Sara Skillen will be leading the support group meeting this coming Monday night, August 20. I am linking an article that Sara wants to share in preparation for the discussion:

Our Labor Day potluck (September 3) will be at the same park we have used before. River Park is just off I65 in Brentwood. Turn left from the Concord Rd exit and proceed to Knox Valley Dr. and turn right. You will see the Brentwood Library on the right and basketball courts on the left. River Park is behind the basketball courts. Sara will be posting something for signing up to bring a dish. This Labor Day marks the 13th anniversary of ADDNashville. 

Sara’s website:



Tickets at

Jim Chappell’s time in Nashville, 1979 to 1984: 

Jim called me one day from his home in Santa Barbara. He introduced himself as a former student in a lyric writing class with Buddy Kaye at UCLA. Buddy’s songs have been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Peggy Lee, Barry Manilow, among others. I had already taken that class before him when I lived in Santa Monica in 1978. Buddy suggested to Jim that he should consider moving to Nashville where there might be a market for his songwriting. He told Jim that one of his former students was a “nice guy who can show you around Nashville.” I invited Jim to stay at my place until he could get settled and find a place to live. I had a one bedroom apartment, but he could sleep on the sofa if he wanted. 

Jim had to buy a car to make the trip from Santa Barbara to Michigan, where his parents lived, and then to Nashville. He bought a rusting Opel Cadet for $250. He looked into having it painted and learned that painting it would cost more then what he paid for the car. 

Jim was about 23 years old when he set out on his journey. His car broke down four times, the first time in Los Angeles, not far from where he started. When he got to Nashville, he parked it in the alley behind my apartment where it remained until he could pay someone to tow it away. He proceeded to get around Nashville on the MTA bus system, mostly making the trip from my apartment near Centennial Park to the Spaghetti Factory downtown where he waited tables. 

Jim was is not tall, and he fit well on my living room sofa. He ate only healthy foods, and in small quantities compared to how I ate, and he took up very little space in my refrigerator. His only instrument at the time was his acoustic guitar. He was resourceful in finding pianos for practicing and composing his melodies. One such place was the lobby of a women’s dormitory nearby at Vanderbilt. He was so talented that students must have thought he was being paid by someone to play there. He also bartered with a dance studio near Bishop’s restaurant, which is now Tin Angel, playing for dance classes in exchange for time to practice. Eventually, he moved into a house with someone who was a staff writer at Elektra Asylum, which was bought later by Warner. 

A side note: I would sometimes co-write lyrics to Jim’s melodies, one of which was Jim’s emerging story of trying to find his place here. He told me after writing the melody that it was inspired by his loneliness. He knew how to get around Nashville, but couldn’t find a relationship. He suggested the idea of “how can I call in love?” I proposed changing it to “Where Can I Fall in Love?” We signed a contract with Elektra, and no one ever recorded it. After Jim moved back to California, Eddie Arnold’s producer, Noro Wilson, called me one day about the song. He wanted Eddie to record it. He handed Eddie the phone, and the country music icon told me he liked the song and wanted to record it for a new album. Jim might not know all the details about how I blew that opportunity for us. 

Just before Jim returned to California to pursue a different route for his music career, he told me he had decided that pitching songs in Nashville was not what he was meant to do. He was always compelled to follow his heart. He returned to California, studying, practicing, and letting his creations flow from the depths of his soul. Thank God for that! 

After establishing himself as a popular new age piano soloist, Robert De Niro’s manager called him one day, introducing herself as the actor’s manager. Jim’s first reaction was, “Yeah, and I’m Santa Claus.” She pleaded with him not to hang up, explaining that she was serious. Her boss wanted her to find him. He was a fan and wanted Jim to play for his birthday. Jim did, and in the process, he got to meet many actors he had only seen on the screen. 

Jim has played to audiences in other countries and all over the U.S. He has had songs in movies and as background in television shows. I called him once when I heard one of his songs playing in the background at the beginning of Barbara Walters’ interview with Julia Roberts on an ABC magazine program. Jim is retuning to play in Nashville since performing at the opening of the Bellevue Mall.  

Mark your calendars for the July 2 ADDNashville support group meeting, 6:30 pm at Brentwood United Methodist Church, 309 Franklin Pk, Brentwood, TN 37027. 

