The God of Second Chances is Real

So, on Saturday, August 13, I began to die.

The death process was complete by 6pm on Monday, August 15, when the docs at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento wheeled me into the operating room.

I’d had a heart attack.

A doctor friend of mine said that the type of heart attack I experienced is what they called, in the old days, a “widow-maker”. In medical lingo I had a 95% blockage at the top of the proximal left anterior descending artery (in addition to blockages in other vessels).

I was lucky. And blessed.

When the pain came about on that Saturday I reported it to my wife. She wanted me to go to the ER. Of course, being a Guy, I pawned it off to muscle tension – but I promised to call my doctor on Monday morning. Sunday wasn’t too bad, so I was optimistic on Monday – until I walked a flight of steps and the pain returned. My Doc got me right in…heart-1381463_1920

…and then to the ER. After doing blood work and a panoply of other tests, the ER nurse (a tough and wonderful woman named Krista), balled her fist and said she could just punch me for not listening to my wife. She had good reason to say that – my troponin level was at 0.8 (normal is .04 or less), and was rising (this is the protein that tells them damage is present in the heart). So they wheeled me into an ambulance and I made the 40+ mile trek to UCD Medical Center.

The docs didn’t wait to admit me, they just said, “Hey, why wait. Let’s go for it now!” I agreed and off to the races we went.

I awoke in my 6th story room at 10pm, a lovely stent in my artery and hooked up to a plethora of monitors. Over the next several hours I met no less than three cardiologists and two internal medicine specialists. Each one told me how lucky I was. When I was more lucid in the morning I asked one cardiologist if I had an actual heart attack.

“We don’t like to use those words, but, yes, you had a heart attack.”

How bad was it?

“Well, let’s put it this way…had you waited another day or two, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”


This was confirmed a week later. I met with a different cardiologist, a very direct, older Doc. When he met me, shaking my hand, he looked into my eyes and reported that, “Not that many years ago the way we would have treated this was to hook you up to morphine and wished you well. You’re one damn lucky man.” And then my friend, who is a very seasoned ER doc, told me that the artery the blockage was in is nick-named, “the Widow-Maker”.

And so I died on August 15…and then was re-born.

I believe in the God of Second Chances. He has granted me a reprieve from my past stupidity of cheeseburgers, pizza and unrelenting stress. He has given me a chance to re-design my life, to focus on what is important – really important.

I’m only a little more than a week into this second life. I am beyond grateful for my wife, daughter, mother and all of the good friends who have prayed for me. I have felt every one of those prayers.

While the road to recovery isn’t a piece of cake (figuratively and literally), I look forward to every walk in nature I take, every grilled chicken sandwich and salad I eat, and to every moment I have to gaze upon the beauty of the Creator’s craftsmanship in nature. I relish each relationship. I regret being such a jerk sometimes, and look forward to making amends. I look forward to doing good work and making a difference in the lives of others – especially for those who are seeking a hope for the present and for the future.

I will enjoy the sublime creativity of mankind and forget about the petty, poisonous torture of politics (as a political junkie this may have the worst withdrawal effects). In fact, during my initial recovery I’ve been far more attracted to beautiful photography, art and old movies than I have to the lure of lascivious headlines and Bill O’Reilly. While I will vote my conscience and values, the endless corrupted  arguments of media are toxic (for me, at least).

Art endures, politics do not (the Mona Lisa still hangs in the Louvre, the politics of DaVinci’s time are long forgotten).

What is alluring to me is positivity, the eternity of Spirit, the pure goodness of God. Adversity, in all its forms, is no doubt difficult and at times seems more than what we can endure. But, we can. God is good.

God is good…and we must also take up the responsibility for our own lives. The choices I made (and some family history) resulted in a heart attack. And now, the more life-affirming choices I make henceforth will create a different kind of life.  A life of wonder, possibility and freedom – even while staring into the bloodshot eyes of adversity. There is always hope.

The God of Second Chances is real.  He’s real for me, and for you. The great thing is, no matter where we are in life, the God of Second Chances is right there beside us, waiting for us. In a New York second you can meet Him, on equal terms, right where you are standing. Just make the choice.

And the great thing is that you don’t have to have a heart attack to meet Him.



Is Neurofeedback an Effective Intervention for ADHD?

Is neurofeedback an effective non-pharmacological treatment for ADHD? According to Dr. Russell Barkley it doesn’t measure-up.

“Neurofeedback does not have convincing evidence of effectiveness for treating ADHD when appropriate and rigorous scientific methods are used.” He wrote this as a means of reflecting a comprehensive review and meta-analysis of research that had been published in The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Research.

The results reported on 13 trials. The evidence from well-controlled trials with “probably blinded outcomes currently fails to support neurofeedback as an effective treatment for ADHD.”

Huh…well, that’s interesting.

