123: Finding Balance in Life with ADHD with Brendan Mahan

Do you or someone you love struggle to find balance in life because of the effects of ADHD? This is the show with the answers! My guest has been where you are because he has ADHD and his passion is to help others.

Brendan Mahan has a Master’s of Education and School Counseling. He’s an internationally-known ADHD Executive Functioning consultant, coach, and host of the ADHD Essentials podcast. He helps people manage the emotional, academic, and lifestyle impacts ADHD has on the people who have it and those who care for them. I was introduced to Brendan when he appeared on the ADHD ReWired podcast with Eric Tivers, where Brendan talked about his concept of “The Wall of Awful.”

123 (1).jpg

Show Highlights:

  • The things Brendan is intensely passionate about: helping parents and non-ADHD people understand, storytelling, being a husband and father, and martial arts

  • How Brendan’s intensity shows itself in stress and sensory overwhelm

  • How Brendan grew up as a sensitive kid who was afraid to disappoint adults

  • Brendan as a product of the 80s and 90s toxic masculinity who also had a nurturing side

  • How he learned to say “the quiet parts” out loud

  • How ADHD makes you impulsive and large, and Brendan tries to rein it in and not overwhelm others

  • Establishing boundaries when people unload on you

  • How to decompress

  • Two recent moments of overwhelm for Brendan

  • As an ADHD coach and consultant, Brendan works with kids, adults, families, schools, and mental health organizations as a speaker, podcaster, and (now) interim principal

  • How Brendan inverts the fire of anxiety to use it to be more compassionate and empathic

  • Why we need to give each other permission to struggle with mental health issues just like physical issues

  • Habits that help Brendan the most: a calendar for scheduling time and commitments, and his wife and kids who help slow him down at times

  • Why Brendan doesn’t believe in “lazy,” but believes it’s learned helplessness born out of a lack of skills

  • Why you shouldn’t tell a kid, “This is easy”

  • How much of Brendan’s coaching work comes down to problem-solving

  • Why you CAN do that thing you think you can’t

  • How you disempower those who want to help you when you don’t accept their help

  • Brendan’s advice: “Be willing to be vulnerable with those whom you care about and care about you.”


Find out more about Brendan and his work:

Brendan Mahan

Email: brendan@adhdessentials.com

Self-Reg by Stuart Shanker

Three upcoming events: Visit the Embracing Intensity Facebook page to join our EI Community or Patreon--

            April 27: Seasonal Potluck in the Pacific NW

            April 29: Ignite Your Power course: Time and Energy Balance

            May 11: A (10:00 am Pac.) group call with Kate Arms on Thriving with Intensity

Anxiety is the only thing you can burn for fuel and end up with more of it when you're done. ~ Brendan Mahan
Finding Balance in Life with ADHD with Brendan Mahan
There is power in quitting, but you should only quit if the thing isn't worth doing." ~ Brendan Mahan

122: My 2E Breakdown

This week I was going to share our group call talk with Rukshana Triem, but life happened so instead I thought I'd share a quick story about my own school experience and how it led me to crash hard in college! 

Embracing Intensity Podcast: My 2E Breakdown


  • My best educational fit in school.

  • The importance of interpretation beyond just test numbers.

  • Why learning more about how we learn and process information can help.

121: Learning to Love Yourself with the "Queen of Ease" Shannon Meade

Can you look in the mirror and say, “I love you”? Today’s guest explains why this is important, along with cultivating a passion for lifelong learning and learning that you can’t carry the negative emotions of those around you. Dive in deep with us!

Shannon Meade is a homeschooling mom of two boys who is a Pacific Northwest native but also a global traveler. Most recently, she took her family to Thailand for 14 months to provide space and time for them all to be together and to provide her husband a respite from his busy career as a 911 dispatcher. As the “Queen of Ease,” Shannon offers workshops and speaks to women about their inner critic and ways to foster better relationships with themselves.

