Thursday, September 3, 2015

Divination

Since I became a druid 5 years ago, I've read of divination, especially ogham divination, as being part of druidry.  I don't believe in divination in a supernatural sense, but it seemed to me that it's like art.  It's a way to see beauty and tap into your feelings. 

So I bought The Celtic Tree Oracle.  There are instructions for a complicated way of drawing a bunch of cards of having each one signify a certain thing.  But from the start, that was not my intent.  My plan was to draw one card, maybe in the evening, maybe before meditation. 

I did that for the first time last night.  I was very tired yesterday.  All day at work, I was especially distractible.  I got work done, but I wasn't working on the things I meant to be working on.  I kept going off on other projects.  Usually I have one coffee before work and one in late morning or early afternoon.  But I was a mess from the time I got to work, exhausted and irritable.  I had my second coffee of the day not long after getting to work, and my third mid-afternoon.

I stayed late at work, not super-late, but until just before 6.  Then I did two errands after work. 

When I got home, I was exhausted.  I had dinner, and then lay in the living room listening to the radio until bedtime.  I went to bed early, at 8:45.  But then I had trouble falling asleep.  Maybe it was because I had extra coffee to try to make it through the day.

I got up and went to the ogham cards.  I shuffled them carefully, and let myself be drawn to a particular card.  I chose my card, and it was Uilleand.  I opened the book to read about its meaning.  I read of a bird which, when disturbed, flies up and makes a scene to draw attention away from its nest.  I read about turning away from distraction and seeing the truth at the center.  This seemed apt, since I have been reading about ADHD and since I had a distractible day.

After reading about Uilleand, I felt a sense of peace.  I went back to bed, and this time I could fall asleep.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD

The third ADHD book I am reading is The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD by Lidia Zylowska.  The point of the book is pretty much given in the title.  The book reviews some research and gives some exercises for practicing mindfulness.  There's not a lot of research on using mindfulness for ADHD, but there's research on using mindfulness for the things ADHD affects, such as memory and concentration. It doesn't give a lot of time to explaining what ADHD is, but there are some parts about ADHD that resonate with me.
  • "You can have many ideas but likely have trouble focusing and prioritizing, since you may think everything is equally important.  You may feel paralyzed, not knowing where to begin, or you may sometimes impulsively start several projects at once.  You may have trouble initiating a task, staying on task, or transition out of a task."
  • ADHD is not really a deficit of attention.  It's a deficit of attention regulation.  
  • "I see many ADHD adults who are stressed and overwhelmed  They frequently feel behind and are constantly trying to catch up on what they need to do.  They often describe themselves as 'running on empty.'"
One thing I thought was interesting, though it wasn't specifically about ADHD, was that people who had difficulty with anger were able to reduce their verbal and physical aggressive behavior with mindfulness.  They practiced focusing on the sensation on the soles of their feet instead of on whatever was making them angry.

Another study had some psychotherapists meditate just before a session, and others meditate at another time.  Patients had better outcomes when the therapist meditated just before the session.

People who habitually pay attention to certain things have larger brains in that area.

Mindfulness includes both formal and informal activities.  Formal is when you sit and meditate.  Informal is when you stop and be mindful during the course of the day.  Both formal and informal are needed for ADHD.  Formal trains you to be better at informal.

When you meditate, your mind will wander.  This is normal.  Don't judge yourself.  Just label it and move back to the present.  Labeling it means noting what is happening in your mind: worry, itching, thinking.   Say, "There is anger," rather than "I'm angry."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Just be

People are always arguing, giving advice, having opinions.  I want to be able to be with someone and just be.  I want people who can just sit and be satisfied with who I am right now, not try to change my mind or enlighten me.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Queen of Distraction

