Planning Ahead vs. Being Present: Where’s the Balance?

I land on my feet. Well, most of the time I suppose you could say that’s true. No one has ever accused me of supplying the best-laid plans and following them through to the tiniest detail, but I’m great at adapting to a general plan and figuring out the details as I go. It’s just the way I roll.

But lately I’ve had this debilitating anxiety about the future, and I frequently find myself awake at night replaying dire outcomes in my head.




I went back to my doctor last Monday, and she assured me that the ADHD I live with is sending me into this mode of overwhelm. Anxiety is the byproduct.

I definitely see this at play, but lately the anxiety feels front and center.

Eve, the therapist I’ve seen off and on since Piers was born (NINE years now), worked me in a few weeks ago for some “tune-up” sessions, and at one point during my second visit she said, “Viv, breathe. You are way more in your head than I’ve seen you in a while. What do you think that’s about?”

Great question.

Eve went on to remind me of the importance of living in the moment and to just BE.

Great advice unless you live with ADHD.

I’m actually quite skilled at living in the moment, but I’ve reached a point of feeling like THAT very thing is what’s causing all this anxiety.

Living in the moment has made me miss deadlines, which in turn has made me appear flighty and unreliable.

Living in the moment has cost me thousands in the form of late bills, less-than-stellar credit scores, overdue library books, and impulsive purchases. Need I go on?

Living in the moment IS important, but how do we balance the NOW with the reality that life requires a certain degree of planning ahead?

I’m not sure.

Eve encouraged me to get back on my focus meds. (I took an extended break from them over the summer.) I know focus is an issue for me, and medication has certainly helped tremendously in the past, but having been down this road before, I know for sure that popping a pill isn’t going to instantly fix this.




The people in my home are all excellent livers-in-the-moment. I can’t tell you how often I’ve asked one of my boys to grab something from his bedroom so we can leave for school or run an errand or just walk around the neighborhood, only to have to go check on him five minutes later. When you’re a mom to two active boys, silence is the most terrifying sound. Has he climbed out the window? Is he on the roof? Did his chest of drawers swallow him whole?

But no. It’s highly likely that when I enter the child’s bedroom, I find him constructing some intricate Lego creation. Or perhaps a book has grabbed his attention and now he’s sprawled out on the floor lost in a fictional universe.

“Piers/Wallace (they’re equally guilty), did you find your belt (shoe, notebook, hat, fill-in-the-blank)?”

I’m met with a giant, blank, beautiful brown-eyed stare.

They have NO clue what I’m talking about.

It’s as if we NEVER had the conversation.

The hardest part is that I completely get it.

How many times have I been on one side of the house doing laundry and needed to grab coat-hangers from my closet on the other side of the house, only to get to the bedroom and get caught up in something else entirely? (answer: A LOT OF TIMES) Hours later when I’ve made my way back to the laundry room, I remember that moons ago I set out to retrieve the coat hangers. It makes me want to pull my hair out, but more than anything, when you’ve lived this way your entire life it’s exhausting, demoralizing and makes you feel defeated. On bad days I throw my hands up and wonder why I even bother trying to keep my shit together.

So, well-meaning Eve, it’s a bit dangerous to encourage me to live further in the moment.




I *think* what’s going on lately is that I have a lot of activities that require ample use of my limited executive functions:

School assignments for both kids, multiple doctor’s appointments, miscellaneous commitments like PTA stuff, writing work, keeping up not only with my personal schedule, but Gil’s and the kids’, not to mention trying to maintain connections with family and friends near and far. Dude, it’s a lot for this brain.

Maybe my hard-drive is at capacity.




So on Monday I started back on a stimulant — it’s likely a little lower than what I need, but I have to increase gradually.

I accomplished more last week than I have in months, but the downside is that I’ve been highly annoyed with Gil and the kids.


I want them to jump to when I ask them to do something, and they are not complying.

At. All.

Being a mom with ADHD is highly challenging and there are times I feel like I have a better handle on it than others. At my core I’m convinced that the skills required to manage a household are the ones in which I’m desperately lacking.

I look at Gil and recognize that the two of us were drawn to each other because of how similarly we approach the world. We’re dreamy and creative and live on our our own time. Before having kids, that worked. Now it does not, and I think I’m the one who has changed the most. Since having children, I crave structure. It makes me feel more grounded.

I realize there’s likely no such thing as balance at this stage of the game and that I need to simply do the best I can and call it a day.

Still, prior to getting back on meds I was anxious because of worrying I would forget something crucial. THIS week I’ve been anxious because I don’t like snapping at my children for simply being children, and I know I do that more when I’m taking stimulants.

I think I need to do better at prioritizing a sort of personal quiet time, be it mediation, prayer, gentle yoga. Whatever it is, I have to intentionally carve out moments of calm.




Last night, after several days that felt more trying than usual, I went on an evening walk — no headphones.

Only solitude — the stars, humidity,  black sky, and moon.

These evening walks have become a moving meditation and are critical for my emotional stability.

This is where I am present.


Grounded in the moment.

As I move I feel a oneness.

An alignment of body, mind, and spirit.

All is well.

Last night was especially muggy, and I wasn’t particularly thrilled to be walking in the beginning.

The air was thick, uninviting.

I felt resistant.

But as I continued, the tension in my shoulders eased.

I wrestled less with the humidity and succumbed to what nature had to offer.

The sweet scent of gardenia filled the air and reminded me of all the beauty in my life.




My takeaway after my walk was that being fully present in every moment isn’t exactly realistic.

