I’m sitting in a cafe in Manchester, UK. It’s familiar, this cafe. The music, the people, the coffee. I think this is the key to traveling… everything at one point becomes familiar, even if only because we’re sitting on the same globe under the same sky.
My family rings me daily, the video turning morning in to silly faces and kisses from across the pond. I marvel at the technology compared to my first trip to the UK in 2001 when I punched in a 400 digit number to reach a calling card and the country code and finally the home phone in hopes to reach my husband. Now I wake the children up on video phone, ala Jeston’s like, rousing sleeping heads just before my dinner time.
I’ve been asked “how do you do it? How can you travel and leave your children?” It is only because of this technology and the patience of Mr. Flinger that I have this opportunity. As often as I miss and yearn for them, I also try to encourage them to ask the questions “what is it like there?” It’s a small and simple task to encourage the children’s curiosity. I show them the weather, the money, the photos. I introduce them to my friends and their young daughter, who greets them with a very adorably Northern English, “hallo!” My young son blushes at the little girl in glasses smiling at him over the screen. “They have children in England, Mommy?” “Yes, Buddy, they do. See?”
This curiosity grows like a seedling. As we listen to Ingrid Michaelson’s “You and I,” I hear a small voice in the back seat of the car, “Let’s go to France and Germany, Mommy!”
In an effort to continue this curiosity, we recently tried out the Little Passports. The children received a small suitcase, a map, a “passport”, an intro letter, and a craft from Japan. “You’ve been to Japan, Mommy!” They marveled at the map. We read about children in Japan. We worked on the Origami. They approved.
Every month a new package will arrive with a letter from “children” traveling the globe. They get a note, an activity, and a passcode to find more online. It’s giving them the gift of wanderlust without leaving the country. It helps us talk about new places and things we might like to do one day.
It’s such a simple thing: Getting Something In The Mail. But it’s so fascinating to see this old technology: MAIL! light up the children’s faces. We plan to have a real pen pal with the little girl in Manchester. In a way I have a real pen pal with her mother and father, my friends from a community of ExpressionEngine Geeks. The world now is so much smaller with twitter, facebook, and The Internet. But to see something tangible, to hold a gift from another country, to see a map with your eyes and hold the pin to mark the spot travelled: Tactile Learning is still very much alive.
I know for myself, as much as the video and technology helps, there is nothing like going home to hold, physically, the people I adore. As often as I crave the new places and old friends from everywhere, the coming home is what keeps me going.
And now, excuse me, but it’s time for me to wake up my children again. Possibly using questionable song choice.
I was counting the railroad tiles out the window when my facilitator read, “Is often prone to daydreaming…” Yes, I thought, my daughter does that! I take a note to remember that frequent daydreaming is a sign of ADHD.
I fidget and look at the clock. How LONG is this meeting? It’s been 45 minutes already. My foot bounces at the end of my leg, a habit that irritates nearly every office mate I’ve ever had. I swirl my foot in circles and take more notes. “Fidgeting, constant moving, even in adults…” Impulsivity, forgetfulness, distractibility. If I hadn’t been diagnosed a year and a half ago, this might come as a shock. Today, though, I sit, fidgeting, for nearly TWO HOURS (mygod two hours!) in my first Adult ADHD Women’s Support Group with many others who are only learning this isn’t “normal.”
In my world, I am normal. In my world, I’ve always been this way. I’ve always had to work out daily or I can’t sit still. I don’t like going to the movies because they’re too long. I thrive as being a “big idea person” and the one who “drives projects”, the one who “loves change”, the person who will show up in Amsterdam having not thought about what I was supposed to do once the plane landed. In my world there was NOW and NOT NOW. I write notes to remind myself of important events and forget where I put the note. I make plans and forget I already made plans. People who love me cherish this about me and those who don’t? They don’t stick around for long.
Nearly two years ago my world crashed down on me for those “cherished” attributes. After 35 years of coping mechanisms, the tiny rock-chip of balance broke in to a full crack, splitting my life in two. Projects, Marriage, Children, Friends, Family… everything fell to the ground from their balance on the high wire, the very high wire I carefully walked my entire life.
It’s nearly a cliche now to hear people say how “ADD” they are. I remember hearing someone say that in front of my good friend Lotus, to which she replied, “You know, there are people that struggle to have a good life because of that.” At the time I didn’t know I was one of them. Today, I appreciate that response more than I can express.
After the urging of several key people in my life, after my daughter’s teacher suggested getting her tested, after my world exploded, I decided to finally take an assessment for adult ADHD. **
I, along with 4% of the U.S. adult population, or 8 million adults, have Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. I was lucky enough as a child to learn coping mechanisms which helped me succeed in school. I have a graduate degree in technology. I’ve enjoyed, for the large part, a “successful career” and life. I don’t look like the disaster that ADHD can create in a person (unless you know me very well). But here’s the secret: many “successful” people have, and struggle, with ADHD.
After my original diagnoses, I’ve followed up with a year of books, groups, therapy, podcasts, medications.
From Ari Tuckman’s Podcast: “What Causes ADHD And What Doesn’t” (recommended listening) he states the following:
- Research found ADHD is primarily passed via genetics.
- If someone has ADHD, there’s a very good chance that at lease one other person in the family has it as well.
- 6 or more genes are involved and impact ADHD in its own way
- Some environmental influence can exacerbate the genetic component to ADHD but does not CAUSE ADHD.
DOES NOT CAUSE ADHD
- Diet and food additives. *Note - Diet can exacerbate an existing ADHD imbalance or can create similar symptoms (and thus mis-diagnosed cases) but does NOT cause ADHD as a chemical imbalance in the brain. (Before doing a research for false information, please try these peer-reviewed articles.) **please listen to the podcast for the reasons behind this correlation. “ADHD causes the eating of junkfood, not that junkfood causes ADHD”
- Poor parenting. *Usually at least one parent will also have ADHD so research shows that parents perform better when kids are under control, not reversed.
- Modern Society (Twitter, Facebook, etc). *Even with the overload in available distractions, it does not cause ADHD. Yes, twitter can distract even the most focused mind, but it does not cause ADHD. If this were true, societies with less technology or slower pace of life would have fewer cases but they don’t. At most we can say ADHD symptoms are more debilitating and obvious in our face-pased and distracting world, like saying a white shirt is more obvious against a black background than it is a white one but we would never say the white background caused the white shirt.
The reason I share this with you now is twofold. 1. I survived, almost thrived, for 35 years with a brain chemistry deficit that could easily have derailed my life much earlier than it did but I had the structure and coping skills to handle this (until those failed from environmental factors). And 2. I am thriving again now that I have that knowledge.
ADHD can be a gift or it can cause pain and frustration. I enjoy the company of others just like me and I appreciate the company of the countless friends of mine who aren’t. My closest friends can sit still, stay in routine, plan a trip and they gracefully (at least to my face) understand when I need reminding or a push to follow up. I am in a roll at work now where my “gifts” are appreciated and used to push products forward, lead, and see things from a higher-view and help those stuck in the mire of detail to keep an eye on the final outcome. People closest to me understand that my need to travel it is not a desire but a NEED. My children benefit from a mother who understands them and can offer solutions to their disorganization. We, as a house, have structured our lives for success and keep dates, events, and deadlines on a white board for everyone to see. Managing ADHD can be complex and take a lot of work but in the end, if it is preventing life from being as amazing as it can be, it’s worth it. For me, I am learning to balance both: Allowing the impulsivity and spontaneous me to work within an 8 hour day of projects and deadlines and bills. Now I finish projects on time, pay bills on time, remember and arrive early to meetings.
Learning the hard truth about why I am the way I am has helped improve, not diminish, my life. ADHD is not an excuse to be distracted, it’s a reason to get help.
- The fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is being released in May, 2013 which will contain and updated diagnosis criteria for ADHD in both adults and children based on recent research.
- ADDitude Mag which offers a handout for debunking 7 myths of ADHD.
Books I’ve read (and recommend)
** Notes about assessments: If you are considering taking an assessment for ADHD, you will need to have a clinician who specializes in Adult ADHD help. There are several “inconclusive” tests that can lead to a false positive (Such as the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS-V1.1 from WHO Composite INternational Diagnostic Interview which is only 6 questions long). The longer the test, the more inclusive and more accurate. All good clinicians will want to talk to a spouse or family member to confirm the replies as most ADHD people can be unrealistic with their personal perceptions.
Two good assessments (I’ve taken both):
Brown Attention-Deficit Disorder Scales for Adolescents and Adults: Definition.
I first started blogging way way back in 2003, when I was pregnant and finishing my graduate degree, when I was a new mom and completely postpartum, when people used to say, “How on earth do you do it all AND keep up a blog?” People don’t say that to me anymore. It’s become obvious: I don’t.
I’ve been staring at my blog lately wondering if it’s going to speak to me. I sort of kick it around, poke at it, see if it’s still breathing. I’m a curious bystander in my own life these days. It’s not that I don’t write anymore, because I do. A lot. I have pages and pages of blog posts and love notes and ideas written in my notebook on my laptop.
