Last Comments from Orlando ADDA Conference

(the following has been sitting in a file on my iPad since July, sometimes they get posted out of order…)

I’m sitting in the Brick House Tavern and Tap House in Orlando, decompressing. I have a 22 oz Cigar City Jai Alai IPA, imported from Tampa. I recommend it if you like a nice, solid IPA. It’s just after 7p.m.

As expected, the week was intense. I feel great though. It was a victory for my experiment in time management. I was involved in 3 “things” (to use the technical word): 2 sessions and the Talent Show. I paced myself over the last three or four weeks, working with the amaaaaaazing Kirsten Milliken on our Improv course, tweaking and modifying over 6 different version of “I’m With My Tribe” and making little changes here and there to my “Who am I Living With!?!?” session.

What are my take-aways?

One is that I now have 2 more models to use when talking about relationships. Linda and Victor Roggli’s life story has components of the other resources I’m using, but it’s more accessible, more “feet on the ground”. The simple, practical take-away for me there was “would you be willing…?” as a way of starting a request. It fits nicely with my understanding of the power of narrative over information. Showing us that they start a request with “would you be willing…” is very different from saying “make request, not demands”.

The other new model had some of the same attraction. The session by Drs. Ferman and Wilford actually started with a real life example (his copying the wrong slides and not bringing the thumb drive). Again, realtime modeling of how things like “kindness not criticism” works. The Roggli’s had a nice scripted introduction that had them arguing about the placement of a frosty, drippy cup of ice water. I am making the assumption that Ferman’s and Wilford’s introduction was not scripted, but they might consider using it again and again. It set a tone of compassion and understanding for the entire session.

I had some great conversations with Patte (the ‘e’ is silent and so is the invisible ‘i’) the Monty Python loving, character vocalizing, burlesque performing, always positive, sequin-dressed Canadian powerhouse; kicked around some ideas about how next year’s Ambassador Program can be better with Doug and Melissa; had a wonderful conversation with a 40-year married woman whose husband is undiagnosed but she’s been able to live and work (really, he’s self employed and she works for him); and even got some insight into my own problems by asking Ferman and Wilford the questions I wanted to instead of sitting on them.

Ned Hallowell was a beacon of positivity and creativity as usual. I’ve modeled a lot of my understanding of ADHD-in-the-world on my study of comparative religion and Foucault’s work on “who gets to define ‘normal’ and how do they enforce it?” I understand what Rick Green said in his talk about “Friendly Fire”, what Sari said about “diversity is the norm” and what Ned said in his closing talk about ADHD being a trait with its positives and negatives. In my world, it’s like this: do drummers get to think of guitar players as “abnormal” or “deficit”? Do adherents of religion A get to look down on adherents of religion B because they have a different framework? Inside religions, do the Pentecostals or Sufis – all movement and sound – get to be critical of the Shakers and Theravadans – all silence and observation and listening? or the Unitarians or Vendantists – all theory and analysis (and yes, I understand I am painting with a broad brush).

No. They are different, not better and worse.

And while each of these things can have a dark side (neglecting your job and family to get in “just one more gig”, holy wars, people who take risks that endanger others as well as themselves, etc.), it is not the fact of their difference that makes it a dark side, it is an excess of one thing or another (reference Aristotle and the Golden Mean or the Buddha’s Middle Path).

Phew! Enough heavy thinking. What else happened?

I sold some T-shirts! Yay! Linda Roggli and Janine F were generous enough to let me display some of my ADD/ADHD t-shirts at their booth. AND I am very excited and proud that Frankie Williams (the amazing woman who sang the Our Father at the Talent Show) was the first person to buy one! How cool is that?

I have to admit, though, that the high point for me was everyone singing “I’m With My Tribe”. When I asked everyone to sing along, it was a real Moment of Truth. I could have been left standing up there being the one guy in the crowd singing Kum-ba-ya with everyone else standing staring at me. But my Tribe didn’t let me down.

And that’s kind of what ADDA’s all about. We won’t let each other down.

See you next year.