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 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 the way I roll.

Lately, however, I’ve had this debilitating anxiety about the future, and I 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 for me.

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, last-minute, 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 a break over the summer and after being back on them for nearly a week now, I’m getting more done but the anxiety isn’t exactly better. It’s just different.




The people in my home are all excellent livers in the moment. I can’t tell you how often I ask one of my boys to retrieve a necessary item 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 because he’s gotten so quiet I fear his chest of drawers might have swallowed 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 are equally guilty), did you find your belt (shoe, notebook, hat, fill-in-the-blank)?”

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

They have absolutely NO clue what I’m talking about.

It’s as if we NEVER had the conversation.

And 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. Hours later when I’ve made my way back to the laundry room, I remember that moons ago I set out to retrieve the hangers.

And that, my friends, is when I want to pull my hair out.

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, various other miscellaneous committments like PTA stuff, writing work, families in other parts of the country.

Maybe at this age (I’m 41 now), 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 have been highly annoyed with Gil and the kids.

As in zero patience. 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 am convinced that the skills required to manage a household are the ones in which I am 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 have changed the most. I crave structure. It makes me feel more grounded.

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

I have to intentionally carve out moments of calm.




Last night, after several days that felt more trying than usual, I went on my 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.


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

  1. 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!


  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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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