My 16 year old daughter was diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder and then, at the age of 57, so was I. A lifetime of struggle was placed into a context that made sense of a lot of failure and frustration. This blog documents and celebrates what has happened to me since.

Monday, November 01, 2010

if you keep doing the same thing that didn't work before...

One Monday Night Football game long ago Dandy Don Meredith said, "You know, Howard, a team that throws 40 passes loses the game."

I've paid attention to that stat since and have not noticed a lot of exceptions.  Last night was not one of them.

USC threw 49 passes--and lost to Oregon. 

The Duck's usual stuff didn't work very well and so they played ball control to wear down the Trojans.  That's "wear down"--as in hit the wall, back up and hit it again.  And again.  Not the Duck style, exactly, but it worked.  USC's five star talent was served up on toast (with a side of crow) by what at least one pundit called a "fraudulent defense," and a team made up, it was said, with only three legitimate players. 

Adjust, adjust, adjust. 

I didn't get to see that game on Saturday.  I spent 9 hours on a bus with The Honey Bear and her volley ball team, going to and coming back from one more round in the Oregon high school championship process.  In between the bus ride there and the bus ride home, her Grant High team beat North Medford High (from which I graduated), winning three games straight after losing the first two.  The Generals scored eight consecutive points in the clincher--with The Honey Bear holding the serve.

So, I listened to the game on my radio and up until the third quarter I only heard parts of it.   The radio station signals came and went as the bus made its way north, over the Klamath Mountains, to get home.  By the time the Trojan faithful were tearing up their tickets and heading for the exits, though, we were down in the Willamette Valley and the reception was clear.  

It would be nice to take the lead, hold the lead and never relinquish the lead.  It's not often like that, though.  Life is mostly ready for what you normally do.  Up against it, it's about coming back and that usually means making the adjustments.  If you can't make adjustments you end up throwing 40 passes.

Washington, Cal, Arizona and then the Civil War game.  I won't take anything away from any of them (a couple of them don't have much left and the others have Trap written all over them).  It can all go away in an instant; this is, after all, The Duck we are talking about.  But if you're not living on the edge you're taking up too much room.  Besides, when you fall off of a ten story building it might feel, for nine stories at least, just like you are flying

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Packing List...getting there, then and with what I need

 There was a real psychological struggle involved in beginning to use my Packing List.  I am a child of Sixties--one who resists (or used to resist) routines, being in a "rut."  One aspect of learning to deal with ADD is to get over that.  Routines, I have learned, are just a way to ensure that all the quotidian tasks facing me every day actually get done--not a curse that stifle the spontaneity people of my generation seem to cherish.  My life is not a series of routines although I a creating more of them, all the time.   Some I do every day, and some are like "plug ins" to my schedule.   The Packing List is one of those "contingent" routines, or a "standing operating procedure" that is employed when the situation calls for it.  

I travel several times a month for business and it's all about making reservations for airplanes, car rentals and hotels.  It's then about getting my self and my stuff together and getting everywhere I am supposed to be when I am supposed to be there.  So far, so good.

I have used several tools to keep myself organized and I am preparing to use one of them today, as I prepare for a trip to Washington DC, via New York JFK, tomorrow.

It's a checklist. 

It will be two years next month since I made my first trip and at first I found myself needing something I did not have with me.  The first break through on this was the realization that I was not flying to places where it is impossible to buy anything I forgot or didn't think about. 

The second breakthrough, however, was the development of my packing list.   I created a document on my computer that lists everything I might ever want to take any trip, anywhere, any time of year, for any purpose.  Whether for business or pleasure or for Quaker events this list puts down what I need.

I print the list out as I start to pack and the first step is to cross off the things that I don't need for the journey I am about to undertake.   The second step is, obviously, to go down the list gathering together all of the remaining items.   Finally, when these things are all gathered, I begin the actual packing.

I learned to wait until I have everything together to put things into the suitcase because I found myself gathering things out of the order that things should go into the bags.   That meant that I put things into the bag without regard to when I would use them.   That is important as I don't actually unpack on the road unless I am going to be somewhere more than one night.  Living out of a suitcase is messy, for me.  Messy means mistakes, for me.

Trip after trip the list of things grew.  One example is that I learned to include a hand towel to use for such things as replacing  paper napkins eating in the airport and blotting up something I (or someone else) spilled on the plane.  I even wrapped a cut finger  in that towel (and put band aids on the list of things for my carry on, as well as my checked bag) and used it to blot blood off of the front of the white shirt I was wearing at the time.

The checklist now includes things I want to do before going, in addition to things I want to take.  I listed laying out the clothes I would wear the next day, for example, as well as things like downloading hard copies of the files I would need on the road.

This routine has eliminated a great deal of the stress and the anxiety of all this travel I do.  When I get in the cab early in the morning to leave I no longer face a series of panic moments about whether I forgot this, that, and the other thing.   

Thursday, May 27, 2010

fresh air and sunshine

I have started taking short walks, lately.  

Exercise, I hear, is "good" for ADD.  It's not about marathons or morning on the river in a shell, it's about getting up from the desk and walking outside for fifteen or twenty minutes.

Also, the color green is "good" for the soothing of the impulsive soul.

The walks and the green go together here in Oregon, at least in this part of Oregon (even when it's pouring down rain).

Adding walks outside to the "routine" even though they may happen at different times, every day.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I am a child of the Sixties and one of the basics of that persona is to avoid routine.  Routine--which has translated to "rut" for me for decades--is the enemy of spontaneity and creativity and of seizing the moment.   It runs deep.  Just ask the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit or Paul Goodman.

