Words of encouragement from William James, 1899

posted May 19, 2018, 4:46 PM by Susan Nguyen   [ updated May 19, 2018, 4:47 PM ]

The following excerpt is from “Talks to Teachers on Psychology and to Students on Some of Life’s Ideals” by William James.  Pub. 1899 by Longman's, Green & Company, London, New York, Bombay. This was written long before “ADHD” and “hyperfocus” were used to name the following descriptions. This is so insightful and encouraging:

One more point, and I am done with the subject of attention. There is unquestionably a great native variety among individuals in the type of their attention. Some of us are naturally scatterbrained, and others follow easily a train of connected thoughts without temptation to swerve aside to other subjects. This seems to depend on a difference between individuals in the type of their field of consciousness. In some persons this is highly focalized and concentrated, and the focal ideas predominate  in determining association. In others we must suppose the margin to be brighter, and to be filled with something like meteoric  showers of images, which strike into it at random, displacing the focal ideas, and carrying association in their own direction. Persons of the latter type find their attention wandering every minute, and must bring it back by a voluntary pull. The others sink into a subject of meditation deeply, and, when interrupted, are 'lost' for a moment before they come back to the outer world. The possession of such a steady faculty of attention is unquestionably a great boon. Those who have it can work more rapidly, and with less nervous wear and tear. I am inclined to think that no one who is without it naturally can by any amount of drill or discipline attain it in a very high degree. Its amount is probably a fixed characteristic of the individual. But I wish to make a remark here which I shall have occasion to make again in other connections. It is that no one need deplore unduly the inferiority  in himself of any one elementary faculty. This concentrated  type of attention is an elementary faculty: it is one of the things that might be ascertained and measured by exercises in the laboratory. But, having ascertained it in a number of persons, we could never rank them in a scale of actual and practical mental efficiency based on its degrees. The total mental efficiency of a man is the resultant of the working together of all his faculties. He is too complex a being for any one of them to have the casting  vote. If any one of them do have the casting vote, it is more likely to be the strength of his desire and passion, the strength of the interest he takes in what is proposed. Concentration, memory, reasoning power, inventiveness, excellence of the senses, -all are subsidiary to this. No matter how scatter-brained the type of a man's successive fields of consciousness may be, if he really care for a subject, he will return to it incessantly from his incessant  wanderings, and first and last do more with it, and get more results from it, than another person whose attention may be more continuous during a given interval, but whose passion for the subject is of a more languid and less permanent sort. Some of the most efficient workers I know are of the ultra-scatterbrained type. One friend, who does a prodigious quantity of work, has in fact confessed to me that, if he wants to get ideas on any subject, he sits down to work at something else, his best results coming through his mind-wanderings. This is perhaps an epigrammatic exaggeration on his part; but I seriously think that no one of us need be too much distressed at his own shortcomings in this regard. Our mind may enjoy but little comfort, may be restless and feel confused; but it may be extremely efficient all the same.


posted Mar 20, 2015, 12:38 PM by Susan Nguyen

The whole topic of relationships is one which permeates every area of our lives in one way or another. Yet we so often take relationships for granted. Coaching can help uncover our needs for them, and help clarify which ones are beneficial for us, and how to nurture them, if they are.

We are made to have relationships. Our first one was in the womb with our mother. Next, it was out of the womb with our mother, and then with other near relatives. Later, with our friends on the playground. Then come adult relationships in family, social and work settings. And of course, we can't leave out romantic and spousal relationships. The better our relationships with others are, especially those who affect our life the most, the better off we are in so many ways. So it makes sense to invest in our relationships, in finding what does and doesn't make them work. 

First on the list might be to figure out what our absolutely indispensable needs in a relationship are, what needs are semi optional, and what are things we don't need at all. We certainly can't expect to get everything we want, and even if we did, that might not be what's actually best for us in the long run. These needs will vary depending on the particular type of relationship. Second, we could list what things we are able to give to the relationship. What we could become able to give, and also what we will never be able to give. After careful scrutiny of these lists, we can come up with an idea of whether each relationship is worth having. For example, we have a need for someone to do fun things with, and we have a need for a friend to be reliable. Is our need for fun activities with someone great enough that it isn't cancelled out when a friend shows  severe/moderate/slight tendencies to be unreliable? We can't have everything perfect in a relationship, so finding an appropriate balance of good vs bad vs OK can be helpful. Making pro and con lists on paper can make things more obvious. Also, something is to be said for sheer gut instinct or intuition about these matters, and these should also be explored, and even added to the list.

