DeShawn Wert learned that ADHD can affect adults as well as children when she was diagnosed with the disorder late in life. “It allowed me to recognize and develop my own action plan and leverage my strengths,” she says. It also inspired her to become an expert, book contributor, and presenter in this field. DeShawn earned her Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education from Purdue University, her Master of Education degree in curriculum design and her administrative certification from Indiana Wesleyan University, and completed her ADHD coach training through JST Coaching & Training for children, teens and young adults. A resident of Indiana, she works with clients all over the globe using her guiding principles of it’s “Your brain. Your terms. Your life.
In past, I’ve shared about how I use a body double strategy for getting my dreaded, nasty (did I say horrendous) job of getting the fridge cleaned. This task is especially difficult for me because of the never ending, reoccuringly, dirty job it is. I know the fridge will be a mess shortly after completed and my efforts and energy will have been in vain. Furthermore, I can find everything when I need it, so the very act of cleaning the fridge strikes me as a totally unnecessary and a huge waste of my precious time. Unlike Discovery Channel and Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs, I absolutely NEVER think, “Somebody has to do this job.”
So this summer as I worked hard to get motivated to walk early every morning for fitness, I kept finding excuses getting in my way. My great intentions to raise my heart rate, ‘be one’ with the sunrise, and drop some weight just isn’t enough UMPH to get me going in the morning.
Tried and true strategies like:
- Sleeping in my workout duds to ease rolling out of bed didn’t help.
- Focusing on the rewards of beautiful sunrises and enjoying a healthy breakfast seemed to fall flat in the wee hours of the day.
- Going to bed an hour earlier with the intent of being fully rested was not realistic for my family’s schedule.
- Walking with the gal pals in the ‘hood’ and capitalizing on social pressure did not motivate either.
All these are great strategies but none of them worked for me so I really had to kick it up a notch. I started by relooking at the BIG WHY of the early morning walk. The goal of being healthy was not enough as much as I wanted it to be. It just wasn’t working. Really wanting to lose weight wasn’t getting it done either. I needed an exercise CALL TO ACTION strategy that was alluring to me, personally. One that was so juicy, I just couldn’t ignore it. It was time for a reframe. Time to find a new way to look at this goal from another perspective. A reframe is key to looking at something different and is used as a tool that draws upon MY values and MY bigger picture. It gets beyond stuckness. Check out more about the tool reframing here.
Since turning 50, I have made myself a priority and being healthy was one of those priorities. Hence, the importance of my morning walks. But more importantly, I’ve also been working on connecting and being my own best friend. Being gentle with myself (check out my pinterest board I created to help) in the AM was really making it difficult to get out of bed in the early dark hours for fitness.
So how did I increase motivation? It was by reframing my goal to take care of myself. I now use that time to connect with one of my dearest and oldest friends. And get this…she’s doesn’t live in the neighborhood. She doesn’t live in the same city. We live hours away from each other but my best friend and I have a standing call where we walk over the phone together. I’m walking around our property and she is on her elliptical machine in the basement of her home.
So why did this 6:00 AM call work for me where other strategies have failed? Instead of walking for my health, I’ve reframed my walk to reconnect with a dear friend. I would never let her down and miss our calls. In fact, I find myself waking before the alarm goes off in anticipation of the conversation knowing this is a valuable use of time for us both. This also happens to be the time I use for exercising. It is time I’ve been looking for in my schedule to connect with a dear friend, taking this task from impossible to do to one that is imperative.
It’s true! In the days that we talk, I wake an hour earlier (without my alarm) and have my quiet meditation time and jump in my workout clothes. Often I get a few laps in even before I hear one word from her. I do all of these things because I can’t wait to indulge in this private time with a long time friend.
We accomplish much more in those walks than a elevated heart rate. We connect and revisit our long history of just being ourselves. We remember the girls we were, we talk about reality of raising kids, and we share the dreams we still have.
So I no longer push myself to exercise in the mornings. It’s been reframed into something altogether different. I start my mornings these days with the power of connection moving me forward. And it’s making me a much healthier and happier person than by just getting fit.
I’m participating as a co-host at a local live Christian Women’s event in Indiana called Broken, Beautiful and Bold. In this event, seven courageous Christian women voices will share some of the most vulnerable lessons taught by God and faithfully share them, not with their best friends in a small intimate setting, but with total strangers on a live stage!
