You Have So Much Potential, But...

"You are so smart but..." "You have so much potential, if only..." "you just need to work harder." Are these words triggering for you? I will say they sure are for me. I totally lost my cool this week as I listened to my son get lectured on how he just needed to improve his "work ethic." 

Here's the thing I wish I understood at his age. Sometimes the things that come really easy to the average person come really hard for us. 

I remember as a kid being so proud and excited to get "citizen of the month" that one time when all my other friends got it every year. I remember almost being kicked out of the gifted program because I was not living up to my potential. 

You have so much potential, but... It's not about working harder, but knowing how you work! Free Find Your Superpower Course inside

Did that make me work harder? Heck no, it made me resent the people for whom hard work seemed to come easy. 

It wasn't until much much later in life that I finally caught on that it wasn't about "working harder" for me, but about understanding how I work. Coming up with tools and strategies to use my gifts and work with my weaknesses. 

But this did not happen for me until after I dropped out of the college where I had made my closest friends and immediately regretted it. I tried to get tested for learning disabilities, but the according to the state criteria I did not meet their qualifications (despite the fact that there was a 40 point gap between my auditory processing and working memory weakness and my other areas of strength). 

Instead of being given tools then, I was asked why I even took the tests - I got into this liberal arts college, I must be doing OK. Obviously not since I dropped out the next year. 

Something started to click in my last years of college and I started to learn tools. I got a job in the school system which provided structure and deadlines that kept me in check. I found a really awesome to-do list that helped me sort tasks in a way that wasn't overwhelming. I wish I could recommend it, but it's no longer being made - one of these days when I'm rich I'll hire an app developer to create one similar combined with my research on executive functioning skills. 

As I embark on this whole entrepreneur journey and move out of the safe structure of the school system, I am in the process of relearning and reexamining my own tools. As I try new things, some of which work and some of which don't, I have to remind myself that my challenges are not about how hard I work - if anything I work too hard while I find the most effective use of my time. 

This has been a good reminder to be kind to myself as I explore this process. It's an ongoing journey and I've come a very long way. I've also been able to help others find their own strengths and be kind to themselves.

On this week's Embracing Intensity Podcast, I dig a little deeper into the idea of "underachievement." 

I would love to hear from you, what strategies have helped you do the "hard stuff" that others seem to find easy?

To help you explore how you work best, I created a free Find Your Superpower Course to help you: Identify your individual areas of excitability with an excitability checklist; Customize the name of your own unique superpower; & Explore how you can harness your own power instead of suppressing it or letting it get out of control.

Excuse Me While I Overthink This Post

For the last few years, I've participated in the Hoagies' Gifted Education Page Blog Hops, but rarely is there a theme so relevant as this month's topic of overthinking. 

The problem is, there's so much to say on the topic I don't know where to begin. This got me thinking about how we think, especially as intense, gifted and/or excitable women. 

Recently in my League of Excitable Women Facebook group we got into a discussion about linear vs. nonlinear thinking. 

For nonlinear thinkers like myself, a description that appealed to me about the way our thinking works is like a spiral or DNA helix. It doesn't stay on one thing, but keeps coming back to it, perhaps at a deeper level the next time. 

Excuse Me While I Overthink This Post - Free retreat planner inside

Another member described their thinking as "logical non-linear" like reading a map: 

"I feel like my thinking is more like viewing a map and seeing the possibilities - there's the fast efficient way of getting there, there's the scenic route (maybe longer but more fun), the escape route (wtf did I do and how do I get out of it?), and of course the 5 other routes that will get you there but have no real value to add. When I overthink it's like spontaneously adding stops to a road trip, the whole map needs to be reviewed and routes need to change which causes me to rethink every other point on the map."

A more linear thinker described it this way,  "I have a very linear brain. I examine a problem carefully, from all angles, looking at all the possibilities. I plan something from beginning to end and like order and stability (sometimes too much). I can get hung up on the details, figuring out how they all fit together into the whole, and lose track of the whole."

The common thread I see among most of the women I've worked with is the tendency to look at a problem from every possible angle. A more linear thinker might internally work out the most efficient route, but possibly get stuck on the details. A non-linear thinker might need external strucrures and supports in place to contain the inner chaos and move forward because there might not be one obvious beginning, middle and/or end. 

Now I'd love to hear from you - would you describe yourself a a linear or non-linear thinker? What helps you get unstuck when you are caught in an overthinking loop?

This week I was inspired to create a short-term coaching offer called Focus Your Power to help you get clear on where to focus your energy, come up with a concrete plan of action to meet your goal and refine your plan for success. I'm offering the first 8 to sign up a discounted rate of $75. You can find out more here

This post was written as a part of this month's Hoagies' Gifted Education Blog Hop on Overthinking. For more musings on my own overthinking and thoughts on what to do about it, you can listen to this week's podcast - Overthink Much?

