On Wellness: This Tornado Loves You

Health & Wellness

Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash

Should you walk into my house before I come home today, you would be able to retrace my every move by the debris left in my wake. My breakfast of eggs (soft scrambled), a side of avocado, and a violent shake of hot sauce. You would be able to tell if I had showered and if I had put a little (or a lot) of time into my appearance by the pale film of powder dusted across the vanity and the waxy lipstick left exposed. You would piece together the four outfits I considered, then haphazardly discarded.

Still, there would be questions. Why is your bra at the bottom of the stairs? How did one sock end up in the kitchen, and the other in the office?

One’s mess can tell an intimate story.

I come from a family of tornados. It’s what I know; it’s so familiar it’s invisible. Since I can remember, my head has shared a likeness to a jar full of bees. A tiny cyclone of ideas and tasks and lists go Ping! Ping! Ping! against my skull, slowly swirling then picking up speed again. They whip around at an erratic pace contrasting sharply against the steady metronome of time. Tick. Tock. Tick. Sometimes, time stops and everything else falls away. I’ll hang on to one thought so long that nothing else can be seen or heard.

“Babe? Hi.” That’s Joe calling my name. He had been telling me about the Big Game last night, and I was hypnotized by a client’s email.

And so it goes. We whirl through life, bringing the ones we love along with us.

It takes courage to love someone for all their contradictions because if you’re loving fully and giving yourself fully, you’re going to encounter something that drives you a little (or a lot) crazy. Many times the hurdles are much bigger than dealing with messy socks and dirty plates. For Joe and me, acknowledging my predisposition to tornadic behavior is one step. We’re learning how to tame it and become better at forecasting the weather.

If you’re different, you’ve been called many things: quirky, aloof, special, a problem. Some of us outgrow what restricts blood flow to our prefrontal cortex, and some of us don’t. Some of us will find out why we’re different later on in life. Whatever makes you special, you don’t have to be a pop culture stereotype or clinical diagnosis. We’re a teacher’s challenge. We’re the life of the party. We’re dynamic and impulsive, sensitive and intuitive. We can do things many people cannot.

With all these complexities, it is helpful to remember you are not a problem to be fixed. You have an opportunity to turn what makes you special into your very own superpower.

And yet with all these complexities, it is helpful to remember you are not a problem to be fixed. You have an opportunity to turn what makes you special into your very own superpower.

It’s no coincidence the title of this blog post pays homage to Neko Case. Her willingness to wear battle scars as war paint is an inspiration to us all.

To Joe, with love: Your Tornado

Note: For all the articles written about living with adult ADHD, it’s been hard for me to find one that resonated with my experience. If you or someone you love has this “superpower,” I hope it helps you step into their shoes.

This essay is part of an ongoing series dedicated to wellness and mental health advocacy.

BY Kate Arends - April 7, 2015

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
April 7, 2015 3:25 pm

What a beautiful message. Lovely words as always. Thank you for sharing your unique thoughts and view points on a subject that doesn’t get as much coverage as it should.

April 7, 2015 3:30 pm

I sure do love you, Kate. I just sat down in a meeting and a coworker asked “have you read your wife’s letter?” To which I said, “Nope, what does it say”. You’re an amazing tornado, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

April 7, 2015 3:56 pm

Kate–You are always inspiring me with you’re raw honesty. Thank you for you eloquent words and story. And thank you for letting a reader, like me, be a part of the journey in a small way.

April 7, 2015 6:11 pm

It’s so refreshing to read such honest posts. I always love your thoughts Kate!

April 7, 2015 8:45 pm

I’m manic depressive bipolar, and stabilized on the manic side. It very much feels like I too am a tornado. Very beautiful piece!

April 7, 2015 8:55 pm

I struggle with anxiety and perfectionism. My biggest fear in life is that no one will understand the complexity that is going on in my mind. Thank you for this letter.


April 7, 2015 8:58 pm

Loved this, Kate. My partner has ADHD and I really do struggle with the small things but I love him so much. I’m trying to work on being a less-anxious partner for him. To let the dirty dishes and tossed shoes and socks and random clothes washing cycles slide. Along with the continual lateness and forgetfulness. But like you say, doesn’t that make you unique? And unique is good! Thank you.

April 7, 2015 11:09 pm

Kate, thank you so much for this. Your honesty and vulnerability in your writing speaks volumes to what an incredibly strong person you are. None of this is easy to talk about and you are doing an incredible thing by putting it out there. Thank you for your bravery, your honesty and for keeping this dialog going, you are doing an amazing job.