To discover what is the best relationship one can have, I like to put first things first and deal with my relationship with God. What are the essential elements there? Number one is Love. What does that entail? Forgiveness, long-suffering, kindness, faithfulness, patience. These are what God has for me, and what, if I don't want to be a hypocrite, I should have for others. God has these for us because He really, really wants to have a relationship with us, and it cost Him plenty, but it's worth it to Him. Is my relationship worth having with this person? There can be a surprising number of reasons why or why not, if careful thought is given to this. If it is, then following God's template of love is the way to go. It is expensive, but always worth the cost. The results of such a relationship are priceless.


posted Feb 19, 2014, 6:18 PM by Susan Nguyen   [ updated Dec 28, 2014, 2:45 PM ]

We are so lucky to have access to top medical insights into this subject. It just takes a click to hear the latest from expert Dr. Charles Parker. There are videos that address so many common problems that can be had as a result of non medication or incorrect medication. Whatever your situation, it is well worth it to do the research. Here is a good place to start:

Persimmon Drying and Change

posted Nov 28, 2012, 11:56 AM by Susan Nguyen   [ updated Nov 28, 2012, 12:04 PM ]

Is it just me, or are the persimmons much bigger this year? Even after drying them in the oven for three days, they haven’t shrunk enough to fit into the dehydrator. Will our electricity bill bankrupt us this year? How many more days of drying in the oven will it take to get them small enough to fit?

I mentioned this to my Vietnam born and bred husband who, as usual, had an instant, outside the box solution to the problem. I say unusual because it didn’t fit my expectations of what the solution would be. I like my hachiya dried persimmons whole. The best variety is one I hang on a screen for a month. The sugars from inside the fruit eventually come to the surface, powdering the delicacies with a fine white dust. But, that takes too much time, so I succumbed a couple of years ago to drying them first in the oven at a warm setting and then transferring them to a dehydrator after they were small enough to fit. They don’t retain the lovely orange color, and are brown instead, but they still taste fantastic. However, THIS YEAR, even after three days in the oven, they still don’t fit.  How can I make the dehydrator shelves tall enough so the fruit will fit?

My husband told me to slice them in half. What?? I wanted him to tell me how to make the dehydrator fit the persimmons so they could retain their beautiful appearance. They’re supposed to be lovely pear shaped whole fruit in their finished state. Everybody knows that! No way am I going to mutilate my precious persimmons like that!!!

 …………alright. So that is how you innovated the banana dehydrating process in Vietnam to drastically shorten the drying time of your millions of bananas each year. And they tasted sweeter, to boot.  Well, maybe it’s worth considering.

Change is never easy. We want to hang on to the old way of doing things, even if it wasn’t working, because it is familiar. And there is a sort of twisted comfort in that. But that just leads to continued failure and frustration. The tipping point comes when the frustration becomes so great, that change to a potentially more ideal situation becomes enticing.

We are now at the point of letting go of the old and entertaining the new.

Wow, the persimmons could be done in half the time, AND taste better, too! We’ll be able to pay our electricity bill this month. I can make that pot roast for dinner tonight, after all! And all I need to do is get those persimmons out of the oven and start slicing.

Are there any monster persimmons in your life? Are you tired of trying to fit them in to the dehydrator of tradition? Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to the old way of doing/thinking    about   things/yourself. Time to mourn it’s passing, and the passing of it’s coexisting frustrations, and begin the transition to a new way/outlook. Be open to suggestions from others. They might come when you least expect it. Or from yourself, as you muse about your circumstance during a coaching session, or otherwise. Give yourself time and opportunity to consider the possibilities and rewards of change. Then, after weighing the pros and cons of change, take a deep breath and move forward to a better way ;)

Because you never know when your ship might leave....

posted Jul 24, 2012, 9:46 AM by Susan Nguyen

Haven’t we all been in this situation? ADD or not, missing important deadlines or  events can have a disastrous effect on our personal and professional lives. If those dinosaurs had the benefits of coaching, they might still be around today! What might topics for coaching sessions have been?  Reminder systems, time management strategies, new ways of adapting to impending climate change come to mind. The important thing is that difficulties we have had in the past will repeat themselves until we consciously work to change them. Regular coaching sessions provide a built in means for regularly strategizing how to overcome our weaknesses, capitalize on our strengths, and ultimately ensure our success in life.

The Mary Poppins Approach

posted Dec 27, 2011, 5:26 PM by Susan Nguyen   [ updated Apr 19, 2012, 11:17 AM ]

One of the areas of Executive Function which figures greatly in our ability to “move forward” in all areas of our life, is called “Activation, Arousal and Effort”. This is the ability to get started, pay attention and finish a work. The controlling mechanism for this is in the  prefrontal cortex of the brain. People with ADHD often have difficulty with the areas of executive functioning due to a lack of neurotransmitter activity there. If, however, the activity is stimulating, the “neuros” are able to transmit exceptionally well, and PwADHD can excel.

