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Deadly Reaction

Pollen from a variety of common plants: sunflo...

Pollen from a variety of common plants: sunflower (Helianthus annuus), morning glory Ipomoea purpurea, hollyhock (Sildalcea malviflora), lily (Lilium auratum), primrose (Oenothera fruticosa) and castor bean (Ricinus communis). The image is magnified some x500, so the bean shaped grain in the bottom left corner is about 50 μm long. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sad story hitting the news today about a young girl who died from a bite of Rice Krispy Treats which was made with peanut butter. She was highly allergic to peanuts. Though she spit it out the toxin had already worked its way into her system. She went in to shock and died. We are hearing more and more about severe allergic reaction yet people still doubt the validity of them.

For years I have suffered from extreme allergies. Mine are more environmental in nature often not known until I am exposed to a chemical or something like large qualities of  mold. There were bullies in the workplace who enjoy “testing” my allergic reactions. I was made fun of when I reacted. It was embarrassing and I had large medical bills as a result of their amusement. I did report but when you work for the government in some places it isn’t taken too seriously until it is almost too late. My health will never be the same because of the abuse I suffered via the exposure due to the bullies in the workplace. Nothing much I can do because if you speak with legal folks, allergies and mold exposure, even with documentation, is difficult to fight in court unless you die from an exposure.

I do not know the details of rescue procedures for the little girl. Never without my Epi Pen now. Often when in a strange place I will tell someone who is not familiar with me I have a pen and where it is. I  wear a bracelet letting people know if I do go down due to a reaction I have a pen and other important information. When it got life threatening I began to take it very seriously. When the establishment would not hold people accountable for harassment and exposure I realized my life was endangered. It was up to me to make sure I was always ready. In my 40’s it meant a bit more to me than when I was in my teens and 20’s. Guess we think we can live forever when we are so young we are often careless. Know many children and teens over the years who refused to carry an Epi pen. It was difficult to find one near when things happened such as a bee sting. Over the years I have preached awareness and being proactive in regard to allergies.

I am highly allergic to an odorless substance, It is commonly used in every household and business. I get very little warning before reactions start. Sometimes my inhaler is enough other times it progresses to an emergency run to the hospital. People often tell me, if you cannot smell it you cannot be allergic to it. SO WRONG! It kills insects so why would you think it might not have the power to kill a person? Someone did spray my car for reasons I will not go into now. You do not understand fear until the moment you realize you are driving and an allergic reaction starts. Then, you realize someone had to have done this to you all-knowing it could kill you. A weapon few think about and one most medical people would not think to note as a cause unless the person survived to say it had happened on a smaller scale before. Like a simple Rice Krispy Treat at a party, allergies can be lethal. There was no malicious intent at the party when the little girl happened to bite into a treat. But we should always be alert of the remote possibility it could happen to an older person. We try our best to avoid allergens. I have yet to meet someone who enjoys an Epi stick, rounds of steroids and breathing treatments. Some reactions can cause other issues in the body lasting more than a few days. My reactions go into serious lung problems lasting up to a week with a hospital stay. Allergens can be lethal. The result of an exposure for some cannot be reversed even with an Epi Pen.

You might think it rude but ask guest if they have any known allergies. If you use strong chemicals or cleaning products in your home, make guest aware. Strong perfumes and body sprays can also effect people with allergies. If someone tells you they are allergic to something you are wearing do not get upset with them. Please understand there is a difference in not liking a scent than being allergic to one. You might save a life just by telling what is in the food you prepared or sprayed in the air. Please be considerate of those who might need to leave or move to a different area due to allergies. Again, they are not being rude just trying to save their life.

Allergies are disabling in certain situations. It doesn’t make the person any less of a being. Allergy medications can make a person groggy or a bit light in the head in nature. Do not hold this against them. Without the medication there might not be a tomorrow. Be alert to the needs of others. If you have a friend or family member with allergies, be aggressive in scouting out potential hazards. You might just save a life.