While I am a proponent of rigorous scientific inquiry, I’m also a firm believer in personal experience. And my experience is different from the results presented in this article.

Six years ago I was desperate. Two years earlier I had been diagnosed with ADHD.  I started out taking meds, but I didn’t like the side-effects. All things being equal I kind of wanted to go natural. I did supplements, inconsistent exercise and a lot of hoping. Of course that didn’t work.

And then, two years later, at the behest of my wide, I tried neurofeedback. At first I didn’t have much hope. I stuck with it and, after about six months of treatment, there was actually a difference that I could see, feel and experience.

My Doc, Erik Olesen, explained that neurofeedback was an effective treatment for repairing the flow of neurotransmitters, especially for people that had experienced brain trauma of some type. I came to understand that brain trauma could either cause ADHD-like symptoms, or could exacerbate existing symptoms of ADHD.

I had suffered a traumatic brain injury during my freshman year in college while playing baseball. While pitching in one of the final games of the year I took a line drive going 120 mph off my temple. I took the full force, broke the zygomatic arch, and spent a week in the hospital. They had to wait four days for the swelling to go down before they could repair my broken bone.

Prior to that I had experienced a number of “mini traumas” while playing high school football and from taking the back-swing from a baseball bat to the side of my head when I was in elementary school.

With each blow my brain would take a mild shock and careen into the side of my skull. The line drive to my temple was more like a sledgehammer that forced my gray matter to curl into a Mavericks sized wave that came crashing.

According to Erik the neurofeedback treatment could likely repair the damage these events had had on my brain.

Connecting nodes to my forehead and temples, he would lead me through a series of exercises. I could actually watch my brain waves working on the screen of a specialized PC – and after a few months I could see the improvement.

More to the point, I experienced subtle differences in my behavior. My concentration and focus improved. My emotions were more in check. I was feeling less depressed. I was happier.

Now, was the neurofeedback reducing the effects of the brain trauma, which in turn was lessening the negative impact of ADHD? Was it repairing my ADHD directly? Frankly, I didn’t care.

If brain trauma had exacerbated the effects of ADHD and neurofeedback was reducing this effect, then, in my book, the process was an effective treatment of ADHD.

Had I never had a brain trauma, would the treatment be as effective? I’ll never know. I just know that for my situation it was effective – at least I could experience an improvement overall.

Isn’t that what really matters? My belief is that I was born with different wiring in my head, and only God can actually “cure” ADHD. All any treatment can do is help to minimize the effects of ADHD.

Can neurofeedack help you or a loved one that has ADHD? Maybe it will. I think it depends on the context of your situation. Is it worth a try? I think so – but I’m not a doctor. I can only go on my experience.

The Daily Choice

It took a long time for me to admit that I actually had ADHD. This is pretty common for most whom have been diagnosed as an adult. It’s a thing kids have, right?


On one hand, when I learned and understood what the symptoms were a feeling of peace actually came over me. This explained everything! I’m not a nut-job!

I came to understand, but I didn’t really accept. There is a difference, and it is profound.

For a while I used it as an excuse to explain my abnormal behaviors.

“Jim, you forgot to pick up your daughter from school!”

Hand slapping forehead: “Damn that ADD!”

You can probably guess how far that route took me. Every other day some event would happen and I would spiral. It’s no fun for anyone involved.

After a particularly brutal spiral I made a decision to learn everything I could about ADHD. I read books, blogs and dissertations. I talked  to people who had dealt with it for many years, some who’d known about it for a short time, and several who said, “Oh yeah! I have ADD, too!” But weren’t doing anything about it.

I re-read a classic book on the condition and a couple of truths hit me between the eyes, like a horse kicking some sense into me.

First, ADHD is a disorder. It is a bonafide medical condition, neurobiopsychosocial disorder. And it wasn’t going away just because I wished it would do so.

Second, short of divine intervention, my disorder wasn’t going to be cured. Unlike a broken leg, which would mend with proper treatment, my disorder was permanent. Maybe it could improve over time, but it wouldn’t be cured. I was born this way.

Third, because I was born different, there were two very different actions I needed to take that I had not yet done: I needed to mourn the fact that I wasn’t born with normal brain function. There were certain executive functions that I would always find hard to do. I would struggle with organization, focus, distractability, and other behaviors.

In grieving, I would also do the other necessary step: I would accept and embrace my condition. I was born this way. Because this was so, I chose to believe that I was born this way for a reason.

While I would most definitely struggle with certain things, I would also excel in different areas, too. Being very creative, I think quickly about problems and solutions, often seeing downstream much farther than my “normie” friends and colleagues. I am visionary in certain ways. I can easily grasp the big picture. As a creative type, I routinely put hyper-focus to good use, especially when I write.

The other concept I came to accept was more difficult, because it requires discipline and constant awareness.

