Finding a voice

You_are_here_galaxyI read. I read books and blogs and articles and I am pulled into the miasma of it all, overwhelmed, adrift in the sea of words and caught up in the ebb and flow of …everything.  It’s amazing. I love it and yet it makes me doubt myself even more. My self-doubt of why my voice matters in the maelstrom of amazing voices makes me balk at writing anything.

Even the marginal books I read I can appreciate (usually) and I wonder why in the vast ocean of words my voice would make a difference. There are so many amazing stories and writers that all my if’s add to the downward pull of what if my story isn’t compelling enough, what if I can’t come up with the right words to deliver the message?

Writing a blog for me is fear. It’s more than just an Imposter Syndrome thing, but it could be involved. It could include higher anxiety as well. Either way, it’s an ugly monster that washes me in, caught in the under tow, pulled away from the assured safety of the shore line voyeurism of just reading, my safe haven of reading.

Then I recall the advice given to me by a powerful lobbyist when I asked about what they do when they have a politician who is just completely against them. (This was a person who lobbies nationally for developmental disabilities) “I just add what I can. I think of it like a water glass. Some politicians already know about the needs of others and how to help. Their glass is already full, but we still want to give them what we can so they have extra. Others have an empty glass and I try to just add a few drops here or there if they are strongly opposed to it because you never know. One day they may have a niece or nephew who has an extra chromosome or a close encounter with a learning disability that makes all of my attempts come flooding back and fills his glass quickly, or it just may be that a few drops as often as possible will eventually start filling that glass.”

When I started advocating for gifted and learning disabilities, I focused more on the learning disabilities because I saw more of the short end of the stick on the side that didn’t allow their intelligence to be recognized and appreciated. As I’ve moved on, I see more and more that it’s the same struggle. It’s inappropriate education and a lack of understanding and my voice is more than just my stories.

Now I just need to keep my courage up to write. I’m so much better at presenting than writing. I get caught up in the moment and flow happens. Writing can occasionally be a flow experience for me, but more often than not, is a long hard slog.

When beginning at the beginning doesn’t work

homeschool-encouragementWe started homeschooling about 2 months ago. And I had internal issues inside my head just screaming about why it was right and wrong and what this could do to my children. It was scary. Scary in a way that I had not felt in quite some time.

Now I’m a fan of getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things, but this was bigger. For one, it’s not me, it’s my kids I’m messing with; 2) trying homeschooling isn’t like trying a new park or new hobby, this is game changing, and 3) I’m not Mr. Consistency. Thankfully my wife if a planner and much more geared to seeing things through for a lifetime.

I’m a knee-jerk/fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort of person and I did not get along well in school. My wife was the opposite. I did not enjoy school until later in college and through my master’s degree, but early on in school my personality did not jive with the school setting. I have found I still do not fit into structure so well and often feel like the proverbial square peg. The last thing I want is for my kids to struggle fitting in as much as I have.

What I have discovered is that my girls are adjusting better as homeschoolers than they did in the structured school environment. My oldest, being anaphylactic to a wide assortment of common foods has been laughing and being her “old” self again. We had forgotten what that was like to some extent. Our middle child was testing a couple/few grades above normal and complaining to be board at school, and at home she is allowed to let her mind go non-stop (we do still have to tell her to quit running and bouncing on the furniture, but her mind can continue to race along).

One of our concerns is if/when the middle child passes the older one. In a normal school setting there would have been a slight buffer between the girls since they do not do the work together. At home, they are doing things at the same table often and middle one is closing that gap quickly.

Our youngest is not even in pre-school yet, so we don’t have a clue where she will fit into the mix completely, but she does enjoy learning alongside her sisters.  Overall, I see it as a huge success so far. No stress and anxiety over food or homework or being sure the permission slip is turned in, or remembering to pay the $10 for this $20 for that and $15 for the other thing week after week. The girls get to stay up later and sleep in if they feel like it (which will help more as they approach their teen years I’m sure).  They are getting out and going places and seeing people often still, but it’s a more “normal” setting for life. We all have a long way to go to get into the full swing of things, but I can say with very high degree of certainty, it’s been a great choice for our family.

Busy and Not Going Forward Fast Enough.

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

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

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

I often think of bands as being in the same predicament. They are looking to get their first lucky “break.” They play in bars, weddings, parties, festivals, ANYTHING, until finally the right somebody sees them and helps them cut their first real album. There are hundreds if not thousands of good bands hoping to get noticed, and even more marginal bands that still hold onto their dream.

This model is changing a bit more today with internet publishing, Myspace, and YouTube helping to promote the band along with cheaper ways to “produce” high quality music that sounds as if it was recorded in a studio.

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

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

Posting and time…

Yep, the blog returned, but I still haven’t it seems.  Actually the blogging I’m doing is going on at Christine Fonseca’s “An Intense Life” and I’m posting on the 3rd wednesday of each month if not a wee bit more.

My fist post there was Different is as Different Does and then later I posted a Dear Gifted Me letter. I’m really thrilled to be a part of something so powerful and amazing.  Christine has gathered a really incredible group to discuss giftedness and all things connected. Join us there for some amazing discussions.  If my brain overflows, I’ll still spew out the excess here, but with the new outlet, it will probably happen far less often.

