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updated
January 30, 2014
10/18/2011

Giving In To My Inner Hookie Monster


If there's one thing I have a hard time doing, it's doing nothing. I always have to be doing something productive: writing, working on a web site, whatever. I'm not necessarily talking physical things, because I'm not really a physical person. If I didn't have kids to help out, housework probably would lay fallow for some time before I got to it. At least until breathing became a real problem, anyway. What I am is a thinker, a problem solver, a put it down on paper (or on the web) creator. And that's where I tend to push myself to keep busy.

A big part of this is how my ADHD and my brain function. My ADHD isn't particularly a visible problem. It literally is in my head. My brain just doesn't slow down. I once did a stream of consciousness writing exercise that was supposed to last 5 minutes. I only made it to 3. In that three minutes, I wrote down only bits and pieces of thoughts that covered more than a half dozen topics, and that wasn't even everything. I couldn't write fast enough to keep up. This is also why it's so hard for me to go to sleep at night: my brain just won't slow down enough. I eventually trained myself to tell myself stories to get to sleep, but it still takes awhile.

So, I'm constantly pushing to keep busy because my brain is always busy and always has something else for me to work on. The problem is, sometimes a person needs to stop and take a break. Usually my idea of a break is just to switch projects and think about something else for awhile. But even I know that's not really a break. I'm still doing. And we all need time when we're not really doing: time watching TV, time playing games, time reading. Time when we're engaged in a pleasurable activity that doesn't require "work". And that's where I struggle.

Some of that struggle is the way things are for me right now. We've got one car, and even if my husband wasn't using it all the time, we'd have to save on the gas so he has it for work. We don't live near any place I can walk to, even the nearest bus stop is too far for me (and the buses around here are pretty useless anyway). There's no porch, no garden. I occasionally go grocery shopping with the husband, but we can't afford to go out. So I'm pretty much stuck in the house all day and all night with 4 cats and a dog, plus the family when they're home.

But the need for not doing comes out whether I want it to or not. I have a project to get to, but I'm wandering the web aimlessly. I get sucked up into watching programming online. These aren't BAD things, but because I push myself so much and don't make time for the leisure, they end up swallowing up more time than if I just made time to give in to my inner hookie monster. I push myself until that monster is bigger than me, sometimes until it makes me sick and all I can do is sleep. The brain runs down, loses energy, loses its creativity, the motivation follows, and then I become physically run down. It's not the best way to do things and stay productive. The down time is much longer when I let myself run into the ground like that.

Thing is, knowing this intellectually doesn't stop me from doing it. Despite running down, my brain never actually runs out, and that pushes me to keep busy, even if I end up having to climb over a 20 foot high mental wall just to get things to work. I am learning though. I am trying to find ways to let myself -lay hookie even if my brain doesn't stop. When I'm fighting to get the ideas on paper, or to figure out what's going on with a web site, or whatever, I need to stop and take stock, maybe take a REAL break (not a project shift, but an actual break). And I need to get back into reading before bed, maybe pick up my cross stitching again. Leisure activities.

I didn't play hookie when I was kid except for one class I bailed on three times because no way was I dissecting a cat. So, really, it's no surprise that I don't play hookie now. If there's something I need to work on, well, I work on it to the best of my ability. I was raised to give 150%. Giving in to the hookie monster goes against the grain. But I need to find a way. We all need little breaks during the day, away from work, away from Twitter and Facebook, away from all that. And we all need to give in to our inner hookie monsters now and then and just go and play. It's part of what keeps us healthy.




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