New Beginnings and Jumping in with Both Feet

jumpI didn’t post in January, but I really wanted to.  I just couldn’t announce publicly that we were pulling our kids out of school and starting our homeschooling process. It’s been a really hard decision for my wife and I because we both believe so highly in education. Our 2 in school were facing very different issues, but we felt homeschooling was just too necessary for us at this time.

One is testing 2-3 grade levels above and would very consistently complain, “School is boring.” Our older one has food anaphylaxis to a number of foods. We worked very hard to communicate with her teachers all through her schooling and things were not going well.

We had a teacher say they would keep all unnecessary food out of the classroom unless we could check the ingredients, but one morning my wife stopped by the room and discovered an assortment of goodies that contained foods my daughter is anaphylactic to. My daughter never wants to stand out as a “problem” and would try to not make a scene ever. She has always tried to “fit in” as best she could, she currently only tests slightly above her peers. Again, not standing out.

We look at homeschooling as a great new adventure where they can let their minds go and learn as much as they desire in a worry-free zone. We know they love learning still and I love that my wife’s creativity can have them “playing” for a day with Junk Box Wars and toward evening the kids will ask, “What about school?” They still have a desire to open a book and/or complete worksheets, so we accommodate.

The first day we had them home I asked the girls, “What is learning?” and my oldest sat up straight with her hands in her lap giving me her complete attention waiting for me to fill her head with knowledge. The younger one was not so student-like, but still had a belief that it involved worksheets and textbooks. As we continue our journey, I see them learning differently. They learn faster hands on and I see them being creative in ways that I find wonderful. Our daughter we just pulled from 1st grade showed my wife her paper: number

and asked, “What number is this?” number2

My wife said, “Eleven.”

Daughter, “No it’s not, it’s forty-four!!” 🙂

To be fair, my daughter does sometimes write her numbers backwards. School days used to be long. My wife and I shopped long and hard to find the best school for our girls in the beginning and the best started at 8:30 and ended at 4:00. The girls would come home exhausted from either containing themselves or from mentally trying to stay safe and not fall into anxiety mode. They would often come home and just melt down.

Over Christmas break, we saw our girls being “our girls” again and knew homeschooling was in our future. You also should probably understand that we had tried to work with the school a lot as well. We had our 1st grade teacher sending home extra homework (that was a few extra worksheets once each week or so that were either 2nd or 3rd grade level) and my daughter would jump up and do them immediately.  15 minutes later, she’s done and wanting more, but still exhausted from being at school all day.

For our older one, we went through an Individual Health Plan (IHP) and it lacked teeth for infractions, so we went for a 504. We received a LOT of pushback and I showed the school the legality of 504 for students with anaphylaxis and still had a lot of resistance. We were ready to fight all the way until we experienced Christmas Break. Our girls are so much better off learning without school for now. We’ll see how they develop.

My wife resigned as president of the Parent Advisory Committee, but I’m still on the School Board. I still believe school is right for the majority of kids, but I also believe it needs to be appropriate for more. Maybe I’m a bit delusional in thinking that school used to work best for about 98% of the kids, but today I see that number shrinking. Our area has an incredibly strong homeschooling community despite the fact that our area is much higher than the state average, which is consistently in the top 10 in the U.S. Why would such a strong school district have such a strong homeschooling community unless more and more schools were missing the mark? I have to wonder if it’s time for schools to change? I believe so, but I think 40 years ago I was not among the 98% who school was right for, and I know our kids are doing great already with homeschooling, so I may be a wee bit biased.


Love Rollercoaster

I let my wife know I was struggling with this month’s blog post and she had my back.  She had written something a while back and when I told her I was having a hard time with this blog, she shared it with me.  She said that even though it might not fit in with the topic “Joy,” I was welcome to share it.   Jodi has the patience of a saint, which is necessary being married to me. She is my greatest Joy as well, so I think it fits in nicely with this month’s topic. 

Any given day, hour, minute.

What is it like to be married to an ADHD/LD/Gifted person?  For me it’s a well-balanced roller coaster ride.   This ride has many ups and downs.  On any given day, any given hour, any given minute I feel:

Like a Queen – There are times I feel like I’m the only person around and he’s giving me any and all of his attention.  He kisses me any time he’s near me.  He holds my hand wherever we are – in the car, at the table, on the couch, wherever.  He asks me out on dates and really wants to be with me.

Alone – I can sit in the same room with my husband and feel like I’m not even noticed.   I can’t compete with the excitement and business of the computer.   It hurts to try to talk to him and feel like I’m being ignored for a computer game or facebook or email or game statistics, etc.