As one born with a disorder, I must make a daily choice to accept and manage its effects to the best of my ability. Does this mean I’ll be perfect in managing the nuances of this disorder? Hardly. It just means that I will do whatever is necessary to keep it in check as best as I can.

The fact is, as much as I might attempt to be perfect, it’ll never happen. No one – not even the most organized normies, are perfect. At best I can minimize my weaknesses and accentuate my strengths.  That’s all anyone can do – it’s all you can do.

So…accept. Make a choice today to do all you can. When you have moments where things don’t work out, have grace with yourself.

Relationships are Hard Enough

Relationships are hard. When you or your partner has ADHD, it gets even more difficult. Just as a check-in, does this sound familiar:

“So, did you go to the store and get what I asked you to pick up?”

“Of course. Here.” I hand her the OTC medicine she had told me to pick up. She examines it. Then, with a granite-hard face, looks up at me.

“This isn’t what I asked you to get.”

“Yes it is.”

“No. I wanted ointment, not cream. You got cream. I texted you specifically what I wanted.”

“Really? There’s a difference?”

“If I had wanted cream, I would have asked for cream. How can I be more explicit? What do I have to do to make this more clear to you? And, did you get the rice, broccoli and chicken?”

“Uh oh,” I say in a small voice.

“Which one did you forget?”

“The rice.”

She looks down, shaking her head. “I texted the list to you. It’s right there in your phone. What more do I need to do? When you agree to get what I ask for, then don’t, it makes me feel like you’re not listening to me, that you don’t care.”

“That’s not it. Of course I care!”

“Well, what happened? It was only four items. You messed up two of them?”

“Do you think I did this on purpose? I’m sorry! I messed up. I’m really sorry.”

Shaking her head. “Sorry doesn’t matter if this keeps happening. You had a specific list!”

“I’m sorry. I was in a rush. Traffic was terrible. I forgot my phone in the car. I didn’t take it in with me. Regarding your medicine, I saw ointment and cream…I picked the wrong one.”

“So…if you’re not going to take your phone into the store, why should I bother texting you the list? What’s the point? Maybe I should just go to the store myself from now on. Even though it’s less convenient, at least I know we’ll get everything we need.”

Resigned sigh. “Maybe you should…”


Been there? Done that? Has this happened to you? This is the part of ADHD that really sucks. No matter how diligent we are, there will be times when we’re off our game. The result is a two-fold negative. First, your loved one is disappointed, hurt, frustrated, angry, inconvenienced. It’s hard to be on the receiving end of an ADHD moment. For the one with ADHD, you might feel stupid, ashamed, guilty, hopeless. The more often it happens, the more depressed you might feel.

Really, it sucks.

And this type of scenario can happen at any time when we get off our program. Or when we’re in a rush, feeling overwhelmed. Or when we’re experiencing a lot of stress. There are pressure points and triggers.

One of the things you might often hear is: “Why don’t you manage this? This is completely avoidable if only you managed it better, right?”

On the surface, of course. But, much of ADHD isn’t on the surface. It’s nuanced and subtle at times. We might be managing the big stuff – remembering to take our meds, keeping a good calendar, eating right. But, there are times when we’re feeling the stress from being overwhelmed, or we’re just struggling to manage everything we need to manage.

To a “normie”, it seems incredibly inconsistent when one moment we’re highly focused, creating a masterpiece – and the next we can’t remember to pick up coffee on the way home from work. A “normal” person manages these little things (and quite often doesn’t have the skill or hyper-focus to create a masterpiece). So, while on one hand we’re doing miracles, on the other we can’t get simple tasks done – routine chores and requests that need to be done in order to maintain harmony.

ADHD is a neurological/biological medical disorder. We, and those whom we are with, often forget this. Unlike other disabilities, it isn’t readily apparent. I bring this up not to make an excuse, but to remind that a person with ADHD isn’t normal.

And it can create havoc in a relationship. Any kind of relationship. Whether with a spouse, family member, friend, employer, teacher or anyone else, ADHD “moments” have an effect. These moments build over time. While family members tend to have more tolerance (what choice do they have?) and learn to do work-arounds, friends, employers and others often do not have such high levels of tolerance.

A loved one will typically work hard to help and to create workable solutions. But even the most patient and loving spouse has a ceiling. The person with ADHD needs to have empathy, an understanding that living with their disorder isn’t easy for a “normie”. Communication is important, as is a sense of humor. The person with ADHD must also be open to hearing how their behavior affects others – and demonstrate humility rather than defensiveness. That’s hard.

In an employment situation there likely won’t be as much tolerance. Business values the types of behaviors that people with ADHD often find challenging. Organization, multi-tasking, meeting deadlines, being on-time, curtailing mistakes – these executive functions are valued in a business setting.

Do you have a job with a lot of moving parts which challenges you organizationally, leading to overwhelm, stress and brain fog? An employer may decide that you are not a good fit. They may be right.