Learning to Love Yourself with the "Queen of Ease" Shannon Meade

Show HIghlights:

  • Shannon’s intense passion for being a learner, embracing new ideas, and understanding and connecting people to the resources they need

  • Why Shannon loves “slow traveling” to get a feel for other environments

  • Shannon’s intensity in getting fired up about things and not letting them go

  • How she’s learned not to carry other people’s emotions and to let heavy emotions go

  • Shannon’s cultural factors that affected her intensity in childhood

  • With a bipolar dad, she had to tone down and tune out to tiptoe around his mood swings

  • How she would “push buttons” on purpose just so she could have some control over family meltdowns and blowups

  • How Shannon’s intensity got out of control with interactions with her sister

  • How Shannon sees the gift in her intensity and can speak to others’ needs for insight and resources

  • How Shannon harnessed the power of her intensity by working with a hypnotherapist and life coach

  • How this podcast and a book by Suzanne Mathis McQueen helped Shannon

  • How Shannon learned to let go of the “shoulds”

  • How Shannon uses her fire in a positive way by engaging as a learner

  • Shannon’s work in hosting retreats and speaking to women’s groups

  • How we can overcome the polarizing effect by finding similarities and common threads with others

  • Why you should say “I love you” to yourself


Find Shannon Meade, Queen of Ease on Facebook

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

The Joy of Genius by Gay Hendricks

4 Seasons in 4 Weeks by Suzanne Mathis McQueen

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, MD

The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald D. Davis and Eldon M. Braun

Dyslexic Advantage by Brock L. Eide, MD, M.A.

Music was a safe way for me to be artistic without raising any eyebrows. ~ Shannon Meade
Learning to Love Yourself with the "Queen of Ease" Shannon Meade
The value I place on connection and compassion drives my passion for understanding. ~ Shannon Meade

120: Twice Exceptional Relationships with Dr. Melanie Hayes

Navigating relationships successfully can be one of the most challenging things we ever do. The intensity and outside-the-box nature of twice-exceptionality (gifted plus disability), adds in a whole new layer of challenge. In this episode, Dr. Melanie Hayes shares both the joys and the hurdles of twice exceptional relationships.

Twice Exceptional Relationships with Dr. Melanie Hayes

In this episode:

  • Common issues in all relationships.

  • Additional challenges for twice-exceptional people.

  • Meeting our unmet needs in relationships.

  • A recipe for twice-exceptional people to connect with who they really are and have fulfilling lives. 


Embracing Intensity Community

Support Embracing Intensity on Patreon

119: Shining the Spotlight on Giftedness through Filmmaking with Marc Smolowitz

Why is intensity often cast with a negative connotation? Today’s show highlights an intense and “extra” person who is finding success in the world of filmmaking, embracing intensity, and happy to take the risk to be a shining creative!

Marc Smolowitz is a multi-award-winning director, producer, and executive producer who has been significantly involved in over 50 successful independent films. He wears many hats across the film and entertainment industry, and the combined footprint of his work has touched 200 film festivals and markets on five continents, yielding substantial worldwide sales to theatrical, television, and VOD outlets. He’s experienced notable box office receipts, numerous awards and nominations, and his long list of credits includes films that have screened at top-tier festivals. As a director/producer, his 2011 film, The Power of Two, premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival and went on to screen at 35 festivals around the globe, winning major prizes, garnering theatrical release in the USA and Japan, and selling on Hulu in the USA and Netflix in Japan. Marc is currently in production on two feature documentaries. The G Word is a film about giftedness, intelligence, and neurodiversity, and is slated for 2020 completion. The Lonely Child is a film about the unexpected present-day footprint of a little-known Yiddish lullaby written during the Holocaust. This film has been developed with the Jewish Film Institute’s Competitive Filmmaker in Residence program in San Francisco.


Show Highlights:

●     Marc’s passion: to work in the film process from the kernel of the idea to the production and marketing pieces

●     Why Marc is passionate about art, activism, social change, LGBTQ issues, public health and community issues, diversity, and inclusionism

●     Marc’s intensity as a kid and ever since---not the kind that alienates others, but he had to learn to modify his responses at times

●     How Marc thrives on other people’s energy

●     The deep resilience instilled by his parents

●     Why Marc calls everyone “they” instead of using gender-specific pronouns

●     How non-binary expression of identity opens up opportunities

●     Why Marc tries to live without regrets, even when his intensity threatens to get out of control

●     Marc’s battle with HIV, an illness with much shame, guilt, and stigma

●     Why it’s NOT a small thing to be the child of Holocaust survivors

●     How Marc uses his fire for good, actively looking forward and behind at the same time

