, and all kinds of creative activities.

Prompts help me to avoid getting stuck in decision mode (a huge pitfall for my ADHD brain), and they offer just the sort of constraint that helps creativity to thrive.

Since I also have a bit of a decision challenge with exercise (trying to strike a balance between consistency and avoiding boredom makes for a tricky endeavour a lot of the time) I was intrigued when the all-knowing algorithm served up this set of exercise prompt dice on Monday afternoon.

Product image of a set of four exercise dice, displayed in the carrying bag and set out in a line, plus the instruction manual.
Image description: Amazon product photo for Wadeo exercise dice. In the upper left the dice are displayed in a black mesh bag, on the upper right is a white paper instruction manual, and across the bottom are four dice (yellow, green, blue, teal) with various exercises printed on them.

I usually have to decide things in advance – knowing the what and the when and the timeframe helps remove the ‘Ugh, I will be doing this for the REST OF MY LIFE, I don’t even want to start.’ feeling that my brain automatically generates. But, when I use prompts, I usually only have to decide when and how long. (I guess the prompts only offer a certain range of ‘what’ so my brain is ok with that.)

I couldn’t help but wonder whether my brain would be ok with choosing a time and the length of my exercise session but leaving the exercises themselves up to the dice.

Then I looked closer at these particular dice.

I won’t do burpees. I know they are a great exercise but they make my head spin so I already know I won’t do them.

I’m not quite ready for pistol squats or ‘jackknifes’ so I would need to adjust or substitute something else for those…

And I don’t even know what is on the other side of those dice. There could be far worse things in store for me.

So I won’t be ordering those.

BUT

I am still intrigued by the IDEA of exercise dice.

And I just so happen to have a set of wooden cubes like these…

A pile of wooden cubes
Image description: a photo of a pile of about 20 plain, unfinished wooden cubes on a white background.

So, I am going to create my own exercise dice.

And this will probably work better for me because instead of having to roll one die over and over, I could roll a whole set of exercises at a time and have a very clear end point for my set or for my session.

Now I just have to decide what exercises to write on each die.

Any suggestions?

ADHD · martial arts

Through A Different Lens: Seeing My Power Now.

Remember a few months ago when I wrote about being the very model of a middle aged martial artist?

I’m at it again. 

Last week, I had the honour of taking part in a photoshoot with my photographer friend, Amy Cleary.

I really enjoy the process of helping people with their creative projects, whether I am coaching, brainstorming, or participating in some way.  So, I was having a great time observing Amy practice her craft while I was trying to create visually interesting movements.

That would have been plenty of fun for one afternoon but my enjoyment was enhanced by how excited Amy was about my TKD techniques and about the ideas she wanted to express with her photos.

While it would be possible to have a photoshoot and keep your subject as a passive participant, Amy doesn’t want to capture passivity, she wants to express the power of the person she is highlighting in her photos.

I enjoyed my afternoon with Amy and I appreciated her goal of focusing on the individual’s power but I didn’t give much thought to the end result. I basically considered myself kind of a prop for her creative expression.

I knew she would take artistic, interesting photos and I wasn’t worried about whether I would like how I looked in them. Whether I looked ‘good’ or not didn’t feel relevant to the project at hand.

And then she posted a photo from our shoot. 

an artfully shadowed photo of me in my white TKD uniform (dobok) and red sparring helmet and gloves. I am punching toward the camera with my right hand and I am holding my left hand back by my head. I am staring into the camera and I look very serious.
See what I mean? Determination, power, strength. This photo feels great! Photo credit: Amy Cleary Image description: an artfully shadowed photo of me in my white TKD uniform (dobok) and red sparring helmet and gloves. I am punching toward the camera with my right hand and I am holding my left hand back by my head. I am staring into the camera and I look very serious.

It was a revelation. 

I still didn’t consider whether I looked ‘good’ or not. What I saw was that I looked POWERFUL and that felt GREAT.

It also felt like a surprise. 

Because of my ADHD, unless I work to think otherwise, my brain divides time into ‘now’ or ‘not-now.’  Either I can accomplish the thing I want to do immediately or it gets put off to a time in the indeterminate future. 

