How To Make A Dream Poster


Girl playing in the sun
Girl playing in the sun

Parenting gifted children is a challenge in many ways. But it is also exciting. Their intensities and passions are electrifying to be around. But sometimes our kids struggle with wrestling that excitement into a dream for their future. Life happens, the world misunderstands them and slowly they begin to limit their dreams, their passions. This is where we need to intercede and help our kiddos NOT lose sight of their dreams.

Dreaming isn’t about being practical or pragmatic. It’s about imagining the most fantastical life you can dream up, and imagining it in perfect detail.  Teaching our children how to visualize their passions can inspire them to do as Henry David Thoreau says and “go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”

A Dream Poster is a great way for your children to put their fantasies and dreams into something that can remind them of their passions. Making one is easy and can be done with minimal supplies. The how-to list below can be done to create a print poster. You can also adapt it to create a digital poster or collage board on Pinterest, Tumblr page, or similar online site:

How To Make A Dream Poster:

  • Start with a listing of your interests
  • Find or draw pictures that capture those interest, as well as your goals for the future
  • Make a collage, poster, or some other artistic representation of those interests. Be as creative as you dare. Some people have made 3-D letters, decoupaged with pictures of their dreams. Others have created Wordle posters or Tumblr pages. There really are no limits to what you can create.
  • Somewhere in the picture, write a goal of something you would like to do or achieve.
  • Date the picture.
  • Revisit it often and change it or add to it as you desire.
  • Most importantly, DREAM BIG!

It’s important for all of us to make visual reminders of where we want to go, both in terms of our goals and our dreams. Teaching your children to to this can help them harness their intensities and turn them into passions that ignite their future. A dream poster can be their (or your) reminder to help us when life throws curve balls, gets too difficult, or our dreams seem to fade from view altogether.

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Making a Change


As some of you may know, I left my job as a school psychologist after 18 years earlier this month. It’s been a surreal transition to a consulting job, working with school districts. Although much of the skills I used in my former role come into play, I am now traveling across the state to work with a variety of districts. It is work I deeply enjoy. And, it is somewhat freeing to my time and my creativity. My stress levels are reduced as I am able to focus now on the things I love to do most – coaching, consulting, problem-solving. I can let go of the things that bothered me in my previous position.

A dream job.

That isn’t the only change I’ve made recently. As the job frees up my creativity and time, I am now able to expand some of my parenting and child coaching practices and increase the time I give to writing and book events. I’ve added a few clients, began giving book chats again and started a few new proposals for upcoming books. It’s a time of deep productivity. You can check out my website to know more about my events, or contact me directly to ask about presenting at your function or inquire about coaching.

As my time fills with more of the things I love to do and my mind frees, I realize just how blocked I’ve been. Has that ever happened to you? Have you become blocked to your own goals by the goals of others or the obligations on your plate? I’m sure that it has. As a creative, intense, and gifted adult, I pay a steep price when I am blocked. It impacts my ability to sleep, my physical and emotional shelves, and even my faith. I do not make major changes easily (part of it is a loyalty thing). But as I become more in touch with my authentic self, I understand my need to live from a place of “flow” and authenticity.

If you are finding that you are out of sync with your goals or your own happiness, maybe it is time to contemplate making a change and pulling yourself into alignment. You’ll be thankful you did!

Wherein I talk openly about the creative mind…


Hi all –

In light of the news about Robin Williams on Monday, I wanted to write a post that has been years in the making really. And a rare one that I decided to post on both of my sites...

Robin Williams’ death angered me in many ways, something that made me take pause. I wasn’t angry because of the tragedy of it all, but because another creative genius felt there was no way out. And more, I was angry because while his death started a much needed conversation about mental health issues and the stigma attached to those battling with a mental illness, it did not start even a ripple of the conversation I wish it had. Robin Williams was not ONLY and individual who had battled both depression and addiction, he was a genius. His very being meant he was intense.

So much of the conversations in these last days has attributed the creative genius to the mental illness, as though they always go together. But they don’t. The intensity DOES. And as a society, we don’t accept that intensity without also thinking in the back of our heads that there MUST be a mental illness piece.