●     Why he can live comfortably in today’s technological world

●     How Marc learned early in life that he couldn’t do things in ways that please everybody

●     How we need to cultivate new ideas and standards for creativity and giftedness

●     Why social and emotional challenges aren’t limited to any one demographic, and how we need to look through the lens that makes us relatable to one another

●     How Marc has experienced mostly positive outcomes from embracing intensity, even though there is always a big risk when you completely express yourself


Support The G Word Film Kickstarter

Join the Embracing Intensity Community

13th Gen  Learn more about Marc and his company

Follow Marc on Twitter: @MarcSmolowitz

The Gword Film Find out about Marc’s film about giftedness

Giftedness is not the privilege of a small group of people. ~ Marc Smolowitz on Embracing Intensity Podcast
Shining the Spotlight on Giftedness through Filmmaking
I had a sense very early on that I would be criticized and made fun of if I was myself - and I just didn't care." ~ Marc Smolowitz

118: The Gift of Self-Love for the Intense Person with Melissa Snow

If you’re an intense person, then you’ve probably known feelings of being out of control,  unvalued in relationships, and being unable to set boundaries. My guest today has a wonderful story about how she came to a place of self-love, so she could then ask for what she wants and needs to be her best self in the world.

Melissa Snow is a certified life coach who specializes in helping women improve their lives by learning to like, love, and value themselves more. She understands firsthand what it’s like to feel out of place and “not good enough.” She also knows the dramatic effects this has on ALL aspects of your life. She loves helping women get from where they are to where they want to be, by increasing their self-esteem and recognizing their inherent worth. Melissa is the author of Ten Secrets to Having the Love You Want, and has recently been featured on The Inspired Women podcast with Megan Hall. She’s also frequently featured on Bustle and Mind-Body Green.


Show Highlights:

  • How Melissa grew up as a gifted kid in the 1980s, going to an integrated school where she felt like she didn’t belong and wasn’t as good as others

  • How her passion developed for helping women realize their value and harness their power

  • How her intensity is manifested in her being overly emotional and sensitive to other people and to beauty in nature

  • How she felt intensity when growing up, but not knowing how to harness it and what to do with it

  • The effects of ADHD and giftedness as Melissa grew up

  • Feeling like she didn’t belong and needed to be “fixed”

  • How there weren’t opportunities and the level of understanding of giftedness that we see today

  • How she felt like she had to tone herself down and tune herself out

  • How we expect other people to like and love us when we don’t even like and love ourselves

  • In early adulthood, Melissa’s self-worth was tied to whatever others thought

  • When you don’t have self-esteem or self-worth, you don’t feel like you have the right to set boundaries, and you become a needy, desperate, jealous, and clingy person

  • How Melissa got to the point where she felt at rock bottom, and there was absolutely nothing in her life that she liked

  • How she got her intensity back under control, harnessing the power, and using it for good and not destruction

  • How she harnessed the power of her intensity by becoming a life coach and learning to accept herself and her quirks

  • How keeping “things” under control helps Melissa keep life under control

  • Being her best self by learning to schedule downtime, using time-blocking techniques, and setting a routine to be grounded and at peace

  • Not allowing negativity to infiltrate the rest of her life

  • How Melissa helps others use their fire, by helping them in figuring who they are and who they want to be

  • Your own thoughts and beliefs about yourself are usually the biggest obstacle in being who you want to be

  • Why it’s NEVER too late to change your story


Melissa Snow 

Embracing Intensity  Join our community!

Three upcoming events:  

                            April 1--Ignite Your Power: Self-Empathy

                            April 13--Guest call: Connecting with Nature

                            April 27--Quarterly Potluck in the Portland area

Embracing Intensity Podcast with Melissa Snow
The Gift of Self-Love for the Intense Person with Melissa Snow
Who you are is enough. ~ Melissa Snow

117: The Hard Truth About Potential: Why we always feel like we are "never enough"

Do you ever have the feeling that you are "never enough"? This week, Aurora talks about how our ability to see the potential in everything, can actually get in the way of achieving it! 

The hard truth about potential - why we always feel like we are "never enough"

In this episode, Aurora shares:

  • Lessons learned from her colicky kid.

  • How seeing potential in everything gets in our way.  

