#AtoZChallenge Theme Reveal

AtoZ2019Theme

Yo, here I am on a Monday after a (yet again) too short weekend, and today is the #AtoZChallenge Theme Reveal!

I vowed that I would choose a theme early this year so that I could prep my entries, given that I’m doing two other writing challenges, and so that I could ensure that this year, my posts could both have focus (instead of being meandering messes) and be relevant to my blog.

So, that’s being said, my A-to-Z Theme is, My Life with ADHD.

I’ll blog a bit about neurodivergence in general, and share personal stories and opinions (and advice, for what it’s worth) about living my life with one.  I’m excited to dive a bit into this, and hopefully find/attract some other adults who are dealing with some of the same issues.

I’m looking forward to combing through the Master List for the Challenge later and maybe finding some new blogs to follow!  (I’m also hoping to both get some drafting done and get a few non-Challenge entries written soon).

Is everyone else psyche for April??

Alarming Alarms

person touching black two bell alarm clock
Photo by Stas Knop on Pexels.com

I’ve never had a problem remembering appointments or tasks involving other people; I think my intense social anxiety and fear of letting people down has caused me to be weirdly hyper-vigilant in that arena.  No, it’s the more solitary, everyday sorts of things I forget – I forget essential items when I leave the house; I leave my bag behind in classrooms, restaurants, people’s homes; I forget to check on dinner; I forget to factor in time to shower or eat; I forget to pay a bill or a loan.

So I set alarms for the most mundane things; I have to. Pay Student Loan, Remember Work Badge, Time Sheet Due Today.  They’re generally effective.

Except I never actually deactivate them.

I could.  I should.  There is literally no reason why I don’t, except that, in the moment, when the alarm goes off, my first and only priority is to turn the damn thing off.  Swipe to dismiss, perform the task (usually; but that’s another story for another day), and then forget about the alarm.

Until, say, Wednesday at 10:15 rolls around again.  And my alarm goes off at work, and I have a small scale panic attack while I spend approximately 2.5 seconds trying to decipher what “FIND K. GIVE PAPERS” means before… dismissing the damn thing again and having the same exact occurrence the following Wednesday.

How long does this go on for?  I recently disabled an alarm set for Friday at 12:52 pm for some reason?  With the alarm name “STROLLER 4 ARISIA” which, ah, was January 18th.  So, what, seven weeks?  Yeah, so at least that long.

So yes, for those of you who ask me if I’ve “tried settings alarms” to help aid my ADHD, yes I have.  And yes, actually, they do work for me.

They just also wake me up at weird hours, disrupt my work shift, and randomly startle me in the grocery store.

Still, it’s better than forgetting my wallet or not submitting work hours.

You’ve gotta take the good with the bad, I guess.

 

How I Clean (When I Clean)

organizing my life

So I woke up this beautiful Saturday morning to once again tear maniacally through my house because it is, once again, a trainwreck. This is not a new cycle, nor one that I feel like rehashing here yet again. I do go through long stretches – though, to be honest, they have become shorter and shorter since having a kid – of being very much on top of things and keeping with a routine, and then equally long stretches where trying to keep the mess at bay is like trying to direct the tide (i.e., just as impossible, and with just as high a likelihood of (metaphorically, in my case) drowning).

So what I’ve opted to do instead is to be mindful of my productive days – when my brain seems to be firing on all cylinders, when the fog is cleared, when I can feel myself working well – to be mindful of how I clean. Not only what motivates me and keeps my going, but the actual system of how I clean a room.

Because on my bad days, the tasks feel overwhelming because I have no innate sense of what I should do first – it’s hard to perform triage when everything looks like a crisis to you, you know? So I would, at best, jump around and wind up with a series of half-completed tasks or rooms, or at best, stall out completely.

Instead of continuing to beat myself up about my lack of innate organization, I took the time out to really consider how I work when I work well.

So here are my notes. This is a system to be used in each room of the house, in a hierarchical order, and yes – this is how I’m cleaning my house this fine morning.

Happy Saturday, everyone. Hope it’s pleasant and productive.

The Three C’s: Clear Out, Control Clutter, and Clean

CLEAR OUT: Remove things from the room, in this order.

