ADHD · advice · covid19 · fitness

On The Complications Of Resting

TL/DR: Resting when you are sick is a good thing but it is very complicated when many of your roles are responsive rather clearly defined. It would be helpful if people acknowledged how complicated it can be instead of just telling a sick person to rest.

Truth be told, I had a pretty good run of luck but, alas, all good things must end and last week, despite my various precautions, I came down with Covid.

A woman in a mask is lying on her side in bed
Here I am in my full Covid glamour. This was before anyone else in my house was sick so I was self-isolating and masking even though I was alone in my room. My oldest son was at his grandparents so I sent him this ‘proof-of-life’ photo because he was worried about me. Image description: a selfie of me lying on my side in bed wearing an N95 mask. My face is puffy and I look ill. I’m wearing a grey fleece hoodie. On the nights as behind me you can see my lamp, medications, and my new tea cup that my friend Paula made. It has Cold911 tea in but you can’t tell that from the photo.

(And, subsequently, despite our in-house precautions, so did my whole family. Thankfully, none of us took any scary turns for the worse and we are all improving slowly but it was overwhelming and difficult and worrisome.)

So, I guess that means that my resistance to (and reluctance about) going out last Monday was probably part and parcel of having a virus attacking my system, not just a case of garden-variety I-don’t-wanna.

Now, I know that the key to recovery from any illness is rest and that that goes quadruple for Covid. The internet is full of advice about just how much and how long you should rest during and immediately after a bout with the virus.

But, frankly, it feels a bit like when I was a new mother and I was told to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps.’

Just like back then, the advice is good and so are the intentions, but…

HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO PULL THAT OFF?

Who is coming to step into my (metaphorical) shoes?

I‘m pretty good at the physical aspect of resting. I can take to my bed like a Victorian lady, surrounded by tea, snacks, books, and tissues.

However, even in the midst of all kinds of practical and moral support, it is damn hard to step back from the mental work of the things I do day-to-day. So my bedside accoutrements also include my phone and a notebook and some lists so I can deal with the things that are too complicated to hand off to someone else.

I am definitely not trying to claim that I am indispensable or any other nonsense like that but I am *used* to the things I have to do on a regular basis. I have practice. I am well-trained for my roles.

I’d need to be able to download the entire contextual net of my thoughts to be able to hand this off easily.

Now, to be clear, my paid work as a writer/coach/storyteller can largely be rescheduled. However, my family and volunteer roles, those can’t be handled the same way.

And a lot of that work can’t wait. I can’t, for example, put off groceries until I feel better. Normally, I would just go once a week or so and pick up the usual stuff and while I cook most of the time, any of us are capable of cooking.

But, I can’t just drop that task. We have to eat, even if we’re sick.

And since our existing system hinges on how my brain works, I have to be involved in the process of reassigning those tasks. Even if I am not going to be the one going to the grocery store, even if I am not going to be the one generating the list, I’m going to be consulted on the details. And since the default system (me going to the supermarket) won’t be happening, we need to figure out who is going to go and when they can go, and so on. Instead of an automatic system, it has become a series of plans and decisions.

That’s just one small part the various details I generally handle for my family.

For my volunteer work, often a lot of things can wait, but my work last week was related to upcoming public events that cannot be rescheduled. Yes, I have a team but I’ve been the person putting all the pieces together to make the big picture and it’s a bit late in the process to plop someone else into that role.

And I know some people reading are probably thinking things like: “Well, if you delegated the work in the first place…If you didn’t gatekeep…If you didn’t try doing everything yourself…If you trusted other people to do their work…If you insisted that other people take responsibility for things at home…”

I get why you might think all of those things. It’s a natural response to wonder if I have had a hand in creating this problem.

However, this isn’t about me trying to be a martyr and it’s definitely not about me gatekeeping or not holding other people responsible to do their part. It’s way more complex than that.

It’s about the roles I have ended up taking on in my life – by choice, by default, by societal expectation. It’s about a series of things going slightly awry and things coming to a time crunch. And it’s about someone with ADHD just doing the best she can most of the time and then not necessarily being able to ‘show her work’ so someone can take things to the next step.

Because of my ADHD, I struggle with creating systems. I have trouble seeing the bits and pieces of a project. I appreciate when I can delegate things but I’m not always conscious of the steps involved in my work until I am in the middle of them so it’s a bit hard to help someone else know what to do.

In fact, I often say that it is only when I am working on step one of a project that step two will float up out of the fog and reveal itself. It’s like one of those adventure movies or video games where the heroine has to be brave enough to step toward the chasm in order for the first part of the floating platform to appear.

