Saturday, April 5, 2014

Face to Face with ADHD

Photo Credit: Marg : CC

Are you running from an ADHD diagnosis for your child? 

I was too. 

Avery was a toddler when I began to notice differences between her and other children the same age. She was curious, she was energetic, and it took every bit of moxie I had to keep her safe. 

It was difficult for me to understand why my child couldn’t stay in one place like all the other children around us. What toddler wouldn’t be drawn in by the colorful playground equipment? Avery would see something far away in the distance and off she would go like a wildcat pursuing a tasty gazelle. 

I have extremely vivid memories of running after her as an expectant mother, trying to keep her from reaching the busy street beyond. I would rationalize, “This is just what children are like. I need to be tougher, smarter and stay one step ahead of her.” 

ADHD is a common condition affecting children and adolescents and, for some people, it extends into adulthood. I am going to use the acronym ADHD in this article to encompass both ADD - attention deficit without the hyperactivity - and ADHD.
 It is characterized by three main symptoms; inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. A child may have one or all of these, and they need not all occur for a diagnosis to be necessary. But all children exhibit these behaviors ... so what makes it ADHD? 

ADHD is when inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity intrude on the child’s ability to function normally at home or at school. 

It became increasingly clear to me, especially as her younger brother began to grow older, that the differences between my two children were significant. The biggest difference was that her brother didn’t seem to take a vacation to the furthest recesses of his mind when receiving direction or focusing on things that might prove difficult to him. 

In preschool, a particularly astute teacher of Avery’s identified a deficit in fine motor skills. In kindergarten, her teacher conveyed that she would refuse to do certain tasks. Through the years leading up to second grade, there was a general awareness that she was falling increasingly behind despite the effort we both put in with her homework. Most often these homework sessions would take way too long and lead to tears for both of us. I could scarcely think about anything else. I would lay awake at night.

Though I wasn’t ready to make any life-changing proclamations, what I was doing, however, was compiling evidence, storing it away for the day that I might say, “I’m ready to take the next step.” ADHD was so controversial - it still is. I was afraid of being wrong, of harming my child by giving her a label. 

In second grade, our situation was particularly bad; she began crying before school and refusing to go in. She would cling to me, and we would both cry. It was a terrible kind of torture, to leave your second grader at school in emotional turmoil. 

Something amazing happened soon after, though, she was accepted into a new school for third grade. At first, she responded well to the extremely positive environment that I believe is the hallmark of our school, but then it was clear that she was achieving at a lower level than what she was capable. Her test results were so varied. Sometimes she was present, and sometimes her brain was taking a little vacation. Her teacher described that faraway look that Avery would wear and all the evidence came together like pieces of a convoluted puzzle. 

In the end, it took eight years, a change in schools, and watching and working with my child to keep her from getting too far behind to finally feel comfortable exploring the possibility of a diagnostic determination. An evaluation might lead to medication - and I wasn’t fond of medication.

Today, Avery is improving day by day. After she was evaluated, our doctor put her on a very low dose of medication and the change in her was dramatic. It was noted by everyone involved in her life. We are happy with how Avery is doing, and we believe that we have made the right choice for her. She still has her bubbly personality, she is not depressed, she eats as much as she did before. My husband and I believe that after all the watching, after all the waiting, it was the right decision for us to make. 

What to look for if you suspect ADD/ADHD in your child:
ADDitude magazine’s checklist of symptoms for ADD/ADHD

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Signs You Have Not Published/Written a Novel

Photo Cred: Tambako the Jaguar :CC

No one needs to tell you that the world of writing is fraught with unknowns, filled to the ethers with wannabe authors ready to scrape down the fibers of their soul in order to get published or recognized in some way. 

We grasp and tug desperately for any gold-plated tidbit of advice successful authors might share with us. Furthermore, we shame those who dare advise us without reaching an invisible benchmark of fame and notoriety. That title being devised of some abstract number of publications - which of course vary greatly between individuals.

I am here to tell you that you should heed my advice.

I would like to introduce myself to you... I am Lori Johnstone, wife, mother, daughter, sister, unpublished author, writer. One who writes. I write words down. 

I'm not published. So I know exactly what to do/what not to do in order not to be published. Check out my CV...

Here it is. Look really closely. Yep, that's it. That blank speck here to the right. The part with nothing written on it. 