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Invisible Academy

What do ADHD, ADD, bipolar, despression, audio processing disorder, visual processing disorder, dyslexia, and learning disabilities all have in common? There are no outward physical traits to cue you in someone has these problems. If you line up people at business meetings,  ball games, in church or most any place, I doubt you could pick out folks who have these disabilities.  You would never know  unless there was a remote chance you were a well trained professional. Even with years of experience it would be difficult in most situations to pick out who had what. We all go through periods of extreme excitement or depression so one cannot be defined or labeled based upon one meeting. After an extended period it might be obvious something is a bit odd or different about a person but in general, these labels could be classified as “invisible” disorders.

What do you do if you have a child or staff with these challenges?  There are counselors and special interest groups who address needs but no one likes to be seen walking into a place with ADHD Workshop plastered everywhere . The truth is we do not want anyone to know if we have such disorders or labels, be it ourselves or our child. As employers we care not to think that “little Johnny” is now working for us and his ADHD is running everyone crazy. We do not like facing the truth because it makes us look bad in others eyes, so we think. We waste more time avoiding the situations. Life can be less stressful, more productive, and full filling if we only accept. Proactive intervention is the key.

How do you get help without making it obvious you are seeking help? You would be surprised at how often the solutions are just common sense things. Life has a way of distorting reality to the point we lose perspective. Don’t worry, it happens to us all. Sometimes we just need a fresh approach or our eyes and minds dusted out a bit so we can see the situation clearly. It is hard for parents to deal with what they think is horrible behavior when it is not out of the normal range just out of their comfort zone. We get busy often caught up in too much internet and media information that we blow the situation out of portion. We have lost track of what is normal to focus on what is the easiest. We often do not want to work for solutions. A quick fix is just that, a patch not a solution. Employers often forget the younger generation thinks and processes differently. The workplace doesn’t run as smoothly in 2013 as it did in 1978. Not because the old ways are out of date and useless or the employees are not as smart or focused, it is that life is different across the board, you must adjust. And yes, ADHD is in the workplace as well as a slew of other labels attached to workers. Seeking solutions via the arts can make a world of difference. A change in the music can increase productivity. A change in the color and visuals can calm or stimulate activity. A change in attitude and approach can reduce stress. Some thing as simple as doodling on a note pad when frustrated while figuring out a problem can stimulate solutions. Not only will it help people with challenges it will also boost others in the environment. It is a win-win situation.

Seek out creative options. There are plenty of creative options and hands on workshops which offer a different perspective to common issues. Also, these creative instructional workshop ideas can be applied to writer’s block, making life change decisions, overcoming a recent tragic event… the list is endless. Check out Artella Land and  The Muse Is In sites. Contact me at Creative Tidal Wave for simple alternatives.  Check out my Shark Like Focus blog entries for solutions.


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Shall We Dance?

Line Dancing

Line Dancing (Photo credit: Tobyotter)

Shall we dance? Will it be the waltz? Maybe we should line dance? Nah, how about the Cell Block Tango? Or maybe we could just do the bump. Whatever we do let it flow and fill the space and void of life not being met. Let our dance meet and greet the moment per situation. Let the music of life’s struggles and joys dictate the responses as we move through time and space harmoniously. Help me they say. Guide me through the fast paces, the slow drawn out sad songs, and inspire me when the chaos of a thousand instruments and voices are an overload. Help me find my rhythm. Help me be surefooted so I do not stumble and embarrass myself. Help me find the flow through life’s moments.

The dance I speak of is the response to working with people with challenges. How do I manage when others are so out of sync and bouncing off the wall? How do I change the flow during depression and blues when no one will move? How do I take a group of kids out of control and create a flow and calmness which is productive? The answer is I dance. It is about assessing the situation to adjust to the needs of the dance partners.