Special – He does things for me that I love, often times when he clearly doest not want to be doing them (i.e. rubbing my feet).

Dumb –I don’t have the extensive vocabulary he has – he’s a fantastic, eloquent, wonderful writer.   I don’t feel like I can have conversations with him that are even close to stimulating enough.  I don’t feel like I’m interesting enough for him.

Amazed – I am constantly amazed at how smart my husband is.  He is so smart.  He knows things about things – random things – that I had no clue he knows.  And I am constantly amazed at how good he is with our kids.

Left Out – I don’t know the things he goes through.  He has connections with other G/LD (2E) people that I will never have with him.  I try to ask questions, which sometimes are answered and sometimes are not.

Helped – He will help with anything I ask him to.  It has taken some time for me to come to grips with the fact that it probably won’t happen on my time line.  But it will get done.

Frustrated – It frustrates me to have to ask him for things I want.  I want him to be able to read me.  To think of nice things to do for me – without me having to ask for them.  I want him to help out around the house without me having to ask.  Even though logically I know he’s not purposefully ignoring household tasks, it’s hard, sometimes, to not feel like he’s just not doing them because they’re boring (let’s face it – chores are boring – I don’t like them either).

Impressed – I am very impressed at how he can charm the pants off of anyone.  He’s fun to talk to, he’s charismatic, he helps people when he can.  I love being out with him and others and watching the interactions that happen.  People are drawn to him.  They love talking to him.  And I get to say he’s mine!

Stressed – There are times I feel like I’m walking on egg-shells and fear asking him anything.  I watch him and our middle child butt heads and I want so desperately to go in and rescue her.  I’m not sure what is the right thing to do in those situations.

Loved – I know he loves me.  He hugs me.  He kisses me.  He holds my hand.  He listens when I REALLY need him to.  He can comfort me.  He knows what words to use to make me feel better.  He puts his arm around me in the movie theater.  He loves me.  I love him.

For those who are not aware of the title song, or the newer version.

A Need for Selfish Gratitude

“When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.”

― Elie Wiesel

I didn’t grow up knowing I was gifted. I didn’t grow up knowing I was learning disabled. I grew up scrapping for any bit of knowledge I could find, but never being satisfied, and certainly not being satisfied with any grade I received in school. I had a very academically talented older brother who seemed rather motivated by grades. I was not only unable to compete, but lacked any motivation to play the silly game.

I was never satisfied with my performance. I could have always done it better, faster, more complete. I challenged myself to be better at anything I did, not realizing the perfectionism was eroding away at my soul. With every inner dialogue pushing me, challenging me, getting me to improve, it reinforced a lack of gratitude for what I had done or accomplished, and I think it’s not uncommon to feel that way growing up struggling whether you’re diagnosed or not.

Gratitude is still a struggle for me. I can be grateful for so many things outside of my locus of control, such as I’m grateful for the men and women in the military serving our country, I’m grateful for being a part of such a wonderful set of bloggers, and I’m grateful for my professor who explained to me that having a learning disability had nothing to do with intelligence.

When it comes to myself and my own endeavors, I have a much more difficult time with gratitude. Even when I voice them, I feel boastful or conceited, and that’s not something I am comfortable with at this time.  It may have to do with confidence or growing up in an area that praised modesty and didn’t encourage such bravado.

I know it’s an issue I struggle with, and I doubt I’m alone, especially in a group of such gifted individuals who have that ugly inner dialogue nagging at them. It ties in with the imposter syndrome certainly, and my be linked to many other challenges we face, but it’s not all bad, for I quote Elie Wiesel again, “No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night.”

So maybe it’s time to put aside that inner voice, and realize what we have. I am grateful for being me, for who would I be otherwise? Be grateful for who you are and know that I’m grateful for you as well. Thank you everyone for making this blog and my life so much better.

Strength on the down side of EI

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ~ Elie Wiesel

When I started blogging a while back, I felt as if there were very few people who got me. The emotional roller coaster was a big part of the issue and being emotionally intense made me feel as if I lived in a world that so many people around me just didn’t see. In this community I feel my perspective is no longer so isolated.It has given me strength when I felt weak and a shared voice when my words failed me.

The challenges I (and many others who are gifted and have learning disabilities) face with emotional intensity is that no matter how hard we try, if we pit our area of disability against a standard norm, we will fall short. I will still fail to out memorize phone numbers against my 1st grader, or most first graders. —I shouldn’t use my children as an example because mine are simply the most awesome, and I’m sure I’m not biased. <insert eye roll>

My point is that if you are living with a disability, you have your built in emotional lows already set up for you. Set yourself up to have high points. Surround yourself with people who get you.  If you take a job only for a paycheck, you will not find many high points there.

