Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Peeling Mangos and Eating Bananas Upside Down

 by Kirsten Milliken, PhD, ACC

This week I was standing at my desk (yes, I have a standing work station and I love it!) and looked across the room to see a co-worker peeling a mango. He was just about to eat it like a banana. “Wait!” I said. “Are you really peeling that mango like a banana?” “Yep! It’s just one of the ways I’ve learned to eat a mango.” Brilliant! I love mangos and always just want to pop one in my lunch bag, but figure it would be too messy to eat. This man had just peeled the skin so the mango looked like a flower. It was not only a great idea, it looked beautiful.

On to the second part. We had a whole conversation about how to eat various fruits. He apparently had much experience in choosing and eating exotic fruits. I know mangos aren’t that exotic. My question to him was how he ate a banana. I once heard in a movie (someone can tell me which one it was, because I forgot) that monkeys eat the banana from the opposite end that we peel them from. It’s true—it’s easier to eat a banana “upside down.” And doing so provides much more interesting conversation than doing it the “regular” way.

What the heck does this have to do with play? It was just something I noticed that I thought looked pretty and was a cool idea. I took the opportunity to have a playful conversation about eating fruit. Now you know: Almost anything can end up in this space. Because almost anything can be looked at in a playful way.

Got a story to share? Start or join a conversation on Attention connection, your social network for all things ADHD!

Kirsten Milliken, PhD, ACC, is a licensed clinical psychologist, a certified ADHD coach, and the founder of PlayDHD. She lives in Portland, Maine, with her two amazing children and two really freaky dogs. Dr. Milliken is passionate about helping those with ADHD communicate about the ways that ADHD affects them and coaches them to develop skill sets that build on their strengths in order to manage the day-to-day challenges of ADHD. She created PLAYDHD to create a specific awareness of the connection between ADHD and the value of play. Her website, playdhd.com, is dedicated to the art of using play in managing symptoms of ADHD, achieving goals, and enjoying life. She is an active member in the ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO), CHADD, Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), International Coaches Federation (ICF), and a graduate of the ADD Coaches Academy (ADDCA). She regularly presents at ADHD conferences on the subject of play. She also hosts the PlayDHD podcast, is a frequent guest and former co-host on Attention Talk Radio, and contributes to various other websites serving the ADHD community.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Planning for Every Life Chapter

guest blog by Wilma Fellman, MEd, LPC

We have volumes of materials on how to deal with the symptoms of ADHD in school and in the workplace. But have we considered ADHD in the so-called retirement years?

More people than ever are retiring from their major life’s work and wondering what to do with the rest of their lives. Since many are leaving their careers at younger ages, analysts predict that this group will not be seen rocking on the porch waiting for its favorite game show to start. This high-achieving group has no intention of fitting in to the old image of a retiree. Instead, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “due to the aging baby-boom generation, workers ages fifty-five and older are expected to make up over one-quarter of the labor force in 2022.” 

If we think about the lifespan in chapters, we see that there are five:
  • The Young Student
  • The Post High School Student
  • The Young Worker
  • The Major Work Achiever
  • The Post Work Selector
 Most folks are used to planning for chapters one through four. Those of us with ADHD know all too well the necessity and value of careful planning for those first four chapters in order to get to that Major Work Achiever stage as comfortably and effectively as possible. But few of us give any thought or preparation to the fifth chapter.

Many adults with ADHD have spent years with tutors, coaches, medication, counseling, and strategies in order to maximize our strengths while minimizing our challenges. Yet all too often we totally ignore doing any planning, creating any support systems, and giving any thought to what will make the fifth chapter—the "retirement" years—the best one yet.

Time to reevaluate ourselves!

As we did for chapters one through four, adults with ADHD need to undertake a systematic process and reevaluate ourselves, noting current strengths and then mapping out a plan that will do more than simply fill time.

If we were wise early in life—or had the benefit of others around us who were wise—we systematically gathered facts about ourselves. This information pointed us toward an area of life work that would allow us to shine and be the best version of ourselves. With such knowledge, we'd be self-aware enough to know what works for us and what doesn’t—and (equally important) why. We would then be able to make better life and career choices and accomplish more of our goals.

A systematic approach to career and life planning would look like this:
  1. Understand how our interests, skills, and accomplishments together match with certain job clusters in the World of Work.
  2. Evaluate our personality, values and aptitudes in order to identify how these factors add into the layers in #1.
  3. Identify how our early career dreams, energy/focus patterns and school/work habits add into the mix of #1 and #2.
  4. Look at our success/challenge patterns to see how they have affected schooling and/or work histories. Identifying patterns (using #1- 3) is essential to problem-solving and conquering the barriers.
  5. Develop a concrete plan based upon the “hard data” of putting layers 1-4 on top of each other, with the knowledge that there is now sound reason to believe the plan will work.
  6. Establish a plan for long-term support, identifying strategies, accommodations, and modifications needed for continued success.
If the systematic approach to career and life planning works for chapters one through four, wouldn't it enable folks retiring from their main career to begin their next chapter with a fresh look at what currently makes them tick? Is it instant? No. It takes roughly eight to ten weeks to collect, synthesize, and understand what makes us tick. But the payoff is huge in terms of finding what really works for us.

Wouldn’t taking the time to reevaluate our strengths and challenges again result in better and more exciting choices? Think of the possibilities!

A longer version of this post appeared in the February 2015 issue of Attention magazine, available through our free app, which you can download on the App store. Current CHADD members can access it through the app at no extra cost.

You can also start or join a conversation about ADHD and "retirement" on Attention connection, your social network for all things ADHD!

Wilma Fellman, MEd, LPC, has been a career counselor specializing in ADHD, learning disabilities, and other challenges, for more than thirty years. She is the author of Finding a Career that Works for You: A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing a Career (Specialty Press/ADD Warehouse, 2006).