five ways ADD impacts my life (and how I cope)

Growing up I often heard phrases from my family and friends like, “Janelle, you’re not listening” or “Janelle, for the hundredth time…” Every time I would hear these responses, insecurity flood into the deepest parts of who I am. No matter how hard I tried, I still had difficulty focusing and maintaining my attention to the person or situation right in front of me. I am going to share what a day in my shoes looks like. Maybe you can relate as I share my heart with you. Also, I hope this doesn’t scare you away. HA! ADD is not an excuse. It’s an explanation. So here it goes.

1. Projects take me twice as long to finish.

When I have to tackle a project, I will get distracted during the process and it takes me double the amount of time it would have taken me if I stuck to one task. For example, cleaning my room is a week long project. You may ask, “Why?” I walk into my room and have the plan to clean it, and boy, do I clean it. I start with hanging up the clothes on the floor after not finding the right outfit, leaving my entire closet on the floor, basically. Before finishing the clothes on the floor, I start noticing some being clean and dirty. I then leave my clothes on the floor to begin sorting through all my dirty laundry by lights, darks, and colors (I am a little OCD when it comes to my laundry). I go to start my laundry by putting the first load in the washer only to realize I probably should strip the bed to throw it in with my load of lights. I start the washer and go to change the sheets. As I am stripping the bed, I notice the place on my nightstand where the sheets made a line through the dust. Gosh. I push pause on stripping the bed and go grab cleaning supplies from the hall closet to clean my night stand. I go into the kitchen to snag the cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink and notice I didn’t do the dishes from the night before. So of course I get that done. Walk back to my room to see the mess and remember why I went into the kitchen. Go back, get the supplies and before you know it, I have taken everything off the surfaces in my room to do a thorough dusting. Dangit! The washer paused – totally forgot to finish the load by throwing my sheets in. I finish stripping my bed and throw my sheets in. I’m exhausted as I walk back in my room to see everything on the floor. At least my dressers are sparkling and clean. So pretty. 🙂 *Phone rings- one of my friends wants to hang out. DEAG. That’s what I say. “Drop everything and go.” So I do, only to come back to the mess hours later, not wanting to do any of it. Eventually I finish ALL the half-started projects in my room. But for example, you see why ONE project takes a while because I do about fifty others in the process. Take this blog for example… It’s taken me a couple days because I hit a wall and have to go do something else.

What I do:  Create checklists and push myself to work through the list in a methodical way to prevent jumping around and causing unnecessary stress. We all have enough of stress in our lives and do NOT need to create more of it.

2. Perfectionism is wired into me.

Many people are perfectionists, but for me, I always try to do things right the first time so I don’t have to trickle back to it again. I have the biggest problem when I make mistakes. It is hard for me to admit that I was wrong as it was probably a project I spent hours on end working on. This also trickles into my personality. Typically when around different crowds it’s easy to display a different person. Not necessarily that I am two-faced, but I would say that it’s an act to please the person I am with instead of being confident in who I am. I attempt to live up the expectations and standards of others at its finest, only to find that my behaviors affect my not being completely true to myself.

What I do: Pray and stay rooted in who GOD says you are and not get carried away with pleasing people.  If I am struggling with confidence or self-worth, I tend to look up verses on the word “secure” or “confident” and read through them, sometimes read a chapter where the verse is drawn from. If something stands out I will jot it on a post-it note and post-it in places I will see it. This is a daily practice in writing God’s words in my heart.

3. Procrastination is my drug.

This is the motto I live by. I work well under pressure. What can I say? All throughout high school and college, with projects I had very little to no interest in, I would wait until the crunch to hammer it out. Completing work in this way would cause some errors as I wasn’t being thorough with checking things over after I would finish it. For the most part, the pressure helps as I plug in my earphones, listen to some tunes, and get things DONE. Go back to “Number 1” to find out what happens if I give myself a ton of time to finish a task. Even though this is the way I tend to gravitate towards, I’m not condoning it. I am just providing you with the “why”.

