When things don't go as planned it can feel like everything is a bust. That's how Moira remembered summer 2021, then by looking back in a few unique ways, she discovered that the story in her head is only part of her story. Moira explores her surprising shift from a dumpster fire of a summer to one full of wins complete with a silver lining she almost completely missed.
Moira Maybin 00:00
Remember back in June of 2021? When I said, “it's summer, the season of lightness and play? How do you want to enjoy this time of year?” Yeah, that was totally different. So, I could be thinking we're just going to write this one off? Or is it possible to find another way to remember this summer? What if the story in my head doesn't match up with the reality? When we view things more negatively than they really are, we're using distorted thinking, thinking that's not based on facts, and that can impact our mental health and well-being. Today we're going to look at how it's possible to shift our thinking from a summer that wasn't too one full of wins and finding a silver lining that I almost completely missed. For show notes, visit ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com. Welcome to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle, part of the ADHD reWired Podcast Network. I'm your host, Moira Maybin, a woman, Mom, educator, and I have late diagnosed ADHD. This is the place to practice getting rid of guilt or shame and spending more time with our strengths and passions. There are things that I wish I had known about my ADHD sooner that are allowing me to make different decisions to make my life more ADHD friendly. And I want to share them with you.
Moira Maybin 01:19
Okay, let's get started. Only a few short months ago, life and the promise of summer had me cautiously optimistic. We knew it wasn't going to be an ordinary summer. But it seemed like we were heading towards a life post pandemic. And I was hoping to have a fun summer. Now we are in a fourth wave. And I am a self-declared hermit. Yep. 2021 summer did not go as I had hoped. If you were able to have a good summer, this episode can still work for you. I'm going to be using my thoughts, memories, and experiences of the last few months to explore how we can use our thinking to help us well when our thinking gets in the way I know, right? That's some stuff. Let me explain.
Anyone can get trapped in negative thinking patterns. And those of us with ADHD can spend some more time there. As I was growing up plans changing had the potential to send me to calamity junction, things couldn't be changed, it was figured out this is all wrong. It took some time and some self-awareness to learn how to handle that, and practice giving myself some time when a plan change. Turns out surprisingly, my brain was able to start considering other options and possibilities to adapt and be flexible, if I just gave it some time. People with ADHD can also have a tendency towards all or nothing thinking things are either all good or all bad. That's how some of us end up giving up or tending towards perfectionism. It's hard to see the middle ground. These can spin off into catastrophizing, ignoring, filtering out parts of the experience or event. Being aware of our own tendencies and our thought patterns can help us catch negative thinking patterns. I'll have links to more information on the web page for this episode. For today, I want to share how my negative thinking got in the way of having a good summer and what I did about it.
Okay, so here's how summer felt disappointing to me. I organized, booked, and then canceled more summer events and camping trips than I care to admit. There was no camping, no family vacations and I can count on one hand anything un-hermit-like we did. I had a few let’s just say mishaps driving our trailer that I am grateful nobody got hurt. Yeah, no camping but I did “get” to drive the trailer around. That wasn’t fun. In this respect I was glad summer was a fleeting time. We got to experience multiple heat waves, including spending two days on a softball field. When it got to 47 degrees Celsius. That's 116.6 Fahrenheit. A community nearby recorded Canada's highest temperature ever at 49.6 degrees Celsius 121 degrees Fahrenheit. And then the next day the entire town was destroyed by wildfires. Heat waves, drought, hundreds of massive wildfires, the world's worst air quality, rising COVID cases and increasing public health restrictions meant we were advised to stay indoors, home and not travel.
Over the summer, I would often think back to my summer episode and think to myself if they could only see me now wondering how far off the mark I was. As time went on. I was more and more disappointed and soon couldn't wait for fall. It would mean a chance to reset and try again. With my kids in school. I could only see the things that didn't happen and wasn't paying too much attention to what had happened.
