Interview by Duane Gordon
Judy Brenis is a long-time volunteer with the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA.) I edit the ADDA eNews, and several years ago, Judy approached ADDA about volunteering. On the phone Judy spoke of her dream of sharing people’s stories. Judy completed her training as an ADHD coach at the ADD Coaching Academy (ADDCA), but prior to becoming an ADHD coach, Judy had earned her Journalism degree and worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer for many years.
It’s hard to believe we first spoke only three years ago. It seems I’ve known Judy forever, though we’ve never met face to face… we’ll actually meet for the first time this summer in Orlando at the ADDA Conference! Judy has been telling people’s stories for the ADDA eNews ever since, tracking down interesting people living, and more than living, thriving, with ADHD. Judy conducts interviews with these people and shares their stories with ADDA subscribers.
Finally, it’s my turn to ask the questions!
In a strange turn of events, I now have the opportunity and honor of turning the tables on Judy. She’s far more comfortable asking the questions than she is answering them, but finally it’s my turn. Two years ago, I challenged Judy; I told her it was time for her to write a book, a book called ADHD Heroes. We laughed when she mentioned she’d also been thinking it was time for her to write a book and had been discussing it with her husband. And so it is that on the occasion of the publication of ADHD Heroes by Judy Brenis, our roles are reversed.
In ADHD Heroes, Judy shares the stories of twenty-six people who use their ADHD, not as an excuse, but as a catalyst for personal transformation and success. Judy has interviewed an independent film director, a charter school principal, a businessman, an artist, an author, a fire fighter, a leading expert on ADHD and more. This diverse crowd all have ADHD themselves, and all live successful, fulfilling lives secure in the knowledge that ADHD does not determine their destinies.
Filled with inspiring stories and helpful strategies for overcoming the challenges of ADHD by embracing your natural talents and strengths, ADHD Heroes offers hope to anyone who has ever worried that ADHD somehow limits potential.
Judy, what is your personal interest in ADHD?
I became very interested in ADHD about 20 years ago, when my oldest daughter was first diagnosed with ADHD at age five. Very little information was available on ADHD, nothing compared to what’s available today, so I didn't understand ADHD when my daughter was growing up, certainly not as I do now. That is why my passion now includes helping other parents learn to help their children grow to be the confident, amazing young men or women they are capable of being despite the challenges of ADHD… to help them become ADHD heroes.
Beyond personal experience and reading everything available, I gained a deeper understanding of ADHD about five years ago when I decided to become an ADHD coach. My children were grown and I was looking for a new "project” I could sink my teeth into, something I was passionate about. By pure chance, someone mentioned ADHD coaching and I was immediately hooked. My ADHD coach training gave me a greater understanding of my own daughter’s struggles and helped me continue to help her, but it would also become my new career, judyadhdcoaching.com.
How has your personal connection to ADHD impacted your life?
ADHD has impacted almost every aspect my life. I have learned much about how the brain works and how ADHD affects it. I have become more understanding and accepting of other’s differences, struggles and challenges, and in doing so, I have also accepted my own challenges. I have also become more grateful for the things most people take for granted – for the executive functioning skills most people don't even think about – organization, time management, priority setting, emotional regulation and more. My whole approach to life is very different than it would be without my personal connection to ADHD.
What made you want to tell people’s stories, and in particular, people you consider ADHD heroes?
I have always loved to tell other people's stories, and as a journalist, I focused on features. I love the challenge of getting to know someone and through my words, painting a picture of who that person is. My greatest pleasure comes when someone tells me I have captured their personality exactly. When you suggested I put my stories in a book, it was a natural fit. I love sharing stories of people who have worked hard to manage the impact of ADHD and, despite past struggles, have gone on to create a successful, productive, HAPPY life. I love talking to people who have found their passion in life. The people whose stories I tell have done just that; to me, that’s why they’re ADHD heroes.
What do you expect people will gain or learn from your book?
I hope people gain inspiration from reading my book. I hope through the examples of others, they gain acceptance of their challenges and are motivated to do more. I hope my book encourages people to really understand their ADHD. Not to feel sorry for themselves, or ashamed, but to accept their ADHD and then reach out to those who can help them with their challenges. And perhaps most of all, I hope people who are struggling are inspired to figure out what they are passionate about, and then find the power within themselves and the confidence to follow their dreams.
Through people’s stories, readers discover tips and strategies that have worked for others. There are many opportunities for a reader with ADHD to learn how they can create the life they want. I so want people to learn how to be compassionate towards themselves while still recognizing that they need to do the work to become authentic individuals. It's not easy to change the story, to create new beliefs and habits, routines and structures, but like the people in ADHD Heroes have shown, it’s possible, and certainly worth the effort.
Where can we get your book?
ADHD Heroes is available online through Amazon CreateSpace e-store, Amazon.com, kindle. It will also be available at the ADDA Conference bookstore at the ADDA Conference in Orlando this summer.
Will there be a sequel or a series?
I would love to do a second book. There are so many ADHD heroes out there whose stories I would love to tell.
How can people propose heroes for you to interview?
I am always open to finding new ADHD Heroes! If you think you are an ADHD Hero or know of someone who is contact me via e-mail at email@example.com.
As a last question, is there something you’d like to say to our readers?
I would like to take this opportunity to say how grateful I am to all those who shared their stories with me, and with the rest of the world. Along this journey, I met the most amazing, interesting, open individuals. I said this in the acknowledgements in ADHD Heroes, but it bears repeating: "Thank you to all those who have placed their trust in me by allowing me to share your very personal stories with the world. I hope I have honored each and every one of you by treating your stories with love and respect.”
Duane Gordon is a Canadian artist celebrating the urban landscape. Each city is a collective artwork created by its inhabitants, and in his cityscapes, Duane captures the beauty of this collective creation. He is an explorer, and the urban skyline is his pristine wilderness. Visit his online gallery at www.proudofmycity.com.