The Agile Way: What it takes to live a productive life – Your Way – for highly sensitive, creative, gifted, ADHD, or Neurodiverse

This video summarizes the underlying principles of Agile Life Design.  I made it in September 2011 and at that time I was calling it “quantum” productivity.  Quantum principles are still part of the philosophy underlying the principles and strategies in the Agile Life Design Toolkit, but I felt that Agile was more accurately descriptive of the “way” I approach life design.

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Unschooling and Deschooling – Why we need to care what these words mean.

 When I met Homeschool Therapist,  Michelle Barone, MA MFT, I had never heard of “un” schooling, but boy have I learned a lot since.  I was delighted to speak at her extraordinary Unschooling Summit in May 2012.  The more I learn from her about unschooling the more I see the connections between my work and hers.  

She helps parents take back their rights to guide their children to LOVE learning rather than be taught to be obedient, compliant, and overly focused on achievement and getting A’s.  I help people re-learn how to enjoy the process of organizing their lives, home, work, and time by reclaiming their right to design their entire approach to organizing and decision-making to fit the way they think and function.  Just as we all learn in our own way, we all organize in our own way.   

“Designing Your Life to Fit Your Neurodiversity”
(Brain – Based Differences)
Purchase the recording of the one hour interview from Michelle’s Website for $6.97.

  Purchase the Recording


What is  ”Unschooling” and why is it such a big deal?

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Agile Life Design Studio – Tools + Support for Getting Unstuck, Cultivating Personal Agility, and Healing Procrastination, Overwhelm, Frustration and Disorganization

What is Agile Life Design™?  

Agile Life Design™ is a human‐centered approach to cultivating personal agility and meaning in the age of uncertainty – where being in control of life’s curve balls is simply not an option.

Agile Life Design integrates ancient wisdom with modern science, universal principles, essential life skills you don’t learn in school, sustainable processes and customizable strategies into a toolkit for identifying and responding to rapidly changing needs and the associated challenges.

Agile Life Design is a way of life, a process and a toolkit for healing chronic overwhelm, indecision, exhaustion and disorganization and for “Cultivating Personal Agility, Productivity & Well-being” 

Agile Life Design offers  mindset, processes, skills, strategies and tools for cultivating confidence in your ability to:

  • Navigate the uncertainties of life.
  • Courageously course correct your journey through life.
  • Advocate for your needs.
  • Resolve inner conflicts with less stress and drama
  • Make decisions with greater ease
  • Reduce the risk of making choices you regret
  • Design lifestyle systems and infrastructure that work with your brain type and empower you to focus on what really matters
  • Design your own “easy buttons” for establishing habits that serve your optimal functioning
  • Design your life, work and productivity systems to easily evolve with you as you learn and grow


What is the Agile Life “Design Studio”?


The home study version of the program and Group Coaching Program have been delayed possibly till 2013 for personal and family reasons.  During this time of grieving the loss of several family members, my work schedule is limited to coaching my private clients and occasional appearances.  Thanks for understanding.  I hope to resume my work with groups in 2013.

In the meantime… 

Sign up for my Agile Life Design Toolkit, to receive occasional free recordings of my past teaching, videos, articles – and to be notified when my new group programs become available.


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Referral Directory – Diagnosis & Treatment – Neuropsychological Assessment: Is it ADHD, OCD, Autism, Asperger’s, Bipolar, PTSD?

I often get asked for referrals to medical professionals whose services may be covered by insurance and can diagnose and provide therapy and/or pharmaceutical treatments for living with neurodiversity.   Continue reading

Tips for Choosing the Right Office Chair for You

Choosing an office chair can be daunting.  Most people are quick to tell you their favorite chair.  But how do you know if it fit your needs?  On her Facebook Page, ADHD Coach, Krickett Harrison recently asked for help choosing a chair and inspired me to write this article for you.  Hope you find it useful.

Why Should You Care about Your Office Chair?

If you spend a lot of time at your computer, your office chair is the second only to your bed in terms of affecting your physical and emotional health and your overall productivity. Having had a back injury when I was in college, I’ve been through over 15 office chairs in my search for a chair that supported my needs and I’ve learned a few things about choosing office chairs that I’ll share with you here.