How do I know this? It’s been my reality for ever.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a very intense, creative person. I am a divergent thinker, a gifted adult, and prone to strong emotions. When I create, be it books, music or choreography (yes, I composed concertos as a child and conducted string orchestras and music camp. I was also a theater-dance minor in school and dabbled in choreography), I see/hear the finished product in my head long before the first word/note/move existed. Like many famous artists, everything existed in my head in perfection. My job was simply to find a way to purge it from my thoughts and get it out for the world to see.

And therein was the problem.

Once the world could see it, it was scrutinized, criticized, commented on. Teachers when I was 8 told me I was crazy for believing I could get a random group of 7 and 8-year-olds together and do a Shakespeare play (think Little Rascals does Macbeth), but that didn’t keep me from wanting to try. When I recreated a South Pacific coral reef to scale in 7th grade as part of a project that advocated for the preservation of our oceans, my teacher thought me extreme. When I came up with a theory about the relationship between political cartoons and their influence on political culture of the 1700 and 1800s in high school, my US History teacher told me I I could never prove my ideas and I should just write a term paper of something–anything–else.

Such was my life growing up.

By the end of High School I learned just how strange and divergent I was. More, I learned that none of that was a “good” thing. Nerds and Geeks weren’t cool back then. Everything that was important to me, that made me “me”, was weird to the rest of the world. And being weird was definitely NOT celebrated.

I thought in pictures, and usually had five or more thoughts going on at once. To me, in my head, multiple realities were the norm. I couldn’t understand that other people didn’t conceptualize multi-dimensional thinking as I did. I lived in a profoundly lonely world, one in which I wasn’t accepted except by my mother (gifted in her own right) and an occasional friend.

So I cultivated new interests, ones that were more mundane. I got into fashion, modeling, and the like. I developed an eating disorder and my own intensities channeled themselves into much more destructive thinking. It would be easy to think of me as mentally ill. After all, I had developed a mental illness. But that wasn’t me. Not fully. It was a means to an end, a way to belong. And it worked in the short term. I had friends, but very few knew “me”. Heck, I barely knew me.

I was called overly dramatic, a drama queen, etc – all in response to my very extreme emotions. I don’t blame people for saying it really; from their perspective it was true. I was extreme and intense. I still am. And yes, I still lose friends because of it.

In college, my world imploded as my eating disorder spun out of control and I had to admit the problem. I sought help and got better. A lot better.

On the surface.

It wasn’t until many years later, after a load of therapy, maturity and a few personal crises that forced me to self-examine, that I learned the truth about who I was and why I acted the way I did. I learned what it meant to be gifted, to be intense.

See, I never thought of myself as smart, despite the “proof” in IQ tests, the GT label, etc. And no one ever explained to me that being smart, being gifted, MEANT asynchronous development. It meant I’d struggle with EQ, at least when I was younger. Most importantly, it meant that I was – I am – intense.

Why am I writing this crazy long post? It isn’t to brag, garnish sympathy, or anything else. It’s to talk, openly and honestly and what being gifted and creative has meant to me.

There is an intensity with which I approach life. This intensity DOES NOT mean I am crazy. It doesn’t mean I need to be fixed. When I say I need a break, when I speak openly about my intensity, I’m not looking for someone out there to “fix” me like I am a problem. I just want someone to know I’m at my limit and I need a break.

When I struggle socially, or I come off aloof, please know it isn’t intentional. My brain works fast – very fast. And sometimes, I get lost in it. That doesn’t mean I am uncaring or uninterested. In fact, the opposite is likely more true. I desperately care and I am profoundly interested. I am just somewhat lousy at showing in.

And when I get down, REALLY DOWN, I am seldom depressed. I am just overwhelmed by life and its emotions.

This is NOT TO SAY that other creative, gifted people aren’t depressed. Gifted people do get depressed.

I am lucky. I have done a TON of work in the field of giftedness, learning why I feel existential depression as often as I do, why I approach the world as I do, why I am so intense. I really think it is BECAUSE of this that I have significantly improved my EQ and learned what my personal “normal” is. I have also learned when I need to ask for help – when I am overwhelmed beyond all ability to cope. More importantly, I’ve learned how to receive help from others, even when they aren’t really able to relate.

So, this is me. And it is many other gifted individuals. We are not broken in our intensities. But we do

need acceptance, even when we seem crazy. And if we do actually break, because it can certainly happen (especially when we receive the constant message that we are crazy because of our intensities, or when we fail to connect socially because there are so few who “get us”), we need acceptance even more.