I am NOT doing that, praise Jesus!
My part is easy and small. I’ll introduce those talented voices by sharing their bios and interacting with the crowd. This is not hard and falls easily into my skill set. If you know me, you know that… I love people, I love my God and I have the “gift” of gab. As my little preschool friends say, “Easy, peasy, lemon, squeezy” (tiny hands dusting off).
But as I contemplate the big day, the actual event, and God’s purpose for me as a very small part of this endeavor, I find I that I’m wanting to rearrange the title of this event. I have wondered at “why” the semantics seem to be getting in the way, now. It is not because:
- I’m a control freak. I’m not.
- The title doesn’t sound good and roll off the tongue delightfully, not that either.
- I’m a techie nerd and the SEO isn’t going to get us ranked very high on the internet. I’m certainly not one and I have NO idea of our ranking!
It has to do with very personal reasons in my own Broken, Bold, and Beautiful story of faith. You can read my story and my choice to leave a career in education to become an ADHD coach and consultant here, but I digress.
Let’s start with the original text, shall we? My long-time friend and event organizer of Broken, Beautiful and Bold ministry, Angela Harrington, states on her homepage that the mission and purpose of Broken, Beautiful, and Bold is based in these beliefs that we all are:
Broken by the World: Each of us is born into a world that has been broken by sin and we are broken by it. Our experience with our own brokenness can create overwhelming compassion for our neighbors.
Beautiful and Redeemed by Faith: Only by the immeasurable love of our God can we be redeemed. We are made beautiful again by the self-sacrificing love of our Savior. Plain and simple, God loves us and we reflect His beauty in our daily lives.
Bold in Pursuit of the Spirit: Motivated by love for our Savior, we choose to pursue the Holy Spirit. By answering the call of the Spirit, we learn to grow bold in our faith. Our boldness and compassion reflect God’s love into the brokenness of the world.
Yep. Yep. And yep.
I totally agree with Angela, we are all broken in this world. I see we are all redeemed by faith and we most certainly can be bold in our pursuit of spirit. But for me and my process to deeper faith and closeness to God, it is about knowing brokenness, then moving boldly to become beautiful in the knowledge of God’s love. Let me explain how this works for me. I’m sure God has a special process for you, too, if you think it over.
My process starts first with figuring out I’m broken.
I MUST acknowledge it. This can take a while to admit to myself or it can be a very short trip. Either way, I must accept that my ego (has again) hijacked my “perceived” plan God had for me and I may have to wallow for a while and pity the mess I’m in. But then it comes to me that I must move forward. I can’t stay here. I must make the move from “mess to message” and it takes action on my part.
For me, any action becomes boldness because when I’m scared or frightened I don’t FEEL like going forward. So any movement, even the most simple ones, become bold and spring me into forward motion. When I’m fearful, it can be bold just to hold my head up and face those who hurt and have used me in this broken world. I need boldness and courage in small ways to step forward because my fear can debilitate me at times… even as I have professed faith.
I need action or I stay lost in fear. So I make a small move and it feels BOLD!
It is boldness and action FEEDING my professed faith, making me more than functional in this world. And it is this boldness that leads me to my own special beauty, recognized by God, which is my power. The power of being who I am in Christ. Boldness is… me, being ME! By accepting I’m flawed and imperfect, and at the same time, loved and cherished by a God who sent His only son, I realize my beauty and power.
Boldness is the vehicle that gets me from my lack of faith (fear) to knowing that God has it ALL under control (faith). Boldness reminds me that I am not forgotten, or lost, or unimportant! It is this process from fear to faith that reminds me of my redemption through Christ. For me, that can only take place with action leading me to the knowledge that I am protected in the palm of His hand.
So to my long-time friend and colleague, Angela Harrington, I have a special request about the order of the words of our live event even though I …
- Know you have created all of those wonderful flyers with Broken, Beautiful and Bold emblazoned clearly in that precise order.
- Understand many sponsors have signed on to the event known as Broken, Beautiful and Bold.