Now I am reading The Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus, and Get More Done by Terry Matlen.  As with the other things I've read about ADHD, some things fits me and some don't.
  • It talks about have piles of paper all over your house, and not being able to find things in the piles.  I do have that problem.  However, other things mentioned in the chapter on clutter don't apply to me.  When I'm going out, such as to work, I don't have trouble with remembering and bringing with me the things I need, such as keys.  Also, the books says many women with ADHD have a disorganized kitchen, but that is not a problem for me.
  • It says that people with ADHD are drawn to books about how to de-clutter and get organized, but the books don't really work for us.  I think I'm not really drawn to the books, because I know they don't work.
  • One thing it suggests for de-cluttering is listen to your body.  Which aspect of the clutter makes you tense? Address that aspect of the clutter first.
  • It says "For many (but not all) women with ADHD, it's more enjoyable to do just about anything but cook."  That sounds like me.
  • It describes the following scenario for preparing dinner: "you remember there was a story you wanted to catch on the 6:00pm news, you promise yourself you'll only leave the kitchen for five minutes.  But, oh my god, the story is fascinating! While in the family room, you notice the pile of newspapers and toss them into the recycle bin in the garage.  While in the garage, you decide to take the garbage to the curb.  While outside, you notice some flowers wilting and decide to pick, oh, just a few dying petals off.  Twenty-five minutes later when you're back in the kitchen, the rice is scorched, ruining your pot and you dinner." I don't watch TV, and I don't leave things cooking to long, but this way of wandering from task to task describes me.
  • In the section on de-cluttering the kitchen, the book says go through the kitchen and put everything away.  If you find something that belongs in another room, don't leave the kitchen.  Have a box or bag for each room, and sort the things based on where they belong.  Then when you have finished in the kitchen, take each box or bag and put those things away. I have done something similar, putting things into piles depending on what is to be done with them but then when I finish sorting, I don't feel like putting the things away.  
  • It says "Brain scans show that when people with ADHD are forced to do boring tasks, the prefrontal cortex slows down, causing sluggishness.  In order to be productive, focused, and alert, the ADHD brain needs a higher level of stimulation than the non-ADHD brain."  
  • It suggests keeping a log of how you spend your time.  You may put off doing things because you feel it will take too  long.  When you realize it does not take as long as you thought, it may be easier to do it.  At the same time, you may end up being late for things because you don't allow enough time for getting ready.  I tend to have a departure time in my mind, and when that time arrives, I stop what I'm doing and depart.  Except that I still need to put on my shoes, brush my hair, and go to the bathroom, so I don't depart at the time I planned.  
  • The book says plan your day every day.  You can make the plan either in the morning, or the night before.  Make a to do list and prioritize the items on the to do list.  Then the book adds two important steps, the steps I always skip: 1) Reduce the number of items on the list to something that you can actually accomplish in the allotted time, and 2) Do the things on your list.
  • Set timers for start and stop times for activities.  Also, when you take breaks, set a time for when to end the break and get back to work.  Avoid doing "one last thing," like checking email.  
  • Give yourself mantras to help through difficult areas.  For example, when facing tasks you are avoiding, "Don't do it because you have to, do it because you can."
  • Make peace with routine.  Routine may seem unappealing to you, but it will give you peace of mind to have your chores done and to be on track.  
  • If there is something you are putting off doing, think about it.  What aspect of the task is putting you off? 
  • Sometimes people with ADHD have trouble listening on the telephone.  They need to be able to look at the person talking in order to pay attention.  I do have trouble paying attention to people talking, but I think the worst is in person in a group setting.
  • People with ADHD may have trouble with shopping, because there are so many sights and sounds.  I'm thinking about how it can be tiring for me to be out in the world, even just looking at scenery, and restful to be home in dark and quiet.  When I was on vacation, I couldn't sit by the ocean all day.  I needed to stay inside and do stuff on the computer, because staying in was more restful, even compared to just sitting by the ocean.
  • When others are talking, you wish they would hurry up and come to the point.  This is true for me.  People just keep going on and on blah blah blah in circles repeating themselves, and I interrupt them and get to the point.
  • We may argue because we crave the stimulation of arguments.   
  • When talking, it may seem that you jump from topic to topic, which may make it hard for your partner to follow your train of thought.  Make explicit the way your thoughts are connected.
  • Stay focused on what your partner is saying by repeating his words in your head, or paraphrasing out loud.
  • Looking at your partner and having physical contact with him may also help with staying focused on what he is saying.
  • When he is telling you something, it may feel like it is the same thing he has said a thousand times before, but remember, this is the most important person in your life.  Stop, drop, and listen.  
  • Your partner needs to offer support, not enabling.  Enabling is treating you like a helpless child.  Your partner needs to see you as a competent adult who has strengths and weaknesses.
  •  People with ADHD are sensitive to sensory stimulation.  They may find it hard to concentrate on something else when there are background noises.  They hear the hum of the fan, and of the refrigerator -- the sounds others don't even notice.  They jump when they hear a sudden noise.
  • Many are sensitive to touch.  They don't like sticky doorknobs, wrinkled sheets, or restrictive clothing.  But some feel the are calmed by being enclosed -- wearing close-fitting clothing, sleeping under heavy blankets.  
  • In addition to sensory sensitivity, women with ADHD may have emotional sensitivity.  They may be sensitive to criticism.
  • Women with ADHD may seem to have a strong sense of empathy, reacting strongly to the emotional states of others, or they may seem to lack empathy, because they have trouble focusing their attention on what is going on with others.  This is true for me.  I can get very sucked in to a story in a book or movie, but in real life, it may be difficult to wrap my mind around other people.
  • ADHD symptoms may be affected by puberty, PMS, and perimenopause.  During perimenopause it may be helpful to take a stimulant, an SSRI, and HRT.
  • "Many women with ADHD are underemployed and underpaid because they are afraid of taking the leap into a job they fear might be too difficult for them, resulting in many unhappy years stuck in dead-end, boring, or stressful jobs."
  • "Inattentive women still have hyperactive brains and need to be challenged and stimulated, so it's important that you don't fall into the sort of job in which you feel stagnant."
  • Schedule the things you hate doing in order to make sure they get done.  
  • Overcommitment is a common problem, agreeing to take on more than you can really handle. 
  • Sleep, nutrition, and exercise help a lot with ADHD.  Try to get out for midday walks.  Eat protein in the morning.  Eat complex carbohydrates rather than simple carbohyrdates.  Cut back on sugar and caffeine.
  • Hiring a personal organizer, buying prepared foods, hiring a tutor to help your kids with homework -- these are not luxuries.  They are accommodations for your disability.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Spirituality Without Structure