  1. Trash: I hate to admit it, but full-on legit trash has a tendency to pile up in my house. Wrappers from Bear’s snacks, empty juice box cartons, Amazon boxes and packaging, paper towels from forgotten spills, broken pencils and crayons, etc. The first thing I do is grab a bag and gather up all the trash in the room. PLEASE, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE KIDS (but really, everyones hould remember): check between couch cushion, under beds, behind furniture, etc. You would be amazed (and horrified) at what I regularly find between the love seat cushions.
  2. Dishes: Neither my husband nor I grew up in a family where we ate all our meals together; everyone was on a different schedule, so we ate at different times and – often – in different rooms of the house. I would like to establish a family dinnertime routine in my house, but we aren’t there yet. Plates – often with food residue – are sometimes left in places where, uh, they really shouldn’t be.
  3. Clothing: Yeah, with a pre-schooler especially, clothing (all clothing, but especially socks and pants) tend to get discarded more or less wherever. I’m also not innocent; shoes come off as a matter of routine as soon as I enter the house, and sometimes so do socks, shawls, over-shirts, hoodies, etc. Meaning when I get around to cleaning, there’s often a decent pile of clothing coming out of my living room, or sometimes even kitchen.
  4. Items That Don’t Belong: As I stated in a previous post, I have a basket/bag on hand that I can load up with whatever ephemera happened to find it’s way into the room as a stop-gap before returning it to it’s rightful place. This consolidates all the misplaced items, making them easier to deal with (It generally take ten or fifteen minutes to just wander through the house returning everything afterwards) and gives me a clear picture of what the actual damage is in that particular room, once all extraneous clutter has been cleared away.

CONTROL CLUTTER: Gather items, sort, and put away, in this order.

  1. Clear off: This is part of the “top to bottom” method. Clear off your surfaces – counter tops, desks, tables, etc., and take care of tasks which can be comfortably performed immediately (i.e., if you’re cleaning off the kitchen counter, load dirty dishes immediately into the sink or dishwasher; if you are cleaning off your desk, immediately put important mail in a prominent place and discard the junk, etc.) All other items can get piled in designated spot (on a sofa, on the floor, on the bed, etc.)
  2. Collect: Collect all out-of-place items (that belong in that room) and add them to the pile of items you’ve begun in the previous step.
  3. Sort: Group items in a way that makes sense to you – by type or purpose (all books together, all DVDs, all toys) or by where they belong (everything going on the bookcase, everything that goes on the side-table, everything that goes in the ottoman, etc.) The actual groupings don’t matter, just that they make sense to you.
  4. Put away: Return the items to where they belong, group by group.

CLEAN: Remove actual dust and dirt, in this order.

  1. Dust: Start with the ceiling, ceiling fan (if you have one – I bet it needs it), top of the windows, walls/wall hanging, , tables/side tables, etc. A quick pass with some Windex on windows and mirrors would come at this step, too.
  2. Clean/polish: As needed; my tub and toilets generally need to be fairly scrubbed, but my coffee table usually needs a good pass with a damp cloth, as does our desk, and occasionally one of our two side tables. You don’t need to go crazy, literally a couple of wipes with a damp cloth to remove sticky residue (especially if it’s a room you eat in), and you’re good.
  3. Vacuum/sweep: Floors and carpets last. Shake out area rugs outside if the weather permits, but inside is fine as well, if you have the space (just do it before general vacuuming).

SPECIAL NOTES:

  1. Always make your bed first. Yes, before anything else. As I said before, it hugely reduces visual clutter and will make your room look better instantly, but also it is the prime place for the “gather and sort” phase, and it’s hard to do when it’s already covered with trash and a mess.
  2. Always do dishes first, for the same reasons you would do the bed first: reduces visual clutter, clears off table and counter space, and makes room to gather and sort.
  3. For you, the clean step may follow directly after the Control Clutter step in each room; for me, as someone who hates lugging around my clean equipment and then having to work around it, I do the first two steps (Clear Out and Control Clutter) in each room and then backtrack and do all the Cleaning through the whole house – that way I can just pack everything up when I’m done and forget about it.

Hope this is helpful to someone. Off to actually get it done.

Friyay!: March 8th, 2019

Happy (1) Happy Friday!  This has been quite a week; to sum up how the last few days have been, coworkers and I took time out today to look up the lunar calendar and the as-of-late phases of the moon in a last ditch effort to assign some rationale to the unending chaos of the week.

With the being said, the week is over (just over a month until my Spring Break!), and I’m hoping for some restorative sleep this weekend, a good house cleaning, and some down time to, among other things, catch a showing of Captain Marvel and do some painting.

Things that have buoyed me along this week:

First off:  Today we took the kid’s on a community trip to the library, and I was reminded of something that I’d known about and thought was awesome (but never made mention of) called The Library of Things.  I’ve known about it for a while, but it was news to several coworkers, so in case you are unaware of it, I would recommend you Google “(your local library) library of things” and see what comes up.  The Library of Things is a collection of non-traditional material and equipment available for loan at your library.  At the library in the town that I work in, for example, this includes an applique kit, binoculars, a cordless scanner, a ghost-hunting kit, a knitting kit, a keybooard (as in the musical instrument), a Playstation 4, a telescope, and a ukelele – and this is a partial list.  Google it and see what cool things you can borrow with your library card!

Secondly, several upcoming challenges have recently opened sign-ups, and I – on an ADHD fueled rampage – signed up for all of them.  I’ve gotta say, though, April feels like a good month to get creatively energized, because (at least up here near Boston) it’s the first month where the weather begins to become pleasant with fair consistency, and the days start getting longer and sunnier – it’s really the first time during the year when I feel like the general atmosphere around me radiates energy instead of drains it.  Anyway, for those interested, the three challenges I am participating in (and which are currently taking sign-ups) are Blogging A-to-Z, Camp NaNoWriMo, and National Poetry Writing Month.

Third, you all know I’m a little bit crazy for Dollar Tree, right?  Well, did you also know that (a.) my downstairs bathroom in mermaid-themed (because of course it is), and (b.) Dollar Tree is killing it in the mermaid department lately?  I’m on the lookout for a few classic products as well as some brand new stuff, like this mermaid shadowbox/plaque, ceramic mermaid tail plates, decorative mermaid tails, these mermaid wall stickers, and these mermaid tail candles.

Finally, I was a big fan of Pentatonix for a long time, but after Avi left, I sort of fell away from the group for a bit, only recently returning to listen to some of their newer stuff and man – I will always love and miss Avi, but this does not disappoint.  I’ve listened to the Pentatonix cover of “The Sound of Silence” about fifty times in the last three days.

Anyway, that’s about it for today.  What’s kept your spirits up or brightened your days this week?

#AtoZChallenge 2019

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge For the third year in a row, I will be participating in the April Blogging A to Z Challenge!  Since this blog is a reboot of my previous iteration, my first two years of A to Z are lost to the void (I kind of regret that, actually, but there’s nothing to be done about it).

I’m not 100% on what my theme this year is going to be – my first year was kind of a scattered and narcissistic “all about me” theme, and last year was form poems – but I don’t have to decide until the theme reveal on the 18th (well, I don’t have to decide until April, but you know what I mean.

I love when I see this challenge go live – it makes me think about the upcoming Spring, and that makes me happy.

Anyone else doing the challenge?

Friyay!: March 1st, 2019

Happy (1)Holy hell, this has been… a week, let me tell you.  Partial derailment of my household (that I opted to let wait until I could clean tomorrow, so I can’t whine too much about that), absolute chaos at work, and what seems to be the resurgence of the cold that knocked me on my ass just before vacation.

That being said, I am positively ecstatic that it’s the weekend.

This week’s Friyays!

I don’t know why I didn’t mention this weeks ago (oh, wait, it’s because I basically abandoned this blog for like a month), but Andy and I watched Kim’s Convenience on Netflix.  While it’s not a new show on Netflix – it debuted in July 2018 – the fact that literally no fan works for it exists suggests that it’s definitely not known as widely as maybe it should be.   Since I’m notoriously long-winded, here’s the IMDB summary: The misadventures of a Korean-Canadian family running a convenience store. Kim’s Convenience tells the funny and heartfelt story of the Kim family. Mr. and Mrs. Kim are Korean Canadian convenience store owners who have worked hard to give their now-twenty-something children, Janet and Jung, a better life in Canada.  It is well-worth checking out for funny and surprisingly sweet and wholesome (but not hokey or saccharine) comedy, and there’s some nice eye candy to be had as well (Simu Liu, I’m looking at you.  Like, a lot.  Especially on Instagram).  The first two seasons are available on Netflix, with the third currently airing on CBC in Canada, and a fourth already in the works.

I am no where near Chicago, but just hearing about the existence of The Catcade makes me happy.  They are an arcade-themed cat rescue that simulates an “at home” environment, so instead of being kept in cages or crates, the cats roam free and interact with patrons.  There is a cafe and lounge, free arcade games (and Mario Kart), free Wi-Fi, and the opportunity for “cat yoga” classes!  I would be happy just chilling with the kitties, but being able to play some games and have a cup of coffee with them is pretty great.  If you get real attached to a particular kitty, they are available for adoption!

