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.

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Major Victory over ADHD brain!

OK, I know that for some of you, this is not going to sound like a very big deal. But for the rest of you – especially members of my tribe – this might throw a little glimmer of hope into your day.

Earlier today, I mentioned that I’ve been doing a once-a-year interview with Lisa (and Amy, back when I could). Usually sometime around New  Years, sort of a way to recap the year and get ready for the next one.

Lisa’s graduating college this semester, and commencement is this Friday. So, I thought I’d like to do the interview this week and capture her feelings at this major transition in her life.

A couple of the folks who were in the session with me said they’d like to do something similar and would I post the list of questions. I said “sure.”

Then, realized I didn’t know where they were.

I was pretty sure they were in one of two places. This is often the case and, most of the time, I’m right. But not this time. It wasn’t in “get to this soon” and it wasn’t with the camera – the 2 logical places.

Panic.

Seriously.

I didn’t take my Adderall today and I don’t take frustration well when I’m not medicated (I’m working on it).

Today was a good day to skip meds. It was a very structured day, I was well rested, and I just came off of a great weekend. But, I didn’t need a monkey wrench like this one.

I realized I’d have to go the archives. The basement. Where I send things when I want to clear the deck up here on the first floor.

20151208Basement120151208Basement2

As I walked down the stairs, I just kept repeating “breathe, breathe.”

It wouldn’t be uncommon for me to dump the boxes on the floor and shuffle through the papers, looking for what I wanted, then leave the wreckage to clean up “some other time.”

It wouldn’t be uncommon for me to carry on a steady stream of self-abusive insults about losing the paper in the first place.

But neither of these happened.

I looked through three or four boxes, stopping whenever I recognized that familiar feeling coming over me that meant “you’re gonna lose it.” Another few breaths – the pause, the mindfulness, whatever you want to call it – and then I continued.

When I finally found it (in a box I’d already looked through once), it was kind of amazing. “Kid in a candy store” time! I haven’t felt that kind of pure joy in a long time.

Like I said, for some of you, finding 2 pieces of paper buried in a box in the basement might not be a big deal. But, for those of you who “get it”, here’s hoping you get that same feeling soon and often!

Why People who Take Improv are Happier!

I found this article posted on Facebook.

Why People Who Take Improv are Happier

I agree with it, especially the idea of ‘unconditional positive regard’. This is not only important for ADHD people, but for everyone. I love being able to create this kind of space for people when I do the Rec and Ed Impro classes.

I hope this encourages everyone to get out and play a little bit more!

 

Getting ready for 2015 – part 1: reviewing last year

For the last 3 years now, I’ve been spending a few weeks in December reviewing my goals for the last year and setting goals for the next. It’s a long and sometimes frustrating process as I see all the things I wanted to get to but didn’t. But it’s also exciting and encouraging when I see how much I actually did get done.

The process keeps evolving and, I hope, getting better.

Two years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to assign levels of importance to my goals: 1/2/3 (High, Medium, Low). That turned out to be a great idea. For the last 2 years, I’ve managed to finish nearly all of my #1 goals, even if many of the 2s and 3s suffered.  A tally of “20 out of 50 finished” looks a lot different from “9 out of 10 #1 priority goals finished, 11 out of 40 2s and 3s”.

2014 turned out pretty much the same: 9 of 10 #1s finished. Yay!

One more thing I realized this year is that something very big is missing: new projects that came up during the year! Just off the top of my head, I can think of a handful of successful things I’ve done (the Improv class at the Orlando ADDA conference, the benefit concert for Clawson UMC, road trip with Lisa, playing music for EMU’s Performance Hour, the meetings with Joanne, selling t-shirts in Orlando, being included in the ADHD “tips” book, getting back into poetry) that don’t show up on the list.

The point of all of this is to share a few thoughts with ADHD friends:

– we all underestimate our accomplishments, it seems built into us to focus on what we didn’t finish, not what we did finish

– let your goal-setting and time-management tools evolve, use them while they work, then switch them up when you need to – always keeping the parts that did work (I’ve heard this mentioned in several podcasts this year. We will almost inevitably get tired of the current system and move on to the next. That isn’t a fail! It’s just how we work.)

– don’t be afraid to let go of goals. The one #1 item I didn’t finish last year was consciously dropped because I realized I wasn’t willing to do the work. That isn’t a fail – that’s a success.

I’m looking forward to posting part 2 of this series, which will be about setting goals for next year. Unless I change my mind between now and then.

Bright and Shiny Open Stage – ADHD Talent Show

Last Tuesday, December 2, the Ann Arbor Adult ADHD group had its first Talent Showcase/Get together/Open Stage. (I’m always nervous about what to all it because every term is loaded with positive and negative connotations for people!)

We’ve been talking about it for over a year (how unusual for ADHD folks!) and finally decided to just pick a date and go.

We were well attended for a first-time event. Granted, most of the audience were performers, but I’ve learned over a lot of years that this isn’t unusual. And, you have to start somewhere!

The program went like this:

  • Five Miles More jazz band
  • Improv group
  • Monty Python “Argument Clinic” skit
  • Stand up comedy
  • “Who’s On First?” script from the Credibility Gap
  • more jazz
  • more improv

Everyone who attended had a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the next one.

A Physical Dimension to Interruptions

Another interruption!

I was in the middle of writing some HTML/Javascript code for Lisa’s Christmas website when the phone rang. I answered and did my best to be polite and pay attention but I was aware the whole time that my mind was in a fog. I’m not going to say who it was or what they wanted because that is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that this is the first time I’ve really paid attention to what was going on with me physically.