Thanks for all your support.


It lives!!!

It’s been a while …a long while.  I needed to get out of where I was and back to myself again. I’m still gifted. I’m still LD. I’m still wonderfully married with kids and all, but inside I’ve been mulling over who I really am.  Letting myself be happy with everything about me, even my idiosyncrasies , foibles, oddities and all.

A colleague asked, “How can we flip it around to make people say, ‘gee, I wish I were learning disabled’?” I wrestled with the thought a bit, and can see how if I didn’t have dysnomia, I’d not have the extensive vocabulary, and if I had a better working memory I’d never be forced to learn how things work or understand the formulas behind the math. Then, as if called down by fate, the study was published The Upside of Dyslexia.  This was it. Backed by actual research instead of just my qualitative ramblings of my own experiences and those of a few people I’ve talked with.

It makes it a bit easier to think more about how more people who may be labeled as Learning Disabled should maybe take issue with it and insist on Learning Different. I’ll be going to the LDA conference in Chicago and will be working to get a few things going there with colleagues.  If you’re going, look for me.🙂

First Impressions of Emotional Intensity

As earlier mentioned, I’m a slow reader, so I’ve only gotten through part of the book.  But if I had to give it a grade already, I’d say a solid A.  The content is dead on and useful in many ways. I’m no longer teaching, but I still like the teacher sections at the end of each chapter.

The book’s strength (through the first half) is the depth of knowledge and how Christine cuts to the core of the issues. It’s not looking at the challenges solely on the surface, but rather the roots of the matter. Being gifted is a challenge, and raising gifted kids is not simple.

Christine’s book uses a number of examples to help explain some of the topics. I like the concept a bit more than the actual practice.  I don’t know if it was that I just couldn’t relate so well or if it’s just not in my thought process, but it’s a minor thing really, especially when you look at the concepts delivered.

One of my favorite paradigm shifts from the book is changing how I viewed introverted and extroverted styles. I had always thought of myself as being extroverted because I could walk into a crowd of strangers and come out with friends. I was often tired by the end of the evening, but it was fun. To charge up my batteries though, I definitely need alone time. I hadn’t looked at that as being introverted. I need a healthy mix of both to keep me going for sure

Well regardless of the fact I’ve only gotten half way through the book, I still recommend it for anyone who is gifted and/or has gifted kids. The first chapter does not do the book full justice, but it’s a good taste at least.🙂

When I finish the book, I’ll post my second impressions or wrap up.  Stay tuned…

The interview I’ve been waiting for!

I’m thrilled to have Christine Fonseca as my guest today!

CF: Thanks  for having me on your blog today.  I really appreciate all of your support!

You have not only graced us with your time, but also signed copy of your new book to give away.  I’ll spill the details of how the readers can win the signed book at the end of our conversation.  I’ve really been looking forward to asking you questions about your new book as well as about yourself Christine, so let me jump right in with a few questions.

You work with gifted kids often as well as being gifted yourself. I know that the topics you write in your book are emotional ones even if you weren’t gifted, but in being so wrapped up in it, did it make writing about the topic easier or harder?

Great question. I am what I like to call a “method” writer, meaning I often “become” my characters for a bit while I am engrossed in a particular project. This is most true with fiction.

As you said, I write about very emotional topics – self-mutilation, first love, jealousy, murder, redemption, mental health disorders. These topics, coupled with my own intense approach to writing can make writing the first draft a very emotionally intense experience for me. Not easy or hard, just really intense!

Things change in revisions, as I purposefully take a step back and try to objectively go through the manuscript with a little distance.

How do you deal with perfectionism in writing? Do you ever feel as if it’s “good enough” or do you just keep working on it until you feel it actually is perfect?

My perfectionistic tendencies are something I am always having to work through. The short answer is “no”, the manuscript never really feels good enough for publishing. Even when my publisher released the first chapter of EMOTIONAL INTENSITY for me to link on my blog, I freaked – terrified that it really wasn’t good enough.

Thankfully, I have amazing writerly friends that help keep my neuroses in check, reminding me that perfection is a myth and my work is good (except of course, when my work really is not!).

I’ve learned over the last several years in this business that while I will definitely strive for perfection in my novels – that will never actually happen. There is always something that can be improved upon, another layer that can be delved into. My job is to do the very best I can and them release it to those who can help make it even better.

I guess letting-go has become an integral part of how I deal with my own perfectionism.

You write both nonfiction for giftedness and Young Adult fiction. That seems as if it would be a big difference.  What’s the most difficult part of changing your writing style?

You know, they are so very different – nonfiction and fiction – that I don’t have much difficulty switching between the two at all. Nonfiction is definitely well within my comfort zone of writing. As I write reports daily at work, and write newsletter articles and the like, writing a nonfiction book feels very much like my day job.

Fiction on the other hand, appeals to a more creative aspect of me. It takes me much longer to craft a great story than it does to write nonfiction. In that respect, I guess that hardest aspect of the switch is related to patience – both in terms of the time it takes to write the novel versus a nonfiction book, and in terms of the revision process.