To help you take time out to connect with your inner thoughts, I created this free retreat planner!  It includes information on: How to prepare for your retreat in the way that’s best for you; Simple, accessible, and straightforward practices to deepen your experience; A template planner;  A guide to using essential oils to enhance and deepen your healing experience; A recommended reading list; and more!

Know Thyself

Do you ever find yourself surprised to find out someone is younger than you, not because they look older but because there is some sense of maturity about them that you admire and respect? This week's interviewee Stella Orange, is one of those people for me.

Now she might not use the word maturity to describe herself because she embraces her silly and playful child side in her work, but I believe that her sense of inner knowing reflects a type of maturity that I find incredibly refreshing. 

She describes her experience of moving around the world as a child and how it led her to really trust in her own self. She said, "I really had a lot of trust in myself and in the weird little world that I had built in my own imagination." 

Know Thyself: Connecting with your authentic self - Free retreat planner inside

Many of us intense/excitable women start to distrust our own selves because it doesn't quite fit what we believe is expected of us by the culture around us, so we start to tone ourselves down and tune ourselves out. 

Somewhere in the process, many of us got lost along the way and started to loose track of who we really are or were. I definitely found myself in this place at the end of my first marriage.

Some things that have helped me to reconnect with myself include:

Spending time on my own - especially outside when possible. Adaptability is part of my nature, so it's crucial that I spend some time on my own to connect with myself. 

Finding one or two people who "get me" - I am fortunate enough to have many of these wonderful people in my life, but even one or two can make a huge difference in freeing you up to know and be who you are.

Personal development exploration -  For me this has ranged from reading, online classes, in person workshops and coaching. Options are limitless in this arena, I generally take things as they come to me and select where to place my energy depending on my priorities in the moment. 

I would love to hear from you - what tools have helped you get to know yourself better? Please share in the comments. 

To help you take time out to connect with your inner thoughts, I created this free retreat planner!  It includes information on: How to prepare for your retreat in the way that’s best for you; Simple, accessible, and straightforward practices to deepen your experience; A template planner;  A guide to using essential oils to enhance and deepen your healing experience; A recommended reading list; and more!

Beyond Explanation

When I decided to break out and do some solo shows on my Embracing Intensity Podcast, I asked my League of Excitable Women Facebook group what topics they would like me to address. One of the common themes was on explaining our intensity and/or excitability to other people. 

This has been my on-going dillema with sharing what exactly it is that I do, and part of the reason I started the podcast in the first place. I've come to realize that my best strategy so far has been to surround myself with people who already "get it." It seems that if you relate to intensity/excitability, it doesn't take much for others to click and say "that's me!"

Beyond Explanation: Explaining your personal quirks to others - Free Find Your Superpower Course inside

When I describe the women I work with, I use words like gifted, passionate, spirited, powerful, creative, intense. Each of these words may be true, but some relate to different words to different degrees. 

When I start to explain excitability to someone who doesn't understand it, I can see their eyes glaze over and know they are "not my tribe."

Even within my tribe though, I once had a friend describe me as "an enigma wrapped in a riddle." 

But what if you have to interact on a regular basis with people who don't "get" you?

I guess I would start by saying that everyone takes in and reacts to the world differently.

I recently read a post about how some people have a genetic marker that makes cilantro taste like soap. For these people, eating cilantro is a very unpleasant experience. So how might this apply to excitablility? Let's start by looking at the definition of excitable according to Merriam-Webster:

Definition of excitable

1:  capable of being readily roused into action or a state of excitement or irritability

2:  capable of being activated by and reacting to stimuli excitable cells

This may look a little differnt depending on the type of excitability you relate to...

Intellectual - You might say that your brain is constantly going. Everything that comes up connects with another thought and you are constantly either jumping from one thought to another or delving super deep into something that has captured your attention. There's really very little in between. If you are only sort-of interested in something, it will not hold your attention for very long, but if you are deeply captured by something you can get lost in it for hours, or days. 

Sensory - Our sensory sensitivities may vary, but you might say that because your senses pick things up quickly, what is annoying for someone else might be excruciating for you. I once heard it described like the canary in the cole mine - sensory sensitive people notice things before others and can call attention to it. Those same things might bother everyone at some point, but the sensory excitable person will notice it sooner and be more affected by it. 

Emotional - I remember feeling when I was younger like my emotions were a roller coaster. The range of feelings experienced was extreme, so while I was capable of high highs, I was also capable of low lows. In my case, it is not to the degree of a diagnosable condition (except for possibly ADHD), but it does mean that I have to take extra time to ground myself emotionally - especially if I'm dealing with other people's intense emotions, which I pick up as well. 