So, as a result, way too much of any project I am involved in is in my head. I am working on documenting more of my routine activities but since that is exactly the kind of work my brain hates the most and since I don’t have someone willing to follow me around and take notes, it will take a while to make that happen.

So, while I am not a Type A person and I am not obsessed with work, when I am resting I have extra trouble giving away the tasks I usually take on.

Don’t get me wrong, I would happily hand them off. I don’t even need them to be done ‘my’ way. I’m just not sure what tasks I usually do nor am I necessarily sure what needs to be done next.

And even when I do know what to do next, I find that the coordinating tasks that usually fall to me take a lot of work to pass along to someone else. In fact, it is less stressful to do the thing than it is to to figure out how to share the information that I am waiting on a call from person A and if they say yes then tasks 1, 2, 3 need to happen but if they say now, then task 1 can happen but we need to call person B for task 2, and skip task 3, and do 3B instead.

(Meanwhile, if I do continue with a few tasks, I give the impression that I’m not all that sick or that it is business as usual, and then more work comes my way but that’s a whole other thing.)

Even if I were to try to explain that collection of tasks and what-ifs to someone who has offered to help, it’s likely that they would get completely overwhelmed because it is too much all at once. And since they couldn’t possibly pick up a month’s worth of details in a single conversation, I would end up with umpteen texts and emails to confirm bits and pieces of information.

So, instead of having one set of tasks to do in bits and pieces as I felt able, planning for the kind of complete complete rest that we’re advised to do would actually involve multiple levels of new tasks.

I would essentially be choosing between 1) doing the tasks as they showed up for me or 2) a) struggling to identify the tasks I unconsciously do for a given project b) connecting them to their relevant information in my head and typing that out somewhere c) putting both of that in some sort of timeline d) figuring out who the best person is to take the next steps e) hoping it isn’t too much to ask f) responding to the person’s (completely justified) questions at random intervals.

Which sounds more like rest to you?

A light haired dog standing in a kitchen looking directly at the camera.
Speaking of being helpful, here’s a photo of Khalee who is closely supervising me as I eat a banana. She has indicated that if I need to rest, she can finish this task for me. Image description: Khalee, my light haired dog, stands next to our kitchen bench staring intently at the camera.

In the end, I’ve been doing a hybrid sort of thing.

I typed out as many things as I could think of that needed to be done and added any context that occurred to me.

I farmed out any urgent things to people who had capacity to handle them (and, to be clear, I had lots of offers of help and support and I took people up on them as often as was feasible.)

I did (and continue to do) any things that I could manage, whenever I felt up to doing them.

And, annoyingly, I’ve dealt with some of the same sort of pushback I had when I was a new mom who couldn’t rest when the baby rested because it was my only chance to get something to eat, to put in a load of laundry, or to pick up the things that were cluttering the room and making me feel overwhelmed.

I’m not ignoring good advice.

I’m not pretending that the world can’t get along without me.

I’m not refusing to let other people help.

I’m trying to recover from an illness while I balance my needs against my responsibilities.

And while I could, in the long run, develop systems to make the delegate process easier, for right now, I am doing the best I can with the resources I have and getting grief for that just makes things harder.

So, can I ask you a favour?

If you are advising someone to rest, could you be respectful about it?

Maybe say things like ‘Are you getting enough rest?’ or ‘Is there anything I can take on that would help you to rest?’ instead of ‘The world can get by without you for a few days.’ or ‘You’ll never get better if you don’t rest.’

It’s all well and good to tell people to rest so they can recover but the process way more complicated than them just switching off their lives and heading to bed.

Let’s not pretend otherwise.

PS – I am deeply grateful for all the help and all the offers of help we have received this week. My friends and family have made things a lot easier and I have been well taken care of.

ADHD · dogs · fitness · motivation · walking

Resistance, ADHD Time-Math and that time that Khalee and I were both so good despite everything else

Picture it:

Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador, November 21, 2022.

The weather is chilly (1 degree Celsius, 33.8 degrees Fahrenheit), there’s a wind warning in effect (80kmh with gusts to 95, 49.71mph with gusts to 59mph)

A GIF of people, animals, and plants being blown around by a grey rain cloud.
There’s no rain here at the moment but otherwise this feels about right. Image description: a cartoon drawing of people and animals being blown around in the wind. Text on the image reads “It’s just a little rain and wind. We’re fine.”

My house is noisy from the wind but it’s warm and cozy.

