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From Clutter To Coach, One Woman’s Journey

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by Candace Taylor, B.Sc. B.Ed. ACG www.addmirablewoman.com

Part of ADHD and Women April at TotallyADD.com

Woman Under Clutter“Why does our house look like this?” That was the question tossed at me one day by my then eight year old son, upon returning from a play date at a friend’s immaculate and organized home. He walked into the kitchen, looked around as if he smelled something funny (which may have been the truth), fixed me with a suspicious and accusatory glare, and asked the same question I had been asking myself for years.

Why indeed did my house look like this? “This”, being precarious piles on every flat surface, calendars from 5 years earlier still on the walls, and endless projects of every description with no end in sight. Cleaning house was an archeological dig. and my desk had become the Bermuda Triangle of important papers – the more important the paper, the quicker it sank from sight, never to be found again. The best response I could come up with was, “Honey, I honestly don’t know.”

I was tormented by other burning questions that also seemed to have no obvious answers. Why did it take me three times longer than everyone else to do something? Why were things that seemed so easy for others, so hard for me? Why was it almost impossible for me to follow a conversation in a noisy restaurant? Why could I never remember where I parked the car, hid the Christmas presents, or even what I went upstairs for? And of course the grandmother of them all, the question that roared through my head several times a day,

What is wrong with me!?”

A near death brush with Red Measles at age five left me with significant hearing loss in some frequency ranges. This seemed sufficient explanation for why I couldn’t follow a teacher unless I was sitting in the front row, or why I needed verbal instructions repeated despite a reading level 5 grades ahead. It also seemed an adequate explanation for why I would pass out cold during a boring history class, why I hit an academic wall in grade 10, and perhaps even for why my grades continued to slide downward from that point on. Talk about a red herring. This one even had spots!

But it didn’t explain why a bright, academically committed student needed to do 6 hours of homework every night to maintain a solid C average. I secretly suspected I was a brilliant but misunderstood genius, probably from a far more advanced planet. I prayed the mothership would come soon and explain me to the rest of the world. In the end it did come, but not for many years, and many tears, later.

Room Free of ClutterFast forward through two hard won degrees that took forever to complete, a stimulating and rewarding career as a high school Math and Physics teacher that nearly brought me to my knees, and three gorgeous baby boys in 4 years. As time rolled on, the unanswered questions piled up with the laundry and clutter. The day my son asked me that question I felt deeply shamed. The gig was up, it was time for some answers.

I enlisted the help of a wonderful counselor who told me about another client she had with similar “symptoms” to mine. This client had just finished reading a book that “explained everything” and changed her life. Sounded good to me. The book, written by Dr. Edward Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey, was called Driven To Distraction, Recognizing and Coping With Attention Deficit Disorder, whatever that was.

Within days I had bought and read, no, make that devoured, the book. Next came Sari Solden’s, Women With Attention Deficit Disorder. Every page sprung an “aha” moment of self recognition. That was ME they were talking about! The ship had come, I had found my people.

About this time I re-entered the classroom as a grade one/two teacher. It was easy to notice the 7 year old boys doing cartwheels across their school desks. I could even feel a grudging admiration for the sheer energy and athletic agility it took to go from one end of the room to the other without touching the floor. But it was another type of student that really caught my attention – the little girl staring out the window, not causing any trouble, not being disruptive – and not getting anything done. With a clutch to the heart, I realized I was looking at myself 40 years earlier. So this is where it all began.

My determination to help girls, and the women they grew up to be, with ADD gave me a glimpse of my next career.

Three years later I left the classroom as a teacher and re-entered it as a student, studying first to be a life coach at the ICF (International Coaching Federation) accredited Adler School Of Professional Coaching, then ADDCA (ADD Coach Training Academy), also ICF accredited, and graduated as a trained ADD coach.

According to the World Health Organization, over 5 million women in North America alone have ADD, but only a small percentage of them have any form of diagnosis, treatment, or support. As an ADD coach to women, I am working hard to change that – and loving every minute of it!