Psychomotor - For me, this can best be described as a sense of restlessness. I am often fatigued, but it's a kind of "wired but tired" feeling. My body is being constantly overstimulated, which often leaves me feeling drained. 

Imaginational - This would be my lowest area of excitability, but for those I know who are high on this area, they have a very active imagination that is constantly going. In this blog post on being quietly spirited, Carissa Reid, who is highly imaginationally excitable, described herself as feeling like "a universe in a box, waiting for the flap to open."

On this week's Embracing Intensity Podcast, I explore further how myself and others describe our intensity/excitability. I would love to hear from you on how you describe your own!

To help you explore your own unique gifts, I created a free Find Your Superpower Course to help you: Identify your individual areas of excitability with an excitability checklist; Customize the name of your own unique superpower; & Explore how you can harness your own power instead of suppressing it or letting it get out of control. 

Two Words - Be Yourself!

This week I get to share with you an interview with Jennie Friedman of the See In ADHD Podcast

When asked what was the best advice she was ever given, Jennie said, "Be yourself. My mom and dad used to say that all the time and I still hear the voices saying that. It didn't seem like a good answer when I was younger and I think I spent many years fighting being myself. I wanted to actually be anybody but me for a very long time, and you know now - I mean, you don't have a choice right? You have to be yourself. But to be yourself and be really good with that and really love being yourself - you know, embracing that... I mean, be yourself is two words but the meaning is just a lifetime of that journey of being yourself and hating it and then having no choice but to be yourself and learning to love it. So it's the best advice - just two words, so powerful!"

Two Words - Be Yourself! Free Find Your Superpower Course Inside!

This seems to be the journey of so many intense and/or gifted women! Even when our parents accept us for who we are, we are told by the world that we just don't quite fit so we often try to shift into a mold that isn't well suited to us. This is why it warms our hearts when we see older women who are unapolagetically free to express themselves as they wish. 

But why wait until you are older to be yourself?

In a previous interview with Leela Sinha, she said, "if you, quote, toned it down and found yourself a place where you sort of fit, as your toned down self - the odds are as you approach 40, you're going to get sick of it and you're going to bust out of that box and everything that you thought you built is going to come crashing down around your ears and your gonna have to start over. So, the less time you spend building yourself into a false reality, the better off you are."

I think some of us get way past 40, but I agree with her sentiment that the sooner you get comfortable in your own skin the better. 

This is not to say that we do whatever we want without empathy or good communication, but that we look at the internal motivation for our choices. Doing things simply for approval or to "fit in," will certainly become draining, while doing things that are motivated by joy and deep interest will energize us. 

So think about what parts of yourself you feel like you might be holding back and how you might express that part of yourself in a way that feels good for you. Who knows, you might find connections with others when they get a glimpse of things they might be holding back in themselves. 

To help you explore your own unique gifts, I created a free Find Your Superpower Course to help you: Identify your individual areas of excitability with an excitability checklist; Customize the name of your own unique superpower; & Explore how you can harness your own power instead of suppressing it or letting it get out of control.

Is There Really Such a Thing as Balance?

In this week's interview with Nikki Petersen, we talk about finding balance as an intense, gifted, passionate woman. We use the term "work-life balance" all of the time in our vastly overscheduled culture. Add to that the intense pursuit of our interests and the tendency to get so abshorbed we miss out on the basics of life and finding balance seems even more elusive. But is balance even possible?

Something really stuck with me when I read The On-Purpose Person by Kevin McCarthy. He said, "Balance is a myth. Forget aobut it. Instead, integrate your life through your purpose so you're on-purpose."

But what exactly is integration? Kazimierz Dabrowski has a theory called Positive Disintegration, which asserts that before you can integrate at a higher level you must first disintegrate by dismantling your exising internal structure. This process eventually brings us to our conscious self, or a state of harmonious wholeness. 

Nikki puts it quite eloquently in her blog post called Dabrowski's Sweater. She describes the process of knitting a sweater with yarn our parents gave us and built on patterns from our parents and the enviornment around us. When we disintegrate, we unravel the sweater and then we integrate by using the same yarn and shaping it into a pattern of our own. 

To me, the word balance brings to mind a perfectly even scale, or a waiter perfectly balancing plates or trays. It conveys the idea of symetry or perfect equality of all the important parts in life.

Perfect balance is not only almost impossible to maintain, it can also be quite boring!

Imagine a sweater with perfectly even and symetrical blocks of color, or a piece of music with the same consistent rythm and balance of notes throughout. Not very compelling right? Definitely not very intense. 

I still use the word balance sometimes because that is what people relate to who are trying to find some way to integrate their lives, but the word that rings more true for me is harmony. Merriam-Webster defines harmony as a "pleasing or congruent arrangement of parts." 

