A harbor…no Ritalin and a hurricane!

Copyright K Mngqibisa 2011

Copyright K Mngqibisa 2011

Above are two photos that I captured while photographing a wedding a couple of weeks ago.  The Harbor was peaceful, quiet, almost silent as I stood on the balcony of the restaurant where the reception was held.  I think in pictures and have recalled this vision into my mind several times since I first saw it.  The Harbor at sunset…so serene that day.  I am afraid that what we will be experiencing in New England this weekend will be much more representational of what really happens in my mind on a daily basis.  Hurricane Irene is making her way to us.

One of my areas of growth in the past few weeks has been in working to close the gap just a little between what’s really happening in my mind and how others perceive how I am doing ‘on the outside’ …two weeks back had begun like any other week…that is until I ran out of my Ritalin and the pharmacy politely explained that they did not have enough to fill my prescript.  It ended up being 10 days no Ritalin and let me tell you…by the 9th day I was a hot mess!  Okay, let’s be real…by the 3rd day I was over some kind of edge. I was doing my utmost best to cope and even managed to elicit a few compliments like, ‘you seem like you are doing really well and keeping it together!’.  My response?  ‘Maybe on the outside…totally NOT in my head!  I’m a mess!’  Even on my best days, there is a grand contrast between how I seem to be operating to the general public and the National Guard presence in my brain.  If it seems like I am doing fantastic…you can bet it took a hell of a lot of thinking, processing, organizing and frantic running around that luggage carousel to get me there.By the tenth day, I was forgetting my name for real…couldn’t get it together…was getting in the car to go somewhere and quickly forgetting where it was I was even headed.  Such a mass chaos of distressed circuitry! I had no sense of time whatsoever.  My kinesthetic sense was so off I had a hard time locating myself!  I should have used my GPS but I forgot I even owned one…

Needless to say, I am happily on my way back to my very own ‘normal’ (whatever that is) and plan not to take a hiatus from my Ritalin again anytime soon.  As you can see, I did not blog at all during that time and pretty much I felt like large areas of my brain had been declared their own state of emergency much like a lot of New England as we speak.  If you live in an area where the hurricane is due to visit and happen to catch a glimpse of Irene, think of me…and stay safe!

I don’t think I will be venturing over to snap a photo of the harbor in the middle of Irene though I will be photographing the view from my house.  Stay tuned for the view inside my head!  (this could be the new ‘this is your brain on drugs’ commercial!  I can see it now!  ‘This is your brain…this your brain with ADHD!)  What a visual!

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…how do YOU learn?

What are multiple intelligences and what do they have to do with me?  What is bodily kinesthetic learning?  Let’s talk about children…there are a lot of children that struggle to know where they are in space and time…they crave deep pressure, long to feel grounded, connected both to their environment and to those around them. They learn well by experiencing with their senses…what does it sound like, feel like, look like?   As adults, we may become labeled as the close standers and even close talkers.  We develop not so well accepted mannerisms to accommodate our lack of kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness and our needs as bodily kinesthetic learners.

I teach in a preschool that pays particular attention to the multiple intelligences as defined by Howard Gardner.  We assess our children along the Maine State Early Learning Guidelines as well, however, I am growing to really appreciate the power of identifying a child’s strengths as multiple intelligence learners.  This approach allows for a more comprehensive picture of the child.

As a bodily kinesthetic learner myself, I had to develop strategies to cope.  I did not always have the option to avoid lecture classes.  Some of my tried and true strategies…arm myself before going in!  I love to use, colored paper for note taking, have several highlighters in different colors, 1-2 drinks perhaps a water and a juice, pencils and pens and colored sticky notes, gum or hard candy.  When I become antsy in class, I am able to engage my senses myself.  I can switch up colors of paper or highlighters, I can organize extra thoughts on the sticky notes, I can reset from sensory overload with a drink or piece of gum or hard candy.  Usually I can manage this with minimal distraction to others.  This was not always the case…it took me until my second year of graduate school to get the message.  Once I recognized and honored my learning style, I struggled less as a learner…

As an early childhood educator, it is important to help children, their families and their future educators to know how best they learn.  Equipping the families and the children with what strategies work best for them only strengthens the possibilities for their success.  Empowering children to key into what their mind and body is telling them is a good start.  Knowing who we are and how we learn best is an asset. The reality is, we will not always have teachers that will take the time to appreciate needed accommodations and adaptations for learning.  Let’s help children and families to be advocates…this is a proactive approach…yes?

I will continue to share my thoughts and experiences as I grow as a Mom, as an educator and as an adult with ADHD…thanks for reading!

nail polish and kinesthetic sense…

For as long as I can remember, (and I have a steel-trap memory!)  I have painted my toenails.  For many years, it was the same exact shade…(I stocked up when it was on sale…)  When I was pregnant with my first child, and went into labor…I vividly recall balancing precariously to freshen the polish prior to heading to the hospital. My toes are NEVER without polish…EVER!  As I was freshening the polish this morning, I asked myself why I do this…I questioned my motivation, why is this important to me.  Amazingly, I had an answer.  There is something to be said for proprioception and kinesthetic sense.  It is good to know where we end and others begin…an awareness of our own body in space and time.  I find that I sometimes struggle with this…with feeling grounded. I rarely wear closed toe shoes…flip flops (flips) is where it is at for me.  Even though I live in Maine, I will wear my flip flops right up until snow flies and even after it does.  Therefore…I almost always have a great view of my red toes…

My kinesthetic sense is sometimes a bit off… when walking with a friend, I always have to apologize as I have a habit of veering into them as I walk.  It is a way for me to know where I am in conjunction to the world around me.

As I looked at my polished toes, I realized that no matter where I am or what I am doing, when I glance down at my toes, I see that red polish…it gives my brain a message of sorts…this is where my body is…this is where my feet touch the ground.  I now recognize this as a strategy.  Much of this journey entails appreciating the uniqueness that is me and learning why I do the things I do.  Take time today to appreciate freshly painted toenails!  It’s a beautiful thing…