Poetry – ADHD / grief / and LIFE!

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Provisional Conclusions is a collection of my poetry over the years. It includes thoughts about ADHD, losing Amy, travelling, and thinking about life ina general. Please check it out!

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O.K. – now the table’s clean…

About about fifteen minutes of going around in circles on a phone tree, I kind of lost it. It wasn’t just that, just that was my highest priority for the day, so everything else was stacked up behind it.

I like to post things like this occasionally. I like to think that maybe someone else who has a meltdown will feel like they’re the only one…

mess

I’m not going to post any details. I think that either you can relate or you can’t…

Poetry Book Release!! (chapters on ADHD and Grief)

“Provisional Conclusions” is now a reality!

The book contains 53 poems and is organized in 4 sections: “Thinking Out Loud”, “The ADHD Chapter”, “Loss”, and “Love and Nervous Energy.”cover_FINAL

This is from the back cover blurb:

“A diagnosis of ADHD at age fifty-five can make you stop and think. So can losing your daughter to a drunk driver two days after her eighth birthday—or looking up at the majesty of the Big Buddha in Phuket after getting lost in the mountains on the way there.

“Spanning a period from high school in the seventies until a few hours before it went to the editor, the poems in Provisional Conclusions explore these topics and more: being a parent, being a man, living with ADHD, the legacy of Howard Thurman, the myth of objectivity, the delight and terror of raising a family, the dreams of Korczak Ziolkowski, and even a quick peek into hell. Poet Mike Fedel also considers race, sex, love lost and found, philosophy, consciousness, and God—what is she like, anyway? Sections include “Thinking Out Loud,” “The ADHD Chapter,” “Loss,” and “Love and Nervous Energy.”

“Offering accessible observations on a wide range of topics, the verses in this collection consider the raw emotions associated with love, grief, and ADHD.”

If you do buy a copy, please post comments on the site where you made the purchase, it helps writers in the long run for them to see feedback.

AND feel free to make any other comments here or email me directly.

I hope you enjoy some of these poems. Find you favorites and let me know!

Thanks!

Quick history: Over a year ago now, my good friend Catherine Powers asked me “when are you going to put together a collection of your poems?” We’ve both been writing since high school (at least!) and she’d recently put out her own wonderful collection 28 Years Since My Last Confession (check it out!). I went through my writing, both old and new, and chose the ones I hoped would make people smile, think, and feel something.

A few small victories over ADHD

It’s 2:36 on Tuesday afternoon. I’m sitting calmly in a coffee shop in Ann Arbor, thinking back over the last hour or so. It wasn’t pretty, but I think it might be helpful for some of the folks in my ADHD tribe to read about it, so here goes.

It’s about the emotional reguation piece. It’s about small victories over anger, feelings of overwhelm, frustration, hopelessness, etc. – all of those un-cool side effects that come along with the creative, curious, and constantly surprising ADHD brain.

The week started off badly.

I shattered the screen on my iPad. I’m experimenting with some green screen video editing and I’d set my iPad up on a stool to take some test footage. As I stepped back, it decided to do a belly-flop onto the basement floor. (Notice how I blame the inanimate object for its own destruction? Can any of y’all relate? Yep, I see the heads nodding…)

I handled that fairly well. I do have footage of me picking it up and saying a lot of nasty things – mostly anger and recrimination toward myself about breaking things – but I stopped it as soon as I noticed it. Small Victory #1 – stop the negative self-talk. I did some research online and found some local repair shops to check out on Monday.

But, that started the cascade.

Sunday night is when I make my plans for the week. So I started slogging through the backlog again to see what I wanted to tackle this week.

Mine looks like this:

 

Mind map 2016 0223

(A mind map is a very cool and helpful way of organizing the things in your head. Mine has sections for everything from “songs I want to learn” to “things to fix around the house” “TED talks I want to listen to” to “guitar lessons” to this week’s To-Do list.)

I started into it, but when I saw that I’d put 20+ items into “This Week”, I realized something was wrong. I stopped, looked for items that “must be done Monday”, then closed down the program. Small Victory #2 – knowing when you need to step back.

I spent about half an hour just playing guitar. It cleared my mind a bit. Small Victory #3 – remembering to take time to play.