I find it very difficult to do a small thing now that won’t pay off until the distant future and, unless I consciously work at it, I have trouble believing that a series of small actions will add up to a great whole. I’m sure you can see that this perspective creates a lot of challenges around fitness and exercise. 

After all, a single session of any type of exercise isn’t going to produce many tangible results so it’s hard to convince my brain to let me expend the energy now for something that can’t be ‘finished’ right away and that may not produce tangible results for a while. 

So, when I try to think about my body looking powerful, it is always something that will happen in the future, in the ‘not-now.’

It’s not that I think of myself as weak – I know the ways that I am strong and I often FEEL powerful – but I have this idea of what powerful *looks* like and I didn’t think I was there yet. 

So, that’s why the photo was a surprise. 

I’m not heavily-muscled, I’m not at peak physical fitness, I’m rounded in places where many athletes are sleek, but my body is powerful just as it is and Amy’s photos showed me that.

a photo of me in my white TKD uniform with my hair pulled back in a black bandana. My body is oriented toward the right side of the photo but I am punching my right fist toward the camera and I am looking directly at the photographer over my extended arm/fist.
I am delighted by my intense expression in this one. Photo credit: Amy Cleary Image description: a photo of me in my white TKD uniform with my hair pulled back in a black bandana. My body is oriented toward the right side of the photo but I am punching my right fist toward the camera and I am looking directly at the photographer over my extended arm/fist.

I don’t have to wait until the not-now.

I am powerful NOW.

And since I am already powerful, that changes my perspective on my current efforts. I am not starting from scratch, I am enhancing what already exists. 

My brain LOVES that idea.

Thank you for this incredible gift, Amy!

ADHD · fitness · time

What Are YOU Up To This Summer?

Now that the stresses and fun of the past month or so have passed, I’m looking forward to the mixed blessing of a flexible summer schedule.

I mean, I love having my evenings free and since I work for myself, at home, I can shift things around to take advantage of good weather or some pop-up fun.

A GIF of a meerkat popping up from its den and looking around.
This is fun, right? Pop-up fun? Image description: a light-coloured meerkat popping up from its den in a sandy surface.

BUT

Since my brain has a very casual relationship with time under any circumstances, the flexibility of summer can also be a challenge for me. If I don’t make my decisions in advance or if I don’t pay close attention to how I spend my time, I can suddenly find myself at the end of summer, frustrated about all of the things I missed out on for no good reason.

So, one of my projects for this weekend is to figure out how I want to spend my summer.

An outdoor shot of a patio railing, a shed, and trees with blue sky in the background.
One thing is for certain, I want to make sure this view plays a big role in my summer. Image description: the view from my patio chair on a bright sunny day. In the foreground is a chair with a red cushion and a table with flowers in a pot next to the rail of my patio . In the background is my red shed, wooden fence, and green trees against a warm blue sky.

I’m considering when to work and when to rest (and thinking about what ‘rest’ includes). I’m figuring out what to include in my day-to-day and which larger summer activities I want to organize and do. I’m thinking about the projects I want to complete in the house and in the yard and deciding when I’d like to work on them.

Basically, I want to make sure that I actively choose a shape for my summer instead of just reacting moment by moment.

(By the way, if a summer of reacting moment by moment is your ideal, please have at it! Do what works for you.)

I’m planning to include things like revising my novel, practicing my TKD patterns outside where there’s more room, hula-hooping, going swimming, reading in my hammock, taking a few hikes, taking Khalee on longer walks, going for longer bike rides, creating some zines, and spending a lot of time hanging out outdoors with my friends.

A GIF of a child using a hula hoop in a department store. Even after their hoop drops to the ground, they keep wiggling their hips.
This little one and I have a lot in common with our hoop skills but I think we both have fun all the same. Image description: a GIF of a small child with long brown hair and glasses in a department store aisle. They are trying to use an orange hula hoop and even after it clatters to the ground, they keep wiggling their hips back and forth.

What do YOU have planned for your summer? Let me know in the comments!

Or if it isn’t summer where you are, what do you have planned for the next few months?

ADHD · fitness · martial arts

A Victory for the Bold: Christine’s 4th Degree Belt Test

The short version of this post goes like this:

I did it! I just earned my 4th degree black belt in ITF Taekwondo!

