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.

 

The New Year, Executive Functioning, and This Blog

black and white blackboard business chalkboard
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday!  (For those who don’t celebrate, I hope you still got some time off to relax and spend with loved ones).  After some touch-and-go moments the prior week where Bear seemed to be picking up every contagious stomach bug, cold, and infection known to man, he was feeling like himself by the 23rd an had a wonderful Christmas.  My family (in particular, my husband and my mom) also made a point on going crazy when it came to gifts for me, so I’m coming out of this holiday season with a ton of crafting supplies (so much paint!) and a lot of inspiration.

Speaking of inspiration, it’s been a goal of this blog since the beginning to be a tool to help with recovering my sense of inspiration and creativity.  As someone with a neurodivergence, time management and organization are notoriously hard, as is the “simple” act of sustained attention on certain things – even things I ostensibly want to do.  Keeping a blog introduced me to some great creative challenges that had enough external structure and gave me enough positive, affirming feedback that I was marginally more creatively productive than I have been in the last several years, which is great.

However, that self-same neurodivergence meant that, going into this, the purpose of this blog was incredibly vaguely defined.  I’ve said before that I don’t love niche blogging – I like to talk about whatever comes into my head – and that remains true.  However, I’ve noticed that a number of my followers come here during my challenge months, when I’m posting poetry or creative writing, even though the rest of the year I’m not a creative writing blog.  I started to wonder if maybe posting fiction and poetry on this blog wasn’t the best idea.

When I started this blog, my whole “thing” was, I didn’t want to feel boxed in as a “niche” blogger.  I didn’t want to feel like I could only post poetry, or only write about children’s literature, or only post recipes.  I kind of just wanted a space to talk about life and share my interests.  I still feel that way; I just also feel like, without being boxed in too rigidly, I should step back and think about perspective: who am I?  I can write about my life, sure, but through what lens am I experiencing my life?

At the beginning, when I chose the name of this blog (Rarely Tidy Ramblings), I loved it because it encompassed the messiness that was the inside of my mind due to my ED et. al.,, and because it came from a wonderful quote (of ambiguous attribution) framing a disorganized mind as the hallmark of the creative individual.  I thought, initially, that this could give me leeway to post just about whatever I damn well pleased.

But really, what Rarely Tidy Ramblings should be about is my life through the perspective given to me by being neurodivergent.  Parenting with ADHD.  Working with neurodivergent kids as someone likewise ND.  Planning, organization, list-making, goal-setting.  Trying to be creative when your brain works against you.

Does that mean I can’t post my son’s weekly book rec from the library?  No.  Does that mean I can’t photo dump when we take a fun family trip?  Of course not.  Hell, even the niche-est of niche bloggers have chatty and personal posts, sometimes.  It just means I can’t forget that I’m writing about my life from a perspective colored by something particular, and I should use that as a way to focus my writing, and as the impetus to produce new writing.

It also means no more posting creative writing.  I can talk about the process, about the pitfalls and difficulties and successes, but I can’t post the finished work (here.  I’m considering opening and linking a sideblog for those interested that would be accessible via the navigation menu).

This is not an overhaul, or a revamp – just a refocusing.  I’ve gathered enough followers through endeavors like Inktober and NaNoWriMo and OctPoWriMo that I thought I’d perform a courtesy and explicitly let you all know that those instances were the deviation rather than the norm.

Relatedly, I’m currently working my way through The Adult Executive Functioning Workbook, which has made me really think about organization, focus, and goal-setting, and in part is what spurred me to really think about what I’m using this space for and if I could use it better, with more focus and purpose (the answer was “yes”).

I doubt I’ll be back before the New Year (I might!  I have something I’d love to post either prior to or very, very early in the new year, but I make no promises), so I will wish a happy, safe New Year to my followers, and I look forward to being more active and productive on this blog (and overal!) in 2019

A Life in Checklists

organizing my lifeI sometimes wonder how well people really understand me when I tell them how easily I get overwhelmed by the day-to-day.

I feel like most of the people I know are sympathetic in a commiserative way; that they feel like they know what I mean, and maybe even feel the same way – the, “hey, we all have busy lives/work hard/have a lot going on!” mentality.

They probably don’t expect that I mean, if I don’t set an alarm to take a shower or brush my teeth, it might not get done that day.  Or that the accumulation of mess/clutter from daily activities will seem to sneak up on me, and then loom suddenly and overwhelmingly, making me feel incredibly anxious, but utterly incapacitated.  Or that performing a multi-step task – even a familiar one, like cooking – sometimes makes my heart race and my skill crawl with impatience and agitation.

Which is why, when considering how to go about bringing order to my life, I had to consider the most basic, most fundamental levels of organization – the checklist.

My friends are over here with cross-referenced planners, digital calendars and mobile apps, elaborate bullet journals with color-coded spreads – and I’m making simple, laminated checklists.  For things like “eat breakfast. Take a shower. Watch a movie.”  Things that apparently integrate seamlessly into other people’s lives.

But not mine.  And I have to accept that – that for whatever reason, this stuff does not come naturally to me.  But that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) mean I can’t do it.  It’s a massive waste of energy, feeling bad about how my brain is wired, instead of coming up with scaffolding I can build on to compensate for it’s limitations.

So, some people might think it’s a childish thing to have checklists for such basic stuff.

I’d say it’s a pretty damn mature thing, to go any length to ensure these tasks get done with any regularity.

So, I made some freakin’ checklists.

These are the easiest, most basic things I could think of to start with: routines to give me enough options to not feel trapped, yet not so many to incite choice paralysis, with a focus on developing habit and balance.

I’m still working on my lists for the deep clean I intend to do this month, and from there a more detailed daily/weekly chore chart to keep things in order.  I may do one for meal options as well, since outside of dinner, I’m not currently planning my meals, and always find myself either out of food options, eating utter junk, or simply not eating, and none of those are acceptable options if I’m trying to be healthier.

This is an incredibly busy week, but I’m hoping to eek out time tomorrow and Thursday to write the remaining lists.  I plan to start using these beginning Saturday – I’ll be printing out multiple copies and leaving one in my bedroom, and one in the kitchen (that’s one on each floor of the house, where I start and end my days).

Fingers crossed that these help.  They certainly can’t hurt, right?