Oh, those intensities 



“Ok, you finish up here in the kitchen, I’m hitting the couch with my wine and iPad to write. I have a blog post due in the morning.”

“What’s the topic?”

A wince, a sigh, a muttered curse.

“Intensity.”

And the laughter rang out from the sink behind me. 

It’s a good thing I love my husband, because with the mood I’ve been in lately…

I’ve had a headache and random vertigo since the end of September, when I got slammed with something (jury is still out as to exactly what) that made the world spin around my head like a whirling dervish. The change from summer to fall has kicked the SAD into high gear. The just ended election cycle here in America has thrown my emotions and resiliency into a tailspin. And I am 99% certain that I’m deep into a midlife crisis. I am a real $@#&%*^%# joy to be around right now, I tell you. 

Intense much? I am an overachiever in this area. 

“Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your kids.” But parents also get something else from their kids. Perspective. If I hadn’t had the sons I do, I doubt I ever would have learned about gifted intensities. I likely would have gone my entire life thinking I was just overly emotional and feeling bad about that. Instead, I know it’s just how I’m wired and that I’m in the thick of positive disintegration (and, for the love of all things holy and green, CAN I PLEASE GET TO THE END OF IT ALREADY?). Doesn’t make living it any easier, but at least I know what’s going on. 

In the interest of ongoing self-care (look! I can be taught! Le gasp!), I’m taking an indefinite hiatus from Laughing at Chaos. I plan to continue my scheduled writing here, as I do honor my responsibilities. But I need to respect that little voice within that started off whispering and is now screaming at me to back off and figure ME out…or else. My inner intensities refuse to be set aside any longer. And as a parent, I want and need to model to my boys (who are at that critical growth age) how to learn about and care for oneself. I learn from having them, they learn by watching me.

Gifted intensities, man. They ain’t for the faint of heart. 

#EverydayEmpathy


Wow! I’ve been a bad blogger. It’s been three months since my last post. Oops. My only excuse – all the fun I’m having in my fictional worlds and with the new job.

Speaking of the new job, one of the things I love about it is my chance to create new content. In particular, I’ve been part of a group that has created a campaign to teach and promote the development of empathy on school campuses. This campaign, fittingly called #EverydayEmpathy, builds on the work from the Start Empathy organization  and brings daily activities that promote the development of empathy.

I invite you to checkout the website for this campaign on the Collaborative Learning Solutions website. Maybe there are a few activities you’d like to try.

Lots of covers, lots of excitement…


Hi everyone! Happy Wednesday. I, for one, can’t wait the week to be over. My oldest is home from college in three short days and I couldn’t be more excited. But that isn’t what this blog post is about.

It’s about my shiny new cover. Elana Johnson is helping me out with a cover reveal for my next book, Indie and Proud. But as I was prepping for that post, I realized that isn’t the only cover I have ready to share. I have COVER-S. That’s right, covers plural. Three to be exact.

 
CHECK THEM OUT!

INDIE AND PROUD

You did it! You achieved your dream of writing and publishing your book. You should be happy. Instead you feel trapped in an ever-changing publishing race, stressed over the never-ending to-do list, and frustrated with yourself for continuing to doubt your talents, despite achieving your goals.


Face it, being a creative is difficult, and achieving some measure of success in the business doesn’t make you immune to your own fears and doubts. If anything, your achievements have added even more pressures. Indie and Proud shines a light on those fears and pressures, providing tools to deal with your frustrations and embrace your passions again.


Presented in an easy-to-read, conversational style, the book uses everyday examples and stories from writers and other artists to help artists find and maintain their balance in the exciting world of independent publishing. With specific strategies to address self-doubt, underlying fears, and the truly intense nature of being creative, Indie and Proud is a must read for anyone ready to embrace everything it means to be Indie.

Coming February 2, 2015

RAISING THE SHY CHILD: A Parent’s Guide To Social Anxiety

The fear of being judged by others in social activities is a common human experience, especially during childhood. But when the fear becomes all-consuming, it can disrupt daily functioning and the development of social competency. Raising the Shy Child: A Parent’s Guide to Social Anxiety takes a fresh look at social anxiety disorder, coupling the latest in research trends with evidence-based strategies and real-world stories to untangle the complexities of this disorder. Presented in an easy-to-read, conversational style, the book uses a combination of real-world examples and stories from adults and children with social anxiety disorder to show parents and educators how to help children find a path through their fear and into social competence. With specific strategies to address school refusal, bullying, and identity issues, Raising the Shy Child is a must-read resource for anyone dedicated to enhancing the lives of children.

