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The Secret Is To Know When To Start

Location for my first experiment with 2 voice track production on Audacity

Hyperfocus has been called the ADHD “Superpower,” and lately, much has been made of that.

As someone who has ADHD, and who managed to get along without the aid of medication for 55 years, my perspective is that hyperfocus has its drawbacks.

The only way I ever got things accomplished, before getting treatment, was to just stay at them for a solid block of hours, often foregoing sleep and food for unhealthy periods of time. Hyperfocus was my coping method. Since my “executive functioning” was pretty messed up, because my “working memory” was really bad (trust me, I am very, very, forgetful), I found that if I just stayed in roughly the same place and did just one thing at a time, I could get it done. If I left that one place, I would forget what I had been doing, where I put my stuff, what needed to be done next… essentially, I would have to start over.

Over a period of decades, I developed the habit of avoiding any task until I knew that I could work at it uninterrupted for a really long time. Procrastination wasn’t just avoidance of the task – I was unwilling to waste time and try to do something inefficiently.

In the long run, what that really meant was that I didn’t get much done. Life is complicated. Sometimes, you have to ask people questions, and then wait for them to get back to you. Sometimes, computer programs break down. Sometimes, learning a new process, or a new program, takes a lot of time. Sometimes, people rely on you to come and help them out at particular times, especially when you have a family, and it just doesn’t work to devote blocks of time to your own projects.

So, those projects didn’t even get started.

Even after I started treatment for my ADHD, my old habits stayed with me. I didn’t want to commit to something until I knew that I could finish it. Then, I started to accomplish more, and I over-committed… but that’s another story.

Now, though, I’m starting to adapt. My meds do allow me to keep focus. I can record my progress on a project, put it aside, and come back to it.

The secret is to know when to start. And the best time to start is right away.

Now, I’m starting a lot of things. I am learning to do a lot of things. I’m starting on an e-book series about life with late-addressed ADHD. I’m learning to produce my own music. Together with local chef Crystal Fossheim, hired as an Educational Assistant, I’m developing a new way of doing a Culinary Arts and Enterprise program in a rural high school.

The projects that I do won’t be perfect when I’ve started. But it will be a lot more than what I’ve done up until now.

My latest effort, an experimental audio and video project in which I just harmonize with myself to the spiritual “Let My People Go,” is now on YouTube.

It may take me a decade, but – if I’m allowed to stick around long enough – it will get done, and when I’m done, it’s gonna be good.

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Change up!

It was not part of a big overarching plan to move to a rural community, where we knew no one. It was an opportunity, though, for my partner to work in an international firm with potential for promotion and to travel. And me? I’m versatile. As a teacher, singer-songwriter, background actor, and writer, I can find something to do almost anywhere.

The first year was very challenging for my partner, and kind of quiet for me. I did some substitute teaching, worked on songs, tried to get accustomed to the new town. We did lots of hiking in the summer, snowshoeing and cross country skiing in the winter. The natural beauty around us was and is wonderful.

This year, I had thought that I would get more focused on my music. There was a music blogging opportunity that arose, and I applied, thinking not much was likely to come of it. I started a Masters course in Distance and Digital Education, with the notion that – if my partner’s company were to move us – I could eventually work anywhere that I could get an internet connection. I thought maybe getting into program development would be a plan.

Then, I got a job offer for full time teaching. Culinary Arts. A bit out of my wheelhouse (I’m a Social Studies specialist with English Language Arts leanings, in my most regular job life) – but the principal wanted to develop a Café that also could serve surrounding schools the occasional hot lunch, with an expansive vision for what a Culinary Arts program could be for the school.

Well, it was a chance at getting experience in program development – kind of like jumping into the deep end in order to learn how to swim. I took the job.

I also got the music blogger job – site called Two Story Melody. I love it!

The last few months have been nuts. Doing a full time job, and music blogging, and taking a Masters course, and dealing with many and various challenges concerning home and vehicle maintenance – everything combined and all at once has been absolutely crazy.

Oh, and a short time after I was hired, I got Covid. Stayed home for a week. Couldn’t work with food for a week after that.

Also, there are 5 things wrong with my right knee, and eventually I’ll have a consult with an orthopedic surgeon. Slows me down a bit. Turns out that abusing my body, by literally throwing myself into sports that I wasn’t good at (but enjoyed playing), as a youth, has repercussions now. Who knew?


And fun.

Sure, the furnace went down in winter. No biggy – we have radiant heating in the basement, and a natural gas fireplace.

Sure, I realized the day of my final major Masters assignment that it was in fact due that day – and I hadn’t worked on it. Fortunately, the superpower part of my ADHD – the hyperfocus – kicked in. It wasn’t A+ work, but it turns out it was still good. The course is done for the semester. I’m not totally crazy, though – not doing that again next semester.

And at work – besides planning and marking, the Café has to sustain itself. I think in terms of supply chain, discounts, marketing incentives, test kitchen, daily specials, work flow, business efficiencies, niche markets, safe food storage and handling, product sourcing, sales tracking… stuff that really doesn’t come up for a Social Studies teacher on a regular basis. That said, momentum is picking up. We’re doing okay.