The Oatmeal is once again dipping into gaming, this time with Throw Throw Burrito, which I love mostly because of the card art (Meow Cow?  Barky Sharky?  COME ON!) and the fact that I like throwing things at people.  I feel like it’s a game that is easy to learn and that would be pretty accessible even to pretty young kids, which makes it a good Family Game Night option (I think Bear is still a little too young, but be next year, definitely).  It’s still being KickStarted, but check in out if you like Matt’s art, family-friendly games, or chucking things at people you love.

What’s keeping you cheerful this week?

(PS:  Yes, it’s Saturday.  I started this entry before I put my son to bed last night, and wound up falling asleep with him.  So, here).

When You Can’t Do It All, Do Something

A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded that, however good the scaffolding I’ve put in place to keep myself organized, it only takes a day or two with lowered vigilance to land me right back at square one.

This has been an awful winter, hasn’t it?  The same two or three seasonal ailments have been cycling through my family and classroom ad infinitum; it feels like every time we’ve recovered from one illness, we’re coming down with another one.  I – despite my classroom being absolutely lousy with germs, and having a typically hygiene-impaired four-year-old, managed to mostly escape getting sick.

Then, two weeks ago, I was hit with laryngitis.  The worst of the illness only lasted about two days, but it was two days when I was flat-out knocked on my ass, and let me tell you – my house fell to absolute chaos.

Because the persistent messiness of my life and my rampant ADHD don’t disappear just because I have the sniffles, I was faced, once I could walk and talk and think without coughing up a lung, with a once again seemingly insurmountable mess.

This time, I lucked out; I got sick on a Wednesday, and by the time I felt human again, it was Saturday and the start of my vacation, which meant I had no other obligations and the comfort of knowing that even if I spent an entire day (or two) fixing the mess, I still had days and days and days left to relax and chill afterward.  I’m happy to let you all know that I did, in fact, get back on track, and I’m ticking off most of the boxes on my To-Do list, most days.

But what if I didn’t have vacation? What if I had a super busy week coming up, or a series of commitments, or what if I was more seriously sick for longer?  How long do I let the house go for, and how long until it’s utterly, paralyzingly bad again (pssst – past experience says it really doesn’t take that long to get into a really bad place).

I started thinking about what I could have done if I really, truly felt like I didn’t have it in me – if I didn’t have the time, the energy, the “spoons,” whatever – what I could have done to keep that paralysis at bay without over-extending myself, without triggering my anxiety or wearing myself out physically or mentally.

So I’ve spent some time thinking, what’s one thing I could do in every room of my house to keep myself sane?  Just one thing to make me feel a little more grounded?

Like most things, I’m sure your mileage my vary, but I personally feel very sure of my list.  So, if my blog entries tend to resonate with you, maybe you’ll find this to be helpful, as well.

12

Some Things to Keep in Mind

  • If you aren’t neurodivergent this list probably seems needless, obvious, and silly, but task paralysis is a major issue for me, and many others with neurodivergence, as is feeling overwhelmed by the inability to break down a task (and of course clutter and mess itself is a stressor for basically everyone, though it can literally stop me dead in my tracks). This list hopefully combats task paralysis by giving a starting point, and serves as a reminder that you don’t need to do it all at once; even completing one task makes a big difference (important for those grappling with ADHD perfectionism).
  • Even these tasks, in and of themselves, can be daunting on a bad day. I would love to eventually be able to offer a step-by-step break down on the way I get through these tasks (and others), and the strategies that work for me.  If you think this would be helpful to you (or as a general resource) please let me know and I’ll make it a priority.
  • I find that I function the best within a structure, but there is a point of diminishing returns with every increased point of rigidity or complexity within that structure (see my post about planners – the more “bells and whistles,” the more paralyzing, the more likely I am to abandon the system).  The catch-all bucket in the living room works well for me, as do broad categories of organization (an under sink bucket of general cleaning products (the more multipurpose, the better), bathroom bins for “hair stuff” (shampoo, conditioner, spray, gel), “body stuff” (shower gel, soap, lotion) and “hygiene” (toilet paper, q-tips, sanitary pads, etc) work well, because there is a system of organization that is broad enough to not be overwhelming, but clear enough to actually allow me to know where everything is.
  • I am in no way a cleaning or organizational guru, and holy crap, nor do I pretend to be.  I’m just learning, at age 36, what really works and what doesn’t work for me, and also learning to be patient with myself, let go of the need for things to be perfect, and work to the best of my ability within the head space I’m occupying at any given moment.  What works for me may not work for you, but sometimes, it’s worth a shot (and it may work for someone else).