Coming March 1, 2015 from Prufrock Press

I’M NOT JUST GIFTED:
Social-Emotional Curriculum for Guiding Gifted Students

What does it mean to be a successful person? What traits and characteristics define successful people? Why do gifted children, in particular, need a strong affective curricula in order to maximize their potential? These questions and more are explored in this guide to helping gifted children in grades 4-7 as they navigate the complicated social and emotional aspects of their lives. This curriculum is designed to help gifted children explore their giftedness, develop resiliency, manage their intensities, face adversities and tough situations, and cultivate their talents and passions. Including lesson plans, worksheets, and connections to Common Core State Standards, I’m Not Just Gifted is the practical guide necessary for anyone serving and working with gifted children.

Coming May 15, 2015 from Prufrock Press
I don’t know about you, but I am so freakin excited! I am also planning a few fiction releases – so I will be sharing that information soon…ish….
Until next time, what books are you excited for???

Finding Joy: 5 Tips to Releasing Your Inner Joy


Hey all! So nice to be back after the great long break. This month I thought I’d tackle the topic of joy and love. To start, I wanted to talk a little about being happy.

Have you seen the December Weight Watchers commercial featuring the cutest little girl ever! This kid absolutely understands joy:

There are a lot of take away messages from this commercial – and none of them about losing weight. Let’s take a moment a look at the tips we can gain from this little 30 second clips:

  1. Dance: There really is nothing better than laughing, dancing and playing. If you need a little inspiration to that fact, watch this video again
  2. Dream Big: Listen to this girl as she plays – she has big dreams. Passions. And there is nothing better than finding your passion to make you smile!
  3. Don’t Worry About What Other’s Think: Do you think this little girl cares how she appears to others? I’d be willing to bet that she doesn’t. She just wants to play and be happy – something most kids want. Something many of us have forgotten
  4. Happiness is Infectious: Try to stay miserable with others are happy. It’s really hard. It’s so much easier to smile and be happy – and help others find their joy too.
  5. Make Time to Play and Have Fun: Every Day: If there is anything that I’ve learned in life, it is the importance of playing and having fun. Find a few moments every day to laugh. Not only will you make others happy, you will be happier. And that joy will lead to more energy, more joy, more fun. Try it!

We can’t guarantee that life will be easy and fun all of the time – but we can learn to have joy in our lives everyday. If you’re struggling with that, just watch this video and take a moment to play!

An Article in Justine Magazine…and some other stuff.


I am so excited to tell you about a new article I’ve written for Justine Magazine, an amazing magazine for Teen girls. The article is about toxic relationships. Check out a little preview here:

JustMagDigital DJ 2014 p37

The article focuses on the typical toxic friendships that teen girls wind up in, as well as strategies for detangling yourself from these situations. The article layout GREAT and I am just thrilled!!!

Some additional content for teen girls that focuses on digital media and living healthy can be found on the BOP/Tiger Beat website. As a previous reader of Tiger Beat – this thrills me!

I have some new content coming out soon for the Johnson & Johnson Parents Blog related to giftedness (so excited to be returning to a focus on this population) and I will be sure to let you know. Also – HUGE book news coming…

Soon!

Until then, have a great weekend!

The Many Forms of Bullying


Yesterday we  focused on understanding the bully. Today, we are talking about the three types of bullying – Physical, verbal and relational.

Physical Bullying, due to its visible nature, often attracts the most attention. It can include slapping, hitting, psychical violence and destruction of property belonging to the victim. It is most often perpetrated by male bullies, though this is starting to change.

What I find most interesting, it actually accounts for less than 1/3 of reported acts of bullying. Also interesting, bullies who use this method of bullying are often the most troubled and more likely to be headed for serious criminal offenses.

Verbal Bullying is equally perpetrated by both male and female offenders and accounts for the majority of reported acts of bullying (70% or more). It is often easy to get away with and can have devastating impact to the victim.

Verbal Bullying often consists of taunts, name-calling, and other verbal forms of abuse. Gossip is included in this type of bullying. It is typically the earliest form of bullying and can be the gateway to both physical and relational aggression.

Relational Aggression is the most difficult form of bullying to detect from an outsiders point of view. As defined by Barbara Coloroso:

“Relational bullying is the systematic diminishment of a bullied child’s sense of self through ignoring, isolation, excluding, or shunning.” (pg 17)

This type of bullying typically occurs from late elementary through high school, if often perpetrated by girls, and is used to reject the peer with a purposeful intention that is devastating. It is extremely difficult to detect because it involves things as covert as a particular roll of the eyes or hostile body language. I will be posting a great story of a friend who experienced relentless relational aggression at the hand of her gifted classmates later in the month.

These three forms of bullying is hard individually – but when they combine, the impact is devastating!

In our next post we will examine the difference between teasing and taunting.

See you then!

Bully Prevention Month: What is a Bully


Since October is Bully Prevention Month, I thought I would dedicate the majority of the rest of the month to the topic, covering everything from bullying, to prevention.

To start, it only seems fitting to define what a bully is and is not.