I’m a bit off track because several of my usual Monday things got changed and because I spent a good part of the day in waiting mode.

Why waiting mode? Tomorrow is my youngest son’s birthday and his present was due to arrive sometime today. Our address is often mixed up with a similar address nearby so I was on alert in case it was delivered to the wrong place.

Waiting mode is one of those situations where a neurotypical person (at least one who wasn’t anxious) would probably be able to put thoughts of the possible mix-up aside and carry on with their plans for the day. And if I had a strict schedule today, my neurodivergent brain *might* be able to do the same.

Alas, my schedule today was flexible. So between that flexibility, the loss of my usual Monday anchors, waiting mode, and the windy weather, I spent my day puttering from task to task.

And then, once the package arrived (yay!), I wanted to settle into my work.

That’s when this process started:

A woman looks intently forward as a variety of mathematical formulae flash over her image.
This could be a depiction of my brain during the following though sequence – if all of those formulae were related to the timing of going for a walk. Image description:GIF of a woman looking slightly to one side of the camera. She looks intent and focused while a series of mathematical formulae appear in white in front of her. The formulae calculations for area and volume of various geometric shapes.

Khalee would need to go for a walk later so my brain was telling me that I probably wouldn’t want to dive too deeply into whatever I was doing right now.

So, maybe we should walk now. After all, the weather isn’t going to improve until tomorrow – and at least it is still light out.

But if I walk now, I might not be able to switch into work mode when I return.

So maybe I should skip the walk, right? After all, the wind warning clearly states that outdoor objects should be tied down. It could be *dangerous* out there, couldn’t it? Stuff could be flying around.

Hell, Khalee and I could blow away, couldn’t we?

Yeah, it’s often like this inside my head – it’s not all that fun.

But then, luckily, I saw a post on Instagram from someone local who was out for a walk, wearing their mask because it was the only way to keep warm – and probably the only way to catch their breath.

That’s when I remembered that I have fleece lined pants to wear over my jeans. And I have a warm coat and my hatphones. And a scarf my sister made. And I could wear my favourite mask.

So, I bundled up, got Khalee into her harness (today was apparently NOT a day for a dog to wear a sweater – I have to give the pup some autonomy, don’t I?) and headed out.

And, like most things – it was far worse to think about than it was to do.

It was stupid windy out. It was quite cold.

An outdoor selfie bundled up in winter clothes with a mask over the lower part of my face.
It is hard being things glamorous all the time but I have gotten used to it – ha ha! Image description: a selfie of me wearing my green winter jacket, a black hat, my glasses (which are a little steamed up) and a black and white half facemask that has a depiction of a martial artist on the white side. I am also wearing a blue scarf that my sister made for me. My eyes are almost completely shut, the wind is blowing my hood backwards, and my hair is sticking out on one side and blowing in the wind as well.

But it was manageable. And it wasn’t totally awful.

And Khalee and I were both so very good for dragging ourselves outside even though 50% of us were not keen on it.

I mean Khalee is automatically good, obviously, what with being a dog and all, but she bravely forged ahead into the wind until I called out to her so I could take a photo.

A light haired dog stands on a path looking back towards the camera.
Image description: Khalee, a light-haired dog on a neon yellow leash and a blue harness, looks back toward the camera as she stands on the edge of an asphalt path next to some grass. Her right ear is blown backwards, her eyes are slightly squinted, and her fur is ruffled from the wind.

So yeah, she’s super-good but I’m pretty damn good too – overcoming so much resistance even though it would have been much easier (and quite understandable) if I had decided to stay home.

(And, I’m sorry to report, that I did indeed feel better after being outside and zipping through my walk. It was worth getting out for Khalee’s sake but, damn it, it was apparently also worth it for my own sake, too.)

Anyway, long story short (too late!), Khalee and I both get gold stars for our windy walk.

Image description - two hastily-drawn gold stars, one each for me and my dog​
Image description – two hastily-drawn gold stars, one each for me and my dog

How about you?

How have you triumphed over resistance lately?

Was it worth it?

Would you like a gold star? Khalee and I will share!

PS: Happy Birthday to my youngest son, J, who is my baby but is not, apparently, actually a baby at all any more. In fact, he’s a newly-minted adult.

ADHD · aging · birthday · fitness · motivation · planning

A low-key start for Christine’s birthday month

This post is a group of loosely connected thoughts in a blogpost-shaped trench coat but let’s just roll with it.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a lawn chair on my front lawn awaiting trick or treaters – Khalee is too much of a chaos agent for me to easily answer the door over and over so I take the treats outside and drink tea while waiting for the kids.

