What I Think vs. What I know

I know, two downer posts in a row. I hate that… shoot, that’s negative too. BAAAAH!

I don’t know if it’s my ADHD, financial stress, self-imposed pressure, but this week has been one of the worst in months for productivity and creativity. I do have a hint: Monday night I was informed that music sales for this last month were the lowest they’ve been in, well, years, I think. My first thought was my usual response: “Oh, well. I’m sure it will pick up again next month.”

But the next morning (Tuesday) when I tried to work, it was like, “What’s the use? It’s not like it’s going anywhere.” I knew better than to think that way, and I tried–desperately to chase the negative thoughts out. But it was as if the damage was already done. My heart simply couldn’t get into the work. Every creative endeavor was like trying to use the force to get things done–it just didn’t work for me.

I went for a drive, calmed my head, came back feeling a little better, had a very unproductive afternoon, and when it was quitting time, I had practically nothing to show for my day’s “work.”

Yesterday wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t get as far as I wanted on a particular project, and today was worse than Tuesday. Ugh…

I’m not trying to complain. I guess I’m using blog writing for therapy. Not sure it’s helping so far.

I’m usually a very upbeat person, but be it known to any who know me, that I have down time, too. Like, really bad down time, sometimes. When I’m honest with my self, I’ve clearly been depressed.

That said, I know better. I know all the negative thoughts and feelings are just that–thoughts and feelings. They are at odds with the truth that God is in control–and that is the superior truth. That is the empowering thought. I know God is looking out for me, and leading me to where I need to be. I’d love–LOVE to know where that is right now. I’d love to know what direction I’m supposed to be working in, and I’ve been praying like crazy about it, but God doesn’t see fit to show it to me yet, so I’m staying faithful to what I know.

Even though it doesn’t feel like it at the moment, God is with me. Even though things are really rough right now (career-wise anyway, and thus, directionally), He is sending His angels to help. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that He’s allowing me to experience this for an important purpose that I’ll someday know.

Sometimes trials are there to strengthen me. Sometimes they’re there to teach me. Sometimes they’re there to push me to where we need to be, and sometimes they’re there to strengthen my resolve to do what I’m already doing. I sure wish I knew the purpose of the present trials, but either way, God knows my heart even better than I do. He is there. He loves me. I’m still fully, entirely, on His side, and that will never change.

Making a Difference is Hard

I don’t know about you, but I constantly struggle with the sense that I need to be trying to make a positive difference in the world. Yikes, saying it like that makes it sound bad. Let me rephrase that: I really, really, want to make a positive difference in the world, and doing so is challenging. I get grand ideas of how I might approach doing so–most of which either completely flop or turn out to be ridiculously less grandiose than I anticipated.

I suppose part of the difficulty is that it’s impossible to know if I’ve made a difference or not. Even the occasional compliment or expression of gratitude sometimes leaves me thinking, “Are they being genuine, or just trying to make me feel better?”

Not that I should complain about being there for someone when they feel the need to offer the service of paying someone a compliment–I’ll take it any time, but it does leave me wondering if I’m really leaving a mark.

And I know–I know; it’s really about the little things, the kind word, the smile, the simple act of service. I know those are the more important actions that truly make a difference.

But don’t you get that nagging sensation that in addition to those things, you ought to be doing more?

Maybe I’m just weird, but I have that sensation almost constantly. Does it mean I really need to be doing more, or just that I’m suffering from anxious ADHD energy overload? Or maybe both.

Anyways, I’ll keep trying.

ADHD: A Year Later

It was a year ago next month that I was diagnosed with ADHD, and my doctor prescribed Adderall. I wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis. I’d done enough research to know for myself that the fit was perfect, but I wanted to be sure, so I went to the doctor, who confirmed my suspicions.

I didn’t fill my prescription. I guess I wanted to try to treat it myself first. I thought that if I did all the right things–proper exercise, diet, fish oil, etc, that I’d be able to manage it on my own. After all, I was 35 years old, and I’d made it this far on my own, right? Even if those things didn’t help, what would it hurt to just continue dealing with it.

And I was right. I could go like this the rest of my life.

But I ran into a friend at church who has ADHD, and he told me his experience. Basically, he’s been on Adderall for the past ten years and it’s been life-changing for the better. His wife was there, too. She not only confirmed what he said, but she was the one who had suggested he go to the doctor to see if his childhood ADHD hadn’t actually worn off like he’d thought. Ten years later–ten medicated years later, their family is in a much better situation.

That conversation re-opened the case for me.

I could share my whole internal dialogue–my concerns and worries about using an amphetamine/psychotropic drug (and if you’re interested in hearing those concerns, I’d be glad to share in future entries), but I’ll just say after much thought, prayer, and conversations with Jenni, I’ve decided I’d like to give it a try.

There’s not one specific thing or incident that makes me think I should do it, but the thing that keeps coming back to me is that these kinds of medication, when they work properly, make life a lot easier on the spouse and children of the adult with ADHD. Things have been stressful lately–really stressful. I’m a ridiculous optimist, with a tendency toward grumpiness when things don’t go as I’d hoped (which is pretty much most of the time), but I think it’s been especially hard on Jenni. No doubt my ADHD issues have exasperated that stress. It wouldn’t be fair to BLAME myself for it, any more than it would be fair to blame an invalid for all the extra stress and work required of his/her caregivers, but that doesn’t mean I don’t add considerable stress to her life. It’s not my fault, but my ADHD is a source of great challenge.