Image description - Master Scott Downey, Me, and Master Cathy Downey right after the test. They are both in blue suits with white shirts and yellow ties, I am in my white dobok and we are all standing in front of an International Taekwondo Federation flag.
I have a version of this post-test photo where I am smirking but I was so tired that my smirk made me look unhinged rather than mischievous so I chose this ‘pretty damn pleased with myself’ one instead. Image description – Master Scott Downey, Me, and Master Cathy Downey right after the test. They are both looking polished and professional in blue suits with white shirts and yellow ties, I am grinning and looking appropriately sweaty and disheveled in my white dobok and we are all standing in front of an International Taekwondo Federation flag.

The longer version goes like this:

After deciding that I was going to be bold about my test, something shifted in how I was preparing. I stopped trying to do things perfectly and started trying to do them well, started trying to feel more comfortable with my movements.

For me, being bold wasn’t about pretending I wasn’t nervous, it was about forging ahead anyway, about showing up with everything I had.

I had a few little spots of worry on Saturday when I just couldn’t make small sections of a few patterns work but I reached out to my TKD friends for reassurance and recruited my husband and my eldest son to help me.

My husband watched a YouTube video of one pattern while I was practicing it in the living room and let me know when my movements didn’t match. My son sat with my pattern instruction book in hand and read me the descriptions of certain sections so I could be sure I was moving correctly.

A selfie of Christine, a white middle aged woman with a round face and chin length curly brown hair and green-framed glasses.  She is sitting in the driver's seat of her car, wearing her white dobok and smirking.
Me in my car before the test. I was trying to take a goofy photo but ended up looking more ‘resigned to my fate’ than I actually felt. I was a bit nervous but leaning a bit more toward excitement – or at least excitement to finally be done! Image description: a selfie of Christine, a white middle aged woman with a round face and chin length curly brown hair and green-framed glasses. She is sitting in the driver’s seat of her car, wearing her white dobok and smirking.

Overall though, I was far less nervous than I usually am. Deciding to be bold was one factor in that and the changes in my ADHD meds since my last test is definitely another but I also think that I am finally reaching the point in my training where things are coming together for me. I am more easily able to explain the purpose of my movements and I can more clearly see the connections between the theory and the practice in TKD.

That’s not to say that I am doing everything perfectly nor that I am applying my theory to every movement. Everyone in TKD is still a student, just some have more practice than others. As a 4th degree black belt (!) I am more advanced than many but I still have lots to learn.

Usually the morning before one of my tests would be a complete blur of nervousness and practice and stress. This time, though, I decided that my only practice would be to read the movement descriptions for my last three patterns. Instead of practicing and then hyperfocusing on small mistakes, I did yoga and meditated and drew a magic symbol on my wrist.

When I was testing for lower ranks, I used to do things like dyeing a strip of my hair and/or paint my nails the colour of my upcoming belt. For my last few tests, I have painted just my thumbnails black (to remind me to focus), but this time I drew a B for bold on my wrist and then put a star and a spiral next to it.

My left forearm with a 'magic' doodle drawn in green sharpie. The drawing is an upper-case B (for bold) with a spiral (for releasing stress) on the left and a star (for effort) on the right.
Sharpie tattoos don’t hold up well to three hours of exertion. The magic worked though. This was taken while I was relaxing on my patio at home after the test. Image description: My left forearm with a ‘magic’ doodle drawn in green sharpie. The drawing is an upper-case B (for bold) with a spiral (for releasing stress) on the left and a star (for effort) on the right. Behind my arm you can see part of my right leg (in black leggings) and my right foot (which is resting on my left knee) as well as parts of my patio, my yoga mat, and the grass in my yard.

A black belt test has a lot to it. I had 18 patterns to do (luckily two students were testing for 5th degree so I didn’t have to do any of the patterns alone at that point), then we did step-sparring (a coordinated attack/defense demonstration), self-defense, endurance drills, and a solo step-by-step demonstration of a pattern identifying the purpose of each movement. After all of that, we try to break some boards.