If hyper and impulsive, I change my tone and attitude to a calm slow dance approach. I move about in a way which brings the Ping-Pong ball like bodies into sync and all moving with the same pace and flow. With a group full of depressed and down in the dumps sorts I find the inner upbeat flow and move about in a happy-go-lucky manner demonstrating all are in a safe environment. With a mixed bag of assorted fun issues all happening I must work the room partnering with various folks at their need level then moving them in to what I like to call a line dance of sorts. Getting everyone in tune with each other so we are all flowing the same  direction to the same internal music in our heads.

Guess I am the lead dancer per say. But oh, what a fun challenge to walk into mass chaos seeing the potential. Have you ever noticed how the bee hive works? It is about the dance. The buzzing about to communicate, to calm, to inform, to create compatible life within the hive of busy headstrong worker bees for the good of the whole. Check out a nature flick on the bee dance in the hives No, I do not run around shaking my tail but I do a lot of constant checking in and manipulating the flow and ebb of communication.

Working with ADHD and other hidden disorders takes a lot of focus and body language reading. Dancers do the same thing with their partners or dance line. It doesn’t always start perfect. Someone will step on another’s toes or bump into each other. Someone will miss a count or beat. Someone will rush or be too slow.  The same sort of behaviors take place in the workplace or classroom as they do in a dance studio or at a club. Set the beat or pace then help your co-workers, employees, or students find the flow. Help them get past the mashed toes to move on to master the task. Help them partner with the people less likely to cause the triggers or make them miss a beat. Help them find the slow dance pace or the constant rhythm needed to complete the task. Talking with them using a music metaphor aids in understanding. Often it is hard to explain what is happening or how you want the group or person to react. The dance is about finding the right beat and flow. Sometimes the right partner or even music to match their style. A calming personality pairs well with a hyper one if the other is more of the guiding sort. With personality disorders, finding a person who easily adjusts and finds the shifts an amusing challenge is a far better partner than paired with an extreme controlling sort.

Observe, listen, find the beat and flow in any given situation then… dance.

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A Gallery Listing

Collecting words & images for my vision board

Collecting words & images for my vision board (Photo credit: deb roby)

Time to revisit some thoughts and ideas. Ever heard of vision boards or dream boards? They are often described as visual representations of your dreams and desires. Some have inspirational quotes and symbolic representations of things, plans or aspirations in a collage manner. Some see them as a focus point when it comes to the law of attraction. The definition is broad but I think you get the idea of what one is if you have never heard of such before.

In my home office I have several vision boards. When going through a transformation you often are awaken to some issues you might not have been aware of before. Just the other day I wandered in the office in one of those awakening modes to see my boards truly did not reflect me but the desires others had implanted in my brain for years. The visuals represented what I could do for them but not where my heart flowed. Another board was all about my family with one key component missing, me. Down went the boards and all the visuals. The sayings and quotes found a nice keep box; though not reflective of the inner me, the items reflected a time period and many positives I wish to remember. A smash book will be created down the road for these goodies. Spent some time thinking about me. What do I desire? What makes me happy? What do I see me doing in a year… in 3 years… in 5 years? Gathered some visual clippings, a few quotes, and some items in a box. The new boards are a work in progress right now.

To create a reality based on the law of attraction and some wise advice with a twist from a dear friend, I created “shingles” to hang by my visuals. The old saying about “hanging out your shingle” to note your business is what I applied. Often heard the more shingles you had the better you were. So I created a shingle for every title I will claim over the new three years, and a few distant future ones. One distant shingle I wish to hang by my name is “Appalachian Trail Through Walker.” Lofty goal but one I hope to see happen. Another is “Donna Duff, Expressive Arts Therapist.” A current work in progress via alternative routes but a reality in the near future. I believe seeing my name with the title makes the reality believe able.  A picture of my former skinny self is also on a board. The shingle reads the size I will be hopefully sooner than later. So, not all shingles are professionally related, just facts I will claim.