There was more but this is getting to be a long post, so no details. But, between Sunday night and an hour ago, I:

  • lost all of the tasks that were in the mindmap
  • found out that my backup program doesn’t backup the /appdata folder – which is where the mindmap data lives
  • learned about the mind map’s internal Trash bin – which also didn’t have my data
  • found that the last 2 digital rips from my VHS tapes didn’t copy the audio tracks
  • had the tasks mysteriously reappear in the software (which I was hoping might happen)

Things were not looking good. The week was not off to a good start.

So, what happened earlier that prompted this post?

I started the day with a firm resolve to recover from the weekend and get the week planned. I mean, it’s only Tuesday, I can still save it, right?! I packed up my things and got myself to the coffee shop. About five minutes after I’d settled in, I got a phone call. A really good friend of mine was in a tight spot and needed some help. (I’m leaving out the specifics so their feelings won’t get hurt.)

Have you noticed ADHD-folk don’t take interruptions well?

I exploded. Inside my head, I mean, but I lost it. As I packed – looking perfectly calm and collected to the outside world – I fantasized about getting in my car and driving to Chicago to hide out for a week. Or Canada. Or heading to a local restaurant and pigging out on fat, greasy burgers loaded with bacon and cheese (my menu of self-destructive behaviors is evidently pretty tame). So, so dramatic!

So, I ran the errand. And it was magical. As I was doing it – seeing the appreciation on my friend’s face, experiencing the feeling that I’d done something helpful – all of my anger just vanished.

I got back in my car and sat there for about six or seven minutes, wondering what was going on. I even tried to recapture the anger, but it was impossible. And it seemed pointless. It was just so much additional negativity that I didn’t need.

I started up the car and headed to a different coffee shop thinking about this: some of the typical ADHD strategies had worked – taking a pause, stepping back, doing something else for a while – but the best one turned out to be this: doing something for someone else.

Not a bad lesson to learn.

Progress Report on Digitizing my Media

I may be more excited about this than I need to be, but here goes…

YAAAY!

cdstack

As of last night, I’ve completed the second phase of my “thin out the recording gear” project. I’ve digitized almost all of my CDs. I am getting rid of 224 that are going to go to my mom’s for next summer’s garage sale season. If I get $2 each, that’s a nice return – even at 50c I’ll be happy.

I am keeping 57, which is a 4-to-1 ration. I’m quite proud of that. OK, to be completely honest, there are more, but I didn’t count CDs by friends (Hali Hammer, Katie Geddes, Mark Brokaw, Dave Elder, or any CD on which I played).

Most of what I kept will be pretty obvious to people who know me:

  • Beatles, all
  • Bruce Cockburn, all
  • George Harrison, all
  • Neil Young, all
  • Leon Russell, all (!)
  • favorites by Dylan, Chet Atkins, Dire Straits, Sly and the Family Stone, Paul Simon, etc.

This probably explains why I had no idea who Dave Grohl was. (Background: I took a Facebook Quiz “Which Rock Star Are You?”. I expected to come up with Paul Simon or some such, and I got Dave Grohl. I now know who he is and I am very happy with the result.)

Last week, I finished digitizing ALL of my open reel tapes. They date back to the early 70s – tapes of me, Tom, Paul, Elise, Henry, Frank, and others playing our little hearts out – to a 3 hour jam at our “Leaving Detroit” party (March, 1981) – with some really good but unknown musicians – to the Cy Udall’s United Way Benefit with Frank Udall, Joe Ortega, John Groh, Paul Overgaard(?) and possibly others I’ve forgotten (my apologies). I’m going to post some of those songs online just because I think this kind of thing is important.

I’ll be saying goodbye to my old TEAC stereo reel-to-reel once I go through the basement and make SURE there are no tapes down there I missed. Another era passes.

Next on my list is to go through the VHS library. Some will be copied to CD, some will be digitized, and some (hopefully, quite a few) will be thrown out. I have hours and hours of Cheers and M*A*S*H, plus about 30 Bogart movies I captured from TV. (Background: I’d embarked on a project once to collect all of his movies, but have since decided to settle for Treasure of the Sierra Madrea, Casablanca, and a few more, including a little-known favorite Conflict.)

I feel somewhat confident I will be able to get rid of quite a lot of them. It’s still not easy but it’s getting easier. Little by little…

Peer Support Group for Couples is Near!

For the last few years, I’ve been involved with the Ambassador’s group inside ADDA (the Attention Deficit Disorder Association). Our mission is to foster communication among members of ADDA. We phone new members to welcome them to the group, host informal get-togethers at conferences, and have recently set up some weekly peer-support phone calls.

One of the areas in which I’m particularly interested is relationships: how does ADHD impact what’s going on between us and our partners?