As a writer, it’s actually necessary to dig deep and allow myself to be mentally pulled back into previous moments. It’s part of the work.

Going forward I’m striving for moments of presence.

That’s the best I can do, and it’s enough.

19 thoughts on “Planning Ahead vs. Being Present: Where’s the Balance?

  1. Pingback: Whoa, 2019 – Happy New Year! | Grief Happens

  2. Reblogged this on Grief Happens and commented:

    Happy New Year’s Eve!

    2018 is making its way to the archives. I hope you had moments that made you grin and that you’re able to put the more challenging moments in perspective. As always, I’m working on this!

    I fell asleep early last night as Gil and the kids were watching the final Lord of the Rings movie. This morning I was up with the sun carving out some calm and working on various writing projects when this post from 2016 popped in my head.

    The holiday season was the most chill one I’ve had in years. We didn’t do a big trip as a gift like last year and opted to stay home instead, but it was lovely. The only downside is that now I’m really dreading jumping back in to our routine.

    But alas, the chapter that was 2018 Holiday Break must close.

    I was reflecting a bit on that when I remembered this post. It’s fun to look back. It’s one of the best things about keeping a blog – I see where I’ve been and what’s changed as well as what’s still the same.

    I wrote the original post days before Hurricane Matthew blasted through Savannah. Nature has a way of putting us in the present like nothing else.

    The noise fades and there’s clarity like never before. The only thing that matters is that those we love are safe. Possessions mean less than they ever have.

    I wish all of you the very best in the coming year. Thank you for sticking by and stopping by even when my posts here are infrequent and spotty. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    As I read over the comments from this post, I was reminded how putting good and positive energy into the world is so very important – more so than ever as we’re more connected via the Internet. I wrote less in 2018, but I tried to be more present in all my interactions – both in my personal relationships and my virtual ones. Less scrolling and more intentional reading – I try to do this whether I comment, like, or just read.

    And with that, I wish you the best year ahead. Happy happy 2019!


  3. Pingback: My Computer has ADD | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

    • Thanks! I’m managing — just crazy busy & trying to put our lives back together after Hurricane Matthew. I’m fine, just a hectic few weeks. I’ll be back soon. Thanks for checking in — glad I caught your comment as I’m scrolling mindlessly while needing to sleep. Hope you’re doing well — busy I see!


  4. Beautiful writing! Love the different scenes mixed together–being with your therapist, talking to your kids who don’t remember what you’re talking about, contemplating the moon. It’s definitely a tricky balance to find between living entirely in the moment and planning ahead. We’re all doing our best!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I agree that it is very tricky. I’m also finding that the busier I become the more I NEED to ensure that I am still present rather than simply zoned-out and going through the motions. At the same time, it’s so important to be patient with ourselves and recognize that, as you said, we’re doing the best we can. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. p.s. this is for you – I just love this song – it’s not one of his big classics, but I’ve always been soothed by it and I love “Made In England” being the Anglophile that I am!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Therer are so many things I want to write, even though I don’t have ADHD, but I’ll be brief…..

    1) I hope (more like hope x 1000!) that the bedtime anxiety has lessened a GREAT deal! I’m so sorry you’ve been going through that, dear one. I know what that’s like and it sucks sh*t.

    2) I’m proud of you for returning to the stimulant & I hope you feel less annoyed w/Gil & the kids.

    3) Striving for moments of presence is ***good enough*** for now.

    4) You have a TON on your plate; keep up those walks sans headphones. (Cautionary tale – once I was walking in the woods on a flat trail, and I was on the cell phone w/ my Mom arguing.I hung up, tripped over a small tree root and fractured my collar bone!) You know I’m a big believer in nature walks!!!!!!

    5) You’re doing the very best you can and I think you’re an absolutely amazing person & writer.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, my friend. I am doing my best to recognize that I have A LOT going on (don’t we all?!) and that sometimes we have to do the best we can even when it feels like no where close to enough.

      The bedtime anxiety is better thankfully. I just feel overly sensitive to everything these days. Sometimes I think the stimulant is helping. Other times…I’m not sure anything will ever help.

      Writing seems to help me more than anything so it might be dismal of late, but I’m going to keep on anyway. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello Viv,

    Thanks for checking out my blog. I am enjoying your posts.

    At the risk of giving some suggestions without permission 🙂

    One quick thought on being in the “Now”. There is no one “Now”. Each of us has a Now which is our experience moment by moment. We can turn our attention to various “Nows” and ideally we are placing our attention on a “Now” that helps us accomplish what is important. Sometimes that is our immediate physical sensations, but sometimes it is a future task that we need to plan for, or a memory that we need the information from.

    With ADD the attention is like a camera on a tripod on the back of a squirrel. Sometimes it can help to let go of trying to keep your attention on one thing but rather get faster and faster at bringing your attention back to what you need to focus on. If your attention comes back quickly enough, then you may have better success in not losing track of where you were.

    Hope this is helpful

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Joe — thank you so much for your excellent feedback. I actually read through your comment several times in order to process it optimally.

      Everything you said makes a lot of sense and I’ve actually been much more aware of my personal “Now” since reading what you wrote.

      Furthermore, your comment reminded me of how far I’ve come over the years in terms of being present in my moments. I credit that to good therapy, medication, consistent exercise and education on how my individual brain operates. Even when I might feel scattered and less present than I think I should feel, there is a strong awareness now that once felt completely unreachable, and for that I’m grateful.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment and for sharing your expertise. I truly appreciate it. I look forward to looking at your own site more.


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