The same wise person made a comment when I was talking about my bucket list. “Why so negative? You are talking about things you want to do before you die. Why can’t it be a positive list name?” Being of an artistic nature, the title changed to gallery list. I view a visual of all the wonders, such as I say of the art I see in galleries, of the things I desire. I do believe a gala celebration of the opening of my personal gallery is in order once it is completed for this stage of the game. Why not? I cannot think of a better reason to celebrate a visual collection of wonders than to throw myself a personal little party. To my gallery of life show!! What is listed in your life gallery?


Don’t Be Trigger Happy

Chemical Reaction

Chemical Reaction (Photo credit: lindes)

If someone yells at you, what is your reaction? If someone comes up behind you when you are intensively focused on a task without your knowledge grabbing your shoulders and correcting your approach on the task from behind, how would you respond? If someone rushes up to you and is within a few inches of your face speaking to you in a very fast pace while pointing various directions, how do you react? These are behaviors I see teachers, employers, and parents do when dealing with people diagnosed with ADHD. These behaviors trigger the impulsive reactions commonly seen with ADHD.

If you notice the behaviors of your child or others with such a diagnosis are often trying to avoid you or often are reacting causing frustrations and elevated crisis mode, then you might want to examine your approach. Often we are not aware that we are the triggers. There is nothing wrong with being a charismatic sort of person but such usually should tone down their tone and attitude to a calmer level to avoid excessive excitability and loudness when working with ADHD sorts.

The other day I observed a director approach an instructor with ADHD. I watched as the director came up behind the instructor grabbing her shoulders startling her. Then the director went on to interrupt the instructional time by criticizing  the instructor where the pupils could hear. This started a whirl wind of negative and over reacting on everyone’s part. It all could have waited until after the session. Timing should be considered when addressing employees and students. The tone and emotions should also be in check when correcting or altering plans. If you must interrupt, address the situation in a calm manner without causing fear or concern. There is a time and place for emergency intervention and it should be direct and swift but prioritize your interruptions and redirecting to make certain what is truly a crisis versus a personal preference.

Be professional when addressing others . A calm voice can deliver the worst of news without triggering a melt down or over reaction. Consider how you would like to receive the information you are to give. If you would not want to be yelled at, then do not yell at another. If you do not wish to be grabbed, then do not grab. If you do not wish to have someone inches from your face then make sure you do not do the same to another. Be aware of how you address others. The calmer you are the more receptive others will be. If you make your presence known instead of sneaking up on another then you will notice a more accepting manner in return. Be considerate.

Following a few guidelines when addressing people with ADHD can keep the workplace, classroom, and home a much calmer place. It also teaches others more appropriate ways to interact by increasing less stress and frustrations. Watch your tone, approach, and timing. Not only does it work with folks with ADHD, it works with everyone.

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We may never know why

Nothing is certain in life. Even with all the technology and modern science, we cannot predict everything. Try as we may, there is a risk even with every breath we take. Bad things happen despite all plans. Mistakes and trauma occurs no matter how many precaution and preventive actions have been taken. Life happens. It will always happen, whether we like it or not.

Out of crisis, mistakes, and unexpected turns of events we can find positives if we look deep within ourselves. Painful as it maybe at times there is a lesson learned or an altered path to be taken. Life moves on. We cannot stop it.

Have I handled my situations correctly? No. Have I learned every lesson from the unplanned and tragic events? No. Am I still dealing with my past? Yes. I still have fears. Still have regrets. Still have moments I would love to have a delete button or a rewind/redo chance. Don’t we all?

Life is not about me, it is about others. It is about moving past my issues to empower others. Why? Because in helping others I learn more about myself. I find my inner strengths I did not realize I had. I gain a better understanding when I must explain things to another. I grow in the areas of compassion when I help someone on their journey.

The next time life throws you a curve, step back and take a different perspective. We may never know why it happen but we might be able to learn how to change course to pursue another path on our journey.