I did not do my patterns perfectly. Throughout the pandemic, we stopped doing the loud, rhythmic breathing that helps us execute our movements effectively, as well as keeping us all on track. I haven’t even been practicing with it much at home because I was afraid that I would unconsciously use it during class when I wasn’t supposed to. We have only recently gone back to including the breath sounds and we’re a little out of practice with it. And, it turns out, I have been practicing my movements just a little too slowly. The combination trying to speed up a little, adding my own breathing and being able to hear everyone threw me off a little in a few early patterns and then REALLY threw me off for my newest ones.

Since I was concentrating on remembering the movements and remembering to breathe loudly, I didn’t have enough mental space to ALSO choose to ignore everyone else’s breathing and movements. ADHD, after all, is not actually a deficit of attention, it is (among other things) an inability to decide where your attention should be focused. Between nervousness, the challenge of performing newish patterns with an audience while being graded on them, and the addition of the breath factor, I didn’t have the capacity to tune other people out.

But thanks to my instructors’ patience, and a healthy dose of perseverance for all concerned, we got through (and, for the record, I wasn’t the only one making mistakes, which was a comfort.) And even though I was a little slow in my movements, I did my final pattern effectively and I was VERY proud as I shouted the pattern name (Choi Yong) after the last move.

I felt sharp and purposeful for the step-sparring and self-defense and drills, and I was happy with my step-by-step pattern but I was THRILLED with my board breaking.

I did a speed-break hook kick, a 360 back kick, a flying side kick (with a slight modification to minimize jumping), a middle twist kick, and then…and then…

I BROKE A BOARD WITH A PUNCH!

At my very first board-breaking test (about 8 years ago), I tried a punch for my hand-technique but I didn’t coordinate all the elements of the movement properly and I really hurt my knuckles. Since then, I have broken boards with my elbow and my knife-hand (the side of your flattened hand) and my sidefist (aka – the side of your fist) but I couldn’t convince myself that I had the power to punch through a board.

I tried for my last test. In fact, I was supposed to jump up and punch two boards in succession but while I hoped to fluke into it, I didn’t really expect that it would happen.

This time though, I wanted to do it. And because my brain is getting better at applying my theory to my movements, I could think clearly about what I had done wrong before and make a good choice about how to make it work this time.

I used a reverse punch – which means that I had my left leg forward but I was punching with my right hand – so I could generate speed and power without having to move my feet (sometimes the choreography of footwork gets me tangled up.)

I lined myself up, measured my distance, and punched clear through the board as if I do it every day.

It felt like the biggest victory of a marvelously victorious day.

Image description: a stack of pieces of pine board that have been broken in two by my kicks and punches. The stack is sitting on a red table outdoors.
And this isn’t even all of my boards – these are just the pieces I took home. Ki-YA! Image description: a stack of pieces of pine board that have been broken in two by my kicks and punches. The stack is sitting on a red table outdoors.

Getting ready for this test was hard work. I’ve been learning and practicing all through the pandemic – sometimes in person, sometimes on Zoom. During that time, I have been dealing with a variety of challenges in all areas of my life but throughout it all, TKD has been a great way to take care of myself – giving me an external focus that had all kinds of personal benefits. I’m really grateful to have that outlet and I am grateful for the support of my instructors and my fellow students as I train.

Thank you to Master Scott Downey and Master Cathy Downey for the instruction and support, to Ms. Reid and Mr. Dyer for the instruction, trouble-shooting, and encouragement, to Ms. Vere-Holloway for the extra practice, to Mr. James for the encouragement, to Mr. Lake, Mr. Abbott, Mr. Hooper, Mr. Power, and Mr. Codner for holding all of those boards, and to Ms. Gathercole for the empathy. Special thanks to Steve and Alex for helping me with my last few practice sessions, to Lori Savory for choreography help, and to Team Codner for the on-site encouragement.

Congratulations to Ms. Vere-Holloway, Mr. Power, Ms. Gathercole, Mr. Abbott, Mr. Lake, Mr. Codner, and Mr. Hooper for your hard work and for your success yesterday!

ADHD · fitness · fun · yoga

Choosing the fun part first

The weather here in Newfoundland and Labrador is tricky at any point and doubly tricky on the May 24th weekend.*

I have spent May 24th weekends wearing shorts, I have been rained out of planned adventures, I have shoveled snow from in front of a tent. And, on several occasions, I have worn shorts, a raincoat, and then mittens all on the same day.