Moira Maybin 04:47
Fortunately, the commitment I've made to having an ADHD friendly lifestyle, and this podcast meant while all this was going on, I began tracking my mood, energy, and menstrual symptoms daily. And then my ADHD symptoms and Medication side effects weekly, I would fill it out and put it away. I didn't look for any results or patterns. I also have a routine of writing a letter to myself monthly. One month I write to my ADHD. The second month I write to my body. And the third month I write a letter from my body. I set a timer for 10 minutes and go, and when the timer goes off, I'm done. So, I ended up with both the checklists of how I was doing and written snapshots of my thinking over the last three months. My original thinking about the summer was based on real things that happened. But my brain had done with all brains can do. Paying attention to only the things that fit my summer is a dumpster fire narrative. When I started to look at the information, I was quite surprised. A few months ago, I encouraged us to remember that summer is fleeting and to take what we need from it. For me that meant fun, I really wanting to enjoy summer, the last few years have been one transition and adjustment after another for me. And with too many things on my plate. This year, I kind of slugged away, not muscling through anymore, but I've been at reduced capacity for a long time. And too many things still take a lot of effort. I arrived at the summer feeling like I was at the crest of a hill and the coming months were a time to catch my breath, practice my expanded self-awareness, check if I was headed in the right direction for me, and then slowly and consciously continue ahead. I wanted flexibility and capacity to enjoy summer for myself and my kids to something I haven't been able to do for far too long. I wanted to prioritize self-care routines, and have lots of time on schedule to. Well, it turns out I was trying to put the cart before the horse, so there was no way that was going to happen.
The problem is that flexibility, capacity, and free time are not things we can cram into a full schedule, or even a partly full schedule. It sounds ridiculous saying it out loud. Remember, last episode, I shared that I realized that whitespace on my schedule was very limited. Whitespace is meant as contingency time in my schedule for the unexpected in life. In my mind, it also included buffer time between events, downtime, free time, and social time. And we need all of those. They are what create flexibility and capacity. And I have unconsciously tried to have them all operate. And well. With the least amount of time. They're constantly fighting for time and space. I created an impossible situation for myself. Realizing This allowed me to let go of my misplaced guilt that I wasn't some flowing in the wind beachside, fun time mama this summer. Honestly, my kids wanted to hang with their friends anyway. So I'm going to take a win for figuring out that what I thought of as whitespace is best thought of as contingency time, and that social down free and buffer time, all need their own space in my life.
So yeah, I went into the summer wanting fun, and to make my life easier, and to quote myself take a break from creating more challenges. At the end of the summer, I looked back and thought, nope, that didn't happen. Life felt too hard. Then I re read my letter to ADHD, written mid-July, in the letter, my ADHD is being played by the part of you. And me and my ADHD is, “we are now prioritizing pacing and self-kindness over productivity and pushing through. The thing that has been most consistent has been curiosity, less judgment, and encouraging myself to take both the kind option and ask for help more often. Perseverance is including acceptance and increasing self-awareness of my body's messages. My mind is not the only show in town now. And that's helping us a lot. Have you noticed that the more I learn about and pay attention to the impact of my monthly hormonal cycle, it makes it easier for both of us. That would have been nice to know like 35 years ago,you tend to get the blame for everything. And while you do play a role here, it's having ovaries that makes you change things up all the time. At least it's predictable what you all do together. I just didn't know that. So it felt like I was on a blindfolded rollercoaster ride. The timer is just about up. And you know, there never seems like there's enough time unless we're endlessly waiting. So I'll stop here.”
Hmm. So that doesn't sound bad. That sounds like growth. Okay, team, I'm gonna chalk that up for a win because if I continue to do those things that will make life easier.
So my summer want list also had more fun on it. And I did have some specifics in mind. And I did do most of them at least once. One area, one area where I didn't do as much as I had wanted or have done much more in the past is exercise, but now I'm thinking about it a bit differently. I'm thinking about it as engaging in a hobby or having a passion and that's includes regular physical movement. I've always loved physical activity. But it can become a chore when I'm really busy. And then I begin to resent it. Or I can become addicted and expect myself to work out hard every day of the week. I certainly couldn't do this podcast if exercise needed to consume so much of my time. And so, when I step back, and I weigh those two things out, do I want to live a life that supports my values, dreams, and life being full of rich and amazing experiences and exciting things? Or do I want my life to be lived out, so I can look and be a certain shape or size, they're often contrasting decisions, but they are real. There's only so much time and capacity for all of us this summer.
