Once I acknowledged that I was on the ADHD spectrum, I saw things I could do to make life easier for myself and those around me. For example, I stuck a post-it note on the inside of our front door: keys, wallet, phone. I didn’t just make lists of what to pack on our vacation to Ucluelet, I checked off each item. I set an intention to pause and consider how others might hear what I say before I speak or send an email.
Fred asked me how he could help. “When I get back from a bike ride or errand, ask me if I unpacked my things,” I replied. I often leave a jacket in a bike pannier or keys in a pocket, and then they’re not where I expect them to be when I go out again.
Most evenings, Fred and I enjoy a game of Sequence. We’re dealt seven cards and each turn, we play a card, then pick up a new one from the deck. It doesn’t matter what cards I had the last round nor does it help to wish I had more Jacks. I just make the best move with the cards I have in my hand.
With greater awareness of who I am and what I have and don’t have in life, I can more freely choose what I want to do with each day rather than feeling like I’m the victim of circumstance. Sometimes, I give in to the allure of distractions and follow rabbit trails of thoughts. Other times, I’m aware of a deadline and choose to focus on what I’m doing. Completing a task pays off with a feel-good dopamine hit. However, pushing myself to always be on task drains me. There is no right way to play the same hand, just different ways.
I thought about all these things as we pored over maps and brochures of Pacific Rim National Park, Tofino and Ucluelet. I wanted to make the most of our week there. Should we get an early start or wait until mid-day when the tide ebbs and the beach rolls out? Should I explore the town or read my book?
One thing we knew for sure was that we wanted to be outside walking on the beach and listening to the surf or on a trail among the silent trees, old stumps, and sculpted limbs.
“In him, we live and move and have our being,” Paul writes of Christ. I love that God is incarnate in all living things, and we are always walking around in God. I felt surrounded in love and beauty in that holy place where ocean and forest meet, that thin place between heaven and earth. Yet there was always a low hum of repetitive thought. You’re doing it wrong, it said to whatever I decided to do.
I heard that accusation again when I sat to pray one morning during our vacation. The words prickled in my throat. My shoulders and arms felt heavy. As I stayed present there, a thought came to me in the silence. What if you believed that you can’t make a wrong choice, that whatever you decide is a great way to play your hand?
A wave of relief washed over my body and caressed my throat, shoulders and arms as it receded. I held that glistening question with curiosity. Of course, this invitation didn’t refer to moral choices. God was inviting me to relax and stop treating all choices as moral ones.
For in him we live and move and have our being.–Acts 17:28
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In this video, psychologist, author and meditation teacher Tara Brach and Frank Ostaseski, author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, share stories and answer questions about how we can be with difficult feelings. Some real gems in this conversation.