So when Saturday rolled around and the weather was beautiful, I knew that my usual Saturday stuff inside could wait.

I had to get outside ASAP just in case things took a turn.

a selfie of Christine wearing sunglasses with her hair pulled back by a black bandana. She is outside, the sky is blue and the sun is directly behind her.
I couldn’t actually see my screen when I took this but since it made me laugh, I’m sharing it. This is a rare, non-smirking photo. Image description: I put my phone on my yoga mat and took a selfie looking upward. The majority of the image is blue sky but my head is looming at the bottom of the image and only the top 4/5 of my face is visible. I’m wearing sunglasses and my hair is pulled back unevenly in a black bandana. The bare branches of a tree can be seen to my left in the photo and the sun is behind me so parts of my hair are glowing. I look resigned but I am actually happy to be about to do yoga outside.

Normally, this would be cause for a scrambly brain of indecision – Should I do yard work? Bring inside work outside? Make plans for my garden? Take Khalee for an extra walk? What is the BEST use of this time?

This time, though, I bypassed all of those questions and just asked myself “What would be the most fun to do right now?”

And that’s how I found myself in the sunshine, doing yoga on my patio, laughing at the way my shadow makes me look like a fur ball or some sort of tendrilly sea creature.

a person's left hand (with a wedding and engagement ring and a watch on a woven band) rests on a blue patterned yoga mat outdoors.
Before doing my actual yoga practice, I did a few twists and I liked how my hand looked in contrast with my mat so I snapped a photo. Image description: A shot of my left hand, complete with wedding band, engagement ring, and Fitbit with a woven elastic strap, resting on a blue and teal yoga mat. My shadow, including the shadows of bits of my hair sticking out in a bizarre pattern, is covering most of the mat but there are some sunny bits at the top and the light wood of my patio is visible at the top of the image.

PS – For the record, Khalee and I took a long walk later in the day… and neither of us had to put on our mittens.

*Apparently, the May long weekend in Canada is not called ‘May 24th’ everywhere but that’s what we’ve always called it – no matter which date it falls on. If your brain hates that, imagine that I have said ‘Victoria Day’ instead.

ADHD · fitness · health · meditation

The effect of music on Christine’s brain: A (very) small sample experiment

As someone with ADHD, I am always looking for ways to improve my ability to focus. My medication, my planning, and environmental cues all help but it can still take a lot of energy to keep myself on task, so when I came across some music that made it easier to stick to my work plan, I was delighted.

I’m not sure how I happened upon Greenred Productions ADHD Relief Deep Focus Music (embedded below) but I can only assume that it was something the algorithm churned up after I watched a How to ADHD video at some point.

Embedded YouTube video from Greenred Productions called ‘ADHD Relief Deep Focus Music with Pulsation, ADD Music for Concentration, ADHD Music’ The video includes 12 hours of music but there is a single still image on the screen for the whole video. The image is of a mystical looking stag with antlers that look like gnarled tree branches. The stag is standing in light that seems to be shining through the trees that surround it. There are broken tree stumps, plants, and a large rock near the stag.

Maybe there is a scientific reason why this music works for me or maybe it is a coincidence but, either way, playing this video helps me to focus. And the fact that it is almost 12 hours of music means that I won’t lose track of time while selecting music or creating a playlist.

I don’t always have music on when I am working but it has been great to have this on hand when I need a little extra help to focus.

A couple of weeks ago, I was returning to the video over and over throughout the week but, for some reason, I wasn’t resetting it, I was just letting it play from wherever I had paused it the session before.

So, even though it is a 12 hour video, I eventually reached the end and THAT’S when I found the best meditation/relaxation/body-calming music (embedded below) that I have ever encountered.

Embedded YouTube Video of Greenred Productions video “Deep Cello Meditation Music: Dark Meditation Music, Relaxing Music, Dark Cello Music for Relaxation” There is two hours of music but there is no actual video just a still, black and white image of a person with shoulder length hair playing the cello outside a stone house with a set of double doors and a window set in the front of it.