One of my needs is to fight for worthy causes and recently I was accepted into Partners in Policymaking leadership training. This is a solid step toward taking on more social injustices, standing up for the rights of individuals with disabilities. This may be filled with low points along the way, when change-makers don’t buy in to your vision, but it’s a passion for me and it will also be littered with high points that can more than balance out the lows.

When I was college, a professor and I assembled a small group of students who were gifted and had learning disabilities. We would converse with each other and I could almost see the room catch fire and begin burning with flames of hope and life because we not only got one another, we were living breathing testaments to how much more we could do. We called ourselves the Hedgehogs and were against educational hegemony. We saw in each other how much strength, determination and resolve we had. It got us through those low points we would face while going through school often without accommodations.

First they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.Then they came for the Jews
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.Martin Niemöller

We still see injustices as we look around and know it’s wrong. It takes strength and courage to speak up, especially when you feel weak or alone, so I hope you have your own Hedgehogs to help you through those times. If you don’t have the strength you need, comment here, maybe we can be your Hedgehogs.

I Try to Think and Nothin’ Happens


Time flies when you’re having fun …or studying for the series 7 & 66 …or both. It wasn’t Super Tuesday yesterday, but it was an important Tueday for me as I helped and cheered for candidate that ultimately was not able to win the primary last night.

I completely spaced today’s blog post, but I have had it on my mind several times over the recent past. Most of my thoughts have been on the Series exams I have coming up. The problem is that it has been 10 years since I was in grad school. Since that time I’ve tried countless unsuccessful substitutes to Cylert (deciding med-free is best for me for now), had 3 children and changed jobs 4 times.  I’ve found that being a father takes more time and energy than anything else in my life.

I’m fairly typical ADHD in many ways, so studying is challenging usually. Studying dry material is much more challenging. In school I used to have moments where it felt as though lightning would strike. I would have evenings where I’d fall into flow and 2 weeks of studying would be done in a single evening.  …Those moments are not happening right now and it’s really irritating to say the least. Now I could not depend on these evening to occur upon demand, but if I spent 3 evenings studying, I was pretty certain one of those evenings would catch fire.

Yeah, it created terrible study habits and extreme procrastination, but it got me through both my undergrads and my MBA as well. The changes of added stress in my life, lack of sleep, and countless small-child distraction has certainly made getting into flow when studying a bit trickier. I know I’ll get through this task of getting certified, even if it’s going to be a long hard slog all the way through.

I have a wonderful set of doctors I work with and I can always try medication, but I’d really rather not. Initially I set out to take the Series 7 in 2 weeks, the 66 a week after that and be done in just a few weeks. I’m going on 2 weeks now and I’m just half way through the 7. It’s exhausting. It’s more than exhausting. I’d rather be physically exhausted and satisfied by my accomplishments, but instead I feel I’m working very hard and going very slow. I was told to expect to study 200 to 220 hours, but felt certain I’d be done in 40 or less if lightning would strike.  …Where is a storm when I need it. This draught is painful!

As my brain attunes to studying again, I look forward to the rain, even if I don’t see the lightning for a while.

Busy, Busy, Busy and I Need to Focus.

I have been busy. That seems to be a trend around here. I have often talked to others about my past as being “in an earlier life,” and this has nothing to do with reincarnation or being Daniel Boone. The reference is to when I would have a completely different job, or before being married or having children.

At one time I was a web developer working for a very large fortune 100 corporation and it does feel lifetimes ago. I immerse myself into whatever I’m doing. Some say I jump in with both feet, others say I get wrapped up in whatever I do (to a bit of an extreme).  I have also taught High School Marketing and Finance, and that was a different life. Before being married I enjoyed more …exciting sports. River kayaking down class IV and V rapids and rock climbing were a staple. I was an aquatics Director and later program director at a summer camp and for a while thought I’d buy a camp and run it.

My search seems to be endless as I bounce around what my entelechy really is. I am alive to present on the topic of Giftedness and Learning Disabilities. I have presented in Dallas, Chicago, Boston, Jacksonville, and countless smaller venues, but I’ve never been busy enough to even make it part-time work. Stipends are small usually, so I find I need to work. I enjoy learning new skills and helping people, and the closer I get to helping people understand themselves while being true to myself, the better.  Presenting is where I’m allowed to be my extroverted-dynamic-creative-caring-passionate self. That’s my entelechy. The challenge for me is doing everything else along the journey.