When we have a sense of purpose and greater understanding of ourselves, we can make decisions that foster harmony rather than discord. 

Part of my purpose is to help passionate gifted women find harmony by prioritizing things in their lives that are in line with their purpose and bring energy so that they can share their gifts with the world! Contact me if you would like to set up a free 1 hour session to move into the new year with a greater sense of direction and energy!

Get Out of Your Own Box!

A year and a half ago or so, I interviewed Melissa Opie for my Embracing Intensity Podcast. She said something in that interview that still sticks with me today, "I like to help people see that this is just a self-imposed box that you're putting on yourself, let's get out of there and be free!"

It may start out with other people telling you what you can and can’t do, or what is right and what is wrong, but as we become adults and take ownership of our own life and decisions we tend to internalize those messages that may no longer be relevant today.

Some of them are self-protective in our attempt to gain approval, but as Amy Pearson says in an earlier interview, it’s not until you stop chasing approval from the neutrals and haters that you will be more likely to find your tribe.

We also may set limitations on ourselves out of our fear of failure.

One box I put myself in for years was the belief that with my inattentive tendencies, I could never be self-employed. I needed the external pressure and deadlines of a J-O-B to keep myself in line. In the last few years I’ve proved to myself that, while I may not be as productive as I would like to be, I can get a whole heck of a lot done when I’m highly motivated by my work!

As Melissa also says, “for people who really have found that thing that really lights them up, it gives them a reason to wake up in the morning… when people have found that I don’t think there is any danger of them not doing anything.” I have found this to be definitely true for myself.

Now does that mean I’m productive all of the time? Heck no! I’m still working on my process moving from the excessive structure of the school system to the complete lack of structure of entrepreneurship, but I’m motivated to find a way to make it work and be as effective as I can be.

I haven’t stepped completely out of that box yet, as I give myself the space to grow organically and at my own speed, I maintain a few days of my day job to help make ends meet. For many though, I don’t think it’s even about quitting a job or creating an entirely new life.

It’s about finding that “thing” that lights you up and allowing yourself to run with it.

So what self-imposed boxes have you been putting yourself in? How can you allow yourself to step out of that box - even if just a little bit at a time?

Your Needs are Not an Afterthought

When I first started my Embracing Intensity Podcast journey, I was connected with the accomplished J.J. Flizanes as an ideal guest. I made contact, but then when the project got delayed, my communication fizzled out. Last week when I got the chance to share in a podcast group we are both in, she said she really related to it, so I asked her for an interview and got one with her that week!

J.J. is a gifted woman if I ever met one! She described her experiences of feeling "different" growing up and coming off as too intense when she met new friends. She threw herself into her work - first acting, then personal training and now wrapping it all up together with lots of personal empowerment work including a best-selling book and a 6 day a week podcast!

Like everything she does, she dove into her business with intensity and drive. She pushed herself into adrenal fatigue and cycled between burning the candles at both ends to burning out and taking an extended break. She finally came to a point where she realized she needed to incorporate self-care into her everyday routine in order to maintain equilibrium and not keep pushing herself to the brink. 

Two key practices she uses to help with this include a daily grattitude practice and the use of Nonviolent Communication as a tool to connect with her own feelings and needs. This is a tool that we have both found extremely useful both for communicating with ourselves and being able to communicate our needs to others. I use the acronym STAR to remember the steps in the process:

Stop - Stop and observe the situation. What are your feelings? What needs are or are not being met? (you can find great lists of feelings and needs here) What judgements are you having about this situation?

Think - What strategies can you think of that might meet your needs? It is important to understand that there are many ways to meet the same need, and avoid getting stuck on one particular strategy. Get creative!

Act - Once you've found a strategy that you think might work (and doesn't violate the needs of someone else), act out your strategy. 

Request - This may come before or after you act. Think of who can help you meet your needs and make a request of them to help out. Be sure that you are clear that they can say no so it does not feel like a demand. People respond much better when they come from a place of empathy rather than a sense of "duty."

I think we both find this tool so valuable for self-awareness because intense and sensitive people so often push themselves and put other people's needs before their own that their own needs become an afterthought. When you do that continually though, you have a tendency to burnout. You can keep living in that burn - burnout cycle, or start taking the time now to get clear on your needs and take care of them as you move forward. In the end, this strategy will make you more effective when you do feel the need to push. 

This post is a part of the Hoagies' Gifted Education Blog Hop on Emotional Intelligence

Do you ever feel like you're too much?

Do you ever feel like you are too much? ~ Free Find Your Superpower Course Included

Do you ever feel like you’re too much? Too emotional? Too analytical? Too intense? Too sensitive?

The truth is half the time you feel like you’ve been shot out of a cannon, you’re so wired you just can’t seem to stop, the rest of the time you crash so hard you’re not good for much of anything.

You’ve tried a bunch of approaches, but nothing seems to make a difference right away so you give up quickly.

Your loved ones may say you’re overreacting, but for you life really is that intense.

So let me ask you.

Is this you…

  • When you’re working it’s go, go, go but the second you have a break you collapse from exhaustion, feeling like a slug.
  • Meaningful connection is important but when you do finally have some time you end up canceling on your friends (you’re just too exhausted to go out).
  • You have this weird ability to focus on certain things but you can get so lost in your work that you completely lose track of your basic needs (even going to the bathroom!)
  • Sometimes you push so hard that by the weekend your body shuts down, you find yourself dizzy, light-headed (brain fog), and – without getting into too much detail… your stomach isn’t happy.
  • You feel stifled creatively, since you became a mom and/or got a “real” job, you’ve  been feeling trapped because you never have time to do the creative work you crave.
  • You’re a serial hobbyist — you collect passions and interests and cycle through them the same way that a chameleon changes color.
  • And speaking of that “real” job, you got into it because you wanted to make a difference but you notice there’s a lot of stuff about the work that feels meaningless — endless paperwork, writing useless reports and all those budget meetings.
  • You set ridiculously high standards for yourself (in fact other people are often intimidated by you) but you always seem to fall short — it just seems that everybody else is so much more “together” than you.

If you relate, you’re probably a Highly Excitable Person. You may have heard of the term Highly Sensitive Person but this is a little different.

So what do I mean by highly excitable? Highly excitable people have an increased ability to perceive and respond to their environment. In other words……

You pick up on things that other people don’t and respond more intensely than the average Joe — you might break down in tears, you might find yourself obsessively thinking and thinking about a situation, you might actually get a stomach ache, you might get so lost in worst case scenario thinking that you startle when your friend says your name… There’s a feeling of “wired but tired,” until you’re just completely exhausted. All the while you wonder why you’re the only one who seems to be responding in this way…

People often describe you as dynamic, intense, sensitive, fiery, restless, passionate or spirited.

Because you react so intensely to your world you have this unique ability to literally make yourself sick. Many Highly Excitable People suffer from things like adrenal fatigue, chronic pain, exhaustion and/or digestive problems.  You might notice yourself getting sick a lot and/or it takes you FOREVER to recover from things, especially when you’re stressed out.

Anxiety is a factor too. You react so intensely to life —  your work, dating, your kids– you get so preoccupied with worry, fear or anticipation that it keeps you up at night, keeps you from being able to focus on what you want to do and impacts the way you eat (at the exact time when you should be eating well you reach for that container of chocolate peanut butter cups).

The Good News Is…

You have super powers.

There are five types of excitability: Emotional, Sensual,  Psychomotor, Intellectual and Imaginational.

Highly Excitable People have the unique ability to (depending on your type of excitability)…

… form deep connections with other people and living things.

… read other people in a way that most people can’t.

… pick up on tiny nuances in their environment.

People often describe you as dynamic, intense, sensitive, fiery, restless, passionate or spirited. ~ Do you ever feel like you're too much?

… deeply appreciate beauty and often create beautiful, even moving, pieces of art.

… use their dynamic energy to bring people together.

… be able to think things through to create brilliant connections .

…  uncover unique angles and perspectives that solve problems and introduce new ways of thinking.

… synthesizing seemingly unrelated pieces of information in a way that creates new ideas and approaches.

… master many kinds of unrelated things at the same time.

… influence others through art or and their intellectual pursuits, understanding the big picture and each individual perspective.

The truth is anyone who has achieved anything great is probably highly excitable in one of the five areas.

Here are some Highly Excitable People throughout history:

  • Jane Goodall (Emotional)
  • Ansel Adams (Sensual)
  • Robin Williams (Psychomotor)
  • Albert Einstein (Intellectual)
  • Walt Disney (Imaginational)

So Imagine:

  • Getting home from a full day of work and having the energy to call up a friend and meet her for dinner.
  • Having some extra time to take a hot bath (with salts!) without obsessing over all the things you should be doing. To your utter shock you actually enjoy yourself in the moment!
  • Sitting down at the end of a busy day, with a cup of tea, and feeling like you got it done — you didn’t spin your wheels, you were actually able to be focused and present on what was important.
  • Looking back over the year and smiling to yourself because of all you were able to do and accomplish.
  • Sitting down with your family for dinner, looking around the room, and feeling happy, not anxious, not preoccupied, just happy.
  • Knowing how to handle the everyday stress of life — family visits, temper tantrums, employee evaluations, traffic jams — without crumpling up in a ball (or screaming back).
  • Have a routine in your life that works, so you write every day, make sure to take a walk, drink your water, etc. but know how to adapt when you need to.
  • Having a clear sense of “having something special to offer” as opposed to always wondered why you’re the one who is always so sick, wired and tired.
  • Being called a thought leader, brilliant or a genius by people you respect.
  • Being asked to write, speak or teach about what is passionate to you.