It turns out that I find cello music incredibly calming. In fact, when I listen to this music, I feel the same kind of sensory-soothing calm that I feel when I put on a weighted shoulder wrap or lie in my hammock. Something in the music just really grounds me and puts me at ease.

I have been playing it while I meditate, draw, colour, or read and I swear I can feel myself sinking deeper into those relaxing activities as a result.

Do you find specific types of music help you to focus or to relax?

Does music contribute to your peace of mind?

Did YOU know that cello was so relaxing? Am I the last person on earth to discover this?

Tell me all about it in the comments. Pretty please!

PS – I really wanted to call this post ‘Cello, it is you I’m looking for’ but then the first embedded video wouldn’t make any sense and besides, I wasn’t sure if the Lionel Richie reference was too much of a reach for the joke to work. 😉

ADHD · fit at mid-life · fitness · planning

Another Week, Another Countdown for Christine

I saw a tweet a while ago about how one of the disappointing parts of adulthood is the fact that no one asks you about your favourite dinosaur.

Image description: three wooden dinosaurs standing on a stack of books.​
Image description: three wooden dinosaurs standing on a stack of books.

And that is sad (mine’s triceratops, by the way) but you know what else is sad about adulthood?

Hardly any grown ups add a fraction to their ages. 

We all just go for the whole number. That’s kind of dull, don’t you think?

I mean, what’s more fun? 

Christine is 49 

or 

Christine is 49 and A HALF!

I think the answer is clear. 

49 and A HALF has way more pizazz.

Now, as you probably know, Sam and Tracy started this blog because they wanted to talk about the Fittest by 50 challenge that they were both working on. They took a long term approach to it (2 years), had a solid plan, and tracked their progress.

(And, in a cool coincidence, Sam posted on Monday about being 2 years away from 60, so this is around 10 years from when the initial ‘Fittest by 50’ plan started.)

I’m a bit late and a bit too me-ish for that sort of long-term, methodical approach (even six months is a bit too far into the ‘not-now’ for my ADHD self, frankly) but it’s not too late for me to become fitter by 50. And that’s what I plan to do.

: A woman with short hair​, who is wearing exercise clothes, has her arms outstretched and she is holding a large blue exercise ball in her hands. Her upper body is slightly twisted away from the camera.
Image description: A woman with short hair, who is wearing exercise clothes, has her arms outstretched and she is holding a large blue exercise ball in her hands. Her upper body is slightly twisted away from the camera.

Just to be clear, I’m not really viewing my 50th birthday as a deadline. I’m not planning to get fitter and then give up once my birthday rolls around. And I am not labouring under the assumption that it is now or never. 

I’m just taking advantage of a milestone birthday to give me some focus, to help me direct a little more time and energy into my fitness plans.

I’m not entirely sure what those plans are yet but I have some thoughts:

  • Six months is too long for me to think of all at once so I have to break it down into 6 week sections and just think about one of those at a time.
  • My first six weeks will be focused on my preparations for my belt test, so that’s a good start. 
  • My second six weeks will be during the summer, so that gives me lots of different movement options.
  • My word of the year for 2022 is spaciousness and last year’s was consistency. I think both of those concepts can be useful for my plans – I want more room for fitness, I don’t want to feel like I am adding yet another thing to my to-do list. And I know that going for the consistency is the only way that I will make progress. After all, if there was a way to make erratic exercise session pay off, I would be the fittest person on earth right now.
  • I need to keep the bar low to encourage consistency and I need to keep my intensity high to maximize my interest in the project. I don’t know how to balance those things yet.
  • And, finally, I need to figure out what ‘Fitter by 50’ actually means for me: What criteria will I use? What will I measure? What aspects of fitness feel tangible for me? What do I care enough about, fitness-wise to stick with for the next 6 months?

Anyway, stay tuned while I fine tune my plans and make my way from 49 and ½ to 50.

PS – Anyone want to keep me company?

a GIF of a tortoise moving slowly across a patio. Text beneath reads ‘Here I come…’
I’m not slagging myself with this GIF. I’m trying to inspire myself to be slow and steady on my way to be fitter. Image description: a GIF of a tortoise moving slowly across a patio. Text beneath reads ‘Here I come…’