Even if you are in a situation that seems to be a perfect fit, there will still be routines. If you don’t have a system for handling the dull stuff, you may just undermine your perfect situation.

Stress word

I know. It can be really frustrating. There will be times when, literally, you just want to sell everything and become a gypsy – leaving everything and everyone behind. You don’t want to hurt people anymore, and you don’t want to feel like a failure yet again.

While there will always be a logical, systemic way to manage your challenge areas, I’ve found that something else is needed, too.

A spiritual connection is also important. When stuff happens, especially when you’re going through a series of ADHD moments and you’re feeling hopeless, having an active prayer life or a connection to the divine is absolutely necessary to manage the emotional side of the disorder.

For me, and for many others I know, having daily conversations with God is especially helpful. Combined with the other good things we do to manage the disorder (meditation, nutrition, etc.), having a talk with God can be extremely liberating.

I’ve said the following more than once: “God, I’m having a tough time right now. It seems like my disorder is getting the best of me right now. I recognize that my behavior is affecting others negatively, and I’m not feeling very good about myself right now. God, I’ve made amends to the people I’ve affected, but I need your help to feel better about myself.

“God, I know it is not my fault that I was born with this disorder. But I am grateful that you have given us ways to manage it and make it better. I realize that I won’t be perfect in this, so I forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made and for letting down my guard during times of stress. I am thankful that there is a prescription I can follow to bring more sanity into my life and into the lives of those with whom I am around.

“I also recognize, God, that you have created me for a purpose. That, despite this disorder, you have blessed me with gifts that can be used to help others. And in helping others, in utilizing my gifts, I find my purpose in your perfect will. You have made me for a reason – and it is good. I am grateful for the purpose you have given to me, I will be gentle with myself, and I will open my heart to your love and experience your peace. Thank you, God.”

This prayer, or something like it, always centers me. It creates a perspective that actually takes me out of my self-centeredness and gets me focused on the things I do well, and what I can do to help others.

For me, it works. Perhaps having a connection like this will work for you, too. Just keep in mind that if you’re breathing, you have a purpose.

The Calendar is Your Best Friend


Josh W. is a fairly successful nonprofit executive with nearly 25 years experience in the industry. His resume includes a number of fairly public accomplishments along with successes that no one but his colleagues would know about.

For most of his career he operated without the knowledge that he had ADHD. So, while he experienced a number of accomplishments, he admits that it was a constant struggle. “Every day seemed like an exercise in survival. I was accomplishing things but still would come up short. It was hard to enjoy a success because I was always running behind on other projects.”


Every Monday, Josh made a habit of creating a list of things he needed to get done for that week. The list was comprised of many new items, tasks with a deadline, and catch-up actions carried over from the previous week. Sometimes his list would have 15-20 items. “It would get way too long…and it didn’t even include stuff that would come up during the week!”

Recently Josh was confronted by his boss who told him that a key fundraising partner had grown so frustrated with him that he no longer wanted to work with Josh. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Josh, or recognized Josh’s talent, it was that Josh’s responses and follow-through were so inconsistent that he felt his own effectiveness was being compromised.

“I thought that this relationship was just fine,” Josh says. “In fact, I thought it was the best it had ever been, so I was shocked when I heard what was said about me.” At first he didn’t believe the feedback (denial…sound familiar?), but he went back and looked at his email record over the past year and discovered on several occasions where he missed small deadlines, or simply didn’t follow through on some tasks he said he would get done.

“Immediately I felt ashamed,” he said. People with ADHD, even high achievers, have lived a lifetime of suffering from low self-esteem. It is especially poignant when the behavior in question puts a job or relationship in jeopardy. “Obviously my failure to follow-through wasn’t intentional.  It was a result of not managing my ADHD. Because my to-do list, my system for getting things done, was so inefficient, it led to a loss in trust with an important person, and also fed the deep-seated belief that I am, at the core, incompetent.”

Unfortunately, forgetfulness, distraction and inefficiency are all hallmarks of unmanaged ADHD. Heck, even when it is managed these traits are present! So, what is the answer? How can people with ADHD become more efficient, preserve trust, and not feel like they are in a constant state of survival?

A part of the answer is in making the calendar your best friend.

There are a couple of things ADHDers avoid like the plague: planning (too confining) and completing (we get distracted).  It’s not that we don’t like to get things done – we do. And, it’s not that we aren’t amenable to a good strategy. But, without a solid structure we will go sideways.

A calendar – especially an electronic one – provides incredible structure. It becomes even more effective when the calendar is shared with others. This creates a level of accountability that will help strengthen focus. So, here are some rules to consider when creating a rock-solid, ADHD-proof calendar.

Rule #1  Begin with hard deadlines. Whether it is turning in a report, completing a project, or making an important appointment, the hard deadline (something with a specific date and time) gets put on the calendar first.

