Guilty pleasures?

Is it wrong?

I’m researching Amazon birds while drinking coffee — coffee being one of many crops destroying these gorgeous creatures’ habitat.

But I am at Cold Smoke Coffeehouse drinking Papua New Guinea, grown nowhere near the Amazon rainforest, though I’m sure there’s destruction going on there as well. But anyway, some of the proceeds from the coffee sold at Cold Smoke goes to supporting El Porvenir, a small nonprofit providing clean water and sanitation to Nicaraguans. I always thought Cold Smoke’s slogan was simply a punny comment about what happens when one drinks too much coffee: “Drink Coffee. Give Water.”

Photo on 8-19-16 at 1.27 PM

So is that supposed to make me feel less guilty? It doesn’t.

Guilty as charged, your honor!

But I’m supposed to be avoiding caffeine as it may exacerbate hot flashes, according to renowned women’s health expert Dr. Christiane Northrup.

So what’s a guilty, aging, coffee-loving girl to do?

Exercising the Distraction Devil

I’m just back from a lovely 25+ mile bike ride and it’s clear how exercise helps with ADD. I feel energized and happy and ready to get to work.

Experts say (and I know from experience) that ADDers required to sit in one place for long periods of time can get quite fidgety and distracted. Any sort of exercise, even getting up and taking a short walk, can help redirect an unfocused mind.

“Think of exercise as medication,” Dr. John Ratey told ADDitude magazine.

Associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and co-author of “Driven to Distraction” (which I highly recommend, by the way), Ratey continued:

“For a very small handful of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD ADD), it may actually be a replacement for stimulants, but, for most, it’s complementary — something they should absolutely do, along with taking meds, to help increase attention and improve mood.”

I know for me, the task of sitting still to write anything longer than a tweet can be excruciating.

This week, I was working on a short magazine story. After conducting four interviews, I was ready to sit down at my computer and punch out about 700 words.

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t stay focused on the story for more than an hour or so at a time. I washed dishes then wrote a little. Poured more coffee, wrote some more. Ate lunch, read the newspaper and played a computer game before typing up a few more paragraphs. Then I watered the garden.

At least the gardens weren’t dry, the kitchen was clean and my stomach was full.

People with ADD, myself included, are not only apt to daydream or lose concentration, but they can also become hyperfocused. When I’m in hyperfocus mode, it’s generally a good thing because it means I’m being productive. There are downsides, however.

When I’m in the zone, I tend to lose track of time.

Yesterday, for example, I had about an hour to pay a few bills online before taking the orange monster cat to the vet at 10 a.m. Before I knew it, it was 10 minutes to 10 and the feline was still out roaming! Fortunately we were able to wrangle him up, get him packed in his crate and I was only a few minutes late for his appointment.

When hyperfocused I also tend to shut out the world. Someone can speak to me and I hear his voice, but the meaning of his words don’t register. This infuriates my significant other. And I can’t say I blame him. But I’m working on it … really I am.

For now, I guess I can be content that the story has been submitted and I can get back to blogging since I started this post around noon. And now it’s past time for bed.

Um, what was I writing about again?

 

 

 

Despite the Quietude

“You may delay, but time will not.” Benjamin Franklin

It’s just too easy to procrastinate when this is one’s “office.”

Photo on 7-30-14 at 11.42 AM

The Office

Just sayin’.

But as Ford and Chrysler’s Lee Iacocca once said:

“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.”

And as my oh-so-witty cousin once profoundly said, “I want to come back in my next life as the cat of a very busy person.”

My writing buddy ...

My writing buddy …

But, of course, there’s this …

“If you ask me, reincarnation is just another way to procrastinate.” Chuck Palahniuk, “Lullaby”

OK, so I’m getting to it now … but first I need more coffee.

 

The stupid things I do thanks to my ADDled brain

Victor-Borge

Good Saturday morning, oh crap, I guess I mean afternoon. See? I really can’t seem to keep track of time.

Anyway, today I thought I’d write about one of the many slightly embarrassing things I’ve done over the years thanks to my somewhat muddled mind. I’ll save the truly shameful ones for a later post when I’m feeling more open-hearted.

As you read this post, please keep in mind, I’m not using ADD as an excuse for my foolishness, but it does at least explain why these things happen. For me, there’s at least some comfort in knowing why.

Well so, a few weeks ago, I was doing a mellow trail ride with some friends who are new to Bozeman, Montana, where I’ve been living for the last six years. We met at a trailhead north of the city so I could show them around the in-town trail system which is many miles long and a truly inspired amenity to this small Rocky Mountain city (Thank you, Chris Boyd and Gallatin Valley Land Trust).

After nearly 20 miles riding mountain bikes on non-technical but very pleasant trails, we decided to stop for coffee before heading back to our cars.

I was the only one who had a lock. So when we stopped, I managed to stretch my Kryptonite cable and lock all three bikes to the rack outside the cafe. We enjoyed our coffee and snacks as I told my new friends about my journey into learning about my ADD.