I’m also learning a lot about the world of Career and Technology Studies, and the opportunities and flexibility that it affords students – if a person is willing to use the creative possibilities that are built into the various curricula, in order to help students find their passions and succeed.

The music blogging is a great way to step away from the daily stresses and to just take some time to listen to and think about music. It’s also given me a chance to build on my playlist, providing me with exposure to artists I may never have listened to otherwise.

It’s not that I’m quitting as a singer songwriter. I’ve even written lyrics for a few songs along the way. What I have learned, over the years, is that every truly challenging experience tends to kickstart my mind, and when I finally do have a chance to reflect – the music begins to flow anew. My guitar is set aside, but not put away.

Where will this all lead? Shucks, if I knew that, where would be the adventure? The point is not to know it, but to live it.

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Hello Again! Back from Hackland

Hello again! I was super hacked a while back, and couldn’t get into my site. Everything’s a go now, though, clearly. It might be a while before I put out a substantial post – I’m working like crazy right now. Just wanted to say hello.


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Happy Matariki

I am not Maori, and I apologize for any sense of cultural appropriation.

It’s just that this time of year, for me, very much feels like a new beginning, and the Maori calendar acknowledges this time in that way, so I would love to join in a spirit of celebration.

I’ve spent so many years in the school system in the northern hemisphere, on the traditional calendar, both as a student and as an educator. The school year is ending, and as is so often the case, with this ending comes new beginnings.

There’s a new album project that I’m starting as a singer-songwriter, and recording sessions are scheduled for about 3 weeks from now. I’ve begun a Masters degree in Distance, Digital, and Open Education, and now I’ll have time for course work.

Maybe this is an opportunity for a new beginning for you as well. The many Covid 19 related measures that have become a ubiquitous (though useful) iniquity for us these past few years are finally dissipating. Though there is turmoil, political upset, and lingering unrest in the world, maybe this is a time for you to declare your own Matariki. We don’t need a calendar to tell us that we can start something new and fresh- we don’t even need the dawning of a new day. The stimulus and centrifuge for our new genesis is latent within us, inherent to each of us. We have the seeds, and we are the seeds.

So Happy Matariki!

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Back, But Not To Normal

Besides the passing of time, there has been a passing of moments. Moments, more than minutes, are the markers of our lives. The last couple of years have passed slowly in some ways, and yet have been full of heavily significant moments for so many of us. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to elaborate for any of you.

In that time, I worked full time for a year as a high school teacher, teaching a number of subjects for the first time – despite my decade-plus of teaching experience. Then, we moved to a small town. I’ve begun taking medication for adult ADHD. I’ve written more songs, practiced more guitar. I’ve done some background work on a number of film sets. The kids are growing up and starting to move on. I’ve been substitute teaching here in our current home town.

This transition feels like a gateway. We lived in the same place for so many years, did the same things. I don’t know if we’re going to settle for a while where we are now – but having had to move has caused us to open our minds, to rethink where we’re at and where we want to get to. So I’ve started a new degree – a Master of Distance, Digital, and Open Education.

At a deep level, I acknowledge that movement is not the same as change or personal growth. I believe that there does come a time, though, when a person has to move in some way in order to grow.

My hope is that I’ll be recording more songs, and that this blog will be rejuvenated as well. There’s a lot going on. I look forward to sharing some more of it with you.


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Dead Sentinels; Inspired By A Family Hike To Stanley Glacier

The summer of 2018 had been hot, dry, and smoky in British Columbia and Alberta. There had been many forest fires. Recent previous summers had also known significant forest fire damage.

As a family, we had chosen to do the Stanley Glacier hike. The area had been affected by fire in a recent year. Rain had fallen earlier in the week of our hike, so the air was clearer than usual, and so we took the opportunity to get out to the mountains.

Early on, our hike went past many short young coniferous trees growing close together. Some of the cones of evergreen trees actually require the heat of a fire to crack them open and make the seed available for germination. The fire that had burned away many taller trees and left charred stump also had eliminated the canopy that prevented sunlight from reaching younger trees, and now the new growth was plentiful.
There were, however, the blackened and barren remnants of the tall trees that had once dominated that landscape. They stood out like sentinels watching over the newer life below them – the new trees, the fireweed. A poem began to form in my mind, nearly spontaneously. It’s a rare occurrence for me, but it does happen- perhaps the result of a lifetime’s fascination with words and ideas, how words sound, and how ideas are shaped. So here it is.

Dead Sentinels – by Art Koop (September 1, 2018, during a hike toward Stanley Glacier, through terrain scorched by a huge forest fire just a few years previous)

Dead sentinels still standing guard
Over nurseries of toddler trees and fireweed
Determined in their youth
Asserting life within
Their rockstrewn charred domain
Certain in some grander scheme, they win.

We, wending our way over, through, and past
Begin to feel our circulating breath and blood,
The warmth of working muscle pushing us ahead.
And start to feel we too are more alive than dead.

The intrepid potentilla, bursting into bloom
While holding fast its roots in molecules of dirt
Between the rocks, bears witness to our wandering
And seems to cheer us on, while we,
Amazed at its endurance, hear its positive prodding
And proceed.

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