April 8, 2015 9:38 am

KATE, You are such an inspiration for all women who battle with any kind of issues. You tackle them straight on and I thank you for your bravery. Bravo ! I hope to one day meet you and give you a giant hug 🙂


April 8, 2015 10:50 am

Bravo to you for feeling brave enough to release your “superpower” to your readers, so that we can feel that same strength & acceptance of ourselves. I hate the idea of having to “fix” everything. Yes, there is a sense of balance with helping yourself be better, but all the while, Some things aren’t meant to be 100% fixed; they’re meant to be accepted & loved more. We aren’t robots, we’re humans.

April 8, 2015 12:32 pm

Love this series. My husband is also a tornado and while it will be something we have to work with the rest of our lives, I love him dearly.

Anne Arends
April 8, 2015 1:30 pm

From one tornado to another. I love you! Mom

April 8, 2015 1:43 pm

Beautifully written by a beautiful person.

April 9, 2015 8:55 am

you are an amazing writer. what a beautiful description of an experience/reality that is so hard to pin down.

April 9, 2015 10:32 am

Absolutely love this post! Thank you so much for your beautiful words and message (and Vonnegut reference, if that’s what that was!)

April 9, 2015 12:26 pm

This was so beautifully written Kate… I loved it! Your words really resonated with me and I’m so happy to know I’m not the only tornado.

April 10, 2015 1:27 am

I felt as if I was reading my own story. It is hard, overwhelming, disappointing and full of heartache at times to live within this crazy mind. But it is also wonderfully rewarding and curiosity inspiring daily.

April 10, 2015 11:32 am

I absolutely love this. I love how you say “one’s mess can tell an intimate story” and how you describe what your thought process feels like. I truly enjoyed reading this. So well written, to the point, and just great. Thank you!

April 11, 2015 10:30 am

Well, I have discovered something. Miy ignorance lead me to think that ADHD was a child-related superpower! Tornados are necessary, they help everyone re-assess, adapt, evolve and grow.

April 14, 2015 8:12 am

[…] This article.  […]

April 14, 2015 2:11 pm

Honest and inspirational post… Love it!

April 17, 2015 11:00 am

[…] “…it is helpful to remember you are not a problem to be fixed. You have an opportunity to turn what makes you special into your very own superpower.” […]

April 21, 2015 2:35 pm

It’s so clear that your writing resonates with every person that reads this. We all have messy lives, “tornados” of lives as you so beautifully put it. And I think we’re ALL different. There’s no if about it. Some people just see their superpowers right from the get go and others search their whole life for it but we ALL have one. And I bet some people just found theirs by reading your piece, so guess what? I think your superhero power is exposing others’ powers. And that’s pretty brilliant.

April 24, 2015 9:10 am

This is great! I am exactly the same- my husband calls me ‘whirlwind of destruction’!

April 29, 2015 11:07 am

Love this, Kate – thanks for sharing! Mental health advocacy can never be championed enough, and I’m glad you use your blog as a platform for it.

Katherine Glassmeyer
April 29, 2015 8:47 pm

Hi Kate! When I read the paragraph that began with “If you’re different, you’ve been called many things”, I smiled to myself. Every word that followed is spot on. I am different and I embrace it. It’s often lonely and sometimes exhausting, but I wouldn’t want to be any other way. And it makes all the difference in the world that those who love me wouldn’t want me to be any other way. Thanks for sharing who you are. I look forward to reading more here. All the best!

May 4, 2015 2:37 am

I love that Neko song, and I love sharing stories about our real life, the good the hard and the messy – thank you for writing so beautifully about it, you really capture how delicate the balance of day to day can be for some of us. I love the line ‘you are not a problem to be fixed’, such a timely reminder for when we get in our own way. These differences are our beauty, absolutely…

May 5, 2015 6:16 am

Very insightful and “real” post. wonderful article

May 10, 2015 2:39 pm

This was so beautifully written Kate. Thank you.

May 10, 2015 4:20 pm

We love it. We smiled to ourselves when reading we are different.

May 15, 2015 10:45 am

[…] “One’s mess can tell an intimate story.” […]

September 8, 2015 2:49 am

[…] her father and why her ex is still her favorite friend. The one that got me most recently was by Kate Arends, who describes her experience living has a human tornado. I love these pieces, and if you click on […]

January 13, 2016 9:44 am

[…] Allowing myself to be vulnerable. […]

[…] at all times being put in combination. Within the chaos that arises from embracing my tendency to be a bit of of a twister—continuously shedding issues and making errors hourly—I’ve come to be told perfection is one […]

Most-read posts:

Did you know W&D now has a resource library of  Printable Art, Templates, Freebies, and more?

take me there 

Arrow Alone

Get Our Best W&D Resources

for designing a life well-lived


Arrow Alone

the latest

Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.

Hi, I'm Kate. Welcome to my happy place.











follow us on instagram @witanddelight_