Blazing Mind vs. Efficiently Organized Normal Mind

I have a difficult time with mundane office tasks. Most who would look at my desk would say that I’m insanely disorganized, with stacks of papers on my desk, a mish-mash of office supplies and post-its slathered amid the stacks.

To the untrained eye this would appear incongruous with an organized mind. Well, this blog is called Blazing Mind not Efficiently Organized Mind. That’s right…I hate filing. When I have used a filing system in the past I’d eventually pull files from the chest and stack them on my desk. I’d trade papers for files filled with papers.

A Blazing Mind isn’t necessarily a conventionally organized mind. My thoughts could be all over the place for a while (like the papers on my desk), but within a few keystrokes I could find the zone and write for hours on end, copy that would need little re-writing, stuff I’d be proud enough of to hand over to my wife for editing.

Organized thought comes in a flash, like ball lightning, an electric explosion that comes from the wild blue yonder. When I finish, my desk is still a mess – my kind of mess. I know where stuff is, just like I know that ball lightning will come again at some point.

Most people with ADD can relate. The neatly prim and proper desk with everything in its place just feels so unnatural. Typically we’re expected to keep our desks like this, with the boss getting aggravated when our true nature takes its rightful place and the desktop is buried. How inefficient is that? After all, it’s going to take a while to clutter up the desk again, right? Wouldn’t it be better to keep the clutter and maximize the Blazing Mind?

And that’s the point. Think abnormally. Don’t conform. Let your mind blaze. That’s where the sweet spot will be, right there inside the Blazing Mind zone. Don’t try jamming the square pin inside the round hole. Just find your own groove and find the flow of the positive river.

Dare to be Abnormal

From the time we were small the powers that be have attempted to squelch individual voice and crush the uniqueness of soul to achieve a grand scale social proof.

They wanted us to be “normal”. Square hole square peg. Things gotta fit.

It’s easier to manage normality. To keep the streets safe and taxes paid normality must rule the day. I mean, what would happen if we each chose to be abnormal? Mayhem, chaos and anarchy! A world run amok with artists, shit-disturbers and radicals!

It would be a world ruled by ADHD!!

Well, maybe. Maybe not.

To tell the truth I’ve got no beef with normality. We need quiet quaint tree lined streets with well manicured lawns, houses occupied with mom dad two point three kids a cat and a dog and a mortgage paid on time every month. We need law and order and the American Dream. We need social systems that work. That world can be run by the 90-95% of the population that qualify as normal.

Where does that leave the 5-10% that aren’t normal, that are round pegs in a square hole world?

Right where we need to be. Inventing. Creating, Rebelling, Shouting. Laughing out loud. Manufacturing chaos and mayhem. Questioning. Pushing against social proofing. Living on the edge. Leaping off cliffs into the clouds below. We are the dazzlers and jesters and minstrels and adventurers discovering new lands.

We put dreams into action.

You don’t have to have ADHD to be a part of the Abnormal Crowd, but it helps. Those of us blessed with ADHD are accustomed to being the oddballs and misfits and dreamers of dreams. It requires a large dose of uncommon sense to live in this world, a world in which normalcy feels awfully uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, because of all that early conditioning and soul crushing, the unique ones must battle through depression, esteem issues and being ostracized to simply become who they were meant to be.

Abnormal.

Therefore, I say to my brothers and sisters who dare to break free from normalcy, do so. Do so with uncommon gusto. It takes courage to be abnormal. You can do it.

Dare to be abnormal. Dare to be what God made you to be.

The Art of Corporate Sterility

A friend of mine is in charge of a project in which a corporate real estate developer wants the children living in their communities to artistically depict what they love about their community. The art will then be featured at an event hosted by the sponsor.

Seems like a benign, kind of innocent and simple undertaking, right? What could be more natural than asking children to do art?

Well…the corporate sponsor provided to my friend a list of criteria, along with appropriate words/feelings they wanted the children to evoke. They also provided to them the subject matter they wanted reflected for each community represented.

Yikes.

The corporate sponsor – a company that tightly controls its image – cannot conceive embracing the concept of simply allowing children to create. Instead, they want their expertly manufactured identity replicated by children, creating the illusion of child-like free flowing creativity. They do not trust that the children will represent the communities the way the company wants to be represented. In other words, they are afraid.

And that’s the genesis of corporate artistic sterility. Control. Fear. Lack of imagination.

There is much to be honored in the pursuits of commercial artists. But, children aren’t artists-for-hire. I’m thinking that this company is short-sighted at best, a corruptor of children’s souls at worst.

At the very least they could give the kids and Xbox or something.

 

Goodbye, My Captain

When I was in the 7th grade I was introduced to history by a man with a booming voice and a sharp, sarcastic yet mirthful sense of humor. The subject was world history, and John Schramel was the teacher. Little did he or I know that the seeds for a lifelong love of history would be planted in that pudgy 7th grader because of the way he taught.

