I met a young girl recently who was going through a really tough time at school. She does not fit in, feels like an outsider, is exceptionally creative, not very sporty, test averse, and told me she doesn’t like life very much because it is too hard and often sad. Self harm has crossed her mind.

I chatted with her for a long time and finally discovered that she has ADD and feels ashamed and embarrassed about it because she is teased at school and feels like she is not very smart due to the diagnosis.

I told her some dumb jokes, a few self deprecating stories and then shared a little secret I have with her. I also struggled with ADD at school and still often wrestle with the remnants today.

She was so happy to learn that I was like her. I told her that we belong to an amazing and exciting subset of people who rock the world, sometimes literally. I am thrilled to say that she was encouraged and inspired to turn her struggle into expression and is now painting up a storm and making little movies and, yes, doing a million projects at the same time like most ADD people do. She has found comfort in her discomfort though, and that warms my heart.

To help her(and anyone else) understand how my brain works, I made this little animated video about my experience with ADD.

Many people have some of the issues those with ADD experience but most don’t have them all tangled up together.

Other people with ADD include: Justin Timberlake, Emma Watson, Zooe Deschanel, Ryan Gosling, Lisa Ling, Adam Levine, Magic Johnson, Mozart, DaVinci, Richard Branson, and astronaut Scott Kelly, to name just a few.

(This short video is my personal experience and not a general statement on the subject:)

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‘The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said’ – Peter Drucker.

From my ‘Stories Without Words’ series. (Photographed at the Botshabelo Orphanage, Magaliesburg, South Africa)

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During high school I spent more days gazing out of my classroom window than I did looking at the blackboard.
 
A memorable incident related to window-gazing happened when I was in grade eleven. (Aka standard nine or form four depending on which country you are from.)
 
I was in a full-on dream-sequence, and knowing me, I imagine that I was probably thinking about running toward my girlfriend in slow motion.
 
In my mind her hair was flowing behind her as if in water. Autumn leaves were swirling around her feet, also tumbling in slow motion, as she stretched out her arms to embrace me.
 
I definitely heard a soundtrack to this daydream. Based on official records it could well have been Heart of Gold by Neil Young.
 
Suddenly the song screeched to a halt as if someone had dragged the turntable’s needle across the vinyl record.
 
I felt a sharp pain in my right earlobe.
 
I looked up.
 
It was my math teacher looming over me and grabbing my ear in a vice-like grip. (My school friends reading this will know exactly who I’m speaking about.)
 
“Do you know why you always fail maths?” she said, smirking.
 
I shook my head.
 
“Because you are an idiot and you don’t pay attention.”
 
“I actually don’t understand the work,” I said, sincerely.
 
What I said was true. For some reason I did not have a grasp on the subject and failed to get grounded in the earlier years so the further we delved into the math mayhem, the further behind I got.
 
For some reason my answer irked her.
 
“You will not get very far in life without maths,” she said. “I wish you’d get that into your thick skull.”
 
“I don’t think trigonometry will help me be a better writer,” I said, not being able to hold my mouth as per usual. (I had already decided around that time that I wanted to be an author.)
 
“Pah,” she said giving my head a slight push. “Writer indeed.”
 
The boys in the class laughed. Someone shot a rubber band at me. I saw whispers behind hands. Embarrassing to say the least, but that was obviously her intention.
 
“I can’t wait to see where you land up after school,” she said.
 
Fast forward at least thirty-five years.
 
Here we are today.
I’m still not sure where I’m going to land up, but getting letters like the one attached to this post makes me realize that I’m headed in the right direction, despite never ever passing trigonometry.

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On rough days when I feel afraid, rudderless, overwhelmed or without direction, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through tough times is 100% so far. And that’s pretty darn good in the scheme of things.

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It’s deeply disturbing and so sad that the news and social media, has become a cesspool of negativity awash in fabricated and instigated drama.
 
The most upsetting thing to me is while all of this is going on, tucked away in a valley in the Magaliesberg in South Africa, a small family is taking care of 400 orphans in a sustainable village called Botshabelo.
 
While disgusting and vile internet trolls waste the world’s time on worthless, false and unimportant nonsense, Marion and Con Cloete and their daughters Nicole and Leigh are doing the most incredible work for the orphans in their care, twenty-four hours a day.
 
On one of my visits to the village, I made this little documentary.
 
The pictures say more than any words I can find to describe Marion and the work she, and her family quietly, does while the world paddles around in sinking boats through the negative slough that is slowly seeping into our souls.
 
Someone asked me the other day what inspires me and gives me hope for the future. Without hesitation I told them that my Botshabelo family does.
 
In particular, Marion’s philosophy and the daily therapy that forms an amazing mantle of light draped around these kids to educate and comfort them. The family’s important and mostly unseen work is highlighted in this little video.
 
Join me as I visit the real Angels in the Dust here: