Embracing Intensity

Use your fire without getting burned.
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Apr 11, 2022

Today’s show carries a timely message for those of us who returned to work or school after the anxiety-ridden shutdown of the pandemic. As we try to move forward, many of us still face anxiety and burnout. My guest’s message of tapping into your intuition and doing things outside the box is relevant to almost everyone. Join us to learn more!


Cam Werley-Gonzales is an intuitive, living visionary, gifted embodiment expert, and intuitive unschooling catalyst. She is the owner of the Cambria Institute, a company that celebrates learning and living fully outside the proverbial education “box.” With over 25 years as an expert educator, it is Cam’s deepest conviction that while learners can engage with some success in typical schools, they are optimally served by alternate learning pathways, most notably “unschooling.” The Cambria Institute supports gifted families to embody their giftedness in all areas of life. The truth is that we get to learn, friend, work, love, parent, hobby, and enjoy all the things that come along with this intense and massively phenomenal gifted life with ease and alignment, uniquely in our own way. 


Show Highlights:


  • Why Cam is intensely passionate about unschooling and her family’s unconventional life of travel and location independence as digital nomads
  • How Cam opened an alternative-style brick and mortar school in Pasadena in 2019–right before the pandemic chaos began
  • Why the Cambria Curated Community (CCC) was formed as a community of unschooling families
  • How Cam’s personal brand of intensity means big feelings and big emotions–all the time
  • How Cam’s intensity affected her in childhood with the need to hide her true self and be a people-pleaser in her family
  • How Cam learned “to play the school game” really well as a kid but was traumatized, in part because of Pragmatic Language Impairment
  • Differences in Pragmatic Language Impairment (PLI) and autism
  • How Cam noticed communication differences the most in relationship with her spouse, who comes from a different cultural background
  • How Cam learned to tone down and tune herself out in her professional career as a teacher and just follow what she was told to do
  • How Cam’s intensity got out of control when she was homeschooling her oldest son
  • How Cam uses her fire for good to help families learn unschooling and live intuitively
  • How unschooling is defined: “Trusting that each person will intuitively be drawn to learn all the things they need to learn in their lifetime to tap into who they are as individuals so that their learning caters directly to them. The focus is on self-direction in learning.”
  • How our intuition relates to our authenticity as a unique person and promotes emotional intelligence
  • How Cam harnesses the power of her intensity by tuning into her happiness and joy with her life, family, and work
  • Why Cam adopted the personal habit of giving herself the gift of “slow mornings” 
  • How Cam helps others use their own fire by teaching people to tap into their true intuition and authenticity
Mar 28, 2022

Today’s episode is the Embracing Intensity Community Call with guest speaker Alexandra Loves. The topic is Drama vs. Passion, which is highly relevant to intense people. I’m excited to share this with you! You can find the full discussion at

As I’m working hard to finish out this school year, I am busy behind the scenes with some great projects planned for this coming summer and fall, and I’ll be sharing more about those later. Enjoy the call with Alexandra!


Show Highlights:

  • How Alexandra defines the concept of drama vs. passion: “Passion is an intense desire or emotion sourced from within from a loving place. Drama is a chaotic, ungrounded emotional desire that comes from a place of fear and is sourced from ‘out there’.”
  • A personal example of a conversation Alexandra had recently with someone about their passion–but it felt manipulative 
  • What it feels like when someone says, “You are being dramatic.”
  • How Alexandra has learned to look for clarity and mutual trust in relationships
  • Why your passions are worth protecting with high standards and boundaries
  • How to deal with intense emotions and discern between drama and passion


Connect with Alexandra and claim a free download, Unstuck: Remedy for Internal Toxicity:

Find her Woke Wisdom Podcast

Join our community:  

Mar 14, 2022

Imposter syndrome is something that most people have felt at some point or another. Intense people may feel this in magnified ways, as the world tells them they are not welcome as they are. Join us on this guest call to learn more!

Kate Arms is a return guest to the show, and I’m thrilled to welcome her back for this guest call. Kate is a classic overthinker, high achiever, and multipotentiality who exudes intensity. Her career has spanned being a lawyer, arts administrator, coach for gifted and twice-exceptional adults and parents of gifted and twice-exceptional kids, and an Agile Coach in a high-tech company. She is the author of several books and has experience in coaching, leadership development, and psychology. Kate is here to help us understand imposter syndrome and how to reduce our suffering within it by building more connections. 