John was also the high school baseball coach (our school was grades 7-12).  Given that baseball was in my blood, I bugged John to let me be the team manager – carry equipment, throw batting practice, keep score, whatever. And then I played for him. As coaches go, he was a pleasure. Patient, kind, enthusiastic, he loved baseball and he loved us. We weren’t the best team every year, but that didn’t really matter. He was there for us.

And then, several years later, John had retired from teaching to become the county supervisor for his district, and I had the opportunity to work with him in my capacity as an economic development professional. We had the opportunity to work together on many projects and issues – and I continued to learn invaluable lessons from him.

After moving away from the area I lost touch with John, but I thought of him often. And so when I recently learned of his passing, a part of my heart went silent.

In so many ways he was one of the people who helped to shape my life, and the lives of so many others. He taught for 27 years, and he lived his values for all to see his entire life.  The lessons I learned from him will always be front-of-mind, but the example he set will reside prominently in my heart.

Goodbye, my captain. You are appreciated, You are respected. Most importantly, you are loved.

Let Freedom Ring

Rules, structure and ADHD go together about as well as champagne and castor oil. So it seems.

When rules and structure are imposed it can feel suffocating and frustrating, like we’re caught in a vice and the freedom is slowly being crushed from us, our essential life force dripping slowly into a pool on a cold concrete workshop floor.  Having ADHD, we often fight against rules and structure like we were engaged in a death-match. It can feel like our very existence is at stake.

A remedy is to turn to our art, whatever that may be. Whether it is words on paper, paint on canvas, or the soft click of knitting needles gliding smoothly through good Irish wool – we can seek refuge and hope to find our state of flow.

The irony, of course, is that a primary purpose of art is to dive into the swirl of chaos and bring it form. The difference is that there isn’t some external critic or authority imposing their brand of structure. It’s just you and your art, and the structure you choose to apply.

It’s your unique, authentic brand that’s important; as is your attempt to ride the timeless flow of the Positive River. You and your art. Your world, your rules. Enjoy your art.

It’s freedom. Let freedom ring.

The Debate: Blessing or Curse?

Over the years I’ve browsed many blogs and other stuff on the web that focused on ADHD. I’ve heard a lot of folk bitch and moan about having ADHD. Yeah, it can really suck sometimes. No doubt. But, I prefer to think that having ADD is a blessing. After all, if just 5% of the adult population shares this unique condition, there must be something special about it…and me.

I like this post by ADHD coach Lynne Edris. She’s responding to a dude who is bemoaning his fate. I understand his feelings. At first, after being diagnosed, I did a lot of whiny “why me” schtick, too. However, I like Lynne’s take because, throughout my book I extoll the blessings (followed by tools) of possessing the condition.

She is right. How well we do with the condition comes down to our state of mind. Everything in life is a state of mind!

Will there be struggles? Of course there will be struggle! Being human means we will face difficulties every single day! No one, whether they have ADD or not, is immune! Life is hard enough…why make it worse by bitching about the hand we were dealt?

Instead, why not turn the tables? Why not choose to believe that ADD is a blessing? Believe it or not, having ADD blesses us with abilities that “normies” don’t have! I once heard an advertising executive say that creativity was the ability to make diverse connections. Those of us with ADD are experts at making connections that others cannot yet see. That’s an advantage!

I could go on and on about why I’m glad I was born with this condition. Suffice it to say, I think it is a blessing. And, I think the quicker we embrace and learn to use our wiring to our advantage, the better our lives will be.

Is ADD the new, hip affectation?

This is kind of weird.

During the course of my day, week, month I run into a lot of people. More often than not conversations turn to, “What have you been up to, Jim?”

When I tell them I just published a book on creativity and ADHD, I’m shocked at how many people say, “You know, I have ADD, too!”

We’ll engage in the conversation – “So, how does it manifest for you?”

More often than not people describe their busy, frentic lives. Overwhelmed and over-committed, they often describe the multiple projects, tasks, obligations, yadda yadda yadda they have going on.

I have no doubt that these good people are portraying their lives accurately. Speed, after all, defines the age we live in. Everything is going fast and faster and too damn fast.

The American Psychiatric Association reports that 11% of children age 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD since 2011, and it is estimated that 4% of adults actually deal with the condition on a daily basis. As we’ve come to learn, ADHD is typically hereditary, and if a child has the condition, a parent or grandparent likely has it, too.

So, I ask my colleagues, “So, how has it manifested in your kids?”

“My kids? They don’t have it!”

I nod and smile. “Well, it sounds like you have a hyperactive lifestyle. If you’re not enjoying it, maybe you could slow it down a bit.”

I’m not sensitive about folk claiming to have something that they do not possess. It’s interesting how “ADD/ADHD” has become a descriptor and not just a diagnosis. Maybe that means more people have become more accepting that it actually exists. There are many out there that don’t believe ADHD is real, after all.

Of course, it is real. To be effective in life, those with ADHD need to manage the condition and channel their strengths in accordance to how they are wired. And for those who live an ADHD lifestyle? They could probably use some of the tools we use to manage our ADHD. Can’t hurt.

In the meantime, if people around you claim to have ADD, and you know they don’t, let it be okay. Take them out for coffee and invite them to slow it down. It’ll be good for all involved.