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ADHD – the Changing of the Seasons

Spring has sprung, even in the hinterlands. We hope this issue of ADDvance comes to you as the rays of first warming sunshine wend their way through tree limbs fat with buds. Robins are back in the north, and probably radishes are up in southern gardens.

For the woman with AD/HD, the changing of the seasons — no matter how consistent and predictable, no matter how organic and non-arbitrary – can come as a shock. “I’m not ready!” is a familiar refrain. Holiday decorations still scattered about in unclosed boxes ought to have been a signal to the crocuses that it’s not time, yet. But Nature does what it does, and we hang onto her shirttails, setting out fall-planting bulbs in March. A certain feel to the air, a certain way the light looks different now, has some of us simply dreading the oncoming good weather. Our minds turn to our historical relationships with weeds, dull lawnmower blades, flowers that didn’t make it through the winter, again; and Plans Not Made For Children’s Summers, which we know will come, pell-mell, like tomorrow – too soon.

And for the many among us, who live without family rhythms, such as they are, developing structure for our own days in the context of everyone else being “on vacation,” or planning one (“Planning? Oh, that idea again. Planning. Maybe next year…”), the onset of a seasonal change leaves us panting and out of breath. Finding the schedule for those summer concerts in the park or, if the mood catches us, how to obtain the hours and locations of U-Pick farms can seem too taxing an enterprise especially when motivation and initiative are running low. Disheartenment appears to be around the corner, just when the trees are greening up; and disheartenment can be mistaken for depression (serious enough when true).

There is, however, a fast-acting but reliable antidote to all this – not a cure, any more than psychostimulants for AD/HD are a cure, but it can make all the difference. When the clutter in your house is too thick, or the schedule in disarray, or you miss your daily shower because the cat got out (“oh, yummy, baby robinnnnns… meow…”), a very good antidote to the overuse of blinders and earplugs and trying harder is to make sure you have, nearby, at all times, something of beauty.

Even an untended garden will have in it, somewhere, a small corner where you can go to look at the beauties of nature. And, if you look quite closely you will maybe find a lady bug walking up a tiny green shoot of something, which when you check back tomorrow will reveal a pinkish cast to its bud. And on day three, when you check again, that bud will open itself to the sun and breeze, just the way your very younger self opened to the world and its offerings…back before the embarrassment and shame and confusion and critical words. Let that one, little, delicate bloom — or a slightly larger area, but not very big one, for then it becomes a chore, and tries to run you — become your own secret garden, where you know there is beauty abounding, even in miniature.

Nature has put it there, and it is more wonderful than a Porsche, or a tidy date book, or a floor free of dust bunnies, or a meal on schedule; and it is surely more satisfying in the moment (and a “moment” is brief, so don’t get hooked there!) than setting the table in advance, running the vacuum, or folding the laundry. Women with AD/HD too often forget about beauty, because it has been made complicated.

All those foundations, blushers, hair gels, tiny undergarments that get lost or eaten or pulverized in the washing machine; skip them! Step out the door and breathe. Meander over to your secret garden and observe, smell, touch ever so gently that blossom; find another, focus small, touch the grass, or earth, or mulch, and feel its power to make life happen. Like you do. Anyone who gets as mixed up and criticized and misunderstood – and disappointed — as much as most women and girls with AD/HD do, is very much in need of beautiful things to take in through the senses. Flowers on the windowsill where you can see them from the telephone…a pretty shell on a cleared square foot of tabletop where you can notice its intricate patterns and shadings of color can brighten any day or conversation.

Now – run in the house and make those three phone calls you’ve been putting off, grab the socks and T-shirt on the floor, as you go past, and toss them in the laundry basket you conveniently left in the middle of the living room floor. You’re about to be on time. When in a moment of confusion or experiencing that sense that things just keep going wrong, no matter how or what you try – by experiencing beauty, you can change the mood and

tone of that moment you live in so unerringly. That sensory experience of beauty is still with you, as you pull into the gas station to fill up before the gas gauge registers “Empty.” Isn’t life grand?

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