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Wholehearted Living is also Agile Living – It Starts with Courage to Release Shame, Embrace Vulnerability and Imperfection – Dr. Brene Brown

Dr. Brené Brown is a researcher professor at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, where she has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, shame, courage, and whole-hearted living.   

Clients often ask me if there is a book or resource for learning more about what I teach regarding self-acceptance, self-respect, self-acknowledgment and self-compassion. Dr. Brené Brown’s work is among the best resources available today.  Below are resources from Dr. Brené Brown I wholeheartedly recommend.



Graphic SOURCE: From Dr. Brene Brown’s appearance on Super Soul Sunday

View Oprah’s Interviews with Dr. Brene Brown Online Here


Shame, Vulnerability, and Whole Hearted Living - Synopsis

Listening to Dr. Brené Brown speak and watching her on You Tube was so heartwarming, validating and affirming. In this video she poses the questions:

  • How do we engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? 
  • How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to embrace our imperfections and to recognize that we are enough — that we are worthy of love, belonging and joy?

VIEW:  TEDxHouston – Brené Brown 


The Price of Invulnerability - Talk Synopsis  

In our anxious world, we often protect ourselves by closing off parts of our lives that leave us feeling most vulnerable. Yet invulnerability has a price. When we knowingly or unknowingly numb ourselves to what we sense threatens us, we sacrifice an essential tool for navigating uncertain times — joy. This talk explores how and why fear and collective scarcity has profoundly dangerous consequences on how we live, love, parent, work and engage in relationships — and how simple acts can restore our sense of purpose and meaning.

VIEW: TEDxKC – Brené Brown  




In the spirit of giving and gratitude, my friend Indrani, the mastermind behind the non-profit organization Indrani’s Light, is giving away the recording of her inspiring teleseminar interview featuring author Dr. Brene Brown If you would like to be notified of future free “Chat and Chai” calls, please sign up here.

Here’s the link to download the MP3




Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead 


The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power  
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Suppose to Be and Embrace Who You Are I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”




Intensity is a form of neurodiversity. Steve Jobs is a GREAT example of Intensity.

Intensity of energy, drive, compassion, and frustration is a well-documented aspect of having extraordinary intelligence and empathy. Steve Jobs was lucky he had productive outlets for his intensity, but he also paid a high price.  I deeply admire that he was strong enough to not let his creative passion be subdued or muted by the people around him who were clueless about how to cultivate or cope with his intense drive to innovate.

Luckily he insisted on cultivating it himself. Even when he got booted from Apple for his emotional intensity, he refused to give up and moved on to become the force behind Pixar and Toy Story.

It takes a very intense kind of person to challenge the status quo and do what people say can’t be done. Not only were lots of people not supporting him, they were actively trying to suppress and modify him as well. How long would you stand up for your big idea if everyone around you was trying to change it?

“But for all his obnoxiousness with his colleagues…, Jobs had a rich collaborative streak as well. He was enough of an egomaniac to think of himself as another John Lennon, but he was always looking for McCartneys to go along for the ride with him.”


This is a quote from Steven Johnson, author of the brilliant book  Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation speaking about Steve Jobs in this article:  thoughts-on-steve-jobs-the-book

To me, this is a kind of intellectual bullying – the kind that creative, emotionally intense and gifted adults and children experience their whole lives.Intense people are often unaware of the affect they have on people and  consequently their intentions and thinking process are deeply misunderstood by others.  Intensity is a form of neurodiversity.  Unharnessed, emotional, intellectual and energetic intensity can feel overwhelming to people. 

To me, Steve Jobs exhibited a personality trait called “hypersystemizing” or “addicted to insight.” Hypersystemizing has a biological basis and is often the driving force behind the kind of idealism and perfectionist behavior that Steve Jobs displayed. This is not everyday perfectionism, however. It’s a deep driving need to create something truly magnificent and not let others water down the visionary ideas with “groupthink.”

Intensity – What makes intensely creative, emotional and gifted adults like Steve Jobs prone to abrasiveness AND to being bullied themselves?

RELATED ARTICLE How to Cultivate the Gifts of Emotional Intensity, ADHD, Creative Intensity and other Traits of Neurodiversity

Intensity – What makes intensely creative, emotional and gifted adults like Steve Jobs prone to troubling relationship issues?