What I do: If I know that I have a big project ahead, I will make benchmarks to help me get to the big picture. Maybe this is where the teacher in me comes out. With knowing the goal of where I need to get to, I take steps by preparing short objectives for me to obtain so I am not overwhelmed and get burnt out, lose desires and passions, etc. If you’d like me to help you with this, I’d love to help! Kick me a message.

4. Planning is necessary.

I have to write every commitment down in my schedule. Every morning I wake up, my mind begins the marathon, not the morning two-mile jog like normal people. Because of my mind racing, I have a hard time paying close attention to details or the little things in life that may seem second nature to some, like leaving my sunroof open. Haha. Same goes with my commitments. I love being with people and scheduling to be with them. People like me have a hard time sticking to a schedule because we unintentionally overcommit.

What I do: If I do not write things in a planner or on my post-it notes, I WILL forget. I usually take a trip to Target, duh, and buy a cute planner and colored pens to make it fun. I use this to plan out my goals and jot down commitments as they pop up each week. I also plug it into the calendar (and set a reminder) on my phone so that I REALLY don’t forget.

5. People are annoyed and frustrated easily with me.

I have earned the nickname of Dory. With my mind racing all the time, I have difficulty keeping details straight, or even worse I’ll ask you a question you have already provided an answer for to me. People get so frustrated with me about this. Let me explain a little. It’s not that I don’t care or I am thinking about what I am going to say next. I literally have a lack of control of my wandering thoughts. If I were to ask you a question, and you give a detailed response, I can’t say that I will be with you the whole time. Some days I am super focused and taking it all in. Other days, my mind is rabbit trailing off what you said. In fact, if you have heard me ask a question to you and say, “…or have you already told me that?” my mind indeed rabbit trailed, again unintentionally. For instance, we are having coffee. You mention a new coffee shop you tried out with your boyfriend. My mind may or may not hear what you say after that. This is the mental run I go on:


I’m trying to picture where that coffee shop is.

With her boyfriend, aw. So sweet. I love that he took her there.

I wonder how long they have been dating for.

Wait he doesn’t like coffee. He just took her there because she does.

Good guy. Props.

I am really glad she found a guy that treats her right. Very rare.

Rare.

Hmmm. I actually hate my steak rare. I like it well-done.

Man, steak sounds awesome right now.

I am actually really hungry.

I have literally missed the past minute and have no idea what she is talking about.

Dangit.

*Waits for a pause in conversation*

Are you hungry? Let’s go snag some food somewhere.

For those of you who KNOW me have experienced this first hand. I only share this with you so you know I try to stick with you, but it’s a steep progression away from the person talking in front of me that causes me to miss a lot in my relationships. It’s not that I don’t care. Every part of me cares for the person in front of me. I just have no control over these thoughts as they are going through my mind a mile a minute. Maybe that’s why I hit a wall at 8pm and want to go straight to bed. I am mentally exhausted.

What I do: Get a fidget spinner. Just kidding. I am actually opposed to them. I actually don’t have an answer. Maybe it’s what you can do. Be patient, be kind. I am trying my hardest to be intentional in my listening.

 

my tipsy twenties

Darn near thirty…. I have heard this phrase and have used this phrase several times over the past year. For those of you who don’t know, I am indeed darn near thirty. In fact, twenty-nine to be exact. So I guess you could say that I have done a wee-bit of thinking and contemplating over my twenties as a whole as I soak in this chapter. Come reminisce  with me my tipsiness…