The secret, therefore, is to find out how to stimulate the PwADHD into being excited about an otherwise boring activity. The answer can be found in the Mary Poppins Approach. “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Find the fun, and **snap** the job’s a game!”

Buying into the first premise, “In every job that must be done” enables one to confidently forge ahead in any task to find “the element of fun” in it. This is the Activation part. For example, I know there is something fun about getting my Christmas cards done. Therefore, starting to do them isn’t going to be a recipe for torture. Quite the contrary, I know I will enjoy it. I exercise a little bit of discipline in getting out the cards, and opening up my photo albums on my computer, and start the project. And yes, as predicted, picking out what photos to include proves to be enjoyable, as well as choosing a format in which to place them.

And so it begins. As I proceed with writing the short (very short as I want to be merciful to my card recipients) explanation of the photos, I find I don’t mind it so much. The finishing part of the activity involves mailing the cards. Initiating physical activity is not easy for me, but keeping in mind the “every” part of “every job” I muster up that little bit of discipline and step out the front door, leaving the car behind to walk to the post office. Walking, another “job” I usually dread,  is not so bad. In fact, I even take time to enjoy the scenery and fresh air. After I get back, I feel energized and ready to initiate my next activity.

Which happened to be..........writing this blog entry ;)


posted Oct 2, 2011, 10:55 AM by Susan Nguyen   [ updated Oct 2, 2011, 11:01 AM ]

One thing that I genuinely look forward to each morning is my cup of freshly brewed (from freshly ground beans, no less) coffee. I enjoy the looking forward to it, the aroma of it,  the taste of it, the comforting warmness of it, and last, but definitely not least, that little “zippy” feeling I get that spurs me on to finish cleaning up the kitchen, or get the laundry in the washer, or start or finish work on that special project.

Those are pleasures I only recently have become indulging in again after a decade or so hiatus. The reason? I linked the caffeine to exasperating or even causing my dreadful three to five day headaches that occurred on a regular basis. Also, if I didn’t have my morning cup, I would often get a headache presumably as a caffeine withdrawal symptom. The negatives of my daily cup of coffee indulgence far outweighed even those enticing benefits. It wasn’t that hard to quit.

Then one day, a friend of mine told me to drink plenty of water as a means of warding off the killer headaches. I have never been a fan of drinking water, but  gave it a try. I drank whenever I could. I even became one of those people who brings a water bottle with them everywhere. To my surprise, that very day my headache receded, days ahead of its expected departure. The result is that now I can once again enjoy my daily cup of brew, as long as I combine it with an adequate intake of water. I’m glad I tried that little experiment!

I  do limit my coffee to one cup a day, however, since too much is definitely bad for the body. Many folks with AD/HD are famous for self medicating by drinking too much of it. What is really needed to help achieve focus and reduce hyperactivity is not caffeine, but carefully prescribed medication. Yet, as a result of a one shot trial with meds that yielded undesirable results, many have abandoned them altogether and denied themselves the benefits that have made all the difference for others. They abandoned their cup of coffee, as it were, when all they needed was to join forces with a savvy doctor to patiently try different dosages or different types of medications until they came up with something that works.  80% of people with AD/HD can benefit from the taking of medication that has been properly prescribed. 

An ADHD Partner Survey conducted by Gina Pera, author of Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? revealed that 70% of partners responded positively to the question ”Did the quality of this relationship change after your partner started taking medication for ADHD?” It would seem that time and energy spent exploring this resource would be well worth it. Not only for the PWADD, but for partners and coworkers as well.

Here is a link to Gina's very informative blog about this topic:<;zidType=CH&amp;zid=2024372&amp;zsubscriberId=752576828> 

Comments welcome. Please send to for review and possible inclusion.

The Garden of Life

posted Jul 10, 2011, 10:51 AM by Susan Nguyen   [ updated Jul 10, 2011, 11:14 AM ]

I’m a terrible gardener, but every once in awhile circumstances dictate that I get out and do things with plants. This Tuesday is the once-a-year summer garbage free-for-all and we are allowed to put out anything and everything that can fit in garbage cans and big garbage bags. Prunings must be in  3 feet long tied bundles, but an unlimited number may be left out. An additional catalyst for this was that my daughter just announced her wedding, the reception of which will be next May in our back yard. I had already noticed dead branches on our trees, but all of a sudden they seemed to look even more obnoxious. Our gardeners have already come and gone this week, so I found the industrial grade pruning sheers in the garage, took a deep breath, and started cutting off the dead wood.

All I ever did in the yard growing up was dig dandelions. Lots and lots of dandelions. (That may be the cause of my aversion for gardening.) So I tried to remember everything I ever heard about pruning. I know that it helps plants grow better when unencumbered by unproductive appendages. The plum tree is a prime example of that. A couple of years ago, the plums were so plentiful that some of the heavily laden branches broke.Consequently, dead wood began to accumulate, and the harvest this year is not nearly as impressive.  