Some background: for a long time, I’ve been explosively angry when I was interrupted in the middle of something. I’ve done a pretty good job of  not just yelling into the phone, but I’ve done all sorts of other things:

  • after hanging up, I would sit and stare at the phone, waiting for the next interruption
  • I would not go back to what I was doing, I would just sit back and cross my arms and stare. What was the point of starting up when I was just going to get interrupted again?
  • at least once, I’ve thrown the phone (gently – I’m too aware of price to lose control completely) across the room and talked to it in very harsh terms

I’m aware that this is not uncommon among us ADD folks – at various intensities, of course. But today was the first time I really noticed the physical sensation.

It isn’t anger at all. It’s more like disorientation.

I was in a state of flow and I was yanked out of it. And I’m keenly aware that when I get started back up again, it won’t be “where I left off”, it’s going to be “part 2”. And that is never the same.

It was an actual physical sensation. A slight bit of dizziness, like walking out into the sun after being in the dark for a while. Or sitting up after laying down too long. I felt it in my head and I felt it in my stomach. It was unpleasant. I can see why I don’t want to experience that feeling often. I can also see why it makes me angry. But anger is a secondary response not a primary response.

Downstream, there are other considerations:

  • the ramp up time to get started again
  • things that might have been percolating in the back of my mind that are now lost
  • the pressure to handle whatever the call was about

And, on top of those, the guilt about feeling angry at the poor innocent person who had the nerve to interrupt me while I was working on something

There are a lot of levels to this, but I’m hoping that the realization that it isn’t really anger will help me handle it next time around.

I wonder how soon that will be…?

Last Comments from Orlando ADDA Conference

(the following has been sitting in a file on my iPad since July, sometimes they get posted out of order…)

I’m sitting in the Brick House Tavern and Tap House in Orlando, decompressing. I have a 22 oz Cigar City Jai Alai IPA, imported from Tampa. I recommend it if you like a nice, solid IPA. It’s just after 7p.m.

As expected, the week was intense. I feel great though. It was a victory for my experiment in time management. I was involved in 3 “things” (to use the technical word): 2 sessions and the Talent Show. I paced myself over the last three or four weeks, working with the amaaaaaazing Kirsten Milliken on our Improv course, tweaking and modifying over 6 different version of “I’m With My Tribe” and making little changes here and there to my “Who am I Living With!?!?” session.

What are my take-aways?

One is that I now have 2 more models to use when talking about relationships. Linda and Victor Roggli’s life story has components of the other resources I’m using, but it’s more accessible, more “feet on the ground”. The simple, practical take-away for me there was “would you be willing…?” as a way of starting a request. It fits nicely with my understanding of the power of narrative over information. Showing us that they start a request with “would you be willing…” is very different from saying “make request, not demands”.

The other new model had some of the same attraction. The session by Drs. Ferman and Wilford actually started with a real life example (his copying the wrong slides and not bringing the thumb drive). Again, realtime modeling of how things like “kindness not criticism” works. The Roggli’s had a nice scripted introduction that had them arguing about the placement of a frosty, drippy cup of ice water. I am making the assumption that Ferman’s and Wilford’s introduction was not scripted, but they might consider using it again and again. It set a tone of compassion and understanding for the entire session.

I had some great conversations with Patte (the ‘e’ is silent and so is the invisible ‘i’) the Monty Python loving, character vocalizing, burlesque performing, always positive, sequin-dressed Canadian powerhouse; kicked around some ideas about how next year’s Ambassador Program can be better with Doug and Melissa; had a wonderful conversation with a 40-year married woman whose husband is undiagnosed but she’s been able to live and work (really, he’s self employed and she works for him); and even got some insight into my own problems by asking Ferman and Wilford the questions I wanted to instead of sitting on them.

Ned Hallowell was a beacon of positivity and creativity as usual. I’ve modeled a lot of my understanding of ADHD-in-the-world on my study of comparative religion and Foucault’s work on “who gets to define ‘normal’ and how do they enforce it?” I understand what Rick Green said in his talk about “Friendly Fire”, what Sari said about “diversity is the norm” and what Ned said in his closing talk about ADHD being a trait with its positives and negatives. In my world, it’s like this: do drummers get to think of guitar players as “abnormal” or “deficit”? Do adherents of religion A get to look down on adherents of religion B because they have a different framework? Inside religions, do the Pentecostals or Sufis – all movement and sound – get to be critical of the Shakers and Theravadans – all silence and observation and listening? or the Unitarians or Vendantists – all theory and analysis (and yes, I understand I am painting with a broad brush).

No. They are different, not better and worse.

And while each of these things can have a dark side (neglecting your job and family to get in “just one more gig”, holy wars, people who take risks that endanger others as well as themselves, etc.), it is not the fact of their difference that makes it a dark side, it is an excess of one thing or another (reference Aristotle and the Golden Mean or the Buddha’s Middle Path).

Phew! Enough heavy thinking. What else happened?

I sold some T-shirts! Yay! Linda Roggli and Janine F were generous enough to let me display some of my ADD/ADHD t-shirts at their booth. AND I am very excited and proud that Frankie Williams (the amazing woman who sang the Our Father at the Talent Show) was the first person to buy one! How cool is that?

I have to admit, though, that the high point for me was everyone singing “I’m With My Tribe”. When I asked everyone to sing along, it was a real Moment of Truth. I could have been left standing up there being the one guy in the crowd singing Kum-ba-ya with everyone else standing staring at me. But my Tribe didn’t let me down.

And that’s kind of what ADDA’s all about. We won’t let each other down.

See you next year.