I remember the day that I turned 20. I was a sophomore in college. Great roommates, boyfriend, friends, and big improvement on my grades, all attributed to getting my freshman year out of my system and actually starting to take my life seriously. I was more adjusted and settled into the college groove as I devoted my time to studying, even though my grades reflected someone who didn’t care about their academics. But that is absolutely not the case with me. I legitimately tried my hardest. Paid off tutors. Gave up part of my social life. Skipped meals. Developed majorly poor eating habits in the process all because I wanted to measure up to my older brother who literally could walk in the day of his chemistry final and ace the junk out of it. On the other hand, I would study for hours on end by highlighting major points, making up note cards for memorizing, and saying my prayers before bed believing that God would bless my efforts by giving me at least a “C” on the test. Even with my tutors, parents, and friends cheering me on, I would get the test back with a whopping, fat, red and capital “F” on the top of the test. With extreme insecurity, I would flip the test back over and put it under my notebook for no one to see. I would look around to see and hear my classmates vent over the one or two questions they got wrong and fought back the tears that were stuck in my throat. Test after test, class after class, failure after failure. Test anxiety is a real thing, and I exhibited it at its finest. Age 20, everyone. My struggles were insecurity and comparison for sure.

I remember when I turned 22. I literally had my life planned out. I was eager to get engaged to my hilarious, talented, god-fearing boyfriend whom I was love struck with at first sight, maybe even before I actually met him in person if I am 100% honest with you. I was excited to land my first job in my teaching career. I retook the ACT to get a qualifying score to simply stay in my major, and by God’s grace, obtained the score needed to and walk on graduation day. My plans were working out great. “My” being the key word. I was trying to fit God in the tiny little box labeled “Janelle’s Happy Ending”. Little did I know that my plans would be thoroughly wrecked in the blink of an eye. The dream of me and my littles waiting by the window to see their daddy pull up in the driveway and running out to smother him with kisses at the end of a long work day quickly vanished as Jordan pulled up in his car in front of my dorm and said to me the words that are forever in my heart, “Janelle, I just can’t do ‘us’ anymore. Something’s not right, and I can’t pinpoint it.” Just like that, I was left with a broken heart, and I literally felt like everyone could read the word “Reject” on my forehead as I crumbled and cried in the corner. I was hurt beyond words as the life we dreamt of and were moving towards was suddenly ripped from underneath me. As these circumstances continued to shake the ground I walked on, I closed the chapter of college on an ugly, bitter and discontent note of what my life should have looked like upon graduation. Age 22, still insecurity, low self-worth, and depression began settling in.

Turning 25, quarter of a century, was a highlight year for me. Being a special education teacher has it’s own set of problems that we encounter. I feel like this was one of the hardest years of my career professionally; however, during this year I developed some of the most special, long-lasting friendships whom I hold very near and dear to my heart. These are those friendships that have lasted over the years. We’ve seen each other at our worst and still couldn’t imagine life without each other. I was involved to an intense measure in a college and 20’s ministry downtown Greenville, and it was there that God ripped all legalism (and continuing to do so) out of my mindset. I learned who God was and it pushed me to walk in His ways. At this point I was still single, wondering if God was going to bless me with a man who loves and pursues God so much and in turn does the same for me. I would say my mid-twenties was filled with the desire and longing to be loved, to be known, and to be chosen. I really struggled with understanding how to find my true contentment in God and shifting my perspective to building God’s kingdom and not my own. This season definitely had me shopping for bridesmaids dresses and attending more weddings than I can count which always kept me wondering when it would be my turn. I would leave these ceremonies in tears for a couple of reasons.

 

  1. I was really darn happy for the couple and
  2. I felt like I was wasting away, and God was holding out on my from my happy ending that I have always desired and wanted.

 

After dating wrong guy after wrong guy with no prediction of their disrespect and manipulation of me, I kept wondering what I am doing wrong and why does this keep happening to me.

Age 25, continued insecurity, low self-worth, depression, and comparison. So I naturally bought a dog. OOOF. I literally won the jackpot with Milo. Literally the best dog in the world. You may beg to differ because we are all partial to our own pets, or essentially our kids, but I would definitely fight you on this one and 100% win. So yeah, there’s that.