- Get it that tickets have been sent out the door embellished with the”BroBeBold” mantra…
Can we pretty, please call the event Broken, Bold and Beautiful in that particular order for little ol’ me? I know it’s a silly request and, yet, I’ll make it all the same because I can’t help myself and I know how my particular brain works…
Whatever Angela’s verdict on my silly request about the “renaming” of the event and wherever you find yourself in the process of becoming BOLD, redeeming your BEAUTY or accepting your BROKENNESS, I hope to see you Saturday, May 10th at Tree of Life Atrium in Marion, Indiana. Happy Easter, my friends!
Coaching Parents with Students in Transition
Have you read every ADHD book out there and you still feel like you don’t know how to help your child, especially during times of transition?
Are you frustrated that no one seems to see your child the way you see them?
Are you tired of feeling judged, confused or paralyzed when it comes to making academic and medical decisions for your child with ADHD?
Transitions are tough for everyone.
It’s easy to feel confused, frustrated and unsure of the steps you need to take next so you can get from point A to point B.
When you have a child with ADHD, sometimes transitions feel like falling off a cliff, don’t they? It doesn’t have to feel that way though. Your child really can make academic, personal and social transitions with less strain, stress and doubt. It all comes down to being prepared and getting the support he or she needs to navigate these often tricky transitions. I’ve seen it time and again – when a student with ADHD is motivated and confident, their potential skyrockets.
As a mother and long-time public educator diagnosed with ADD, I can help. Working together, you’ll be able to help your child learn the life skills they need to successfully steer through transitions in school and beyond. You’ll empower them to recognize and leverage their strengths so they can work with their unique brain style. You, and ultimately your child, will be able to better advocate for their needs at home, at school and in the workplace.
Expecting different results from the same old methods that just don’t work is maddening.
When you’re car gets stuck in the mud, you might try stepping on the gas a few times. Do it too many times though and you’ll flood the engine (and now you’ve got two problems on your hands). When you’re stuck, would you rather tackle the problem alone or call for a tow?
Do you feel like you have your feet on the gas but you just can’t get any traction? I’m here to tell you, you have a choice (even if it appears otherwise). You can keep trying to dig yourself out on your own, or you can call in a little muscle.
OK, DeShawn, so what’s my next step?
If you’re committed to helping your child with ADHD (and I know you are), I invite you to schedule a free ADHD Strategy Session with me. It’s complimentary and only takes 30 minutes. This is your time to talk about your concerns, learn about resources and strategies available to you, and decide how best to help your child make progress with school-related transitions. I encourage all immediate family members to be part of this initial session whenever possible so I can hear each person’s concerns and address everyone’s questions.
We need individualized support! How can we work with you, DeShawn?
ADHD Quick-Relief Session
In this private 2-hour, laser-focused session, we address your most pressing ADHD concern. Whether it’s preparing for an IEP or 504 conference, developing “work-arounds” for successful daily routines, building up self-confidence or something else, you’ll leave with an action plan for success based on the goals and strategies that work for you and your child.
ADHD Momentum-Builder Package
With this 3-month plan, you and your child get private one-on-one weekly sessions. This is your time to get thoughtful answers to your questions, advice for your child’s and family’s challenges, strategies to help your child stay on track and build momentum, as well as an action plan and accountability partner (that’s me!) to ensure your child reaches his or her goals.
P.S. My strategy and coaching sessions are confidential and free of judgment. These sessions are designed to help students with ADHD understand their brain so they can live their life on their terms.
I was diagnosed at 48 with ADHD. My “go-to” strategies that had worked all my life failed me. The tools I developed in elementary school and were perfected into college failed, as my son says, “epic.” Those strategies that had served me so well were “work harder and stay longer”.
The fact was, I got all kinds of kudos and appreciation for my dedication and hard work. It was a source of pride and it made me feel good (accomplished even) when others noticed my tenacity and my can-do attitude. You want to know the irony? I was chosen for assignments based on that tenacity and hard work! Over and over again the work and effort I gave paid off in recognition and additional responsibilities. After all, I was the “Go-to Girl.”
But that all changed when I took on a new position at a new location, which required a whole new skill set, including understanding small town politics. It called for more than being willing to work hard, treating others fairly, and even understanding my role on the team. The long time “go-to” strategies no longer worked as I had to be efficient, automatic, systematic, and even play the hard ball political games. That kind of efficiency coupled with the lack of humanity made me feel robotic, inhuman and soulless. But I’m jumping ahead of myself.