Hmmm. I always wax philosophical when working with plants. What unproductive parts of my life are hindering my growth and development? Why not cut them off, too? What about parts that have just a leaf or two. Should they be sacrificed, or should they be nurtured? This all depends on what my values are, and whether I feel it’s worthwhile to have these areas as a part of my life.

All of this is good fodder for a coaching session, or two, or three. We can live such careless lives, sometimes, not giving careful consideration to the worthiness of each aspect of our existence. Is monthly attendance at such and such meetings really enriching my life or career? Is watching TV during dinner really the best way to spend that time with my spouse? Is my super involvement in this or that project really as important as I have been thinking it was, or is there another avenue which would be a better use of my time, talent and energy?

Come to think of it, was that time I spent pruning really necessary? I could have hired someone else to do it and haul away the debris. The answer is, it all depends. What are my values? What floats my boat? As it happens, I truly enjoy my rare communions with mother nature, and the lessons I learn when tending her gardens. (Note, I did say “rare”.) Maybe I should consider having another little adventure like that in the not too distant future.

Exploring this with a coach is a way to discover new possibilities for enhancing life, and making it happen.  A little purposeful snipping here, and a little watering and fertilizing there can make a difference. It just takes some dedicated time and effort to make little changes that, added together, can make a big difference in quality of life.

Comments welcome. Please send to for review and possible inclusion.

Moses and the First ADHD Coach?

posted May 30, 2011, 8:59 PM by Susan Nguyen   [ updated Jun 15, 2011, 7:59 PM ]

ScienceDaily published an article on June 10, 2008 entitled “Is ADHD an Advantage for Nomadic Tribesmen?” In a study, led by an anthropology graduate student from Northwestern University, Dan Eisenberg analyzed the correlation between wellness (as exhibited by desireable BMI and height) and the presence of a certain dopamine receptor DRD4/7R gene. This gene has been linked to greater cravings for food and drugs, novelty-seeking, and ADHD symptoms. Apparently, in the nomadic society, where defending livestock against raiders or locating food and water sources are things that are highly rewarded, individuals who had this gene were generally in better health and held in higher regard than those without it. The opposite was true, however, for those same types who lived in a more settled, farming environment.

This whole nomadic thing started me thinking about famous nomadic people, and first to  pop into mind was Moses. You know, it seems quite possible that he had ADHD :-).He was impulsive and got into big trouble for it. When he saw an Egyptian kill a fellow Hebrew, he took care of it by killing the Egyptian. Pharaoh got wind of it and tried to kill Moses. He fled to Midian where he charmed some young ladies by rescuing them from shepherds who were preventing them from getting water from the well. This won over their dad who then gave one of his daughters to him to marry. He went to work for his father in law, got distracted from his shepherding job, and went to check out a bush that looked like it was burning up. The rest, of course, is history. There was risk taking involved: parting the waters of the Red Sea and inviting his followers to share in the risk as they gingerly followed him across. Problems with no food and water were solved ingeniously with Manna from heaven, a tap on a rock resulted in outpouring of water, and quails were flown in on special order for satisfying the people’s craving for meat.

Moses never took credit for these miracles, but he was willing to risk his reputation in following divine orders. There was also disorganization. Moses was so good at giving advice and settling problems, that he had a huge backlog of folks coming to him for help. It was out of control. Moses’ father in law came to the rescue, though, and helped him get organized by suggesting Moses appoint a hierarchy of judges under him to tend to common affairs, leaving the trickier jobs for Moses to deal with. (That may have been the first use of an ADHD Life Coach.) The tragic thing is that, after 40 years of shepherding the Hebrews through the desert, Moses himself was not permitted to enter the Promised Land, as a result of an indiscretion involving not sticking up for God at one point along the line. Moses was only able to climb a mountain and see the Promised Land from a distance. Nobody ever saw him again. He wouldn’t have been of any use in Canaan, anyway. That whole thing was mostly about settling, and that requires a different kind of brain.

 The End ;-)

Comments welcome. Please send to for review and possible inclusion.

Birthday Wish

posted May 30, 2011, 8:58 PM by Susan Nguyen   [ updated May 19, 2018, 6:44 PM ]

March 7, 2011

How true this is! A coaching session can be like a mini birthday party at candle blowing out time. It can be a time of reflection, dreaming, and bringing to the forefront possibilities that had only been briefly fantasized about in the past. This can then be the beginning of defining a new direction and goal by clarifying what it is, deciding on its relevance and worthiness, and strategizing steps to take to make the dream a reality.

Comments welcome. Please send to for review and possible inclusion.

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