Epilogue: Mother: (to college student son who unexpectedly brought friends home)

Sorry the house looks like this.”

Son: (look of genuine confusion on his face):

“What do you mean? The house looks awesome.”

And so it did!

Candace Taylor is a trained ADHD coach at www.addmirablewoman.com , mctaylor@powergate.ca. If you contact her, she promises to send the mother ship.

April 12, 2011 Jimi

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27 Responses to “From Clutter To Coach, One Woman’s Journey”

  1. SheilaMry says:

    I was that little girl in the back of the classroom, sitting near the window daydreaming too.

  2. SherSunshine says:

    Hi Candace! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was a single mom with an ADHD son. I wasn’t diagnoses with ADHD until I was well into my 40′s and he was heading to college. Now I have finally found my life’s passion (film production in props/sets) and am heading back to school this fall. I have to get things “together” better by then. This site is helping a great deal. I’m wondering if your fees might be covered by Medicare/Health Insurance? Or if you might know someone who is available in West Michigan like yourself? Thanks.

  3. ADDcoachCandace says:

    Hi Gloria,
    Thank you, and you are welcome! There is always the promise of relief in the future, and I’m hoping you won’t have to look much further than this site for it in the not too distant future. And that’s all I’m allowed to say about that!

  4. ADDcoachCandace says:

    Kaytlin, your mother sounds like a real gift. I would say that her personal sorting system explanation is accurate on some level. It was certainly true for me growing up. I used to beg my mother not to let the Cleaning Lady or Housekeeper in my room. There may have been piles everywhere, but it all meant something to me. Just straightening a pile could mean instant devastation in terms of finding something. I don’t have that problem now. No such ladies appear in my household!

    Although, I confess to an enduring fantasy that Mrs. Doubtfire will turn up at my door around supper time one day, and tell me I’ve done enough for one day and to run along to my room while she takes over. Hasn’t happened yet.

  5. ADDcoachCandace says:

    Hi Paula, there can be some real truth in the organized chaos concept can’t there. Unfortunately no one else sees the organization part. Although I’m betting you have pockets of organization in that chaos.

    My husband worked all week out of town as a veterinarian at a university vet school an hour and a half from here. So I was a single mom to my 3 boys from Monday to Friday, well, Saturday morning really. I feel for you. It’s HARD! Hard to teach organizational skills while vacuuming the living room when the only available floor space is a path the width of the vacuum. And that was assuming it wasn’t buried somewhere. The Flylady site that a few have mentioned here was a huge help. http://www.flylady.com. There also is a group on the Women With ADHD site just for moms with ADD and single moms with ADD. If you send me an email I’ll look up those links and send them to you.
    mctaylor@powergate.ca

  6. Gloria J says:

    I feel like I am looking at myself in a mirror. Thank you for being here. I feel there might be some relief in the future.

  7. Kaytlin says:

    This is exactly how my house looks, and how my room always looked growing up. My mom used to explain it as my personal sorting system. I was fortunate enough to have a mother that didn’t badger me about cleaning me room at every second of the day. That could be because she has some ADD traits along with the rest of my family, but it made living easier even though the mother ship never actually came. ;P

    I’ve had the Driven to Distraction book for some time now, still trying to remember I have it when I have time to read. lol If I didn’t already know I have ADD that’s a sure sign isn’t it! ;)

  8. PaulaS says:

    I was diagnosed when my oldest son was 6yrs old and diagnosed with adhd. My 11yr old and almost 9yr old (not allowed to say 8yr old anymore) boys are also diagnosed with adhd, as well as the youngest being further tested for aspergers. Organized chaos is basically how to describe my home. How can an add single parent teach organization to adhd children?

  9. ADDcoachCandace says:

    Oh my Terianne, that sounds like one heapin’ household full of character building adventures. But you sound as if you are well suited with your humour and insights to navigate the terrain. All the best. I’d love to hear how this story proceeds if you’d like to share further. mctaylor@powergate.ca
    Hugs,
    Candace

  10. ADDcoachCandace says:

    I agree Pat, those incidents from eons ago that can make us shudder in retrospect, are good incentive for tolerance now. When people ask me why I’m not offended by something someone says or does, I can often say, “Because that was me 20, 30, 40 years ago”. Or maybe last week.

