(Hello blog, it’s been forever.)

Hello, 2019. 

I’m not into resolutions, as we’ve probably discussed before. Or maybe we haven’t, because I haven’t written anything here since March, apparently. Either way, I’ve written a lot about goal-setting elsewhere, so while I know how to set goals, I’m not into planning to tackle things which I’ll never accomplish just because of a truly arbitrary date known as January 1. Let’s be honest, I’ll spend the first 4 months of the year turning the 8 into a 9 when writing 2019. 

That doesn’t mean I’m going into 2019 unfocused though. (Well, I mean, I presume I will remain unfocused.) After ringing in the new year with The Trews (preceded by The Treble and Attica Riots, which happened after a Moose hockey game—so yes, an overall kickass New Year’s Eve), at 1:21 AM I threw a note down in my phone.

Bullet points for 2019:

  • Blog more (personally)
  • See more live bands
  • Travel for fun
  • Read interesting shit
  • Embrace awesome moments.

That’s it. And that’s enough of a plan; I can make the rest later. Because “Who says it has to be the new year to start a new year?” 

As such, I hope my next post here doesn’t start with “Hello blog, it’s been forever”. That I keep up my excellent start to this year seeing more bands play live. That I do as I did last year and travel more for fun, not “just” for conferences (though hopefully I do that too!)—last year was Montreal with Dia, Orlando with my parents, the Holiday From Real Roadtrip from Palo Alto to LA with Ryan, and to Penticton, BC to see Bryan and David (thanks to Air Canada for stranding me in Toronto and then giving me a flight credit for that last one!). Hopefully I tell those stories here, in keeping with point number one. The last two are easier: I feel my reading materials diversified somewhat last year, thanks to Bookshare mostly—I mean, that doesn’t mean I didn’t just start reading a lot of true crime, but hey, that’s a departure from mainly pure YA. And finally, embracing awesome moments—whether that’s just in my head, via mindfulness, or chronicling them somewhere, too.

We’re off to a strong start 2019. Let’s keep it going. Stories, music, friends, family… and all the other good things.

I got distracted by a floor tape roller last night. I am rocking this ADHD awareness month challenge, seriously.

Kind of like mindfulness in general, meditation with ADHD is hard. Even with a guided app. I did a 3 minute meditation just now with Smiling Mind to prepare myself to write this post, and it was all “Count your breaths up to 10 and then start over. If you feel your thoughts pulling you away, start again at 1.”

Clearly I was like Seriously, Smiling Mind? And then started counting again at 1.
And then I thought about going for grilled cheese after my meeting tomorrow. And then I started again at 1. And then once I eventually got to 10, the app man told me now to stop counting and focus solely on my breath. And I kept counting, because seriously, why are you making me switch gears like that?! 

I claimed at one point in high school that I used to meditate, in the days before I had such an app to guide me. I think I honestly did not actually meditate and just did deep breathing until I fell asleep—more of a relaxation exercise than a meditation. They are not synonymous. Also I really liked the blog post I linked there, but I totally missed reading the point where it said to “take a moment now to just notice”. 

For me, meditation is not easy. Smiling Mind (or other guided meditation apps) makes it easier, but it is not easy. But I do know that the more regularly I meditate, the more I feel that I want to meditate, the more I take that second to just notice. I am more likely to incorporate a midday meditation, or early evening like I did tonight before writing this. A couple weeks ago, I did a walking meditation while walking to the bus, which was kind of cool except I did not do the pacing thing as recommended because I was trying to go from point A to point B and not from A to B back to A in six steps.

What am I getting from it? I’m not sure. A pause, at the very least, which is important with the 800 kilometers an hour ADHD brain. I use meditation to help me unwind a bit before I go to sleep. I think I notice more things in my daily life, like the sound of leaves blowing along the sidewalk behind me.

Focus? Yeah I’m not sure if it helps there. In fact, I just realized now probably part of the reason I struggle so much with not letting my thoughts drift too much during my evening meditation is because my meds have worn off. But if it can help with curbing my impulsivity even a bit, or assisting me to pause before I react to something, then hey: the practice is worth it.

And of course, there are reasons it is called a practice. I’ll never master it, especially with this quirky ADHD brain.

And that’s okay—it’s about practicing being non-judgemental about my own thoughts, and then deciding if that’s what, or how, I actually want to think—and having the power to change it, rather than regarding it as inherently good or bad. (Read more about non-judgemental awareness here.) ADHDers can be ridiculously hard on ourselves (on top of often struggling to be mindful!), and I think this is a really important thing for me to be working at… A definite self-care piece.

I think the reality is that mindfulness, meditation, being internally non-judgey is hard
Self-care is hard.

But it’s also extremely necessary. And if meditation can help guide me to those pauses, those right choices…

Well, I’ll keep trying.

 

Day 16 Challenge Update

Meditation: Check.

Plank: Repeat. 2:05. Getting easier (for now), at least with music on ;). 