Well, this summer, I was able to spend bits of time here and there doing old and new things. For the first time I went axe throwing, and despite the instructor repeatedly, like repeatedly telling me to focus when I threw, I knew that I had to change the biomechanics of 40 years of shooting hoops to be able to x row. It wasn't focus but having to adapt and figure out how it was supposed to feel in my body and being able to ignore him and have fun X ray. I managed to do all those things. I got to go bike riding paddle boarding, fall off the paddleboard and get back on. There were even a few times spent with dear friends that I haven't been able to see for far too long. These experiences may have been few, but they were memorable and important. Okay, Summer 2021, there are some more wins.
My most significant win truly was being able to have my own lived experiences guide me without judgment or shame. This came from my commitment to build a healthier, more sustainable life. But it came with a twist, I usually think that this requires action. We need to do things to make changes to have the life we want. Turns out I was wrong again. Doing daily tracking, thanks to those apps for keeping it easy and interesting. Each week, taking note of my symptoms, and increasing my awareness, cause something unexpected to happen. For so much of my life, it's about control, trying to understand change or fit in. But for the last three months, having curiosity without trying to change or control any part of me was radically different. It led to a deeper understanding and acceptance of myself without blame. Without shoulding on myself and realizing that we don't have to always change things or look for a solution. Sometimes we can just be I'm glad things are the way they are. Even with all my challenges. And trust me, there are plenty.
I believe that this all boils down to two ways of living with ADHD. There is subjugating it, and there is accepting it. Of course, that is overly simplistic. And we are on a continuum that varies over time. It can be two steps forward one step back, or is it the other way around? Depends on the day. This also means knowing that our thinking can mess us up. So having external ways to check our perceptions can be helpful. I know many of us tend to be all or nothing thinkers. So please don't hear me and go, Oh, well, I'm clearly in this camp. More than likely, we are all elements of both. I haven't counted up all the wins here. But it feels like a lot more than enough for one summer. I haven't even got to the parts of what the tracking showed. That's for Next Episode. This process of reflecting on and reconsidering summer has meant that the harder parts are fading in my memory and the personal growth and times that I did have fun, or what are coming to the front. I'll take that as the last win of summer 2021.
Moira Maybin 13:52
When we talk about ADHD, sometimes we have spent so long in a world that treats ADHD, like it's just a behavior that shows up at work or school. And we can too often forget how pervasive it is in our lives. It's part of our wiring and impacts every part of our being. I often think of my ADHD and I as being in a car together. Sometimes I was driving, sometimes she's driving. Other times we're fighting over the steering wheel. And there have even been times when there was no one at the wheel. Now I realized none of those work. We must work together understand each other have given take empathy and kindness to prioritize together to have a life together. We have all tried ignoring it, giving up trying to push get angry, trying harder, and that leads to internal or external collateral damage. And those methods are going to make us quite unhealthy in the process. Because everything we do or don't do has a cost.
Moira Maybin 15:02
So, we need to ask ourselves, how can we have a healthy way of being that will help us with our ADHD but also doesn't limit ourselves? What my summer taught me is that things aren't always as they seem, that it's important to write things down. Otherwise, I'm not going to remember! Sometimes doing nothing is the answer. And instead of trying to change ourselves, that self-acceptance, awareness and understanding can in fact be life changing. Sounds like a win to me.
I hope you've enjoyed today's show and would love to hear your thoughts. To get in touch. You can write me an email at [email protected] connect with me on my website, Instagram and Facebook at ADHD Friendly Lifestyle or twitter @ADHDFL. Every episode has a website page with show notes transcripts next steps, resources and articles related to the topic. To get these visit ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com. If you'd like to support the podcast, the best way is to subscribe on the podcast player of your choice and by taking the time to rate and review it there.