Rule #2  Insert standing meetings and appointments. Whether it’s a doctor’s appointment or a staff meeting, get your standing meetings on the docket so you don’t double-book.

Rule #3  Increase the time needed to complete a task. Here’s something really important to remember if you have ADHD: it will take you longer to get something done versus the time it takes a normie to get things done – especially tasks that are dull and routine in nature. So, if you think it will take an hour to get a report done, factor in two hours on your calendar. First, this gives you enough time to get things done. Second, if you finish earlier, well, then you have time to chase more shiny objects!

Rule #4  Schedule details. Let’s say you have a project to complete that will require you to make phone calls, write some things, have a conference call, etc. Pencil out every single detail and put them in chronological order, and then put each of those details into your calendar. If you have a phone call to make, even if it needs to take place a week from now, put it in your calendar. Do this and you won’t forget any detail.

Rule # 5  Schedule “down time”, hobby time, and other times you’ll need for re-charging. Don’t short-change yourself on this. Neuroscience has taught us that after times of intense focus (and for us, every moment of focus is work!), we need some down-time to refresh and re-charge. If we’ve been in a period of hyper-focus, the re-charge is essential.

Rule #6  Keep your calendar visible. Keep a sidebar open on your computer, on the desktop of your cell phone or tablet. Also program reminders into your calendar visual and audio reminders.


So, for anyone with ADHD the calendar can be your best friend, and the best defense against feeling like you’re incompetent.


Sometimes, Having ADHD Really Sucks

There are times when having ADHD really is a blessing. For whatever reason, when we were born our wiring was different. The advantages of this wiring is that we tend to exhibit a higher degree of creativity and dimensional thinking, among other traits.


I like to think that mankind would never have progressed without people whose wiring was different. ADHDers are risk takers, adventurers, explorers, inventors, creators. We will walk into the unknown places and dive into the world of shadows.

While this insatiable hunger for novelty has led to incredible cultural progress, the dark secret is that we must walk into the line of fire because our brains need the stimuli.

Let’s face it, boredom feels like a kind of slow and torturous death. Routine, structure, linear systems and thinking…these are the bane of existence for an ADHDer. And yet, to make our way in this world, we need to manufacture a way to build structure.

This process is maddening. For most normies keeping a calendar or mowing through a list of priorities, balancing a checkbook, remembering to walk the dog, or keeping a closet orderly are fairly simple and easy tasks. Not for the ADHDer. Activities like these are as difficult as crossing the Pacific Ocean in a row boat.

Undiagnosed and unmanaged ADHD is really messy. And, it really sucks. The longer it goes unrecognized and not addressed, the worse it gets, the crazier we feel, the weirder people think we are.

We screw up relationships, lose jobs, isolate, get depressed, live a life of not so quiet desperation.  Statistically we know that these things are true. If we continue to be round pegs trying to fit into square holes the frustration and dissatisfaction will continue to grow.

So what can we do? How can we put this mad life to an end and begin living a life that we love? I think there are four important things we have to do to set the stage for living a satisfying, soul quenching life.

Don’t fear a diagnosis. Embrace it. The moment you accept that you have a neuro-biological medical disorder called ADHD, the better off you will be. There is a reason why you act impulsively, forget stuff, and have difficulty keeping your desk organized. Embracing the diagnosis brings relief and clarity, opening the door to a new possibility for a satisfying, authentic life.

Take care of your brain. That is, do what you can do to improve brain function. Take your meds, vitamins and supplements. Eat healthy foods and cut the junk.  Exercise. Meditate, Take breaks, especially after a period of intense mental activity. Reduce bad stress. Quit worrying. Seek forgiveness.

Practice spirituality. A spiritual connection is essential. This connection helps us to get out of our heads, focus on a purpose bigger than ourselves, see to the needs of others, fill the emptiness inside of us, provide  sustenance to our souls.  Whatever your spiritual connection might be, practice it daily. The spiritual connection can help bring sanity to what might seem a crazy life, can create grace and mercy where there was once admonishment and self-destructive negativity, cover us in love rather than blame.

Take directed action daily. Have a goal and work toward it. Do at least one thing each day that brings you closer to this goal. Something you may have to do is take a look at what you are doing. Are you in a job that takes best advantage of your skills and natural talents? Are you in a mutually supportive relationship? Take a look at the life you’re currently living – is it authentic? What doesn’t fit? Will you make the changes you need to have the life you love? Directed action every day will take you deeper into what strengths you need to nurture, and what things you need to let fall away.

None of these things are easy, but, you are an amazing creation of God. You have everything you need right now to succeed. Get real and get help. Having ADHD doesn’t have to suck.