As I neared twenty-six or twenty-seven (I couldn’t actually tell you when because I have one of THE worst memories in the world- true story – people call me Dory), God began doing a stirring in my heart. I felt that God was calling me out of my “normal” to do something different. To this day, I cannot describe what was taking place in my heart. I just remember starting to feel withdrawn in the circles that God had placed me in. I remember sitting on my front porch with dearly loved friends with tears running down our faces, telling them that God is calling me out and I have no idea where he is leading me. It was one of the hardest conversations we had, but I still knew that there is a calling the Lord has for me and it just wasn’t at my current location. And sure enough, just like that, God provided a job in Wisconsin near my parents house. Just like that, I packed up my car, left my heart with some of my favorite people in Greenville, SC, and began the 13-hour long trip home. My twenty-seven year old self struggled with proving to the world her calling, that she was hearing from the Lord rightly, and still, experiencing lies of insecurity in who she was in the Lord.

And here we are! Twenty-nine! Twenty-nine has sure brought a lot of changes and disappointments for sure. I landed a job in Wisconsin in hopes to make it my next ten years. Again, putting God in the “Janelle’s Happy Ending” box. With this job came a lot of tears, frustrations, wounds and devalued me as a person. Fear was used to elicit more production out of me when I was already at the end of my rope and begged for support. I was devalued by my administrator as he listened to unfiltered gossip and faulted me with untruth. I lost trust in that relationship as these tactics were a means to an end of unethically pushing me out of the environment. I lost all passions to be relational and communicative. Unknowingly, I began to shut down, close off and retreat. I slipped into unhealthy eating patterns and dealt with anxiety and depression after I took off my mask when I left school at the end of the day. I was just scraping by until the end of the year not even realizing or maybe acknowledging the hurt so that I could essentially deal with it head-on. On top of that, I began dating someone who threw it all away and cheated on me. Completely blind-sighted and wrecked, I felt as if I would never recover. And if it couldn’t get any worse, I had to go to the emergency room for a virus I had contracted,  and I accrued close to $5,000 for out-of-pocket bills. Awesome. BUT… yes there is a but here, I will say this. God has brought me through it all and has engraved such a deep faith that I have never experienced before. A faith that is genuine, holding my hands open to him saying, “Anything, God”. A faith that I can honestly hold fast to and believe that God will provide for me and meet my every need. I am starting to believe and truly accept that “Janelle’s Happy Ending” does not look like it did back when I was twenty-two. I am currently single, living back at home with my parents awaiting to embark on a new adventure with God. Also, a couple of years ago, He placed a desire in my heart to foster and eventually adopt. Because I have had the desire to do so for a while now and these desires only intensify,  I will be taking steps towards getting certified as a foster mom by the end of this year. I desire to see racial reconciliation, and I am currently stepping out by reading and learning how these differences impact people’s lives. I desire to support single mothers in their process by coming alongside of them and caring for them, practically and spiritually. For those of you who have been walking through these passions and desires with me, it is to you I am forever grateful for. I am terrified of this calling, but thankfully I know a God who is put in us a love that casts out all fears. 

The other day I was on Instagram scrolling through, and I came to a post from Bob Goff. It said, “In the wait time, God gives you friends.” TRUTH. PRAISE HANDS. CHURCH. If there is one thing that I choose to see as I look back over my twenties, it’s not the fact that I had trials and was placed in some intense and upsetting situations; rather, I choose to see that God blessed me with people so I didn’t have to go through any part of it alone. I ALWAYS had people around me who chose to walk through this ugly thing called “life” together.

When I was younger, and about every year on my birthday, I believed that I will become stronger and figure out my calling on my life and really kick these struggles in the butt and kiss them goodbye. And I stand before you today to tell you that I am darn near thirty, still trying to figure it out. I have no clue what I am doing and okay with that. I feel that one day I will become braver and say “yes” to the one thing I am afraid of. We are all in this together. Sure, we have life experiences that cultivate us into who we are today, but that doesn’t mean we have it all figured out more than the next guy. I think of Joseph in the Bible. He had no clue how God was going to use him someday in a big way for just being faithful in the little. Little did he know that “what man meant for evil, God meant for good.” Maybe you are like Joseph in the story. You don’t know what your happy ending is. A friend said to me the other day that “God is asking us to open our hands up so that we can receive what He wants to give us and grasp onto something new.”The thing is, when Jesus is in it, he will see to it that peace will be enveloping you in the process, and the enemy will fight it hard to plant fears in you to scare you out of your calling. Let’s learn together how to stop comparing ourselves to others. God has created each of us to walk different paths. Be confident in and true to yourself, what YOUR desires are and not living out your friend’s. Run the race that God has called YOU to run and run it well. Just like Joseph, and just like the Father did with His own Son, He sees us through.