     I went to Target yesterday during my brain-dead hour, 5-6 pm. The only turmeric supplements they had on the shelf were chewable gummies with sugar…what? Sugar is not good for inflamed joints…I didn’t buy them.
     That’s not my ADHD story. I checked out with only one item, a box of 13-gallon garbage bags. My rush-hour trip to Target in 90-degree heat had been a frustrating bust. I inserted my debit card into the machine, and it displayed an option for requesting cash back. When I removed my card, the clerk asked if I wanted my receipt in the bag. Yes, I answered and turned to walk away.
     He caught me pivoting and handed me a twenty dollar bill, which surprised me. The garbage bags cost about eleven dollars. For a moment, my rapid math brain imagined a nine-dollar credit…are you following this?
     Reasoning caught up, and I thanked him for reminding me of the requested cash. He said you’re welcome with a smirky smile. His look spoke volumes: Good luck finding your car, old man!

Breathing Appalachian air while rocking on the balcony of a B & B made me sleepy this morning, despite the coffee conversation about a black bear that surprised our neighbor at dusk last night. I’m walking that same trail now to wake myself. I am capable of walking aimlessly down mental trails, but this morning I am walking mindfully. Exercise and vigilance on a mountain path are good for the heart and mind…seriously!

Written June 6, 2018 in the mountains of Western North Carolina

I recently suffered, survived, and thrived at a weeklong silent meditation retreat. If you know me, you understand what an accomplishment it was for me to be silent for a week. My wife couldn’t imagine it!

Meditation retreats are enlightening…they turn up the lights on our internal world and our perception of the external world. A week of mediation leaves no room to escape seeing oneself with the clarity of a microscope. Acceptance,  compassion, and suspension of judgment are the meditator’s tools. A retreat is not a magical mystery tour, nor a vacation. It is the challenging practice of seeing and accepting life as it is, impermanent as it is, at any given moment.   

As expected, the retreat experience did not cure my ADHD. I took it with me, sat on a meditation cushion with it, experienced it fully, and brought it back home with me.

You might ask, then, how my ADHD brain has benefited from meditation retreats. Here’s how. I see my symptoms more clearly. I observe lapses in mindfulness more quickly and reset my attention more seamlessly. I listen more fully and speak more succinctly. I’m less defensive when criticized. I complain less and attend more to the beauty that surrounds me. I’m less judgmental of myself and others. I’m more conscious of ways I can be helpful to others in my daily life, and more aware of when I need to pause and regard myself as I regard others. Over the many years that I have practiced meditation, I have gradually achieved more ease of being in my life. 

Now, you might ask how I know that I still suffer from symptoms of ADHD. Here’s how. For one thing, I discovered on day six of the recent retreat, while turning the pages of the schedule, that it had a seventh day! I had scheduled psychotherapy clients for that entire last day. My need to depart early changed the work schedule. When preparing to take a walk on my last morning, I was approached by a retreat manager who whispered, “Are you making breakfast this morning?” I mimicked his whisper, “Yes, I’m on my way now,” which was partially true…I only had to turn downhill to the left, instead of uphill to the right (the cafeteria was downhill).

I elected to journal in my room during an optional yoga period one day (I injured myself at yoga the day before…who does that?). After the yoga period, I mistakenly thought it was time for the next walking meditation, and I walked right past the person striking the moktok, a wooden instrument that alerts us to the next round of sitting meditation. I discovered at the end of my half-hour walk that all the other participants were where they (and I) belonged…on the meditation cushions.

I felt certain that other meditators saw me as oppositional. But judging them for judging me was not mindfully correct at an insight meditation retreat. The judgment was just my mental activity and not necessarily theirs. I returned my attention to observing my string of incessant thoughts, as if watching them on a screen. I dropped the judgment…aware that I don’t know what I don’t know…and don’t need to try to know what I can’t know…and don’t even need to try not to try…to know…you know?

Ease of being does not come easily, but the benefits are worth the effort — i.e., the effort involved in abandoning unwise effort. The practice of meditation has proven beneficial to adults with ADHD, but it will not “cure” a neurological difference that you were born with. Living well with ADHD requires acceptance and practice, not just understanding. It is not about becoming better than  you are…it is about being who you are and cultivating skills to unleash your creativity and resourcefulness. 

This inspiring article is from Casey Dixon who coaches adults with ADHD. Many of her clients are university professors and attorneys throughout the U.S. She is a great resource with her coaching practice and her second website that includes brief and accessible mindfulness exercises. You can find links to her practices on my “resources” page.