I’m so spooky and mysterious. Also I think my pumpkin lights are shy – none of them would face the camera. Image description: a nighttime selfie of me in front of the tree in my front yard. I’m wearing my jacket and a plaid shirt with a necklace of tiny glowing skulls. My hair is pulled back in a bandana, I have my glasses on, and I’m smirking. There is a string of pumpkin lights behind me, each pumpkin on the string is about the size of a tennis ball.

Tomorrow, or today by the time you read this, is November 1, just a little over a week away from my 50th birthday.

A few months ago, I thought I would have a good fitness routine by now. I thought I had a solid, low key plan. 

Turns out, I was still trying to do too much at once and I have basically been kind of ambling along trying to figure out my how and when, exercising more some times and less other times.

At the beginning of October, I thought I would have a straightforward month with two challenges to work on, but I was plagued with migraines and frustration and never really found my groove.

One tiny part of my brain is telling me ‘You should be more disappointed in yourself, don’t you think?’

But another part is reminding me that the word should is at least 90% evil and that, at almost 50 years old, I don’t have to put up with people being mean to me – especially if that person is me.

So, instead, I’m thinking that I must not have found the easy thing. I must have had too many steps or too many decisions, I must not have smoothed the path, I must not have included enough fun. Oh well! Too late to worry about those past plans now.

I’m not trying to revamp them, though, I’m just focused on what’s ahead of me.

I’m looking forward to my birthday month with the goal(s) of finding more ease, seeking more fun, and looking for ways to move more often on any given day.

There’s no overarching plan, there’s no big idea, there’s just me experimenting with trusting myself in the moment. Let’s just hope my brain will cooperate.

It took me a couple of Halloweens of trying different things before I figured out that I could circumvent the stress of the dog-related chaos by taking the treats out to the kids but I was making little changes in my approach the whole time.

I’m hoping the same is true for this whole figuring-out-routines thing, that I *am* making adjustments and learning as I go, even if it’s hard to see while I’m still in the middle of it.

PS – In case you have a tendency to worry: I am completely ok, by the way. I’m mostly just interested in how and why I feel so at ease with not having done what I had set out to do. And why I don’t feel the need to poke into what went “wrong.” I like the fact that instead of my brain leaning into the meanness, I veered off into the ‘try this’ of taking things moment by moment. I’m observational and reflective, perhaps a little melancholy, but I’m not sad, not upset, and there’s nothing wrong.

ADHD · challenge · fitness · habits · martial arts · motivation

October Challenges – in a good way

I wanted to add a little extra to my daily routine in October so I’ve taken up two challenges for the month – the Action for Happiness Optimism challenge and the Darebee Daily Kicks challenge.

I like following short term challenges because 1) they set out a plan in advance so my brain doesn’t get stuck buffering about decisions 2) they aren’t making me commit to something in a future that is too far ahead for my ADHD brain to grasp.

A calendar of optimism tips for October
This is just a jpeg of the calendar, you can print or download one at the Action for Happiness site. Image description: a multi-coloured October calendar full of daily optimism tips, decorated with small cartoon images of people walking, drawing and holding event tickets.

These specific challenges should be straightforward additions to my day because any day’s actions are big enough to matter to me but small enough to fit into nooks and crannies in my still-developing schedule.

And it helps that I am naturally inclined to optimism (this may be a good feature of my ADHD – I’m usually convinced that things are about to get better) and that kicks are not only good exercise but practicing them will have added benefits for Taekwon-do.

A screen capture of the calendar for the first week of the challenge.
Print your own Daily Kicks challenge calendar/tracker and use the timer at the Darebee site. Image description: a screen capture of the header and first few days of the Darebee Daily Kicks challenge sheet which has the words Daily Kicks in large letters on the top right, multiple drawings of people kicking on the right and 5 days of kicks in listed in individual boxes at the bottom.

Will I get to both of these every day? I’m planning on it and I hope those plans work out.

But even my optimistic self knows that sometimes things go awry so I have a backup plan as well:

If I miss a day, I can do two the next day…if that feels doable. If doing two items feels like too much, or if I have missed several days, I’ll skip to the item for the current day.

The key here is to follow the practices for as many days as possible this month – aiming for more days on than off.

The only thing I *don’t* want is to follow the challenge for a few days, miss a couple, and then scrap the whole thing because I didn’t do it perfectly.

As long as the end of October still finds me working away at these, in any form or fashion, I’ll be successful.

Any movement in a positive direction counts. 🙂

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?