Yes it really is possible!

My mission is to help Highly Excitable people use their fire without getting burned or burned out by connecting with their unique powers, balance their energy and feel a sense of accomplishment in their life.

To help you explore your own unique gifts and how to use them, I created a free Find Your Superpower Course to help you: Identify your individual areas of excitability with an excitability checklist; Customize the name of your own unique superpower; & Explore how you can harness your own power instead of suppressing it or letting it get out of control.

My Weird Brain

My Weird Brain

Reviewing google search terms that led to my website, I was impressed with how many people actually looked up the term "excitable," but my favorite search so far was, "i can be spacey but im actually very smart and do notice things others don't"

Well that pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

I got on a tangent today after reading an online "IQ" post and then getting it in my head to look for the test I took in college and the nonverbal one I gave myself before I knew the answers.

I was unsuccessful in finding the distinct pink file folder that I know it is in, but in the meantime, I found one labeled "ADHD" full of articles I never read and two checklists from when I was 20 and tried to get diagnosed but never followed through and lost all my school records. Funny how little has changed in 20 years! I commented at the top of one of the checklists: "I don't like this test too much, some of the questions are vague and some of the answers depend on specific details."

Before I learned about ADHD, I had been tested in college for a learning disability, but I scored high enough on the academics that the tester asked me why I bothered to take the test. He said I got into that school so clearly I was doing OK. Clearly I was not because I dropped out of that school after sophomore year.

I used to be called a gifted underachiever, now I feel more like a scattered overachiever - at least when it comes to the things I'm interested in.

I went into school psychology to help others understand their own brains, but the rigid system of state mandated tests and criterion scores often makes the testing feel less meaningful than it could be if there is no significant pattern of strengths and weakness.

It wasn't until my son went to school and I discovered the word "excitability" in a search for behavior problems in gifted kids, that it all kind of made sense to me.

Excitability in short means responding more intensely to things. Intellectual excitable are often identified as gifted. There are four other types of excitability as well, and each one comes with it's own gifts as well as pains. As for my excitabilities:

  • Intellectual is cool and all, but when my brain won't shut the heck up, it can be super annoying and keep me from falling asleep or focusing on the task at hand.
  • Sensory has felt like the plague of my life - with chronic pain and fatigue since my teens, but I have found as I've connected and listened more to my body that I can also experience things as intensely pleasurable when I don't tune myself out.
  • Psychomotor can provide dynamic energy, but push me to the brink in a constant state of wired but tired.
  • Emotional felt like a big roller coaster - especially as a kid. Now I'm working on reconnecting where I used to try to tone myself down.
  • Imaginational can give me great ideas, but I cycle through things I'd love to do and rarely finish any of them without an external deadline or commitment.

So yeah, I'm smart AND spacey but I'm starting to get a hang of this whole harnessing my own power thing!

My weird brain

This has been a part of the June Hoagies' Gifted Education Blog Hop.

Follow Your Peace

Follow Your Peace

I've been quiet again for the last few weeks, but things are picking up behind the scenes. It got me thinking about where I was about this time last year.

I had gone down to three days a week at my "day job" and was running out of my savings with no clear path to income on it's way. Promoting myself one on one wasn't really working so I decided to launch a group. I thought that I was doing it because it felt right - but I realize now that I mostly did it from a place of fear.

Most regrettably, I invested in expensive programs that weren't right for me because I felt a sense of urgency to make money now.

As far as my group program goes, it turned out to be a good thing in the end because it got me to develop a course that I can now use with clients.

A sense of urgency can have it's place by getting you to do things based on public commitments, but I've decided that for me it should be avoided at all costs when it comes to decision making.

My decision to go back to work four days a week was going to enable me to step back a bit and focus on community building through my Embracing Intensity podcast etc. When we acquired Quinn Mountain Retreat though, everything went of track for a bit. I offered to go back full time out of a sense of urgency and almost immediately regretted it. I also came close to investing in another program that seemed to have the "magic bullet" for developing a program using the new retreat space, but fortunately I decided to hold off and see where I was in the spring.

Then a few things happened that gave me a new perspective. I went to a networking event unprepared, without a business card or makeup. I learned that having a retreat center at a networking event is much more fun than telling people you are a life coach. Because people were coming to me excitedly, it freed me up to just be myself, and I almost got a coaching client just for being present and being me.