Forget your goals for a moment and consider your core values. What would a meaningful life look like for you? What is important for you to accomplish in your time on this planet? What have you done today that reflects what you value. If you value writing as a form of entertaining or informing others, have you done anything today that corresponds with that value? If you value being kind to others, have you engaged in acts of kindness today? If you value earning enough money to support your family and your children’s future, are you taking some action today on your path to actualizing that value? As someone who values taking care of your mind and body, what have you eaten today, and where did you exercise?

If you are criticizing yourself for what you are not doing, you are not learning anything from your experience of avoiding. Avoiding taking action on what is important to you is not failing…at least not yet…it is simply not activating.

For years, I thought self-criticism was not only normal, but necessary. It was a noble way to challenge my lazy self and insulate me from the pain of being judged. But it only made activating appear more difficult than it is. Having your attention derailed by something more immediately rewarding is understandable; it feels good. Unwillingness to fee temporary discomfort (e.g., fearing failure) may be the biggest obstruction to starting and sustaining effort.

Self-criticism is pointless, superfluous, obstructive, and above all, it is self-centered. Being task-centered instead is a better way to move forward. You don’t need to bother yourself about your mild discomfort; it is not abnormal. Just put your wheels on the tracks…nothing more…and when you get derailed, return the wheels to the tracks as often as necessary. Acceptance is more useful than self-criticism.

How does it feel to be told you’re not okay as you are, and that you need to overhaul yourself? This message appears too often in the professional world of “treating” adults with ADHD. It is insulting and inhibiting. One popular author and speaker claims to be healing ADHD. Try following his advice and see for yourself if you no longer have ADHD afterward?

Doubting your brain’s potential is not a place to start. Judgment impedes progress, according to research that I’ve reviewed. Acceptance and willingness, on the other hand, are foundations for improved functioning.

I could have written a book to make you feel bad about yourself and promised to fix your broken brain. But then I would have to live with myself for tricking you into believing that I’m your personal savior. Instead, I think you’re better off understanding and accepting your brain so you can get busy actualizing your dreams rather than dreaming about brainpower.

Negative thoughts about yourself may be your biggest problem, bigger than the symptoms of ADHD. People with average ability often accomplish more than people with genius IQs. Overachievers are not obsessed with trying to perfect their brains. I’m less impressed with how well someone sharpens his tools than how well he uses them.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke of Insight, said, “Stop saying you’re wasting time; it’s a waste of time to say it.” The opposite of wasting time is doing something. I believe that most adults with ADHD already have all they need to start and finish tasks. Dr. Russell Barkley said it’s not that adults with ADHD “don’t know what to do; they don’t do what they know.”

The youngest success story featured in my book was fifteen when I first met him. He underachieved in high school, and some of his teachers thought he was oppositional. One teacher told him that she understood him and knew he was going to do well. He is now a clinical psychologist conducting research at a major university. When I interviewed him for the book, he told me this: “Encouragement changes lives, and criticism makes you want to give up.”

Surround yourself with supportive people who will encourage you, and then start doing what you know.

When is “good enough” good enough? A professional helper with an excessive change-orientation could be contributing to your self-defeating thoughts, like this one: “I’m not competent enough to accomplish my goals…I need to be better than I am to achieve my vision.” Change at the expense of acceptance contributes to negative judgment about one’s potential. Dependence on the helper may make the helper feel valued, but it may have the opposite effect on clients who already minimize their value. Their experience  of not being seen, accepted, and respected for who they are is familiar. Their self-doubt has a history.

Recent research suggests that non-judgmental self-observation and radical acceptance are critical in managing emotions and overcoming self-defeating thoughts and behavior. The power of acceptance and commitment are well documented as catalysts for development and change.

We have the power to accept our cognitive differences and commit to action, despite uncomfortable feelings and negative thoughts. Living well with ADHD means attending mindfully to what we want to accomplish and not being sidetracked by excessive attention to symptoms and limitations. Reviewing published research on these topics last night, I came across this: “Thoughts are not facts.” And I recently read the following powerful sentence in a book on mindfulness: “Feelings just are.”

Perfectionism can derail you; whereas, acceptance of your thoughts and feelings can prevent them from slowing you down. They’re just thoughts and feelings. In the 1980’s, I was inspired by a song whose chorus began with, “Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride…” 

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