Show Highlights:


  • Kate defines imposter syndrome as “a group of symptoms clustered together to make us feel like we don’t belong”
  • How symptoms can include anxiety, hypervigilance self-consciousness, self-sabotage, perfectionism, and a sense of hiding who you really are
  • How these symptoms pair with suffering to make us feel awful and ashamed
  • How symptom relief and root-cause relief work together
  • Why imposter syndrome boils down to belonging, connection, and a feeling of, “They won’t want me if they know who I really am.”
  • How we are programmed (especially intense people) to think we are not welcome as we are because of childhood shaming, being told to “tone down,” and being too much or too sensitive
  • How the “mismatch” occurs and how to address it
  • How the process of learning happens when we start out blissfully ignorant
  • The difference between identity and character vs. skills and experiences
  • Why we must to learn to be comfortable in being ourselves–even if it makes others uncomfortable
  • Why it’s hard to risk having the courage to overwhelm others with who we really are
  • How we can build our sense of belonging through building our community
  • How feeling connection with at least three people in your group will foster your feeling of belonging



Hear the follow-up conversation with Kate: 

Feb 28, 2022

Today’s show focuses on the twice-exceptional experience. As with so many people in this line of work, my guest looks to provide for students and families the help and support that he needed–and didn’t have as he grew up. Join us to learn more!


Barry Gelston is the president of GHF, Gifted Home Education Forum. They do amazing work with gifted and twice-exceptional families. Barry is an educator through “Mr. Gelston’s One Room Schoolhouse,” an online homeschool program focused on providing individualized educational services for gifted and 2E learners. In this episode, we enjoyed discussing how being 2E ourselves led us to the work of helping and supporting 2E families. 


Show Highlights:

  • Why Barry is intensely passionate about making a difference by being a positive activist who loves his family and tries hard to be a good person in the world
  • How Barry’s personal brand of intensity shows up with constant focus and rumination about one topic at a time and being aware of sensory overload
  • How Barry grew up totally dysregulated as an underachiever with social and emotional issues from being in a divorced family
  • How Barry approached his problems with his attempt at executive functioning skills to become a good student and make more of his life
  • What Barry would say to the adults in his life “back then”
  • Why Barry’s work today revolves around what he needed as a 2E child
  • How Barry learned to overcome his reading struggles and dyslexia to become a voracious reader
  • Why wonderful things are happening in strengths-based approaches with 2E students
  • How Barry’s cultural identity formed largely around growing up in a Jewish family in Queens
  • Why Barry always felt like he had to tone himself down or tune himself out as he grew up and learned the art of conversation
  • How Barry’s intensity felt out of control in early adulthood because of social pressures
  • How Barry uses his fire for good through teaching and his work, trying to fix for others what he wishes would have been fixed for him
  • How mindfulness, meditation, self-centering, and 2E awareness have helped Barry harness the power of his intensity
  • How creating systems and structures has helped with executive functioning for Barry–and how he uses it to help students
  • How Barry helps others use their own fire through connecting and learning from each other



Connect with Barry:  GHF Learners and Mr. Gelston's One Room Schoolhouse


Feb 14, 2022

Today’s show looks at the differences and overlap of giftedness, twice-exceptionality, autism, and ADHD within the overexcitability framework. Join us to learn more!


Chris Wells is a writer, therapist, and researcher on all things Dabrowski. She has a nuanced take on the concept of overexcitability, a topic on which she has focused much time, energy, and study. Chris is our first three-time guest on the podcast, having appeared most recently to discuss positive disintegration. Let’s hear more from Chris!