Ground Control to Major Tom…Sympathy for the Space Cadet

Imagine you are sitting in a meeting, maybe it’s a conference call, and for the first 15 minutes you’re hearing every word being said by the other participants. But then you look out your window and see a man walking a dog. Your mind wanders.

Suddenly the voices coming through your phone simply become a part of the background, white noise. What matters is that you’re looking out the window, mind blank, the man and the dog are gone, and so is your focus.

Twenty minutes later you hear someone calling your name. It’s a disembodied voice piping through the phone. Your heart leaps a little when you realize you did it again – spaced out when you should have been tuned in.

People with inattentive ADD truly understand this scenario. It’s been a part of our lives for as long as we can remember.  In fact, the bungee bounce we do between daydreaming and hyper-focus defines the better part of our consciousness.

When it comes to ADHD, most folk think of the “H”. Unfortunately, people with inattentive ADD typically don’t manifest the “H” in obvious ways. Oh, it’s there. It’s just harder to see.

Because it’s harder to see, a majority of people with the inattentive variety of ADD aren’t easily diagnosed (or are never diagnosed). One of the reasons more boys are diagnosed than are girls is that females tend to have inattentive ADD. Many women aren’t diagnosed until their children are diagnosed.

So, what characteristics might we look for in someone with inattentive ADD? Here is a list of nine common traits. A person with inattentive ADD will manifest at least seven of these.

Careless mistakes. Oh man, has this one bitten me in the butt! I’ll have written an article in record time, proud of myself for beating a deadline. I think it’s perfect and click send…only to learn that I’ve transposed letters in a person’s name and have two other typos – including one in the headline. Lesson: please, get someone to proof your work.

Short attention span. I’d say this is a dominant characteristic of inattentive ADD. If we’re doing something boring, mundane, routine – it’s a given that we’ll be looking out the window, or even staring at our computer screen for hours…

No follow through. We start really well…and then the attention thing kicks in, we get distracted, forget to write down what the next step is supposed to be, misplace the phone number we’re supposed to call. And then…nothing happens. And the people around us quickly lose faith and trust in our ability to get anything done.

Poor listening skills. It’s a fact, our mind begins to wander…especially during a long conversation. Or, something pops into our head and we interrupt, blurting out the disconnected thought. Either way, we’re not listening. And, when we are listening, it’s not uncommon for us to ask our partner in the conversation to repeat what they said many times.

Forgetfulness. Another key characteristic. Here’s the deal, if you don’t write down the things you need to do, and remember to look at your list frequently, you will forget to do things.

Misplacing things. Have you ever left your car keys in the refrigerator? I have…

Laziness or apathy. Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I was called lazy. But, we’re not lazy, are we? Apathetic, maybe. To be engaged we need to be interested in what we’re doing. If we’re not interested, we don’t care.

Distractability. We specialize in rabbit-trailing. Shiny objects…well, you know. It’s real easy for us to get off track.

Disorganization. Our filing system tends to be a series of stacks. Our car hasn’t fit into our garage for decades.

Whew! Are you tired yet? You see, being inattentive takes a lot of energy. It’s not uncommon for us to be completely tapped out when we get home at night. Our condition creates a lot of stress.

That being said, there is a way to manage this stuff, reduce the drama, and actually create a life that is fulfilling.

In the coming weeks we’ll tackle a few of these tactics with a goal of experiencing a new level of authenticity and joy.

The Responsibility is Mine

Ever have a time in your life when everything – I mean everything – seems to be going in the wrong way? You and your S/O bicker about every little thing. Maybe you’re asked a direct question and you give a vague, non-committal answer, or, your social editor goes on hiatus and you blurt an answer that you wish you could immediately take back?

While that’s happening at home, stuff at work is mounting, too. You fall behind on a project, you forget to do daily, routine tasks. You miss deadlines, show up late to an important meeting, say something inappropriate to your boss or to a customer. Voila! You are the proverbial frog in a vat of water that is slowly coming to a boil. Pretty soon you will be fried.

The bank calls. Your rent check bounced. Your daughter calls. You were supposed to pick her up at the airport an hour ago. You’re standing in the middle of a grocery store, staring dumbly at the different brands of coffee – you’ve forgotten what you needed to pick up.

Things can go to hell pretty quickly when you have ADHD.

We’re lucky. It’s real easy to blame everything on having ADHD! Woo hoo! We have the perfect, built-in excuse! Isn’t that exciting!?

Yep, ADHD is a built-in excuse, an explanation for our sometimes erratic, seemingly irresponsible behavior. In fact, it really is not an excuse at all – stuff does happen (or not happen) because we do have ADHD. This neurological/biological disorder is very real and can create real problems.

That being said, our behavior affects others – and sometimes at the worst possible moment. That inappropriate thing said to our S/O? It could literally cause a hurt heart for years. Forgetting to do mundane tasks at work? Welcome to the unemployment line. Bounce the rent check because you handle money about as well as a teenage girl on a shopping spree with Dad’s credit card…you get the picture.

We never mean to do the odd stuff that we do. Typically our hearts are in the right place but, for whatever reason – impulsivity, bad timing, lack of an internal editor – our social ticker is off a few beats. Nevertheless, spouses, girlfriends, friends, bosses will at some point feel the effects of our unique talents for getting in trouble.

So, what can you do?

First, stop making excuses. Own whatever it was that happened. Take absolute responsibility.

Second, make amends. Make sure that whoever was affected by what you have done understands fully that you are responsible, and that you’ll do whatever is necessary to make things right – and do whatever is possible to not let whatever happened occur again.

Next, become a keen observer of your behavioral patterns. Essentially, step outside of yourself and notice the types of stuff you do that is outside the norm. What leads to doing these things? Is there a trigger? Numerous triggers? What are your feelings? Take note of what is going on that initiates this behavioral pattern.

After that, do your best to be mindful of those feelings, triggers, and situations that precipitate the behavior. Awareness can allow you to disrupt the pattern.

For example, let’s say you have a pattern of interrupting people during intense conversations. The trigger might be a feeling of being threatened or accused or confronted. Your brain gets over-stimulated through a flood of adrenaline and you must defend, respond, interrupt.

When you feel this happening, you’re mindful that you are about to open your mouth at exactly the wrong moment, take a deep breath, close your mouth, and listen. Just listen. Take as many deep breaths as you need to take whenever you feel the words scrambling to the tip of your tongue. Breathe. Just breathe.

It will be difficult at first. But, the more mindful you become, the more often you practice this, the easier it will become. You’ll find that you’re developing a new pattern, a healthier response that is more socially connective.  Guess what? You’re absolutely responsible for this behavior, too.

The more you do this, the more patterns you disrupt, the better life will be. You won’t disrupt everything. You won’t catch every behavior. That’s okay. Roll with it. Take responsibility. Forgive yourself.

The more you do this the more graceful you will be with yourself and with others, and the more grace you will receive.

And it begins with owning it all. No excuses. You are responsible. Joyfully responsible for all that you do.

Chasing Disasters – An ADHD Symptom

My friend Tom is a disaster chaser.

You’ve probably seen these guys on the Weather Channel – storm chasers. They sit in Midwestern cornfields watching  Doppler radar on their laptops like therapists observing an embattled couple practice relational Aikido in a closed room.

They are in absolute rapture when they see purple blobs suddenly emerge  on a screen of deep green.

Tom is kind of like that.

Tom is a pastor. More to the point, a replacement pastor for a major denomination. When a regular pastor leaves his or her position in a church, Tom is assigned to fill-in until a new, permanent pastor is placed. This suits him fine.

He’s okay with this arrangement because he is also a spiritual team leader for an elite group of professionals who are first responders when an a cataclysmic disaster occurs somewhere in the world.

He was part of a team that was first-in when Hurricane Katrina had hit. He also stood amid the rubble in Haiti after that horrible earthquake destroyed Port Au Prince and took the lives of thousands.

The way Tom tells it, he absolutely lives for these disasters. Admitting that it’s a somewhat odd position for a pastor to take, he also says he feels most alive when he’s suddenly thrust into these devastating circumstances. It’s a rush.

Tom has ADHD. He takes his adderall faithfully. When he walks into the theater of pain, suffering and destruction, he takes charge and makes a difference.

He also can’t balance his checkbook to save his life. He won’t become a permanent pastor because either he’ll get horribly bored by the routine, or he’ll screw up the administrative duties (or both).

He is living proof that we with ADHD are disaster chasers. All too often we create our own disasters (to our ultimate detriment) in order to feel alive. The adrenaline begins to rush when we say something unedited to our spouse or boss. We manufacture chaos when we can’t get the report right or we forget to pick-up a child from school. We drive significant others to madness when we suddenly begin dialing up Google to look up movie times while in the middle of an intense conversation. We’re really good at creating disaster.

And we can take a lesson from Tom.

He learned early on that his lack of focus and attention would be a detriment in serving the routine needs of congregants. He tried it, and it felt like a slow and torturous death.  However, while he may have lacked the ability to sustain focus, he didn’t lack the deep, compassionate heart a pastor must possess.

So, he applied his innate skills, love of God, sense of purpose and mission to taking on some of the most devastating natural disasters mankind could face. Tom’s skills are at their best in the midst of mass suffering. He feels most alive when rubble and rabble surround him. He is stimulated and challenged while serving a greater cause. It is admirable how he positioned his life to be of service.

He doesn’t beat himself up for his inability to keep track of expenses or appointments. He laughs about it. Of course, it took his wife a while longer to appreciate the humor, but she did catch on, and now happily provides the support he needs to be successful.