    It aint me, Babe,
    no, no, no,
    It aint me Babe

Recently I read, though, that one of the best supports we can have as we live with our ADD and turn it toward the flowering of our "orchid child" trajectory is to have a solid, thoughtful routine for getting things done. 

Old enough now to be flexible, I have embraced that, over the past couple of months.  At New Years  I even put together a routine to organize my work life and put it on paper, taped it to my work table.  It tells me

    1.  sync my organizer and my computer each night, so that each will include the things I put down, during the day, into one or the other.
   2.  in the morning, check my calendar, to do list and file box
   3.  identify my frog (my least attractive task of the day) and make it the first priority.
   4.  schedule the rest of my tasks for the day.  I have since committed to try to assign a fixed start time and time period to each task I have planned and to put an audible "start time" alarm on each. 
   5.  print out the daily schedule from my calendar/to do program.
   (see routine described below, then...)
   6.  start the work day with eating the frog and tie a bow on that (complete the task) before moving on to another--even if it requires changing the start times for other tasks.

This "Resolution List for 2010" also reminds me to account for all my time during the day, to check my printed-out list as the day goes on, to take down (in either my lap top or my organizer) the  "to do" and "events"items  as they arise during the day

It also tells me to calendar bills ten days and to pay them no later than five days before due and to update my business check and credit card registers each day.  I also need to add "start consulting fee billing" to the first of each month and "start doing expense reimbursement forms" on the 28th and the 12th of each month--and "complete" these two days after those start dates.

So far my results are uneven (especially on updating the credit card and check register), but there sits the plan and I am trying.

It is like a spiritual practice or discipline in that, if I stray from it I can go back and pick it up again--it's never "over" or "permanently blown."

It actually is a spiritual practice/discipline in that there are really no compartments in my life in the sense that some other persona runs my life when I am doing different things.  There is no "Timothy Committee:"  no lawyer Timothy, no father Timothy and so on...there is just Timothy who does it all and aspires to do it all in the same spirit, under the supervision of the same Guide.  I digress...

I do have two other routines.

One is work related.   When I receive an email message or a document that I might need for later reference I put an electronic "tag" on it, I calendar any events to which it relates, I put a reference to it in Bento (the program I have in which I can compile links to all emails, documents, events and other information relating to specific projects), and then I file it in the appropriate mail box or electronic sub directory.  Complicated?   You bet!  But I can find things when I need them--if I do this with fidelity.   Priceless.

The other routine is my morning wake up routine, before I do the calendar routine described above.   I am out of bed early (the cats make sure of that),  I make coffee, feed the dogs, and do whatever dishes have been set aside for me to do from the night before and clean the kitchen a bit, trying to do those things that need to be done periodically--wiping down cabinets and woodwork, for example.   (I like to do dishes, as long as there are not too many and it's my idea.  I recommend doing dishes as a spiritual discipline.)  I also make my oatmeal, get Whiskers outside for his morning time, and go down to the basement to put in a load of laundry. 

Then I come upstairs and have a cup of coffee.   This is when I do the schedule routine, above, returning from that to do my yoga, meditate, shower and dress.

(this is, by the way, where I am in that routine, at this moment--I have tucked some blog or other writing time into the morning before starting the work day. )

Wow, that sounds like a lot, almost overwhelming as I look at it, here.   But it's not, really.  It's totally doable and I am getting better at moving through it, every day.  It's also not as rigid as I am making it sound.  Weekends look a little different, as does the day before and the day that recycling goes to the curb.  Of course, I have a different routine for days on the road, which is still under development.

My newest insight in all this comes from my ADD coach at Kaiser--don't think in terms of deadlines, think about start times.

Routine is a good thing. 

Sunday, February 07, 2010

still learning

I am good with calendars, and with to-do lists. I can prioritize and I know how to "eat the frog" each and every day. Knowing doesn't mean it always gets done, it just means that it when it doesn't get done I know it doesn't.

But I did something last week that brought me up short.

I took the do list and scheduled all the tasks I intended to do for a specific time, on that specific day.

What a shock. I made them all fit into the day on the calendar--but that didn't make it possible for me to do them all in that day.

I always knew that things "rolled over" every day but it became clear to me, that day, that things have rolled over from year to year. I have spent my life over-estimating what I could get done in the time, and with the resources, I had.

Too many things on that list for just one lifetime.

I have to be a father, and a husband and a householder and a child welfare guru and a Quaker minister. If there is anything left over then maybe...maybe I should have put it into being a father, a husband, a house holder, a child welfare guru and a Quaker minister. Maybe I will, from now on.

I used to tell the kids in my ecology classes that "there is only so much of everything."

There is enough of me, used wisely, for me to be a father, a husband, a householder, a child welfare guru and a Quaker minister...

I heard a dharma talk once the theme of which was "what can you give up and still have enough?"

I can give up everything but those and have more than enough.

Well, yes, of course, we have to throw in an occasional ball game. but most of those come in under being a father. Good thing I brought my girls up right.


About Me

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I am a convinced Beanite Friend, a member of Bridge City Friends Meeting, Willamette Quarterly Meeting and North Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Notwithstanding the doubts of some who claim the name, I am a Christian who does a Buddhist practice and believes that God talks to everyone, all the time. I have worked in the judicial branch of government, as well as being a trial lawyer, a public school teacher (counselor and coach), a kite merchant, and a Marine Corp Sergeant. I am currently working as a consultant to public and private agencies on issues of child welfare, juvenile justice, and substance abuse treatment courts.