And we need the world, our family, our friends, our therapists, etc to understand that our baseline – our “normal” – is DIFFERENT from everyone else. If you force us into your version of “normal”, or medicate us to some random definition of  “normal”, we still are not “normal” from our perspective, and we will reject your version of help.

Sometimes with deadly consequences.

Gifted creatives are blessed with passions that burn brighter than the sun. And sometimes we get burned in the wake of our own intensities.

Confessions of a Teenage Beauty Queen


dreamstime_6634032I was hanging out on FB yesterday and stumbled across a great article from a father to his young daughter. In it, he redefines our cultural ideas of beauty. If you haven’t read it – CLICK HERE and read it. That post was so touching to me. Sure, it had a great message – one sorely needed at a time when so many girls are at risk, partially due to what our culture teaches them.

But that isn’t the only reason. This topic is highly personal to me.

I grew up without a father figure until I was in my early teens. By then, I had already developed body dsymorphia – I saw myself as an obese girl even though I was a normal weight for my size. There are a ton of reasons why the body image problems developed (and that’s for another post), but suffice it to say it was a huge issue for me. For years I facilitated between periods of anorexia and bouts of bulimia. I was a mess.

And no one knew.

I kept all of that hidden away from the rest of the world. My weight stayed somewhat constant. I was in beauty pageants, even won a few. I modeled and even went to NYC. My weird quirks were normal with models and beauty queens. We were all suffering body image problems. I never told anyone about my secret rituals around food. Never admitted how ill I was.

In college, my first time away, my gifted introverted self hit crisis mode. I saw a counselor for the first time. It was terrifying. And like any bright, scared, soon-to-be-adult, I ended counseling as soon as I felt “ok”.

For the next several years, I hit the depth of my body image issues until finally I couldn’t ignore the pain any longer, and I again sought help. I had a great therapist. I stopped  and purging. Stopped the anorexia.

At least for a while.

But, although I stopped behaving like an anorexic, I hadn’t fully healed the core of my body issues. And so I became an emotional eater, and a new issue with food (or maybe the same issue reborn) blossomed.

It has taken more years than I care to admit to become more comfortable with my body. I have only just started to allow pictures of me, only now refused to inhibit my speaking career related to my body issues. I am finally in a place of healing, acceptance. I’ve done the work on the core issues, replaced emotional eating with healthy eating and no longer engage in the rituals.

In short, I am finally happy with “who” I am now. I’ve learned that diminishing myself serves no one, least of all me. I’m not willing to hate myself in order to be liked by others, something I thought I had to do in my youth. I’m better. Stronger.

It has been a long and difficult road. I wish someone had noticed the turmoil I was in, wish a trusted adult had said the words the father in the above article said to his daughter. But I am grateful that I DID figure things out. I consider myself one of the lucky ones, more resilient than I ever gave myself credit for being.

I am proud to say I have two amazingly strong daughters. They are healthy, fit, and not focused on cultural norms for beauty. They are self-confident and feel quite comfortable forging their own path. I would like to think I had something to do with it – who knows. Most of the time I am fairly certain they just came onto the planet with an amazing amount of resiliency and emotional intelligence. There are my example, my ideal.

Strong. Resilient. Intelligent.

I stand here now humbled and grateful – for the strength I’ve found, the life I have, and ability to give to our children the strength I once needed.

Whew – okay. There you go. Confessions of this victim of our cultural definition of beauty…

What confessions do you have to share?

Finding Inspiration in Julia Mancuso


I am always looking for inspiration – both from within and without. This past weekend, I found the perfect dose of my daily inspiration in a brief spotlight of Julia Mancuso, Olympic downhill skier.

Julia is from Maui, an island near and dear to my heart. About ten years ago or so, when recovering from a particularly tough bought of burnout (nothing like being super intense), I went to Maui for the first time. I lovingly say I found my smile on the road to Hana. Maui – the environment, the lifestyle, the spirit that embodies the Hawaiian culture – speaks to me in a way that is profound. It isn’t surprising then, that Julia, raised in this setting, works to live a balanced life.  Rather than muscling through adversity, as many other athletes preach and many of us attempt, Julia letting go and relaxing into the moment.

Wow! I know this…and yet, man did I need to hear it.