CoupleFighting_crop

Over the last few years, I’ve gathered together information from dozens of sources, including those who specialize in relationships (like Melissa Orlov), those who write more generally about ADHD (Ned Hallowell and Russell Barkley), and even writers who look more at the social context and the way neurodiverse people are viewed and treated. I’ve interviewed several couples and had the great fortune to be part of a long-range couples group in Ann Arbor.

At this point, I’ve got an opportunity to share what I’ve learned (both from research and first hand) with the ADDA community. Starting this week (Thursday, Feb 4), I’ll be hosting a 3-session mini-workshop on ADHD and Relationships. The sessions will be done over the telephone with no visual (this time!) and will run from 8p.m.-9 p.m. EST.

Most everyone connected with ADDA should have received an email in the last few days inviting you to the sessions. If you haven’t, please contact us by emailing to ambassadors@add.org. Please send the names of both partners in the couple, your email address, and a telephone number.

Here’s a link to my webpage, I’ve got more to upload there, but it will give you the basics: Feb 2016 couples group

I’m really looking forward to this. I’m sure I’ll learn as much as I share!

ADHD Accountability Group

From about September through December last year, I signed up for Eric Tivers ADHD Coaching and Accountability Group. It was a great experience. Eric’s exactly the right kind of guy to be running a group like this. He knows a lot, he’s an experienced coach and therapist, and, significantly, he’s very, very clear that he’s on the journey too. He isn’t the expert handing down wisdom from on high, he’s the guide who’s a few clicks out in front of us, surveying the landscape, sifting and sorting through all the data (and apps!), and then living into and through it.

rewired

There were a dozen or us. We met between two and four times a week, depending on what was going on. Typically, we’d meet on Monday to set goals for the week and to get insight some aspect of goal setting and time management. Then, on Friday, we’d meet to see how we did and, always, talk about what worked. That’s one of the things I really liked – being pushed to review “what worked” – though I admit I sometimes found it hard to do. I had (and still have) difficulty believing I will take those successes and learnings and implement them in the long term. Reality argues against it – I’m continuing several of the things I learned – but the fear is still there.

One key learning for me was to really embrace the category: “things I’m not doing any time soon” and even “things I may never get to.” Over the last year (and probably longer), I’ve spent a lot of time culling my “to do” list. At one point, I was averaging at least an hour a day on this. It was insane but I was trapped in my model. (I was using a modified version of SCRUM [a software development methodolody] and did have the categories of “active work” and “backlog” [my terms, not theirs], but even at that, my “active work” list contained dozens and dozens of items.)

I hate walking away from any of my ideas. I feel like I’m abandoning them. I love the idea of “things I am not getting to soon”. It’s very helpful – I don’t feel like I’ve orphaned good ideas or like the ideas were bad. They are all good, I just can’t do them all. (Right now.)

Getting the backlog out of my head and on paper has side benefits: it both frees up bandwidth for you to think about other things, and it can transform what seems like an infinite swirl of ideas into a finite number.

The other thing Eric introduced was the mind map. (I use the desktop version of Simple Mind, though I’m not recommending it over others, I haven’t used many others. There is also a free app that does an excellent job.)

When Eric introduced the idea, I was reluctant. I already had everything dumped and organzied in Wunderlist (a tool I also love and recommend) and I didn’t want to go through a data transfer. By hand.

On the other hand, I wanted to really engage in the class, do the work, not resist. So I gritted my teeth and went for it. And it turned out I liked it. It’s a nice way to see everything at a glance, a lot better than my “pages of Post-it notes” approach.

The biggest benefit to me was having everyone visible at once – I’ve heard that from others too. A big side benefit was that I dropped a lot of the backlog, which reduced my workload by about 30%. I just printed out those lists. I wasn’t going to manually input things I may never get to.

I’m on-and-off about working with Star Charts. I understand the benefit and I’ve done it a few times (in fact, I’m doing it this week), but I don’t think it’ll last forever. I’m good with a checklist I have embedded in my day planning sheet. I’ll put up a post on that later, someone might find it helpful.

The other facet I wanted to mention was the people – the other folks enrolled in the group. There’s more I want to say, but this entry is getting long, so I’ll just say that it’s always a treat meeting people who are facing some simliar issues and all of us working through them together.

And, circling back to something I said earlier, I think this is one of the strongest things Eric brings to the experience: a very clear sense that we’re all going through this together.

That’s very important to me, knowing I am not alone.