My world centered around working with children with special needs. When I found out my child had challenges I experienced what I later realized were the stages of grief. Not something we think will ever happen to us. I did everything right so I thought. But, life happens. Then, I stepped back for a moment. For years I had been helping others who had children with challenges. The lesson was, why not me? I had the training and the knowledge to give this baby more of a chance than most I knew. So, why not me? She became my project. Many a day I wanted to give up because it is not an easy task. Often I wondered if we would ever reach certain milestones. It was so easy with her brother but with her, every moment was an adventure. Did you notice I didn’t say challenge? I reworked my vocabulary to reflect a positive. An adventure is a journey into the unknown, not doubt every day was exactly that at times. Instead of learning disabilities we called them brain farts. Hey, it made her giggle and others around her when she would refer to such a moment of misunderstanding as a brain fart. Life was a series of learning opportunities fill with music, art, dance, and a variety of creative teaching modes.

This week I reflect back on what I was told so many years ago. This young lady who will turn 21 in a few days wasn’t suppose to graduate from high school. She wasn’t to get her driver’s license or be able to hold a job because of her reading level. What she did do, with a positive attitude, and some creative intervention adventures was become a member of the Honor Society, win many awards for her acting ability, and earn an academic as well as a theater scholarship to a private college. She is a self-advocate who has a keen sense of self-empowerment to discuss her situations with professors and others. She now encourages her friends by sharing her own creative learning techniques. She plans to become a counselor to help girls like herself to become empowered and not fall to the negatives so many dwell on.

Well, I may never know why she had the issues she does but what I do know is the she taught me more about determination, challenged every creative inch of my being to find alternatives outside of the standard, and most of all, to never give up especially when my brain farts. ; )

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Hey, it is not target practice time!

shopping cart CEBIT-8542

shopping cart CEBIT-8542 (Photo credit: Harry Fichtner)

Not sure what was happening today but felt my car and my person had a big target placed on us. People were pulling out in front of me continuously. When I was crossing the street, cars would come racing up. Even in the grocery store buggies seemed to appear whirling around corners or up from behind causing me to dart out-of-the-way. Began to wonder if it was a warning my time was near to meet my maker. Even my daughter was getting a bit creeped out by the near misses we experienced just in the matter of a few hours.

Pondering the issues at play. Just seemed everyone was in a hurry. We often forget we are not the only people who exist on this planet. We are encouraging this behavior in our children as well by exposing them to the comments and impatient behaviors we often do not realize we are exhibiting. We have a mission, to heck with whatever happens between us and the event. We often misread situations because we  are often too focused on ourselves.

We share this planet. We share a community. We share the roads, the sidewalks, and the grocery store aisles. Sharing was once a part of the teaching curriculum many years ago. I believe today was a good example of why it needs  reinstated. The “ME” generation is causing some bad side effects by misguiding the self-empowerment via” everyone is a winner” and “I am the most important.” When life is focused around one person then others suffer. Greed, a bloated ego, and self-indulgence set in. The increase of stress and frustrations rise to give way to behavior problems. I think Roald Dahl‘s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, addressed the “ME” generation issues in his characters who won a trip to the chocolate factory. This book is a great teaching tool. You may know this piece of literature from the movie versions, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The easiest way to teach children life lessons is from children’s literature. Most are even fun for adults to indulge a few moments in a quick read with powerful life applications.

How as a parent do I use children’s books to teach lessons? Easy! Take time to read a chapter or two with your child and discuss what the story you read was about. Ask how this might relate to situations experienced now. Each child in the story, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, exhibits a bad behavior. Though we do not have machines that weed out good and bad eggs in human behaviors as an example. there are ways people are sorted by their actions.  There are consequences for behavior issues. Ask your child to name a few consequences as you name bad behaviors. Then,  name good behaviors and consequences.