I also had tea with a wonderful lady who, when I mentioned I might be looking for a business coach down the road, told me to follow my peace rather than urgency. I realized I had made way too many decisions based on urgency in the last year, and when things started to move it was when I stepped back and stopped pushing. In fact, right as my full time gig cut back, I got a client out of nowhere - and it seemed to be just the right timing for both of us.

That's not to say that I won't move myself forward. Now that my work time is freed up a bit, I'm ready to dedicate that time toward building my business again. This time though, where I invest my time and money will come from a place of peace.

Follow Your Peace

Move the Rock

Move the rock!

You ever find a book that you want to go out and buy for everyone? Well Rising Strong by Brene Brown is one of those for me. I love everything she does, but this was not only insightful, but also had me laughing out loud (listening to her voice on the audio version helped).

One of the concepts I really appreciated was the idea of "moving the rock." When asked what he would do if he knew that someone he was really frustrated with was doing the best he could, a man said, "Then move the rock."

When asked to explain, he said, "I have to stop kicking the rock. I need to move it. It's hurting both of us."

In essence, as Brene says, "we stop respecting and evaluating people based on what we think they should accomplish, and start respecting them for who they are and holding them accountable for what they're actually doing. It means that we stop loving people for who they could be and start loving them for who they are."

I think we are often guilty of doing this to ourselves more than others! What we think of as "underachievement" is really just a focus on achievement in the wrong area.

We beat ourselves up for what we "should" do instead of celebrating what we do well and enjoy.

Of course, this may have been reinforced by years of schooling that focused on fitting inside a box. If you were lucky, perhaps you had a teacher or two who celebrated you for who you are.

As adults, we have the opportunity to shift our thinking. If I've learned one thing in my years of reading personal development literature it is that when we eliminate the word "should" from our thoughts and vocabulary, the world is a much happier place.

What would you be doing if you didn't think you "should" be doing something else?

You Are More Than Enough!

You are more than enough!

I'd like to share a little peeve of mine that I've mostly kept to myself because it is a popular phrase used by a lot of people I highly respect.

I kinda hate the term, "you are enough!"

Now don't get me wrong, I totally get where it's coming from. So many of us are perfectionists and push ourselves to be more and more. Our inner critics can be a bitch and we hold ourselves to impossible standards.

But is that where we are going to set the bar? Enough?

How about you are awesome?

I'd be willing to bet that there is a lot that is awesome about you!

Enough is for the things we push ourselves to do that are a part of who we think we should be rather than the things that truly bring us joy.

I am good enough at the paperwork I have to do to keep my day job. I am good enough at keeping my house from being declared a hazard zone. I am good enough to do the things I need to do to survive.

But you know what? I am awesome at the things I need to do to thrive! I am awesome at connecting and seeing the other person's side. I am awesome at accepting people where they are at. I am still working on being awesome at listening to my own body and turning inward.

So by all means when your inner critic kicks in, tell yourself that you are enough, but remember that you are oh so much more!

your are more than enough!

Top posts of 2015

2015 was an eventful year indeed! In the fall alone, I went back to my "day job" full time, got married, turned 40, and acquired a small retreat center. I also got a new computer, which switched up my fonts and images a bit. Needless to say, I've been a little preoccupied to post weekly, but there have been some well followed posts along the way. Special thanks to Hoagies Gifted Education blog hops for connecting me to a wider audience even when I haven't had the chance to widely promote my work. For the first part of 2016, my plan is to focus on self-care and get comfortable in my new home. I plan to start a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program in the new year and to keep a journal about my experience. I'd like to start weekly blog posts again, so keep your eye out.

In the fall, I will plan to launch my Embracing Intensity podcast and find ways to share our new Quinn Mountain community through in-person coaching and small retreats

For now, enjoy my top posts from 2015!

5. An Orange In the Apple Barrel

Bonus - 25 Things Only a Highly Excitable Person Would Understand - Not posted in 2015, but by far my most visited post this year!

An Orange in the Apple Barrel

Last month I got married, and shared why I wore orange to my wedding. The expression "she's not a smaller apple, she's an orange," became my motto for many years. It helped me to understand why I didn't fit the traditional school mold even though I would later be identified as gifted (in hindsight I was probably what they would call "twice exceptional" with unidentified auditory processing and attention issues).

I embraced my orangeness in an apple world. I might have been considered a hipster before it was remotely considered "hip." This was especially true in the way that I dressed. My senior year of high school, when the grunge movement started, I remember bemoaning the fact that the same people who used to mock my style were now complementing me. When I went to school in a patchwork dress I designed myself, I expected weird looks but instead got complements instead.

I was so contrary in my dress that even when I went to the more alternative scene of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, where most people wore black and possibly lingerie, I wore things like a cute little vintage green and white gingham jumper with daisies. I got into wearing garter belts, but with cotton stockings I tie died myself.