“ He sees me through like before. He is Lord.”  – Elevation Worship

 

open sunroofs

So I am going to share one of those not-so-smart-janelle-ism’s that happened the other day for me. A couple of days ago, I got a massage for the first time ever in my life. Mainly because I got a gift card (I am too cheap to actually treat myself in that way). I had no idea what to expect as I walked through the glass doors that took me into a swanky spa, a place I should but do not get to see very often. When I approached the front desk and gave her my name for the appointment set up, she then proceeded to lead me up the spiral staircase.

I am so rich, I thought.

When the massage was over, I gathered my things together, got into my car, opened the sunroof and windows and began my drive home, blaring country tunes, because that is what you do in the summertime. Because of being extremely relaxed and not really all there, I turned off my car before the sunroof was completely closed. First mistake. I got out of my car, grabbed my things and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon reading and drinking my La Croix on the front porch swing. Around 7:00 that evening, dark clouds started quickly moving towards me. Because I have a thing for storms, you can always catch me staring at the sky waiting for slow drops of rain to begin flowing down in sheets. I love rain. I love lightning. I love thunder. Even more so, if I have the option of sitting on the porch allowing my senses to kick in and take over, I could sit in the midst of a rainstorm until it ends. There is something just so mesmerizing and beautiful about it all, even somewhat of a thrill.

As it neared time for bed, I cracked my windows so I can hear it roll on through as I closed my eyes and drifted off. Dear Journal, what a relaxing day. I closed a chapter of life by stopping by school and turning in my keys. I got a massage for the first time. Again, feel so rich. And I feel like now I can fall asleep with nothing on my mind. Today was a refreshing and a much-needed kind of day.

The next morning, I woke and did my usual morning routine. Lay in bed for about ten minutes while checking my phone, slowly get moving by saying “Good Morning” to my dog Milo, and head downstairs to make coffee. Without coffee, you’re going to have to give me at least an hour to come to life, so naturally, coffee speeds up the process a bit. And I mean, of course it’s my favorite smell and taste in the world. After I filled up my cup, I grabbed my journal, pen and mug and went out to the front porch swing to enjoy the slow sunny morning filled with the humidity and fresh smell of nourishment that the rain brought. As I scanned the front yard, my eyes shifted towards my car, and to my dismay, I noticed the sunroof guard of my car up.

No.  No.   You have GOT to be kidding me. There is no way the sunroof is open. I swear I closed it. Shoot. How did this happen.  Slow blink. Still open. What.

Also me, all of these thoughts were running through my mind as I stopped myself from happily swinging on the porch swing, staring at my car. Just staring. Sure enough. As I walked over to my car the sunroof was indeed open and I had about an inch of water sitting in my cup holders.

Awesome. My life. Praise hands. High-five, Janelle.

What I thought was going to be a slow, relaxing morning, turned into me frantically grabbing the dehumidifier from the basement and researching/texting friends to gain insight on how to dry out your soaked car. Roll my eyes. That night, I laid in bed with my journal reflecting back on the past couple days and how significantly different my response was to the situations that panned out, obviously. Life changes, and in most times, we aren’t prepared for nor expecting the change that is to come.