Sometimes we are not aware of how we are behaving because we reflect the norm of our community or families. If your child is having some severe behavior issues  not relate back to organic or other causes take a look at how the people around your child are acting. Often as parents we come home frustrated after a days work with attitudes we are not aware of. We may be snappy and sharp-tongued towards others.  Take a few minutes before entering the house after a trying day to calm and gather your thoughts to focus on a more positive before greeting your kids or others. Take time to transition from work to home. It will make a difference in how your children relate to the others and the world. No, never deny emotions, just get them into perspective.

Behavior is learned for the most part. Rude people reflect how they have been treated. Hurt people hurt other people. A depressed environment will spread as others venture into other places carrying their depression with them. How does your behavior reflect in public? What are you spreading?


The Reason For YOU

Only Paige“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.” – Martha Graham

What an impact statement! If we raised our children with this statement in mind can you imagine what great things they would accomplish? We are each unique. No matter what challenge or issue you have a purpose no one but you can do because it takes the exact skills, knowledge, and unique twist that only you can bring.

When I work with clients, friends, and students I remind them that with every challenge comes a gift that is unique to them. It is our mission to take a journey to uncover the gift given and develop it. Many people are not aware of their gift. Actually, most people have more than one gift but it takes discovering the first to uncover the rest. Often people do not see the gift as it is but link it to the challenge. ADHD folks have a drive like no other. This drive and persistence can actually be a gift in another setting. One must find how the gift is best used by not focusing on the negative. Kids with learning challenges may not excel in one area but might have an uncanny ability in another if the text is read to them so they can comprehend. Learning disabled kids often think “out-of-the-box” making it possible for them to see problems and situations in a way most folks do not. They  are often excellent problem solvers given the opportunity to bounce ideas around. So, do not think a challenge means you have not gifts or exceptional abilities. You are unique despite what others say based upon a test score or an IQ test. Test do not determine your abilities other than on one particular day and moment.

Challenge those you meet to rise above and share their gifts. If they haven’t found their gift then help them discover what is unique about themselves. If everyone focused on what makes them unique and shares their true being with others, what a wonderful world it would be.

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Celebrating Creative Freedom on the Fourth of July

English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten ame...

English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution Česky: Originál Listiny práv, prvních deseti dodatků k Ústavě Spojených států amerických Deutsch: Die Bill of Rights genannten ersten zehn Zusatzartikel zur US-amerikanischen Verfassung, die den Bürgern bestimmte Grundrechte garantieren Español: La Carta de Derechos de los Estados Unidos, el término por el que se conocen las diez primeras enmiendas de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos de América (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Never thought about it this way until a friend mentioned it to me today. We are lucky in the USA to be able to express ourselves in so many creative ways. Our freedoms have afforded us the privilege. Via the arts we can sing, dance, paint, build, cook, and write in ways others cannot due to censorship and regulations.  We should honor the rights so many died so we could express ourselves which is protected by the First Amendment, freedom of speech.

With freedom does come responsibility. We should never abuse the right to express ourselves in a negative or abusive fashion. We should also respect the right of others to express themselves though it might be different from our beliefs and ways. As much as I enjoy Facebook and other means of social media, I find many who abuse the right with an onslaught of bashing and unnecessary over use of foul language. Sometimes such might be appropriate but not every other word. Nor is it ok to slander others in a revengeful or spiteful way. Sadly, so many children are following in the negative path of influential adults. Internet bullying, texting inappropriate pictures, etc. are becoming the norm amongst children as young as 8 years old.

Today, make this Fourth of July a celebration of creative freedom. From this day forward, make a difference by promoting the positive and avoiding the negative. Influence the young in the way our freedom of expression was intended, to encourage and motivate. Confronting wrong can be done without the use of a string of expletives and nasty pictures.

I hope where ever you are you celebrate today with fireworks painting the night skies, an abundance of colorful foods, with laughter and song, and lots of stories of your families journey to celebrate the event. Happy Birthday, America! Let Freedom ring for many more years to come.

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