Yes, we are disaster chasers – and we can all take a lesson from Tom in how to be successful in chasing down our storms.

The ADD Death Spiral (Interrupted), Part Two

The ADD Death Spiral is a dark place for a blazing mind.

It’s a place that creeps up like a prowling jaguar, ready to pounce and devour. If you have ADD you understand what I’m saying here. No doubt you’ve experienced it. You understand that when you are there it can be really difficult to escape it’s cold embrace.

There is a way out, though. There is a way to avoid it altogether. It’s not easy (but, nothing is really easy with ADD – that’s why we have an extra gear), but you can free yourself from the Death Spiral.


What follows is part of a blueprint. It’s not a magic prescription for wealth, fame and happiness. There’s no guarantee that you won’t feel frustration, even depression.  That’s normal. After all, chances are you will still make your share of mistakes, experience social flubs, and have difficulties doing certain things.  It will happen.

And that’s okay.

If you follow the blueprint you’ll be able to manage the tough stuff. Difficult situations will become easier. Not perfect, just easier.  It’s not a system or a program. It’s an attitude. A way of being.

And it works. How do I know? I use it. Imperfectly at times, but I have used every principle presented here (plus some). I know of others who have used these or similar tactics. They work. And, if you even implement just a few, your life will feel more comfortable. Promise.

Accept ADD. It’s kind of funny. There are many with the blessing who simply won’t accept it. At least not all of it. They think floating down a river in Egypt is okay. But, denial won’t make life better. It just prolongs the problems.

Accept All of it. Yes, that means accepting you simply can’t keep up with normies when it comes to managing stuff, organizing things, and making excuses when your internal editor decides to take a break.  Recognize those behaviors that are caused by ADD. Take responsibility. Own your stuff. This is the beginning of sanity.

Take your meds. Granted, not every person with ADD uses prescription medication. But, if you have ADD there is something you ingest that makes thinking a little better. For example, I need protein in the morning, so it’s not uncommon for me to eat meat before 10am. Whatever it is that works for you, don’t forget.

Meditate. I cannot underscore enough how powerful meditation can be in managing ADD. The act of relaxation and quieting the mind is transformative.  For me, the combination of guided meditation and simple mind relaxation work wonders. The guided meditation helps me focus my subconscious on specific things which creates stronger neuropathways. Quieting my mind during difficult times helps to relieve stress – which is a must in avoiding the Death Spiral.

Have concrete goals. Use the SMART goalsetting system. Have concrete, attainable goals. Having specific objectives you want to achieve will help you set your internal compass. When you begin to get lost, rabbit-trail, or otherwise become distracted, return to your goals and hit the re-set button. Thois will help get you back on track and avoid the spiral.

Make lists. Keep a list of all the stuff you need to get done. Your lists need to include everything from next-steps in attaining your goals, to picking up the dry cleaning, to remembering to take your vitamins. Take nothing for granted. Write it down. And, as you accomplish things, cross them off your list! In fact, do a couple of easy things first every day so you can cross something off as early in the day as possible. This way you will see that you have accomplished something and will motivate you to do more.

Keep the list in a place that you can easily see. So important. Most people with ADD are visual. We need to see things. Use color coding if need be, but make sure you can see your list at all times. With someone with ADD, out of sight is absolutely out of mind – so keep the list in clear sight.

Exercise. You need to do something – take a walk or run 10 miles – everyday. If you have a somewhat sedentary life, take time a couple of times per day to leave your seat and just walk. You need to get blood moving through your brain. You’ll feel better, and your mind will have more sharpness.

Trust your support person. First of all, you need to have a support person. Could be your spouse, business partner, friend, or an assistant. Whoever that person is, make sure you have clear and consistent communication with them everyday. That person can help keep you on track, stay accountable, and take on those tasks that you aren’t suited to take on.

Laugh. Let’s face it, you’re going to do some boneheaded stuff. We all do. Learn to laugh about it. Share your experience with others. Now, it may take them a while to join your laughter, but if you demonstrate a good attitude, own your stuff, and take honest responsibility, they will learn to laugh with you.

Demonstrate gratitude.  Make sure you communicate how grateful you are to your support person. Never, ever take them for granted. They are performing an absolutely necessary role in your life. Also speak gratitude for those things that are in your life. Basics like food and clothing; having people who you love and love you back; for the skills, knowledge and talents you possess; for having opportunities to display and use these talents. If you haven’t yet been able to use your talents fully, give thanks that you are working toward that goal. Simply give thanks for being alive. If you are breathing, then there is a plan for your life. Your life is meaningful, and you have the opportunity to be of benefit to others.

So, these are the basics for avoiding the Death Spiral. Obviously there is a lot more we could add to this list in managing the nuances of  how ADD shows up in our lives. We’ll get to those at some point. But, for now, practice these things and you’ll avoid the devastating effects of the Spiral.