It was probably too much information for my new biking buddies, but I’m glad I revealed all because of what happened next.

As we headed for our bikes, a dreaded thought leapt into my brain.

“Where’s the key? Where’s the key,” I thought, nervously.

Out loud, I simply uttered, “Uh oh.”

Yeah, you guessed it.

I’d left the key either about four miles away in my car or someplace farther away at home. Fortunately for me (or so I thought) my housemate (also known henceforth as my significant other or SO) was on his way home from work. So I asked him to look for it.

My two now-stranded friends waited patiently with me for nearly an hour as SO tried to find the key at home (no go) and then rode his bike to my car in which the key was also not located.

In the end, we borrowed a hack saw from Mason at Alter Cycles (conveniently located across the street from the cafe) and I sacrificed my lock.

What price security? The cost of a story we’ll probably always laugh about.

Less than hour later (of course), when SO magnanimously brought me my car and computer at work, we realized where the key was — in the computer pack.

Now relieved of my lock, I find it will cost about $20 to replace.

But that’s not so bad. After all, the incident has become a joke between the three of us. And really what’s $20 when you can share a laugh with some buds once in a while?

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” — Victor Borge

If you don’t know who Victor Borge is, click on his name above to see him in action.

Where is … uh, what was I looking for again?

Housework can’t kill you, but why take a chance?” –Phyllis Diller

So the reason it took more than 50 years to discover that I had this hardly rare “disorder” called ADD is that the condition was seriously exacerbated by the effects of, shall we say, hormonal changes. Until I hit about 50, I was managing — maybe not as well as I could have had I known I had ADD, but I was getting by.

Perimenopause is the period in a woman’s life when she is going through “the change.” I hate that term. I prefer transition; it just sounds more Zen.

Anyway, the transition is often referred to as menopause. But in reality, menopause is when the hormone shifting has pretty much ended along with all the crap a bunch of dissipating hormones brings.

And when I say crap, I don’t mean that literally — holy hell is more like it.

My symptoms include hot flashes and, trust me, they are not pleasant even in the dead-freezing cold of a Rocky Mountain winter. In fact, the after effects often result in chills. Sometimes I’d get so hot my glasses fog. The hot-cold cycles also severely disrupt my sleep.

I use present tense here because I’m still in the throes of it. However, I am doing significantly better thanks to a little patch I slap on my butt or belly twice weekly. It was a difficult decision to go on hormone replacement therapy, but that’s another blog entry …

Many women who’ve been through it will tell you they get quite befuddled during the transition. Forgetfulness, difficulty communicating and serious cognitive issues sometimes arise. Sleep disturbances only serve to heighten these challenges.

Depression is also not uncommon — predicated, in part, by all the other lovely perimenopausal symptoms.

Creased and nearly falling apart, it is clear this notebook is my constant companion. It contains random phone numbers, ideas, book and video suggestions from other people, old to-do lists and vague reminders.

Creased and nearly falling apart, it is clear this notebook is my constant companion. It contains random phone numbers, ideas, book and video suggestions from other people, old to-do lists and vague reminders.

It’s sort of like going through adolescence all over again — what fun! Only now you understand what’s going on AND you’re trying to live an adult life. So really it’s just damn frustrating.

There’s no more tantrum throwing, emotional meltdowns or locking oneself in the closet only to come out later to a nice, hot dinner and a forgiving family. Seriously, it’s just not acceptable adult behavior. But believe me, I’ve probably wanted to do all these things (and worse) over the past year or so. You women out there of a certain age know what I mean.

So combine this transition thing with ADD and you have a human wrecking ball — at least that’s what I feel like sometimes.

For example, another fun thing about people with ADD is their tendency toward disorganization. Despite my best efforts, I just can’t seem to keep things — let alone my life — tidy. Add to that the befuddlement of the transition and you get, well, me.

I’ve been working to make my freelance writing life more organized and it’s mostly working thanks to Google calendar and GTasks — a mobile app that syncs Google calendar and Google tasks from my computer (actually Google’s gargantuan servers, I guess) into a single window on my phone.

I also carry around a small notepad which I use to take down quick notes which I usually transfer to my computer or phone later. It’s just faster than putting them into my phone when I’m on the run.

But my stuff, well, that’s still a struggle.

I’m attempting to ascribe to the OHIO (Only Handle It Once) behavior and it’s also helping. It’s gratifying to see our house getting less cluttered.

However, right now I haven’t seen my cool coffee press travel mug for weeks (maybe months).

The significant other's coffee press mug. Mine's missing.

The significant other’s coffee press mug. Mine’s missing.

And I know I’m missing other things, but I can’t even remember what they are. One day, perhaps, I’ll come across them again and it will be a fun eureka moment. Until then, I guess I’ll remember what I’m missing when I need it. Or maybe I just didn’t need it to begin with …