What would you be doing if you had your druthers and didn’t have anything pressing upon you to worry about?

HA! I love these kinds of questions. The beautiful thing is, if I could do absolutely anything, I would be doing very much what I do now – I would write, play with my family, and help gifted kids. The difference is, I’d do it on MY time schedule and anywhere I wanted to.

You have mentioned that you often over commit to different activities. Do you find that you also need alone time to do nothing?

Oh yes, I definitely need time to recharge. And usually that means I am doing NOTHING…not reading, not interacting…NOTHING. It takes a long time for me to get to the point when I truly need to hide, but it does happen. Especially if I have not been balancing things in my life very well.

What do you do when you burn-out to recharge your batteries?  …and how long does it take to recharge?

Burn-out…YUCK. Typically I can feel burn-out coming on early enough that one great day chillaxin’ with my friends or family is enough to balance me out. But every now and then, things get too overwhelming and I can take a week or longer to really recharge. During these times, my BFFs are my life-support. I may veg on the computer, chatting with them endlessly. They may think they are keeping me from my work – but really, they are giving me the air I need to live some days!

You seem to walk a fine line between being very honest and open with your blog writing, but at the same time, you keep your family out of the picture. How do you manage to not use examples from family conflicts or experiences?

Yes, it’s true…I don’t really talk about my family in details. That is not always the case when I am teaching a group of parents. Personal examples can be quite powerful. And used within the context of a small class, I think they are particularly potent.

That being said, I really try to respect the privacy of my family both in my books and in my internet networking. It is something my husband and I talked about at length when I moved from teaching small classes to exposing myself and my work in a more global way.

You’re gifted, and my readers can relate to having a wide assortment of interests, but what do you feel you have had to “sacrifice” in order to be where you are?  As in what else could you have been doing if you weren’t so committed to other events or things would have been different in your education or past?

For me, it’s never really been about sacrificing one thing for another, but figuring out how to do all of the things I want to do. And yes, that is why I struggle with the whole balance thing at times. I suppose I changed directions at various times in my life, opting for one course of action or another – but I never really viewed these as sacrifices I’ve made. I really believe that my unique journey has given me the things I need for each leg of the journey I’m on now, if that makes sense. So, in that respect, things have unfolded exactly as they should for my life.

How long did you write about the emotional side of giftedness before you realized you should write this book?  And then how long did it take to write the book?

I worked with parents, educators and gifted children for about ten years before I finally wrote this book. My work included individual work in the school setting, as well as teaching parenting classes and school-wide in-services.

EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS did not actually take very long to write. I had a detailed outline and three sample chapters as part of the original proposal. After that, it took about a month or so to finish the book and get it ready to send to my editor. Once I got my editorial letter from my AMAZING (I really cannot compliment her enough) editor, I spent another three weeks or so revising. Like I’ve said elsewhere, nonfiction is a much faster process for me than fiction (which takes me months and months to complete).

I am so glad you took the time to chat with us today and I look forward to seeing more in the future.  Your second gifted book is already in the works as I’m to understand. Can you tell us more about it?

101 SUCESS SECRETS FOR GIFTED KIDS: THE ULTIMATE HANDBOOK brings some of the information from EMOTIONAL INTENSITY directly to kids. Here’s the blurb:

Pssst! Want to know a secret? 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids: The Ultimate Handbook is a must-read for gifted kids ages 8 to 12 who want to find success in school and life. If you’re a gifted kid or you know gifted kids, you need the 101 awesome secrets, tips, and tricks included in this book!

Chock full of fun suggestions and practical strategies, 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids covers topics including bullying, school performance, perfectionism, friendships, and sibling rivalries. Fun quizzes, tip sheets, and practical Q & A sections from other gifted preteens and kids make this book fun to read and give gifted kids insight into everything they’ve ever wanted to know about being gifted. Proven strategies on dealing with stress management, parents’ and teachers’ expectations, anxiety, cyber-bullying, friendship troubles, and more make this the must-have guide for every gifted kid!

I am really excited about this book! I interviewed hundreds of kids and think it’ll really be a great resource. The publisher has great ideas for the layout of the book and I just can’t wait to see it!!!

Well here’s the deal on winning a free copy of the Christine’s new book Emotional Intensity In Gifted Students: You need to post a comment on the blog.  You can double your chances by subscribing to Hidden Gifts. Your email address will remain anonymous but it’s how I’ll contact you, so log in, comment and win. 

As I have mentioned, Christine, you seem to have a lot of irons in the fire, I’m going to just let your work speak for itself.  to wrap this up because you have so many ways you are in contact with your fans.



Find me (Christine) on Facebook or Twitter

Order the book.

Want an e-reader version? Order here.

Read the first chapter here.

Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us and answer our questions.  I think the work you are doing to educate and advocate is wonderful.  Please stop by again anytime, especially if you have time after your next book comes out.

Added 10/14/2010

The contest ends in one week from posting, so that’s October 20th. I’ll announce the winner Wednesday.  It’s a free signed copy of her book, and I can tell you that it’s not just free, it’s awesome!