This passed year, I decided to begin preparing for a change in my life by leaving my current teaching job. The experiences and skills obtained for the duration of my time there are invaluable as I am now entering into the process of discovering God’s calling on my life, one day, one decision, at a time. As we undergo the many changes in our lives, it is a sweet reminder that Jesus is holding our hands, going before us, and making a way to plant his desires within us, even if we’re human and make silly mistakes, like leaving the sunroof open during a torrential downpour. We can always remember that even when we can’t see what is on the other side of the decisions we make, the changes that occur, or the upsetting trials that hit us without warning, God is still good and we still have him. Even when I get a phone call telling me a loved one has passed, He is making a way. Even when the adoption process falls through and we have to pursue another option, he is making a way. Even when I step out on faith by quitting my job without having another, he is making a way. Even when your family simply cannot communicate effectively with each other, he is making a way. Even when you have done everything, and still can’t get pregnant, he is making a way. Even when I am diagnosed with a terminal illness, he is making a way. Even when my bank account is low and not sure where the next paycheck will come from, he is making a way. 

One thing remains is that when life makes shifts, we have a hope in our Heavenly Father, sweetly lifting our chins, reminding us we are not from here. He says that in this world we will have heartache, but that we can take heart. He has overcome.

the brevity of life.

Purpose. Identity. Perspective. 

Those three ideas ring loudly as I take moments to “breathe” amidst the chaos here. Why am I here again? What are my goals, aspirations, hopes and dreams? Is what I am doing contributing to God’s Kingdom here on earth? Will what I WANT to do contribute to His Kingdom? Do I place my identify and find validation in my career or relationships? Do I keep in mind that everything I do is secondary to Him and what He has called me to do?

God has reinforced His greatness in my life in this most recent season. He has shown me over and over that He is my Father who is tremendously faithful and simply good to me. He is my Peace that passes all of my understanding. He is my Creator who KNOWS me and LOVES me. He is out for my good and WANTS to bless us. He aches when we ache. He hurts when we hurt. He cares for us when we are unable to stand.

God has called me into a teaching career for the past five years in a low-income school. It has been completely eye-opening, challenging, and refining 5/7 days of the week. I would wake up morning after morning attempting to budget for what that day may hold-various behaviors of the students, parent/teacher meetings, paperwork completion/deadlines, etc. No matter how hard I tried to budget or prepare, I still found myself realizing that I am completely inadequate. In the moment, I would begin praying aloud to God for strength to endure the current circumstance. I kid you not, there were many times I wanted to grab my car keys and just go home and cry myself to sleep. To be honest, I can’t believe I stuck it out and didn’t just walk out.

I cannot tell you how many times I heard things like, “God has called you to this, so you need to be faithful.” OR… here is another one… “God promises to never give us more than we can handle, so that must mean your pretty great!”  During those conversations, I would smile and nod. Meanwhile I’m thinking, “Shut up! Are. You. Kidding. Me? WHY ME. What if I don’t WANT to be faithful. It’s hard!! Why did He choose ME to do this?I do not want to be here nor do I want to come back tomorrow just to go through the same type of situations again. I am too weak to go one more day.”

My job had no relief. I would take weekend trips to get away with friends to refresh my soul with community and God. To remember my purpose and identity and perspective.

Being the good, good Father that He is, He heard my cry and lifted me up out of the pit and set my feet securely on high. He did this with my circumstances, yes, but He also changed me at my core in the process. I really love how when we get to the “other side” and look back and just count the crazy, beautiful ways that He was faithful, never leaving us during the process. This gives us Hope. Even though our lateral is up in arms, we can be sure and hopeful in the fact that our Vertical is peaceful, steadfast and a safe haven for us.

I do not want to dwell on the past, because He has created something new for me and He is continuing to perform it in me until His return. However, remembering His faithfulness provides a renewed perspective waking up in the morning. He is the reason why we are here. We are not here for us. We can attempt to manipulate or control our every day circumstances, but I am just going to tell you how completely FREEING it is to just give it to our Savior because He REALLY does care for us. Control is a fallacy. Control is a fallacy. Control is a fallacy!

He is so much bigger than the box we put him in. He is wanting to do far above what we could ever imagine, ask or think. He wants us to go through life and enjoy all He has done in and around us. Why are we so surprised when He blesses us SIMPLY because He loves us and wants more for us? (Gosh…so rebuking, yet thankful for His mercy and grace towards me.)

I believe my Father. He is out for my good. I trust that.

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:5

“He is for us…”