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Gathering Wool

wool spindle
All wound up in imagination

When I was a lad, there were many times when I was required to sit still.

Now I can tell you that, as a person with ADHD for whom the capital ‘H’ actually is applicable, that wasn’t easy.

But I’m not primarily hyperactive, nor am I primarily inattentive. I’m combined type.

And that has helped me … somewhat.


When required to sit still, I could always find myself actively looking for adventure, scaling great heights, inventing new activities, exploring uncharted territories.

And I do those things while doing what I was supposed to be doing, sitting still. I’d do them in my mind.

I’d be long gone …

It’s little wonder that now I am able to write spontaneously and without any preamble. I sit down and close myself to the outside world, and let my mind pour onto the page.

But back then, there was still a problem.

A big problem

Often when I was supposed to sit still, I was also expected to pay attention. A good example of that was school.

And worse still, I would usually listen in school just long enough to determine that I already knew some of what was being talked about, then check out mentally, for the entire day.

Doodle days

I would be paying attention to my surroundings enough to be aware of others picking up their pencils and so I’d pick up mine and, fueled by my imagination I’s start creating pictures.

The smell of the wind on warmer days wafting in through the window and out the other side would grab me and take me away to plan walks and projects too numerous to actually be accomplished.

What’s with the wool?

Ah yes, gathering wool, that’s what my grandma and mother called it when I would check out of the world. Apparently there was a time when people turned wool into yarn at home. and as it was spun it was collected on a wool winder.

To get it off the winder and into a skein someone would unwind the wool and check it as they went, while a second person would gather it in loops that went from one hand to another. Gathering wool was, I’m told, a mindless task and could be done while planning ones career or supper or contemplating the theory of relativity.

So apparently …

When I left the earth of reality and wandered down the virtual trails of my mind, I usually had the same expression on my face as someone who was gathering wool.

But see, it and my ADHD have stood me in good stead. I still check out of the world, and though I doodle now with words instead of less than flattering pictures, I get stuff done that is a valid contribution I’m told.

So if you need me to write something for you, just email me or shake me by the shoulder, I’ll just be hear drawing word pictures, far away look on my face, gathering wool …

Gathering Wool

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2017). Gathering Wool. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 10, 2018, from


Last updated: 23 Oct 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Oct 2017
Published on All rights reserved.