I was fortunate enough to be raised with family and the Unitarian Universalist community that supported expression of individuality. School, however, didn't always do this. Although the school was very diverse, there were not a lot of mixed ethnicity groups on campus. My band of misfit friends was an exception. Because of this, you'd almost think we were popular if you looked at my senior yearbook because that year's theme was diversity and my friends represented that concept well.

My last husband was in a band with some of those friends. I knew we were destined to meet when a friend told me, "he's weird, he's even weirder than you!" This was a flag we both carried proudly.

Being weird just for the sake of being weird was a developmental stage of adolescence for me. It was my own form of rebellion since in most other ways I was a sweet and obedient child. I knew I would never "fit in," so instead I strove to stand out.

I remember meeting a person who read auras who once told me that I cared a lot about what other people thought of me. I laughed at the time because I thought I didn't care at all, when in fact I know that I cared a little too much, so I created an image of myself that I could control to some degree and when people didn't like me I could brush it off that they just didn't "get" me.

Over the years though, I saw my deliberate unconventionality as a sign of imaturity and began to tone myself down to fit with the other apples. I didn't see it as loosing myself, just as part of growing up.

While it is true that doing things just for the sake of getting attention no longer feels like the right fit for me, neither does doing things simply to fit the mold.

As Dr. Seuss said, "Why fit in when you were born to stand out?"

This post is part of a blog hop that starts in November on ages and stages of giftedness for Hoagies Gifted Education Page.

What do Brene Brown and Lady Gaga Have in Common?

Dr. Brene Brown @ Texas Conference for Women - Oct. 24, 2012, Austin

Lady Gaga, ARTPOP Ball Tour, Bell Center, Montréal, 2 July 2014 (119)

In her new book, Rising Strong, Brene Brown says, "When I was a child, the smallest glimpse into a new world could unleash a torrent of curiosity within me... I wanted to know more about everything. Except emotion."

In Daring Greatly, she describes her family motto as "lock and load," which contributed to an "aversion to uncertainty and emotional exposure." She also, however, "inherited a huge heart and ready empathy."

Starting in middle school she started developing "different suits of armor" that kept her safe from vulnerability. She tried on varied roles ranging from "the good girl" to "angry activist" to "out of control party girl." These roles helped keep her numbed and tuned out so she wouldn't become overly engaged.

She embraced her intense intellect while suppressing her intense emotions.

The turning point for her came when her mom went into therapy. Suddenly the family that didn't discuss emotions started to put everything on the table. It was messy, but as Brene points out, she wouldn't be who she is today without it.  "This experience and how it played out over the years ignited within me a spark of curiosity about emotions that has continued to grow."

Even in her young adult life though, she avoided vulnerability and uncertainty. In her viral TED talk on vulnerability, she talks about how she went into research because she wanted to take messy topics such as emotions and make them "not messy."

When she discovered that embracing vulnerability was the key to "whole heartedness," she had what she called a "breakdown," and her therapist called a "spiritual awakening."  This was the catalyst that sparked her life changing work as an author, researcher, storyteller and speaker.

She now helps people around the world to accept themselves for their own imperfections and open themselves up to uncertainty and vulnerability so that they can be their best selves.

Lady Gaga, or Stefani Germanotta, on the other hand, had a different kind of childhood. It was not her family who discouraged displays of intense emotion or expressing herself, it was her peers.

This article on her early years shares that "Gaga described herself in high school as 'very dedicated, very studious, very disciplined' but also 'a bit insecure' as she told in an interview, 'I used to get made fun of for being either too provocative or too eccentric, so I started to tone it down. I didn’t fit in, and I felt like a freak.'"

She found an outlet in drama and music and honed her talent for songwriting at an early age. She also "honed her writing skills by composing essays and analytical papers focusing on topics such as art, religion and socio-policital order."

Career-wise, her early work was described as "wedding band-ish," not really standing out from the crowd. It wasn't until she embraced her own excentricity in her work that she became a pop sensation.

In 2011, she founded the Born This Way Foundation with her mother, which aims to inspire youth and build better communities through empowerment and anti-bullying education. She has also been actively involved in LGBT and Women's rights advocacy. Her mission is "to inspire bravery" in youth so that they can embrace who they really are.

Both of these women have intense intellect, emotions and creativity. They got the message at some point in their lives that something about them was "too much," so they toned themselves down and/or tuned themselves out. It was not until they reconnected with the power of their intensity, however, that they truly shined and helped shine their light to guide others.

Stories like these are what I am gathering for my upcoming Embracing Intensity Podcast. I have already started interviewing some remarkable women who are using their fire and helping others do the same! You can preview excerpts from their stories in the video below.

You can also receive updates on the podcast release by signing up for my free Power Zone Toolkit: 7 Days to More Focus, Energy and Fun.