I felt pretty prepared and confident. My work ethic was beyond compare and my reputation was second to none. I had actually prayed to my Maker for a good fit in my new position asking for the perfect place to showcase my skills and make a “real difference” in lives. My years of experience had given me tons of opportunities to work with some great leaders and other talented individuals and I was anxious to touch the lives of others in the same positive way. Little did I have any idea of the “difference” I’d be making would be in the quality of my own life!
So I entered this position during a time when the economy called for everyone to do “more with less” and multitasking was a badge of honor in the office. Sound familiar? It was then the feeling of overwhelm started to make it’s way in my life. With all my preparation and knowledge I felt like an impostor! It felt as if I couldn’t keep it all straight and it didn’t matter how hard I worked at staying on task or worried about the deadlines. This started a “hamster wheel” of judgement where I called myself names, told myself I should do better, and silently agreed with condemning eyes.
It felt like I had to be superhuman all the time. Super powers like being able to leap to my supervisor’s conclusions at the same time, magically see through colleagues hidden agendas and divining high priority items based on little to poor communication. I was miserable working with people I didn’t understand…and who didn’t understand me.
The lack of time and too much “stuff” to do started dominating my life both at work and at home. I couldn’t sleep and I was distracted by my own thoughts all the time. I started seeing a counselor but was told I was “too accomplished” to have ADHD. After all I did not meet any of the childhood criteria and I was college educated, professional, and so well “put together” on the outside. But no one ever knew the cost to keep that facade up! My two strategies of staying longer and working harder just were not cutting it anymore and it was compounded by the harsh, negative atmosphere only added more to my high stress level.
This inability to reel in my thoughts kick-started my “people-pleaser monster” into high gear. When I look back, it was when I had really lost perspective…my boundaries, my inner voice, and my confidence all left me. My compass was totally off kilter and my focus was on “winning the un-winnable game of pleasing the displeased.”
I had over used the strategies of working hard and staying longer and made myself sick. Between my illness and my emotional state, I stopped doing everything I enjoyed. My time at home was thinking about work and my screw-ups (both real and perceived) and it was more than frustrating because I knew I was talented and smart but it wasn’t coming through.
Have you seen Les Miserables the movie? Ann Hathaway plays Fantine the mother of Cosette who ends up selling everything of value she has (necklace, hair, teeth and even her body) to keep her precious daughter intact. It felt as if I was “Fantine” in Les Miserable …losing “bits and pieces” of myself and becoming unrecognizable to myself and those who loved me.
I had every sign of Adult ADHD for women listed in the ADDitude article linked here, only it didn’t connect until I had a family member diagnosed in college. I asked my doc again about ADHD and it took a computer test that certainly challenged me and made it perfectly clear I was ADHD. Man, was that day sweet!
Sweet… because I no longer felt crazy! I wasn’t the lazy or stupid person I had made myself out to be in the mirror each morning. I knew I had an invisible neuro-difference in my brain that had been exasperated by the stress of a high-anxiety, negative work environment, and thoughtless coworkers.
So how did I get my “Go-To” Strategies back? I didn’t. I developed a whole new set of skills that worked for me that includes using timers and alarms, task planning and management, and learning mindful activities that included prayer and quiet time rituals. I ditched the things (and people) that didn’t work for me. I made the adjustments to how I tackled my life and the projects in it.
I became VERY intentional… with my decisions, time, and those I loved. Which empowered me to do the things that I’m good at including… connecting with those I work in the ADHD community, providing timely resources to those desperate, and designing life strategies that work based on strengths and not weakness.
If you’ve seen the end of Les Miserables the movie, you know my ending, my friends! A beautiful and fully restored Fantine returns to Cosette’s wedding. She is happy, radiant, and joyful! Today, I feel like Fantine at the wedding day gazing on the beautiful life I’ve created, crafted and polished. I can’t tell you how full and satisfying my life since I chose to honor myself and my differences. It’s a life full of the things I choose, with the people I love, and it’s about things important to me.
So I don’t mourn my “Done, Gone” strategies. In fact, I want to urge you to start moving forward by getting a diagnosis or determining treatment or making a career move! I want you to be intentional with your precious resources so you get the life you want. I want you start making decisions about you and your life. I can say today that I’m glad my “Go-To” strategy left me and I could discover this whole new part of me that is so much more that I could ever imagine only a few years ago.