  • Common barriers to meeting our visualized potential.

  • 3 ways you can support yourself when you are feeling "not enough"

115: On Resilience with Silver Huang

“We don't want to simply bounce back, we want to bounce forward.” This week, on Embracing Intensity, Silver Huang shares her wisdom on the topic of resilience. As both a profoundly gifted and autistic individual, her perspective is simultaneously unique and universal. She lays out concepts that can be hard to grasp in a very tangible and actionable way. Plus, she’s just really fun to listen to!

On Resilience with Silver Huang

In this talk, Silver will share:

  • Working definitions of adversity, resilience, and adaptability.

  • The importance of perspective.

  • How shifting our respective can change outcomes.

  • 6 practical templates to help shift your perspective and improve outcomes.


Embracing Intensity Community

Silver's Website

"We don't simply want to bounce back, we want to bounce forward" ~ Silver Huang
On Resilience with Silver Huang
"If you're still alive, there's still hope" ~ Silver Huang

114: Harnessing Your Power

This week on Embracing Intensity, I'm sharing the first lesson of my Ignite Your Power Course. In this lesson, we will observe our own powers, get clear on how to harness them and develop a “power toolkit” to help harness them more. You can find the full group discussion and other materials related to the lesson in the Embracing Intensity Community

Harnessing Your Power!

In this episode, I discuss: 

  • The 5 types of excitability.

  • How do your excitabilities look when suppressed, out of control and harnessed?

  • Tips for harnessing each excitability.

  • Improving your self-regulation skills.

  • What it looks like when you are "in the zone."

  • Developing a Power Toolkit.


Firmina Foundation

Ignite Your Power Course

Embracing Intensity Community

113: Using Language to Express Your Intensity with Abbi Wood

How do you think it feels to feel stifled and suppressed your whole life, always being told what to say and what to do? It doesn’t sound like a fulfilling way to live, does it? It’s especially difficult for someone with intensity, unable to express their thoughts and words. Today’s show tells the inside story.

Abbi Wood loves words and having fun with language. Perhaps this love stems from the fact that her words were suppressed for so long. She now loves the growth and evolution of words, and how new words emerge and old words become redundant, faster than you can say---redundant! As a kid, Abbi dreamed of getting a Ph. D. in the English language, and now she has more than 20 years under her belt working with words. She has a double degree in math and computer sciences because her family convinced her that making a living as a writer was an impossibility. A challenger by nature, Abbi fought against so-called “truths” her entire life. As a woman and a person of color, she heard more than her fair share of what to do and what to say in the world, and she’s learned to take what she hears with a grain of salt. She’s also learned how to think for herself and make up her own mind. Join us as we jump into Abbi’s story and her intensity.


Show HIghlights:

  • Why Abbi is passionate about being herself and being free from the burden of other people telling her what to do and say

  • Why Abbi likes helping her clients with being free and unburdened

  • Abbi’s own brand of intensity and what it looks like

  • Why she loves encouraging people to be themselves because she wasn’t allowed to do that for a long time

  • How Abbi tries to offset chaos by using organization and systems that work for her

  • How she wasn’t allowed to manifest her intensity while growing up

  • How can I be of service without being a slave to people-pleasing?

  • Why cultural factors led to Abbi feeling like she didn’t have the voice she wanted, in her family and in the world

  • Growing up in Pakistan, England, and the US

  • Why Abbi thought she could never accomplish the things she wanted

  • How Abbi felt like two different people: the one she was at home and the one she was out in the world

  • A time when Abbi felt out of control when it became harder and harder not to say what she wanted to say with her brothers

  • Abbi’s fears for her daughter, and not wanting her to grow up feeling stifled and suppressed

  • Abbi’s words to parents

  • How Abbi uses her fire for good in her business, helping people write what they want to say

  • How Abbi comes from a place of sharing what she loves

  • How she helps harness the power of intensity, with systems, lists, organization, and hacks

  • What the concept of “contaminated time” means for overwhelmed women

  • The importance of being connected and staying social

  • Abbi’s best advice from herself: “Find your freedom”

  • Abbi’s best advice from a book she read: “Focus on the ONE thing that will move you forward right now.”