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. The National Association of School Psychologists approximate that 1 in 5 children has either been a bully or been the target of a bully – not surprising in my opinion. In fact, I would guess the total may even be higher.

Bullies can be defined in many ways – but here is my favorite definition from Barbara Coloroso’s book, THE BULLY, THE BULLIED AND THE BYSTANDER:

“Bullying is a conscious, willful, and deliberate hostile activity intended to hard, induce fear through the threat of further aggression, and create terror.” (p 13)

Coloroso goes on to identify three specific elements to bullying – three elements that are included in legal definitions as well:

  • Power – a bully is always in a position of dominance with their victim – either real or perceived.
  • Aggression –  The goal of the bully is to induce harm in some way – either physical or emotional. This IS NOT accidental in any way – it is deliberate acts of exclusion, aggression and/or violence.
  • Threat – Bullies do not typically act as a one-time thing. There is typically the perception that the bullying will continue.
  • Terror – Bullying in its more persistent and extreme forms produces a kind of terror in its victim. This can have long-lasting and devastating impact on the victim.

IN the next post, I will tackle the different types of bullying, including relational aggression and cyber-bullying.  Until then, what is your definition of a bully?

The Art of Thinking….or Not!


It’s 3am. You are awake, again. You’re mind is racing, contemplating answers to the incessant questions you can never seem to quiet. Moment after moment, your brain works on the invisible puzzle as though your life depended on an answer. And no matter what you do, you can’t quiet the noise.

Sound familiar? For many of us the answer is a resounding YES!  And it makes sense, actually. Our brains are programmed to find answers, categorize information, and make sense of the chaos that surrounds us. We feed our brain with never-ending “whys” from the moment we understand the word. And in moments of stress or discomfort, we latch on to the answer of “why” with every breath.

Even when we are hurting ourselves in the process.

See, we actually DON’T need to answer every question, categorize every moment, or think incessantly. Sometimes what we most need is to NOT answer questions. Sometimes we need the stillness that comes when we stop thinking. Sometimes we need to just…

Be.

Don’t get me wrong, thinking is an important function. Planning and problem solving are necessary acts. But they are not the ONLY way to function.

There is a scene in the movie Last Samurai in which this concept is explored. Algren is practicing his sword handling – and losing. Repeatedly. Until he is told that his problem is “too many mind”, that only when then is “no mind” can he be successful.

For one day a week, try living from a place of “no mind”. If that is too difficult, as most of us are very attached to our thinking processes, try just an hour of “no mind”. Learn to quiet the noise, if only to experience what silence actually is.

Happy Non-thinking!

 

What If: Team Building and Connections


I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a good team lately. Perhaps it’s because I am in a work situation where collaboration and innovation can create magic for kids Or, lack of trust and boundaries can create a hostility that hurts kids. It’s all in how the team functions.

Yesterday I was able to see the “magic” happen again. I participated in a group that worked with focused intention and innovation, all for the betterment of a child with unique needs. It was empowering and reminded me WHY I enjoy the position I have this year. I love working within a culture of integrity, a culture like the ones I am in this year.

I know, I know, what does this have to do with today’s topic of resiliency? A lot, actually.

Innovation, collaboration, integrity, team work – these do not happen in a vacuum. They happen when trust, mastery, self-efficacy, connection, and emotional intelligence all come together to focus on a common outcome.

Hmmm, mastery, connections and emotional intelligence – the building blocks of resiliency. Cultures of innovation, be it at work, in schools, or in the home, foster the development of strong resiliency. Likewise, creating cultures of fear and manipulation, where the goal is “win” at any expense – these do not actually foster the skills needed for resiliency. For what happens in that culture when a “bigger fish” comes along and wins – and yes, there is always a bigger fish.

Without innovation and the freedom to collaborate and create, new ideas become scarce. Without team work and healthy connections, personal gain becomes the only goal, negating the “needs of the many” and undermining foundations. Without integrity, trust can’t be  built, leading to disloyalty and betrayal.

Okay, enough of my speech, you get the point of this post…innovation cultures built on mutual respect with a goal of win-win – these cultures foster resiliency. At school, at home, at work, in the world.

I thought I’d close with a video that’s been out for a while – but man, I still LOVE it!

Enjoy and Happy Weds!

Weds Means Resiliency


As I mentioned yesterday, I am introducing the new schedule this week. Wednesday will be dedicated to the topic of resiliency. Defined as the ability to bounce back from a set-back, resiliency is a topic I visit in most of my books, most recently being the prime focus in The Girl Guide.  It is a quality that can enable you to push through hard times and live authentically.

In future posts I will be looking at the meaning of resiliency, ways to enhance and build the various aspects of resiliency and spotlight resilient role models. It is my hope that these posts will inspire all of us.

Next week we’ll get things started with an exciting new endeavor born from a recent event I participated in.  And if you have something you would like to talk about here, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line!