“I Was a 45-Year-Old Woman! I Had My Own Business! I Could Not Have ADHD.”
One woman’s inspiring midlife quest to accept her late diagnosis and continue searching for purpose. Here, Linda Roggli’s journey to success.
It was 10 o’clock on a Wednesday night, and, as usual, I was working late. The caffeine jolt from my super-sized iced tea had worn off; I was exhausted and resentful that, once again, I had waited until the last minute to finish important projects.
As I forced myself back to spreadsheets and payroll taxes, I caught a glimpse of the mahogany plaque on the wall: “Linda Roggli-Small-Business Person of the Year.”
Successful But Scattered
If they only knew the truth: I was drowning in paperwork, uneasy about managing employees, and barely keeping my head above water financially. I lived a double life: confident businesswoman in public, but a frazzled, sure-to-fail woman inside.
When I’d launched my advertising agency, I thought it would be the venture that fulfilled me, that I’d finally found my life’s purpose. But nine years later, I was back in the same rut: bored, trapped, and embarrassed at having made yet another poor choice. Surely, there is more to life than this.
The Aha! Moment
I’d spent years searching for answers to life’s big questions: Who am I? Why am I here? I’d read hundreds of self-help books, talked to counselors, consulted with psychics, attended personal-growth retreats. In the end, my big clue arrived via an insightful marriage counselor: a diagnosis of ADHD.
I fought it like a tiger. “Me?” I wasn’t a little boy who couldn’t sit still! I was a 45-year-old woman! I’d graduated from college! I had my own business! I could not have attention deficit disorder.
Making Sense of Symptoms
But the more I learned about ADHD, the more my life made sense. All that caffeine-laced iced tea? A pseudo-stimulant to wake up my ADHD brain. The deadline-driven career? My brain’s unrecognized need to get things done. My double life? A valiant attempt to hide my symptoms.
I began to unmask my ADHD. I read more books (OK, I only read half of each, but I swear I’ll finish them all some day!), started an adult ADHD support group, and attended a national conference for adults with ADHD.
I was stunned to find other women and men who, like me, procrastinated, and showed up late for appointments. I was stunned to find that those same women welcomed me-without judgment-as a friend.
On my return home, it became clear that, while I loved the fast tempo of my ad agency, the management of it was a terrible fit for my whirlwind brain. I gave myself permission to do what was best for me. I closed my office, and went home to regroup.
I wanted to create a life that would embrace my spontaneity, curiosity, passion, and creativity. I was impatient to get started; I was almost 50-time was running out. I didn’t want to die with my music locked inside me.
Answering the ADHD
Several months later, I participated in a goal-setting seminar. I was bored with the details, of course, and was eager to slip out of the lecture. But I sat and asked myself again: “What am I supposed to do with my life?” Then, an epiphany. Four words echoed in my mind: “women’s spiritual garden retreat.” This was my music!
My self-help books taught me that the best way to achieve a dream was to envision it. So I daydreamed about a retreat: the land, secret gardens, fountains, even the bed linens.
My ADHD got me rushing around, investigating possibilities, making impulsive decisions, but the dream would not be hurried. I had prep work to do. I signed up for a course in retreat facilitation; the next year, I trained to be an ADHD coach. And, in 2006, my husband and I made an offer on the property that would become GardenSpirit Guesthouse.
If I Can Do It…
Today, GardenSpirit embodies my dreams and my invitation to other women with ADHD to release their sweet music into the world. If I can do it – at age 50, with a raging case of ADHD – you can, too.
The journey starts with your life today: Does it fit you? Can you adjust it? Should you change it? Breathe, quiet your mind (!), and listen for the answers-your answers. As they come, hear them with ADHD ears, crafting a dream that fits your brain.
Go for it. The world awaits you.