  • Books that have helped Abbi and been impactful in her life

  • Vulnerability: what it is and what it is NOT

  • How Abbi helps others use their fire, by uncovering what’s inherent in them and demonstrating it with language

  • Why Abbi takes the time with her clients for intensive discovery

  • Abbi’s challenges to listeners: “I challenge you to be yourself, even though you might sometimes feel at odds with yourself and with the world. There is a method to the madness, so be who you are.”


Abbi Wood

The Age of Overwhelm by Laura van Dernoot

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

Brene’ Brown books

"I lived my whole life being told what to say and what to do." ~ Abbi Wood
Using Language to Express Your Intensity with Abbi Wood
"How do you know who you're speaking to if you don't know where you're coming from?" ~ Abbi Wood

110: Fostering Self Compassion in Gifted Individuals: Talk with Heather Boorman

We are super excited to have Heather Boorman, of the Fringy Bit Podcast, share her talk on Self-Compassion from the SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) conference last summer!

Self-Compassion has been proven to be an effective mindset and intervention toward more sustainable mental health and self-concept. This presentation will apply the work of Dr. Kristin Neff in the field of self-compassion to the gifted population and typical struggles faced by many gifted individuals. In particular, we will consider how Dabrowski’s super-stimulabilities and other typical psychosocial traits can lead to perfectionism, imposter syndrome, self-judgment, low frustration tolerance, depression, and anxiety. We will consider the ways in which society’s responses to giftedness and emphasis on self-esteem can also contribute to un-wellness in gifted children, youth, and adults. Self-compassion will then be defined and defended as an effective intervention toward increased wellness. Attendees will be introduced to, and participate in, exercises to increase self-compassion. The session will be a blend of lecture and interactive.

Fostering Self Compassion in Gifted Individuals

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to identify at least 5 psychosocial traits typical within the gifted population

  2. Participants will be able to explain how typical psychosocial experiences of gifted individuals may contribute to un-wellness in the forms of perfectionism, imposter syndrome, low frustration tolerance, self-judgment, and mental health issues.

  3. Participants will be able to define self-compassion and identify the 3 components that contribute to self-compassion

  4. Participants will be able to identify and implement at least 3 interventions to increase self-compassion.

    About the Author:

    Heather Boorman lives an intensely joy-filled and full life as a homeschooling mom to 3 fringy kids and the executive director and therapist with Boorman Counseling. She passionately advocates for differently wired kids and adults through her work as a national speaker, writer & podcaster at The Fringy Bit. Heather’s also the author of The Gifted Kids Workbook, which provides mindfulness based activities to help kids reduce stress, balance emotions, and build confidence.

    About Embracing Intensity Group Calls:

    Each month on the second Saturday, we will have a guest speaker dive in to a topic they love followed by a discussion with the group. The talk will be shared on the podcast, but the discussion will only be shared with Embracing Intensity community members and patrons. The calls will be on the Zoom platform, which allows you to interact at whatever level you'd like (video, audio or use photo and chat box). There will be opportunity for further discussion in the Embracing Intensity Community.


Fringy Bit Podcast

Embracing Intensity Community

108: Building Community

I'm back after my month off! I was supposed to be resting and taking a break, but last week I had some divine inspiration for the direction of the year to come!

Embracing Intensity Podcast - Creating Community

In this episode:

  • I share about my entrepreneurial journey the past 4-5 years.

  • It all comes back to listening to your gut over "conventional wisdom"

  • Creating a vibrant community both online and in person. 

  • A peek at our upcoming events for 2019!


Power Zone Toolkit

Embracing Intensity Community

106: Your Rainforest Mind - Book Study with Paula Prober

Your Rainforest Mind is one of my all-time favorite books for gifted adults, and we had the privilege of having author, Paula Prober, join us for a group call to discuss her book! In this episode, we share highlights from the conversation and inspiration for other rainforest minded people!

Your Rainforest Mind with Paula Prober

We explore questions including:

  • What are novel strategies to deal with the "fried circuits" of over-excitability outside of the standard "good self care?"

  • How do you approach communicating your excitable nature in groups or conversations where you are afraid you might come off as dominating or "too much."

  • How do you self-motivate when you don't have external forces pushing you forward?

  • Feeling the suffering of the world and responsibility to fix it.

  • How do you deal with the perfectionism that often comes with giftedness?


Find Your Power Word for 2019