If my taking medication can reduce that pressure, it’s probably worth it. I would happily go blissfully absent-minded through life, forgetting stuff, avoiding tough paperwork (such as medicaid papers and taxes–ugh…), and only seeing what I want to see in life, but it’s not just about me anymore. I’m willing to tough it out, but I don’t like the idea of her suffering because of my stubbornness.

Jenni hasn’t said anything about this, except that she will support me in whatever decision I make. I so love her for that. No pressure, just love and support.

Maybe it’s time for me to try giving something back… at least attempting it. I still don’t know what medication will do to me. So I’ll give it a month trial to see what happens.

Now if I can just get the self-discipline to fill out the paperwork to get me back on PCN so I can go back to the doctor to renew that prescription…

ugh…

The Gate of the Year

One of my favorite poems is by Minnie Louise Haskins. I thought it appropriate to share it tonight.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

I’ll close with a quick guest post by a good friend of mine, Mr. William Wordsworth. He has a word to say for the end of the year.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Well said, Bill. Well said.

Of Oceanic Voyages

If you really want family history to be fun, find the stories. Sometimes we do so much of looking for names, dates, and places, that we forget all the fascinating stories that the information can provide.

I have one line of my family history that is especially quiet—possibly because they weren’t members of the church, and therefore weren’t strongly encouraged to keep detailed records. I was trying to learn a bit about one of my great-great grandpa’s down that line, and while poking around (Google searching), discovered a little snippet making reference to a ship’s registry with his wife’s name. That led me to digging for the record, and (Isn’t the Internet awesome?) I found the very registry. Now that may not seem all that interesting, but I already had a copy of a rare newspaper clipping about his wife-to-be coming to America to marry him, so the information on the registry shed more light on what I already knew.

I discovered from the registry of both ships (his and hers) that they hadn’t seen each other in five years—and they were married at age twenty. They must have been “dating” at age fifteen when he left to build them a home in the new world. Holy cow! Talk about marrying your high-school sweethearts.
I also learned that he was a miner, which made sense, since Mammoth, Utah, the city they moved to, was totally a mining town. Until now I couldn’t figure out why this random couple with no interest in the church would sail to America and trek to Utah.

Then I looked into the history of the ship my GG-Grandpa came on, the SS Oceanic (there are tons of photos of the ship online), and discovered that earlier in the same month he sailed, that same ship had experienced a mutiny, and had only a while early crashed into a smaller ship, killing seven people. That too right around the time of the Titanic’s voyage. These were not times of oceanic bliss! (pun intended)

Still a lot of questions, but I have so much more to go on now.

No one can tell me family history is boring. I’m finding this stuff right and left. The stories are there for the discovering!

Peculiar and the Wooden Vase

I’m thinking out loud for a second. I’ve been considering for a long time doing a video program, similar to what I’ve done with Gospel Living Made Awesome, but a new one intended for writers and musicians… and anyone in the arts… or online business… or anything creative at all.

But see, there lies the challenge. I have so many things I want to talk about. I want to talk about the science of creativity, demonstrate how to make a rainstick, teach the principles of writing music by ear, give some fun artistic ideas, offer marketing ideas, share my philosophies about writing, talk about putting family and God first, and a dozen other topics that have only one thing in common that I can think of: they all deal with something creative.

But it seems that all the best names out there are taken: The Creative Penn, Everything Creative, Create or Die (what a name!), The Creative Entrepreneur (one of my favorite English words coming out of the ridiculous family), Creativity and the Brain. So after much deliberation and Google Adword Keyword searching, I think I’ve come to the last available name for a video/audio program: Creative.

And don’t even suggest that it’s not a very creative name, because that would imply that the word is an exception to its own definition, thus plunging into a paradox that would annihilate the existence of all things creative, forcing those around us, when they see our amazing stuff, to say something like, “My, you are peculiar.”

And yes, I suppose Peculiar hasn’t been taken as a title for a program by the creative community, but sheesh! Can you imagine? Peculiar: with Chas Hathaway.

Yeah. I think I’ll do Creative. If I don’t like it after a while, I’ll change. For now it will just be posted here and on my Youtube channel, but if it goes better than I expect, I might get it its own website. We’ll see. I don’t know how long people will be able to stand looking at my face, but I figure it’s going to be a work in progress anyway, so we’ll see what happens.

I also bought a wooden vase today. I think I’ll drill into it and turn it into either a sound chamber for a thumb piano or dulcimer. It has nice resonance. Once I plucked the shiny jewels off it and colored in the residual scratches with a Sharpy, I could see that it had potential.

Ahem…

Okay, now I’m revealing my inner Geek. Bedtime.

Resolution with Three Days to Spare

I just thought of a resolution I’d like to try for New Years. I’ve become quite sparse in my journal keeping. Well, I’ve also neglected my blog. So here’s my resolution. I need to write every day—if only a few words, in my journal, and almost always, the entry should go in my blog as well.

I kept a journal, almost daily, from age thirteen until I started writing seriously. Isn’t that a little ironic, that I would stop daily journaling the moment I start writing?

But I also know that no resolution ever works for me if I wait until tomorrow or next week to begin. So here’s me, starting my resolution with three days to spare. Don’t expect much from the daily entries, I might not edit or revise them, but I’ll write them, and I’ll try to be consistent.