Seriously, I am the foremost authority on "not" getting published. 

Read on... for these are the signs you should heed, telling evidence of spinning your wheels in the writing sphere;

You might not be published if:

1) Nothing but organic food graces your children's lips and you spend an excessive amount of time assessing their sugar intake.  

2) It has never been necessary for anyone in your house to resort to wearing their underwear inside out. EVER. 

3) You are well read and may belong to more than one book club. It is even possible that you have set an outrageously high reading goal on, of which you fully intend to blow out of the water.

4) All of your pets are meticulously groomed and are full of love garnered from your unwavering attentiveness.

5) You have painstakingly vowed to understand one of the most controversial and mysterious principles in the world of physics to apply to your novel. 

6) Your entire community of family and friends are still speaking to you. 

7) Your social life abounds and you feel rewarded and blessed with friendships. 

8) One or more of your children are achieving at high levels in school and you volunteer on a regular basis.

9) Your clothes are pressed, you are beautific at all times in case you are challenged to a walk-off.

Gif Cred- James Fitzhenry; GIPHY
10) You are up to date on which country hates us the most and is ready to annihilate us at a second's notice. 

11) You are in wonderful physical shape and your one tummy roll hasn't taken to replicating like an unruly Gremlin. 

12) You have consulted with a guru and have been transforming your mental fitness to near Ghandi-like levels.

And the number one foolproof way to know if you have no published works to your name...

13) Your blog is up to date and successful.

No one can achieve perfect balance and adoration. Take a few of these and muss them up a bit. You can balance that. For instance, by not focusing on the laundry, maybe force your family to wear their underwear inside out for ONE day a week. 

It's all about making sacrifices. 

May the writing Gods be with you.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Chasing a Hungry Bird and Chasing My Dream Eerily Similar

 Photo credit: Tony Hesgett , CC
(I chose this image, as the bird somehow seems empathic to the human condition)

I spent the morning chasing a bird, more specifically a red-tailed hawk. Our neighborhood backs onto a very nice open space which happens to be home to some beautiful creatures, including this magnificent one, which as it turns out, is very hard to keep up with.

I pulled in and my eyes were immediately drawn to it, magnanimously perched on a tiny tree close to the road. The scale of bird to tree was ridiculous - the bird might have found a more worthy sized tree. It was in the throws of hunting- so tiny tree be damned- it was going to find it's meal.

I shouldn't have felt a prayer, but I raced home to grab my camera. When I got back, the giant bird was still on it's perch. It stared at me as I clumsily fiddled with my camera in an attempt to get the long distance lens on-I am decidedly not the best at using my hands. I'm sure the hawk sensed this, as well as having probably given up on me as a source of food, despite it's audacity to sit on such a squat tree.


Down it flew to the brush below to wreak havoc on the smaller creatures, it's buteo shape (long-rounded wings) gracefully lending it's body to the ground.

It kind of mocked me for a bit...

Flying around so low, easily floating about without touching the ground, possibly only pretending to seek it's smaller prey. 

It did pause to check me out every now and again, though, so who knows? 

I like to be prepared for all unknowns. 

The plan was to hunch over and hide under my wool jacket protected fully from its razor sharp talons. 

In the end, I had nothing to worry about - except that I wouldn't be getting the picture I desired. Sick of my wool coat protected stalking, it flew to the other end of the open space and perched on a larger tree. 

Even though I was outsmarted, I still wouldn't give up. I hopped in my van and raced to the other end of the neighborhood. I parked and despite fears of a massive beak pecking out my eyes, set out for the North entrance of the open space ON FOOT!

The hawk had had enough of me, or found prey to swoop down upon. Either way I was left to gaze upon the bare bones of the trees around me. I took a picture only to feel like I was doing something.

Truth be told, it wasn't the day for photography. There was an inversion that cast an eery glow on the surrounding sky, resulting in low image quality.

Still, the lesson wasn't lost on me as I walked slowly back to my car.

I learned something besides the fact that I should keep the camera in the car at all times-special lens on.

I thought of how the feeling of the chase was all too familiar. I didn't feel like I failed. I saw the potential for something real. Something that I wanted. It's the same as chasing my dream.

