Periodically, I lie on my bed, with iPad suspended overhead, and let FB serve up a ridiculously long string of videos. This happened to me a few days ago. (I try to avoid it because hours of my life whiz by without me noticing – that scares me.)
But! On that particular day I saw a video about a pre-verbal autistic 8 year old named Cooper and his bad-ass mom. Mom was motivating Cooper to do something, I don’t remember what. She was going through her tried and true routine, all the time talking, conspiratorially in an undertone, about the tools she was using. The tools were: A check list and a timer.
I got to see: Mom, the tools, Cooper and his emotions. 4 things, and I resonated strongly with all of them.
The first thing that grabbed my attention was Cooper and his series of emotions. His face and body spoke volumes. He moved toward the task with interest and away from the task with frustration. Sometimes he melted into overwhelm. I was right there with him. He gave face to the huge amorphous feelings constantly at play in my own mind/body.
The difference between him and me was Cooper had a Mom monitoring and responding to his reactions regarding the task at hand.
The dialogue/feelings in my mind as I watched this read as follows:
Wow! Cooper, buddy, I feel you. Compassion
Go Mom! Look at you, what a champ. You got tools and you obviously know how to use them. Admiration
I wish I had Cooper’s Mom urging me on like that. Longing
Damn! The things I could have accomplished if I had someone doing that for me. Sadness/regret
That’s sort of what I did for E when he was having a difficult time staying out of frustration long enough to learn to read…and do his homework…and accomplish school projects. Remember the ‘chores chart’ and how well that worked for the boys? Dawning realization
I can do this! I just need to make a few additional changes to my routine and I can do better. Excitement
Let’s write about this in my journal and see if a workable plan erupts. Determination
For EF (or “to understand or to plan”), I use a journal or an 8.5×11 piece of standard typing paper on a clip board or the back of an envelope or a napkin. The important thing is: I need to SEE my thoughts. Otherwise they tumble around in my brain and get lost or damaged before I can put them to good use. Until I can see them, and get them in order they are pre-useful. They can stay that way for decades and just clutter up a space I need cleared for useful purpose.
What happened by writing in response to Cooper and his mom was this:
I have been having a difficult time for the past several years utilizing my time/energy. A lot of that has been because of Fibromyalgia/CFS. I had to carve down my activities to 1/4 to 1/2 of a typical day. But recently I discovered Adrenal Support supplements. I went from having 4-8 hours of usable time out of my bed to 8-12 hours. Think about how you would feel with 4 hours more usable time per day! This is a gift of epic proportion.
But with this amazing gift comes responsibility. What do I want to do with my new-found energy? The last thing I want to do is waste it watching random FB videos.
The tools I currently use to help with EF:
- Journal, paper/clipboard,
- Task List
- Self Care List
- trusted listeners (the TL trusted listeners help for many things all on their own but for EF they help only marginally without the other tools.)
In addition to my currently used tools I added four new tools.
- A timer set for 15 minutes
- a commitment: “No unnecessary Screens 7am-5pm”
- a 2nd commitment: “No audio fiction except to get through an extended, boring, rote routine.”
- the reminder to “chunk” (to breakup a task into smaller, more doable steps)
We’ll see how this works out :-)