I am a person that regularly pushes through adversity, often ignoring my body’s pleas to slow down. Stop. I wind myself into a mess this way. Repeatedly.

The result, I get loads done. But, at what cost? Right now, the “cost” has been a never-ending bout of bronchitis that is going on it’s seventh week.

NOT FUN!

So, I think it is time for me to take a page from Julia’s playbook. Stop pushing through the fatigue. Stop ignoring the pleas from my body and start listening to “me”. Today, I took the first step and I let go of the “plans” for writing and marketing this week and just listening to my body, resting when needed, etc. I’ll be sure to let you know how it works out.

In the meantime, check out this fabulous article about Julia and her balanced approach to life

Speaking of Being Authentic…


It happens to anyone searching authenticity, those moments when you are stuck, wondering how to respond to a situation. My most recent moment came unexpectedly. A former close friend was in a quandary about some things. We wound up talking about it, sharing our opinions as we once did. And then it happened – we had a different view on a series of events. The quandary was presented: do I tell her the truth from my perspective, knowing she may not want to hear my opinion (even though it was a “kind” truth, not a harsh one) or, given the current status of our relationship, do I decide to say nothing. Allow the conversation to end as it was, and stay in the role of professional friend.

Certainly staying silent, saying nothing, would have been the easier route. Maybe even the more appreciated route.

But it isn’t “me” at all.

Staying silent would me not offering an alternative POV, not allowing the kind words that needed to be said, be said.

So, as I typically do when faced with a quandary, I asked myself why it was important to speak up at all. What was I hoping to accomplish. In truth, I am not certain the answer to that still. I do know it wasn’t about needing to hear myself speak, it wasn’t about being right, and it really wasn’t about me. It was about sharing a point of view that was being ignored, it was about highlighting positive things forgotten. And, for me, it was necessary.

So, in sticking with my commitment to myself to be authentic in all situations, right or wrong, I decided to say something.

The wisdom of that decision is unknown. But, I said what I would say to anyone if in this position. The only reason I second guessed myself was due to friendship troubles we’ve had in the past – not a good enough reason, in my opinion, to forgo being authentic.

See, from my point of view, being authentic means being yourself in all situations and letting that be enough. If I am misunderstood as a result, so be it. I need to be true to me.

This is not to say that I don’t learn and adjust as I float through this thing called life, I do. And yes, I know that my intensities often present themselves in confusing ways to the world around me. But being authentic, being me, is the only thing I really know how to do. So, I am sticking with it – even during the hard times.

What about you? How do you deal with authenticity?

How Do I Pick a Theme?


Earlier this month, Christine talked about the usefulness of picking a theme for the year. Later, Jen touched on the subject in her recent post. This sounds like a good and worthy thing to accomplish. I think it would help me with setting goals, and staying on track with what I want to accomplish. What I am having trouble with is getting my synaptically overloaded brain to stop and pick ONE thing. Or even just two. Earlier this month, I mentioned two goals I am hoping to work on for the year. I am continuing to work on those things, though progress in some areas is slower than in others. 

I am playing with the ideas of scaling back, trimming down, focus (How? In the middle of typing this, I had they urge to look up croque madame recipes. I followed that urge. I’m back now…but for how long?). Where was I? Oh yes, trimming down. I think I have too many interests. I would like to turn at least one of them, even two, into something where I could actually earn some money doing something I enjoy. I enjoy writing –though preferably fiction writing or essays. Then I ask myself, how much do I enjoy writing if I can’t even manage to get my post for this blog in on time? (It was due Friday morning). I’ve been knitting and crocheting a lot. Making a lot of gifts for friends, but not doing so well in the “stockpiling and inventory for an Etsy account” area. And then, somewhere in the middle of my knitting and crocheting, I miss my writing. I am having ideas, but no, I can’t put down what I’m working on, especially if there is a deadline –like wanting to finish a baby afghan before the baby is born. I start to get obsessed with one project or another, needing to keep working on it. Just one more row. Just one more pattern repeat. The same thing happens when I’m writing, except I tend to be much less cordial to anyone who dares enter the room where I am working. This may be a reason I’ve been sticking more with the needle arts than the “Word Crafting” lately: I enjoy getting along with my family. And with that, I think I have come up with my theme for the year: “Stress-reduction.”