I didn’t realize until tonight that Google had little word usage graphs under dictionary entries. When I was searching for a synonym for relax just now (to plug into the Mindfulness Pebble app because I might as well try it for 43 hours), I saw this and was kind of floored.

relax

Case in point: in the last 2 minutes I’ve forced myself to drop my shoulders three times. Three times.

It is hard to tell with the scale of the graph but to me, it looks like there’s a pickup around the second World War, and then a pretty freaking steady incline from like 1970 onward. 

stress

And maybe people weren’t as stressed about Y2K as we thought?

Here are some other interesting observations:

worryWe worry more…

happy

And we’re happy less;

We give less…

give

And we need more… 

needIncreasing pretty constantly.

Okay so those are some pretty broad generalizations, but interesting regardless, no? I’m curious to start paying a bit more attention to some of these words in my own world and see where those observations lead…

 

And what does this have to do with ADHD Awareness Month? Well, I was going to write you a post about my whiteboard, and you see where that went. 😉

Challenge Update Day 6:

Meditation: Exploring Movement (not at all following the instructions) on my walk to the bus stop today. Last night I think I did something like Listening Mindfully.

Plank: 75 seconds. I think my form completely sucked, as well. Just putting that out there ;). 

http://i0.wp.com/farm6.staticflickr.com/5177/29980242002_d788fb5dd7.jpg?resize=389%2C500&ssl=1

My friend Mike started this thing called Mirror Mantras, where he puts a positive phrase or quote on his bathroom mirror to focus on for the week. I adopted the idea and kept up with it for a good while, but it’s been awhile since I did a mirror mantra.

So in the spirit of overthinking things and mindfulness, perhaps, here’s this week’s. “Understand that not everything is meant to be understood.”

Day 3 Challenge Update:
Plank:
 75 seconds. Movin’ on up.

Meditation: Twice daily achievement = unlocked. I think meditation is one of those things where perhaps the more I do, the more I want to do. 
Last night I did the 7 minute Mindful Listening: Dreamtime music meditation from Smiling Mind. This morning I continued with the Short Mindfulness Practice one. While it won’t fix my annoying lungs, I’m hoping a quick break with the Studying mediation (because work is like studying?) re-energizes me a bit because I shouldn’t be tired at 7:44 pm!

Mindfulness.
Is.
Tough.

I realize this is the case for just about everybody, even those without ADHD. My friend Scott posted on Facebook a couple days ago his own need to become mindful again—a thought that many of us appreciated him sharing. Because mindfulness is hard, anyways.
And THEN, ADHD is like
T-REX.
Or whatever.

Yeah, mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword—to me, that means mindlessness has become a prevailing approach to life, and the majority of us need to make a more conscious effort toward mindfulness. Which is simple.

Mindfulness is simply (per definition 2 on Google): 

a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

To dig deeper, the mindful approach means acknowledging and accepting feeling, thoughts and so forth without judgement, embracing that it is okay to feel the things you are feeling—even if you want to change your reaction or the situation you are in.

I read an article yesterday from ADDitude that explored emotions and ADHD. Emotions are hard to quantify, so guess what? They’re not included in the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, despite how common overly-intense or difficult to navigate/manage feelings are for people with ADHD—which, the rest of the world might interpret as overreactions or meltdowns. Another interesting fact from the article is how sometimes people with ADHD simply cannot articulate or identify how or what we are feeling (more here) and that it can be hard for us to interpret how others feel, especially when we are overwhelmed.
These are things that I definitely experience, and find that regular mindfulness practice can help immensely with: when I’m in a more mindful headspace, I pause to think—and breathe—before I react.

For me, this is what mindfulness is about: the pauses. They do not have to be long, but they have to be enough to plant me back where I am—to ground me—to reclaim a sense of calm when my mind is in the past and future simultaneously and not in the place I can control: right now. It’s about taking a few moments to hear the leaves crinkling along the sidewalk in the breeze and feeling my feet hit the sidewalk. It’s about remembering that my body exists and dropping the tension in my shoulders when I’m working. It’s about actually hearing the music I am listening to, picking out something new I hadn’t caught before. It’s about pausing to actually recognize the emotions I am experiencing before they are able to take over too much. It’s about the pauses.

When I am meditating regularly, I take these lessons out into the world with me. I am much better for it. It is still super hard, but, it helps. That’s where I’m at: I’m not about to trade my ADHD meds for mindfulness, but in tandem, they’re a solid pair helping me tackle the chaos that can be the ADHD life. Yeah, I’ll mess up—both in general, and with the mindfulness—but I’ll be able to tackle the obstacles better if I’m checked in to a more mindful space.

—–

Day 2 Challenge Update:
Plank:
 65 seconds. The foamy tiles in my office are quite rad for this.

Meditation: I think midnight meditation’s going to be a thing (though I do want to try to make it a twice-daily activity); I used the Smiling Mind app again and did the 10 minute Breath and the Body meditation but I think I didn’t pay attention to half of it because I was relaxed nearly into sleep. (Not quite the intent, but I’ll take it).