I was truly dismayed to see someone as influential and talented as Steven Johnson, author of the brilliant book  Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation say this about Steve Jobs:

“But for all his obnoxiousness with his colleagues…, Jobs had a rich collaborative streak as well. He was enough of an egomaniac to think of himself as another John Lennon, but he was always looking for McCartneys to go along for the ride with him.”


To me, this is an example of the kind of socially accepted intolerance, bias, and disparaging name-calling that creative, emotionally intense and gifted adults (and children) frequently experience their entire lives. Even though Mr. Johnson is intending to show the “other” side of Steve Jobs complex personality, it doesn’t excuse his perpetuating the portrayal of Steve as an “obnoxious egomaniac.”   Those are some powerfully degrading and hurtful words for such a respected author to be using as though they were mere objective facts and not defamatory or derogatory character slurs.  To me, those words are just offensive as any racist or sexist epithets.  

Yes.  Steve was emotionally intense.  Yes, he had a temper and SOME people felt bullied by him.  But he was so much more than that — he had many allies, supporters and people who overlooked his outbursts as being part of his intensity and found his intense convictions inspiring.  They didn’t take his emotional intensity personally and loved working with him.   

Intensity is one of the many forms of neurodiversity that are misunderstood, not tolerated and aggravated by our culture.  Unharnessed, emotional, intellectual and energetic intensity can feel overwhelming to people who are not intense.

 When people assume that other people are sharing the same experience in the same way, and at the same level of intensity, it’s so easy to assume they simply lack self- control.  In reality, it’s more like two people can be in a 70 degree room and to one it feel like 100 degrees and they are uncontrollably sweating and to another it can feel like 40 degrees and they could be having uncontrollable shivers and goose bumps.  Emotional intensity works similarly.   There is actually a biologically based neurochemical reason (one of which is dopamine levels) that literally and profoundly affect how intensely we feel emotionally in response to events.  For example, we might feel such a strong surge of emotion in response to a new idea that it’s not “controllable” though with practice we CAN learn how to change the way we respond to it.  But that requires advanced habit shaping and emotional intelligence skills that are rarely taught.

To the intense person, what seems like nothing to most people, for example, seeing a typo or mistake, can trigger such a strong emotional discomfort that it feels like being hit by a crashing wave.  In our culture, instead of recognizing that some people are just that way, we treat it as a mental illness, we invalidate the reality of what it feels like to live with this, or we make it a character defect.  When you really look at the situation deeply and objectively, you begin to see that it’s actually a need to learn skills.  Thankfully therapy is moving toward an educational model, but why do we still classify the learning as a “treatment” for a disorder?    

This fundamental variation in intensity is at the the root of many of our “differences” and when not recognized causes misunderstanding and over time can lead to such extreme frustration and anger that people become very abusive to each other.

Intense people themselves are usually unaware of how different their experience of life is from most people and their descriptions of how they feel are often not believed by others.  Consequently, instead of learning how to cope with intensity, it is invalidated and people try to repress it.  The repression leads to build up and eventually meltdowns, tantrums and other forms of emotional outbursts.   My intention with this article is not to “excuse” anyone’s rude behavior, but rather to move us forward in understanding so that we can find more productive ways to deal with our differences.  Like learning more about the ways people are different and how to resolve the inevitable conflict in respectful ways.  We have a culture where most people seek to avoid conflict or confrontation.  If we learned early on how to see conflict as an opportunity to learn to become more accepting of differences, more patient, more emotionally agile, mentally flexible and less certain that what we think is right, perhaps we wouldn’t have an epidemic of social anxiety and depression.  

Back to the article that inspired this article — I wonder if Mr. Johnson is familiar with the literature on giftedness and intensity and, if he were, would he still choose to use words like “egomaniac” so easily?

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You are NOT your own worst enemy…at least…you don’t have to be.

EVERYTHING we do is with the intention to make our short-term, present emotional lives either, less painful / stressful, more tolerable, or more meaningful / pleasurable in some way.

We are always coping with the imperative of making the NOW bearable as we pursue our longer-term ideals. How to integrate our short-term intrinsic rewards with our long term goals/desires?

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