Every step of the way, though not every move will be successful, it leads you toward your goal. Whether you are traveling at a snails pace, or the speed of hyper space - you will eventually get where you want to go.

Having a dream causes you to go outside yourself, and run after something majestic. On the way, you'll find exhilaration, like the thought of capturing something beautiful, sometimes lending itself to disappointment, but never boredom.

No matter what, it's worth it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

When Being Strong Becomes a Burden

Is there a monopoly on pain? 

One of the biggest problems of our society is the inability to love unconditionally, and in allowing only certain people to have pain. 

We tend to look at others who are higher up on the hierarchy of pain and challenge, and say, who am I to allow myself to feel sympathy and hurt when this other person has it so much worse? 

As my friend and neighbor (who I adore) once said to me, 

Pain is Pain

To dismiss your pain as any less significant than another person's, you are denying yourself an opportunity to grow. You have to fully accept what is going on in your life in order to move on. 

By not allowing yourself to be tired, to feel downtrodden, to feel hurt by someone, by not accepting your plight in this world...

You will hurt more

Stuff it down and down and not deal with it, hide it's magnitude, and it will only overcome you at some point.

Photo Credit: GerardomCC0

Don't let anyone tell you you can't feel disappointment, or you have no right to complain. Life is a balancing act.

The trick is to take a short while...the trouble begins when you take too long with it. You grasp it too closely to you and you start to like the feel and texture of it. 

Do not become a habitual complainer, but be sure to be aware of your pain. Aware enough to let it go.

Face it head on, then and only then, let it go.

You are human, afterall

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

6 Quick Tips for Living a Positive Life TODAY

    Photo Credit: Gerd Altmann CC: 

1) Change some of your passwords to a recent achievement or one of your best qualities.

For instance, I am an aspiring writer. I have used passwords like "best author eva" to keep belief in myself alive. If you are like me, you have to type a password in many times a day. What an awesome way to reiterate the good in you, or to create even more good.

2) Turn Negative thoughts into opportunities for positive thinking.

If a negative thought comes to mind about anything at all, gently remind yourself that you will not be thinking this way anymore. Try to come up with a positive spin on what you were just thinking about. You will notice that the negative thinking will diminish day after day.

3) Make a music playlist with upbeat music, or something with a positive message. 

Recent popular examples are, Pharrell's "Happy" from Despicable Me 2 the movie,  "Best Day of My Life" by American Authors, or "Brave" by Sara Bareilles.

4) Be aware of how well you are balancing different aspects of your life. 

Make sure you are in control of the amount of stress in your life. Make time for yourself,  and your loved ones, get enough exercise and eat right. Pursuing your dreams is noble, neglecting your health, and people who care about you is decidedly not.

5) Show goodwill towards others. Even those who do not appear to show the same love in return. Sometimes those people need you the most. If you are religious send a quick prayer to someone you can't seem to get along with. If you do not pray, you can imagine something great happening to them. I believe this can actually help you heal. This is a karmic action, and I am convinced that it is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

6) Remember to Smile. Even if you force it the first time, you can't help but smile more and more after that. Smiling is contagious, create a domino effect in others. You could turn someone else's day around, even if yours began on a challenging note.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mitch Albom on Goodreads

Image Cred: PublicDomainPictures: CC

Mitch Albom is one of my inspirations. I love his voice. I love the spiritual direction of his books.

My good friend, Ana, introduced me to, "Tuesdays with Morrie" many years ago. I have enjoyed his writing ever since. 

It was great to hear him answer my question and I am going to take the advice he gives throughout the video and apply it to my own writing process. 

Watch live streaming video from goodreads at

Discover Goodread's upcoming Livestream chats here. The moderator, Patrick Brown explains all about Goodreads before the interview.

Goodreads also has past videos with relevant authors to view, including Ann Rice and Markus Zusak, among others.

If you have an account on the site, look up the pages of your favorite authors and add those that you would like to follow on their page. Goodreads will notify you through e-mail and on your home page if one of your authors will be interviewed, as well as the specifics (date, time). 

You can then (previous to the live interview), as I did, post your questions and they may be posed to the author in the interview. 

I never really thought mine would get answered, but it did.

It was almost as if Mitch was hanging out here at the library with me on one of the adjacent occasional chairs. Well, almost.

What did you think of the interview? Let's talk about it! Consider leaving a comment below.