Some notes from Spirituality Without Structure by Nimue Brown:
  • She says "I've even had Druid practitioners tell me that I must repeat meditations that don't work for me, and repeat them daily because they are necessary.  To question that, was, I was told, to disrespect both the teacher and the tradition."  When I think of it from the outside, when I think of a religious leader telling people what they must do  in order to show their respect to the leader, it seems like a situation which should inspire fleeing.  But when I'm in the moment, when I've chosen to embrace a tradition, a person, I try to comply with what that tradition or person tells me I should do.  I try to give them a chance.  And then I get mad at them.
  • She describes a spiritual experience as "an uplifting, inspiring, and positive occurrence"  which may inspire "love, hope, compassion, and the like."  That makes me think of a Pete Seeger concert.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Inner grove

Books that talk about meditation tell me that I should visualize my inner grove, that this will be a place I can return to time after time in meditations, a place for finding peace.  The books talk about starting by imagining approaching on a path, bridge, or stairs.  Then enter the place.  Then maybe you will be greeted by creatures who inhabit the place. Then you can explore the place.  Then you can leave using the same path, bridge, or stairs you used to enter. 

So, I have been creating my inner grove.  I'm terrible at drawing, but here's a general layout.   The entrance is on the bottom of this map.



Now, the more descriptive details:

You start by walking on a stone path that goes beside a creek.




You cross the creek on a bridge.


Then, before you is a field, with occasional trees, including maple.








In the field, you may find goats, sheep, llamas, rabbits, and chickens wandering about.
















Off to the sides, there are shrubs -- lilac, hydrangea, and mountain laurel.











Ahead and to the left is the apple orchard.























Ahead and to the right is a hardwood forest, with trees including maple and oak.




Straight ahead is a forest of white pine trees, with a carpet of pine needles and boulders.







If you continue through the forest, you will come out to wild blueberries.






Beyond the blueberry hill is the granite ocean coast.

Hidden away in the forest is a cottage.  In summer, the thick stone walls keep it cool inside.  For winter, there's a sunroom in back, with a woodstove, so you can sit in a chaise chair reading, cozy and warm. 



Monday, August 10, 2015

The past, the future

Druidry and the Ancestors by Nimue Brown reminds of us our roots.  Wherever we live, this ground we walk upon has been walked on by humans and animals for centuries, for millenia.  We are just one link in the chain.  And we have a long chain of genetic ancestors -- 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great great grandparents, and so on back for millenia, except that not all are unique -- when distant cousins marry, they have some common ancestors. 

And my life is itself a chain in time.  From the present, my life stretches back to the past.  Living around here the past 20 years, discovering scenic areas around here, learning to rollerblade, being unemployed.  Before that, living in the suburb of a big city while going to grad school.  Walking a half hour to school.  Walking to grocery shopping, hauling groceries in a backpack, taking the train to my internships, living in a basement apartment, choosing the basement because I can dance around, stomping on the floor all I want, without disturbing anyone below.  Before that, living in the suburbs of a different big city, working a boring job in the big city, taking aerobics class, walking to visit my boyfriend, discovering the parks.  Before that, college, a community, a circle of friends, a place where I belonged.  Before that, growing up, my hometown, a misfit at school, some friends at school, vacations in more rural, rugged places, hippie parents who listened to Donovan, a rock band at my father's commune, playing on a homemade see-saw, getting a "swinging ladder" for the swing set, dressing up like a nurse.

And from the present, the future stretches wide before me.  An unwritten story.  An unforged trail.  It could lead anywhere.  We never know what's around the bend.  We don't know what we will find, but when we find it, we choose what course to take.