When I was a little girl my family spent a lot of vacation time hiking among the red rock formations of Utah’s (USA) National Parks. Back in those days, the parks were still uncrowded and the trails still mostly rough. Sometimes the trail was obvious because the dirt was firmly packed and the sage brush was cleared. Other times, though, we’d be hiking on slick sandstone rock and the only indicator that you were still heading in the right direction was a small stack of stones placed every few hundred yards. As a child, I was intrigued by these tiny stone monuments. They were both fascinating to look at and a continuous reassurance that we had not lost our path, and become doomed to die in the desert and be eaten by vultures (I was a dramatic kid).
As I’ve grown up, my fascination with rock cairns hasn’t waned. I have always found the precariously stacked stones beautiful and intriguing as I ponder the physics of the delicate balance. For me, a trail that required rock cairns to mark the path had the added intrigue of being a less obvious path to some, but led to something truly spectacular for those willing to follow their lead.
Shortly after my family moved to South Korea, we visited one of their many gorgeous national parks. I was delighted to find literally thousands of rock cairns—not marking out trails, but built as tiny, individual monuments mostly surrounding the ancient Buddhist temple within the park. The cairns ranged from the tiny—little pebbles balanced on a stone in the wall—to the seriously impressive—somebody might have needed help to stack those rocks and significant patience to find the balance points. To my understanding, within the Buddhist tradition building a rock cairn, particularly near a temple, is akin to inviting patience, balance, and good luck into your life. (If you are Buddhist and would like to correct or further educate me, please reach out—I’d love to learn more!) Every stack of rocks was unique and beautiful, but I found myself drawn to the most complicated ones—the ones with oddly shaped rocks or strange balance points that seemed to defy gravity. It must have taken an extra measure of patience and thought to create these works of art.
Navigating life with ADHD isn’t easy—especially in a world designed by and for neurotypical people. Most of us with ADHD have struggled to understand why things that seem to come naturally to others are so complicated for us. We watch those around us build towers out of squared-off building blocks, and listen to their messages—”it’s easy, if you would just try! Why are you being so lazy? Why does your stack keep falling? You must be doing it wrong!” We internalize those messages and struggle with guilt and shame as we can’t seem to keep more than one or two of our own oddly shaped stones stacked up properly. Sometimes, we attempt to chisel away at our own stones, trying to create a more stackable block or to appear the same as others. But it’s hard, painful work and in the process we lose what makes us beautiful and unique. What if instead we invested that effort in discovering and understanding the unique forms of the rocks we’ve been given? What if your oddly shaped rocks are the key to the beautiful things you have to offer the world? What if we give our energy into experimenting with ways to allow those rocks to work together- balancing and counterbalancing each other in order to build something truly unique and magnificent? The world has plenty of square block towers. There is a dire shortage of beautiful rock cairns, lovingly and patiently made, marking the path less traveled for those who are willing to seek. Embrace your imperfections. Find your balance. Be a Cairn.
If you think I can be that right-fit coach for you, I would love to work together! If not, I have connections to some wonderful colleagues, and I would love to help you find a coach who can help you thrive.
Life with ADHD is complicated— but there is beauty in finding the balance, discovering the gifts, and building a life that is as unique as you are. I am passionate about supporting you through your journey to find your balance.