    Although I keep hoping, I don’t think we of the colourful brains ever truly outgrow situations that have us thinking, “I can’t believe I did that!!!” , or, “Did I just say say that out loud?!?” One can only hope that forgiveness is contagious.

  11. ADDcoachCandace says:

    Hi Melody,
    I didn’t know there was direct line ….?! That could have saved me a lot of time!

    It is interesting how many adults are diagnosed after their children are. ADHD is considered second only to height in how heritable it is. With numbers like that it is often fair to assume that somebody in the previous generation has the funky genes.
    Driven To Distraction was actually the first book written by Hallowell and Ratey.

  12. Onawawgirl says:

    May I recommend flylady.net Flylady once lived in total disorganization and clutter, and one day began to climb out beginning with shining her sink. She has developed a system for “sidetracked home executives” which helps us put some order in our lives. I can attest that her system works, with its routines, room rescues, use of timers, and daily encouraging emails.

  13. terianne says:

    Ohhhh Candace… your story is so familiar :) up until the career change anyway! Those aha moments are such ‘gems’ in justifying why certain things have gone as they have in your life….. so nice to be able to say ‘I get it now’! I have a VERY chaotic life with 2 seven year olds and a 9 year old. We are a blended family and just finding out that all three of our kids have ADHD (at varying levels) with one child possible having mild aspergers as well:( We are going through quite a time (especially with our one son at school). I am VERY thankful that I am now medicated and able to work through things better:) Thanks for your blog!

  14. pat71896 says:

    I so understand. When I discovered this site/information/symptoms, I recognized myself over all my years.

    I don’t think I am ’100%’ Add, but I have a degree that causes me embarrassment. When I can recall incidents of 45 years ago of things that were strange to me, I understand so much more about me and – especially – about people.

    We need to be more tolerant of everyone.

    Pat

  15. Melody says:

    My “ET” speak-n-spell phone is set to dial out!
    ***sending***
    ***sending****

    Standing By…………

    (I was diagnosed at age 34 after my daughter was. Both of my older two have ADHD diagnosis along with a host of other challenges. I love the Delivered from Distraction book, but have not yet read Driven to Distraction. It is the same author right?)

  16. ADDcoachCandace says:

    Hi Mmarcel, yes, I just recommended flylady to someone who contacted me yesterday. It was a real lifesaver for me in the early days just before and after I received my diagnosis.
    There are of course several books – sitting in various stages in my computer.
    Thanks for the kind words. They mean a lot coming from one of “my own”!

  17. ADDcoachCandace says:

    Hi Sandra, the insurance answer varies from Canada to the States, and from coach to coach. Technically speaking, ADD Coaching is not usually covered by insurance. Exceptions are counseling therapists and OT’s, occupational therapists, or other professional services that are already covered by professionals that have ADHD coach training as well. Hope that helps.

  18. mmarcel says:

    You write with such humor and skill, have you written a book?
    And Candace since you cannot directly coach everyone who needs your help, are their life coaching websites you refer people to? I recommend http://www.flylady.net to everyone, She’s out of this world too! :)
    Thanks for writing this wonderful article,
    M, One of your people.

  19. Sandra says:

    Does insurance cover ADD coaching?

  20. ADDcoachCandace says:

    Somar, “normal” is just a setting on your washing machine, and if you are that person in the article then believe me, you are definitely sufficient.

  21. somar1 says:

    I know this person you talked about in your article. Its definately me. I wish there was a way to sift through this madness so that i could feel normal or even sufficient.

  22. ADDcoachCandace says:

    Wonderful! Welcome to the party Memzak.

  23. memzak says:

    Beam me up Candace!

  24. ADDcoachCandace says:

    Thank you Saffron! Lovely name by the way.
    Candace

  25. Saffron says:

    Nice!