These ideas are now mostly shared with a very tiny select group of people: Namely those who live in my head. Every so often I venture to hand one or two to a loved one but most often the half written prose sit idly waiting for me to return from That Thing I Do Eight To Nine Hours A Day In The Office.
I think it’s called work.
The ironic thing? I like that Work. I could write pages and articles about that thing that I do. I could delve in to discussions about app development, front end standards, managing motherhood and sanity and travel and mid-life crises and bosses. But I can’t. Those parts of my day that I’m legally able to share get pulled in the rip-tide of life and those accomplishments and stories that I crave to write are sealed under “NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS” and privacy laws and google’s ever-watching (and caching) eyes.
In other news: I’ll keep sitting next to this blog in the ICU while it waits in its comma. One day she’ll wake up again. I promise to be here when she does. Will you?
In tradition with all Mommy Bloggers (Capital “M” and “B”) I’d like to present to you a montage of TEH CUTEZ.
I know I know, I hear it. Sorry.
One of my favorite traditions is the annual Girls & Kids Christmas (Same of moms and kids camping gang). We gather the children to play until they sweat, feed them, trade presents (picked by lottery, one kid buys for one other kid) and make an ornament. I’m a fan of tradition. It’s predictable and comfortable. It’s so predictable, in fact, that as the years have progressed we have added children but still, every year, predictably, someone will sprint out of the “HOLD STILL FOR THE BLOODY PHOTO” part of the evening.
In fact, kids are SO predictable, we even have this photo taken at another friend’s house for the New Annual Gingerbread Mansion Making. (Dude, SERIOUSLY)
And, because my sister lives close enough now for us to do Christmas Eve together, we did.
More toddler escaping pictures. (Know when to hold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run….)
From 1985 to 2013, Happy New Year and Merry Christmas.
**2008 song by LB herself **
The past 18 months have been particularly hard for me. I have not been writing here much as I can’t exactly say what it is that unfolds in reality. I’ve stayed quiet, I’ve stayed away, I’ve stayed pre-occupied.
Some people came to rescue me at various times in the past year and a half. Others have quietly waited for me to get myself back together. And still others have turned away and left my life without a second glance.
Victoria is one of those people who, while being utterly frustrated by my lack of being available, never gave up on me as a friend. In fact, when I needed someone so desperately, as I was so remotely unavailable even to myself, she pushed her way in and stood ground while I gathered up my last bits of sanity. This isn’t an exaggeration.
She’s stood by watching me dog paddle the English Channel, knowing I was making progress even if scarcely noticeable.
We were emailing each other about some plans this weekend. We’ve been trying to get together for a while now, as is always my case it seems. We had definitive plans for Saturday with another good friend of ours. All of our children know each other from years at the same Montessori. These are people I’ve shared multiple holidays with and school plays and gathering, so the idea of getting together was exciting and welcomed. The children couldn’t wait. Hell, *I* couldn’t wait. Until I got the message from Victoria about the shootings.
Life suddenly was more precious and more tenable. I sat wringing my hands for hours, waiting, as the family did. I got her text, before anything public was said, and fell apart in the office. I didn’t need any pictures to remind me what Noah looked like. I’ve met him. My son spent an afternoon with him playing together with their cousins. I drank wine with his mom, V’s sister in law, thinking to myself how much I could *totally* hang out with her because she is great people.
I can only imagine her face today. Actually, I try not to imagine her face today.
It’s that image, the image of another mom who lost her six year old son, that has kicked the ass out of my selfish quests. I can no longer fathom the world without these children in it. I can not imagine my world without
reminding my own son to brush his teeth, to listen the first time I tell him something and to please please please stop playing the DS and put on his shoes.
I can not imagine life without those easy struggles.
I’ve been able to help out some, not enough, the family that is hurt and wounded beyond anything I think anyone should endure. The truth of the story is that they’ve helped me even more than they know. Spending hours with her children, making stupid stories up to keep her mind off the real world, doing dishes because they need to be done; these are the easy parts of a larger whole. This whole is teaching the entire world, unfortunately at my very good friend’s own heart ache, how precious life is.
Grief is horrendous. Life is precious. Friendship through darkness is salvation. To my own friend who held my hand back to safety, please send every ounce of love to her family as you can. And please, for all of us, go home and hug your children. Even if they refuse to put on their shoes.
I was in meetings all morning at work. I was fired up about some frustrating blockers about my seemingly important work of moving bits and bytes around on various screens.
Then I saw an email from one of my closest friends that her niece and nephew’s school had a major shooting today.
They have her nieces but her nephew is still missing.
Now, look, I know that it’s all the way in Connecticut and I live all the way here in Seattle. But V’s son and my son are great buds. They go to schools a few miles apart. My son has played with her nephew, the one missing right now. So no, I do not think “there’s nothing to worry about, it’s not here, Leslie. It’s ok,” which is what people keep trying to tell me when they see my watery eyes looking lost at the office.
I believe there is a thousand reasons to run home and grab my children, and her children, and huddle together.
It’s not ok. Not until they find her Nephew and he is safe and EVEN THEN it is not ok. Nothing about this is ok.
So please, please, please keep V and her family in your thoughts and prayers. I know there’s a ton of support out there already waiting and watching with her but please add yours.
From one mom to every mom out there and to a particular one with whom I’ve shared wine and laughter with, who now waits to hear where her son is, mygod I feel for you. And that’s not even enough.
“Everything changes in third grade, Bud.” My wise eight year old is schooling her five year old brother. “You don’t get a Big Buddy anymore at school. YOU ARE the Big Buddy.”
These words hit something in my memory. I flash to a month after my Grandmother’s death (something I’ve talked about before) and I remember my mom saying to me, “It’s so weird to not have a mom. Now I *am* the mom.”
Today is my grandmother’s birthday. She passed away this month, too, but I try not to think of that date. Instead, when I think of my grandmother, I do so on this day, her LIFE day.
It wasn’t until my early twenties, after my Grandfather passed that I came to know her better and it wasn’t until after her death I realized how alike we are. My Grandmother was a traveler, a writer, a hard worker. She enjoyed the company of girlfriends and her family. She struggled with depression and a need to please everyone. She wore class and kindness the way some women wear pearls.
That last bit, I’m still working toward.
My Grandmother is the kind of person who is always alive. She lives in my goals and life’s lessons. She lives in my wishes. She lives in my daughter and my son when I look at them and picture her next to them at Christmas or birthdays.
It’s been a decade since her death. A decade. Someone might wonder, then, why this day would mean anything more than The Day We Were Brought In To The War (for the American citizens) or Just Another Bloody Working Day (for the rest). But the truth is, in ten years so much has append. My Grandmother was the kind of lady who would IM me during the work day and even still I miss this. My Grandmother was the lady who would stay out until 11pm talking at Starbucks with my Mom and I. My Grandmother was the person to bestow some of the best advice of marriage and life and living. Even in her death, my Grandmother has shaped so much of who I am, where I went, what I became.
They say you have to skip a generation to truly understand who you are. I dunno, maybe they don’t say that but I just did. Moms and Daughters might clash but the Grandmother / Grandaughter relationship is beyond judgement or strife or told-you-so’s. Especially with my Grandma who guided her grandchildren quietly behind their mothers, quietly behind their fathers, and quietly leaving the biggest impact of all.
I miss and love you G’ma. I still have you on my Yahoo IM. You know.. just in case there’s Internet in Heaven. (Do they have that yet? Because seriously, even the rural areas do here.)
As a little girl sitting in a pew at St Mary’s Catholic Church, I was pretty sure the Priest was talking directly to me about 90% of the time. (The other 10% I figured he was talking about those girls at school who really needed to go to confession for breaking commandment number 5: Honor your father and mother because surely that could never be me.) Even if it was a sermon about giving money back to the church or not overdoing the strong drink, or treating work as a sanctuary, I still took these to heart at 8 years of age. God was telling me something. He had to be. Didn’t I just have too much Tang yesterday?
The thing is this didn’t just happen at church. Even though I don’t attend church any more (for a variety of reasons) I still find the Universe taking massive attempts to tell me something.
Or maybe I’m just really really very self absorbed.
Every song, every movie, every quote from the books I read seem to reach in to my subconscious and pull out the feelings I’ve spent a few months (years?) doing my best to shove down. It’s like buying a new car and suddenly everyone on the road is driving your car. Or naming your child and suddenly everyone has an Owen. You know how in your own mind you’ve started a trend when in reality, you’re just opening up to seeing something that’s been there all along because it means more to you know?
It’s like that. Only more.
So I really shouldn’t be shocked at all when Sensei George tells the children’s story after karate and he is, I am not kidding, speaking directly to me. I mean, sure, he tells a story of moral value after every karate class he teaches. Sure he tells about 80 different stories he chooses based on what the children seem to need to hear. But y’all, Sensei George turned to my heart and spoke priest-like to the 8 year old inside of me last night.
“When you stand, stand. When you sit, sit. Whatever you do, do not wobble.”
This might not mean as much to you, or maybe it does, but these fourteen words hit a place in my troubled heart. How does he know I needed to hear that?
I swear I actually looked back on Facebook posts and blog posts to see if maybe I gave away something.
Maybe I need to accept the fact that sometimes the marvel of the human brain is how it grabs on to what it needs to hear, process, and apply to situations. Maybe I need to listen more and shove feelings away less. Maybe I need to own up to the fact that even in mid-life I’m still learning how to hear when the Universe knocks …. or calls collect… and when to answer.
I wrote this super cheesy post back in 2003 about how I thought I had the “Dog Spirit.” You know the one where a pregnant 28 year old fanes poetic about her free spirit that is about to be leashed to years of diapers and saying, “Do Not Take Off Your Clothes In Public.” (I assume this includes the teenage and college years.)
It’s not a new theme in my life: Traveling. It’s not something that just sort of showed up one day in my head where I said, “HEY! Let’s go somewhere!” No, the more I analyze (and by god I analyze) my desire, nay, need to get off the continent as frequently as possible, I realize it started early in my childhood, right down to how poorly I do travel and how often I crave it.
I remember my first solo plane ride. I was seven? Eight? (Mom, help me out here.) I went to Dallas (from Houston Hobby) to visit some family friends. I was going to see a girl of my dad’s best friend, someone that I got along well with. I remember being freaked out, NOT that I was traveling on a plane alone or hundreds of miles from my family, but that I might be seated NEXT TO A MAN.
No, seriously, I bugged my host family with this information. “PLEASE do not make me sit next to A MAN on the way back. PLEASE.”
I dunno, y’all. Analyze at your will. I’ll be bringing this up in therapy.
Anyway, my mom sent me some mail that arrived during my stay. I remember starting to miss her and I remember getting the letter. Judy handed me something and said, “This is from your mom. Arrived in the mail today.” I have no idea what the note said, something of insignificance, but at the end my Mom signed it, “Love ya, Mom.”
I remember that sign off. THAT is the thing I remember from that letter. The casual “Love Ya” after a note that smelled like home. I remember crying at that note and I remember Judy (and her daughter Heather, my friend) wondering why I kept reading it if I was just going to cry. But clearly they didn’t really know me yet.
This is what I think of now when I travel. There are two truths to my travels: 1. I am the mother now and send the “love ya’s” to my children to their email boxes which utterly blows my seven year old mind and 2. I’ve been traveling for a very very very long time.
Thus, and so, in conclusion, and such, I can picture myself at seven, or twenty-seven, going somewhere, anywhere, with my head out the window and my spirit soaring. My dog spirit, as I wrote, is still very much alive; Two puppies later.
Hello! Salutations! How are you, anyhow?
It’s been a while and I’ve missed you all.
I’m in England this week. It’s funny, in a “I guess you had to be there” sort of way, but I spoke up to the Taxi Driver this morning in a British accent without realizing it. In fact, I accidentally spelled REALISING it just now until spell check let me know I’m a bloody american.
Acclimation is my middle name.
(Look, I’m already using words with more than two syllables! And correctly pronouncing my adverbs! And spelling favourite with a flamboyant ‘u’! And over-using exclamations! Right, I said Acclimation, not Exclamation.)
I’m sitting in an office with people whos’ faces I recognize from business meetings. I’m getting IMs from my colleagues in Germany. I’m down right full of myself with near-accomplished-pride until I cry at breakfast because MYGODIAMSOBLOODYTIRED.
In truth, I do not travel well, although I love it more than a fabulous cup’o'tea or a chocolate eclair. Or even french wine.
There are at least 501 places I want to visit before I am too old to sleep on cruddy hotel pillows or navigate the tube or sit on long flights without getting an embolism. Five-hundred-and-one, y’all. I’m not even kidding: I’ve counted.
The truth is, while I write love notes about countries or experiences or amazing-technologically-advanced-doors, there is not at least one time I do not break down in tears over something as ridiculous as rubbery eggs, because my heavens a girl can only travel so much in three days on no sleep without some sort of nervous breakdown….. Over eggs.
At least the palace was especially lovely yesterday. As was that English beer. And the bridge. And that lovely meal.. and the people .. and …….
See? I’m doing it already.
(I’ll post some photos later as I am on a tight deadline and I’ve already taken an entire FOUR AND A HALF MINUTES to write this post and I’m fairly sure it will take another thirty seconds or so to hit publish.)
(Once I stop typing.)
(I heard the quote, “Live in the pause” on a podcast just now and decided I should take five and a half minutes to write down something about my day. And I picked the rubbery eggs story? I swear I’ll do better tomorrow.)
(But seriously, y’all. Rubber bloody scrambled eggs. Seriously! I should write a letter.)
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