What’s your entelechy, and how do you work it or keep working toward it?

To read more about what entelechy means, you can Google Jean Houston and Entelechy or read a good blog post here

Define Authority

People will accept your idea much more readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin said it first.“ ~David H. Comins

My posts often have quotes and references to educators and highly regarded professionals who say things I want to say as well.  It’s as if I’m not completely certain I have felt totally worthy of standing on my own voice and saying that my opinion/ideas are worth their weight. It’s still a self-doubt thing, but when it is a personal reflection of myself I guess I often put myself out there only with a shield. I have used excuses: “I’m not a real author,” “I don’t have a PhD,” “I have not served as professional advocate” or “I’ve never been a professional lobbyist.”

In my last post I mentioned listening to a slew of old albums. Listening to Pink Floyd The Wall in its entirety for the first time in about 20 years was amazing. If you’re not familiar with the story that Roger Waters delivers through the music, I’ll not spoil it for you completely, but I will say that the judge rules toward the end saying:

Since, my friend, you have revealed your
Deepest fear,
I sentence you to be exposed before
Your peers.

The Idea of being exposed as who you are in a very vulnerable, naked way, with no shield of others, is very scary. I read a lot, I retain a lot of information and can research well enough to find solid backing on a number of things I want to say, but the truth of the matter is that often it’s my opinion from my own experiences that should be able to stand on its own rather than needing the “experts” to have said it first.

Besides, in a place where I can find figures such as these:

‎”85% of what you read on the Internet is false.” ~Abraham Lincoln

73.6% Of All Statistics Are Made Up

Why would my opinions not be a valuable commodity? I’m not saying to hell with the scientific methodology, or that we should not listen to the experts. What I am saying is that my opinion matters because I am me and I have worthy things to say.

I am gifted and I’m learning disabled. I’ve lived with it my whole life. That’s a lot of experience.  I’ve had a number of friends (not enough) over the years who are also 2E and we’ve shared experiences, stories, and war wounds. My life has been educational in ways that no school classes could possibly teach. I do have an undergraduate degree. I returned 8 years later and picked up an MBA. I know my business accumen is pretty solid as I worked with many entrepreneurs as a business developer and could bring about rapid positive change in many businesses willing to put forth effort in making the changes I’d recommend. However, my business knowledge pales in comparison to what I have learned about 2E over my 40 some odd years living it, thinking about 2E, researching it, writing about it, and presenting on various topics surrounding 2E.

— I may get a bit geeky with numbers here —

One of my interests is statistics and math and it has led me to look at test scores from the Woodcock Johnson (WJR) and WAIS and numerous subtests. When we look at standardized tests we can group the subtests in various ways to see different ability groups to see different patterns emerge and get a better understanding of strengths and weaknesses. We can also look at significance and scatter of these tests results. Significance is how far from the mean the score lies and scatter is how much variance there is between subtest scores. On Scaled scores, the Mean is 10 and Standard Deviation is 3. So anything above a 16 is in the top 2% and anything below a 4 is in the bottom 2%.

If you were to test a person for disabilities and believe that it’s only significant if it falls outside the “normal” range, you are not looking at the individual any longer, and that’s not good. If you look at the test scores with consideration to their IQ and adjust where the Mean is so the Significance shifts up or down you have taken the first step forward in understanding the individual, but it’s a journey and it’s just a step in the process.

A gifted individual may have a mean that’s 15, 16 or even higher. Would a score of 8 not then be very significant? I am not a typical 2E individual, but I don’t know what typical really is when we discuss such an atypical group, but I have scores (plural) as low as 8 and I have scores (plural) as high as 19. I have scatter and I have significance, but more importantly, I have experience as myself, as 2E.

Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.” ~ George E. P. Box

So what is normal for 2E and how can we even define it when we have such difficulty defining the term gifted? Is it like Justice Potter Steward said when explaining obscenity, “I shall not today attempt to define the kind of materials I understand to be embraced … but I know it when I see it…”?

The tests can all point to indications of giftedness or LDs, but when it all boils down, I know it when I see it.  No matter what scientific data, higher education or psychological tests may be used.  As I meet some people who are 2E there is a pretty close to “kindred spirit” feeling, very special, and it feels like catching lightning in a bottle. No authorities can take it away from me, and many will not understand it. I guess it’s like what a friend of mine told me about his religion, “I can’t say it’s right for everyone, but it’s right for me.”