In this episode:

  • How Chris came to overexcitability in 2014 on her quest to learn more about twice-exceptionality
  • How Chris was identified as gifted as a kid but felt more disabled and mentally ill
  • How Chris felt broken and emotionally intense by the time she was 40
  • How overexcitability turned around her perceptions of herself as problematic and defective
  • How Chris became hyperfocused on understanding overexcitability
  • How Chris found Dabrowski’s early work, which identified four types of overexcitability: psychomotor, imaginational, sensual, and emotional
  • How the gifted education world has finally accepted overexcitability as a characteristic of giftedness
  • Why overexcitability is an umbrella term that brings together all the elements of neurodivergence
  • Why Chris says autism and ADHD are “clearly neuro-cousins”
  • Why there are so many misunderstandings about overexcitability in gifted education
  • How overexcitability brings a whole different reality to those who have it
  • How Chris’s imagination would take her to another place and another reality when she was growing up–and overexcitability gave her the answers for it
  • The problem in learning to live with overexcitability
  • Why giftedness is a meaningful difference, even in adults
  • How we can best support those with overexcitability in light of the knowledge we now have and the labels we use
  • Why we struggle as a whole to figure out the right language to use


Check out our calendar of upcoming events:


Jan 24, 2022

Today’s show introduces you to a difference-maker in the world of neurodivergence. Her collective endeavors to advocate for kids, parents, and families are truly making a difference. Join us to learn more!

Debbie Reber is an author, speaker, and parenting activist. In 2016, she founded Tilt Parenting, a website, top podcast, and online community aimed at helping parents raise differently wired kids from a place of confidence, connection, and joy. Debbie’s most recent book is Differently Wired: A Parent's Guide to Raising an Atypical Child with Confidence and Hope.


In this episode:

  • Get to know Debbie, who lives in Brooklyn with her husband and 17-year-old neurodivergent child; they lived in the Netherlands for several years prior to moving back to the US
  • Why Debbie is intensely passionate about learning, being curious about everything, writing, helping kids and families, and running
  • How Debbie’s personal brand of intensity comes through in her inability to stop doing things and not being able to stop or rest
  • How Debbie grew up as a misunderstood child and class clown who channeled her energy into sports because it was the one area in which she was competent
  • How Debbie, as a high school student, worked just hard enough to get by and didn’t care about applying herself
  • How cultural factors affected Debbie: her family didn’t prioritize academics and didn’t teach her to value herself; there were strict religious rules that she wasn’t allowed to question
  • How Debbie’s best friend’s family w
  • ere the ones who introduced her to museums, travel, and a world outside her small Pennsylvania town
  • How Debbie learned to tone herself down during her college years because she wanted to be perceived in a certain way to achieve her “means to an end”
  • Why Debbie felt close to burnout during COVID and learned to prioritize what’s really important to her
  • How she has learned to enjoy her life more and not work so much
  • How Debbie uses her fire and drive to help people and make a difference
  • How making things sparks her and fulfills her
  • How Debbie has learned to be really organized from her beginning with poor executive functioning skills and is constantly hacking her own systems and processes
  • Why Debbie’s discipline around exercise and fitness is the key to mental and emotional health for her
  • How Debbie helps others use their fire by helping them create the lives they want
  • Why Debbie began Tilt Parenting almost six years ago because there were so few resources for parents of neurodivergent kids
  • How more and more adults talking about their neurodivergence is helping to “fuel the movement


Connect with Debbie:


Books by Debbie mentioned in this episode:



Jan 10, 2022
Welcome to 2022! In today’s solo episode, I’m reviewing some of our most downloaded episodes from 2021 and sharing our upcoming guest speaker series and topics already scheduled for this year. It’s going to be a great year, so come along for the ride with me!

Show Highlights:

The countdown of our top ten most downloaded episodes from 2021:

#10: Ep. 231 Intuitive Flow with Kari Betton
Our July Guest Call was on Intuitive Flow and Creativity. Kari is a coach and mentor for highly sensitive and twice-exceptional people, and she has a passion for helping them find their innate sense of intuitive flow.

#9: Ep. 239 Perspectives in Giftedness with Gail Post
Being gifted can complicate many situations in life. It is wonderful to know that empathetic and supportive professionals are dedicating their lives to advocacy for these individuals. Learn more with psychotherapist Gail Post.

#8: Ep. 229 Thinking Patterns
I have seen a lot of posts about the overlap and similarities between ADHD and Autism, and it got me thinking about some observations I’d made both personally and professionally testing neurodivergent kids over the years. I also asked for feedback from neurodivergent people on social media about the patterns they related to most.

#7: Ep. 235 Playing with Your Inner Critic with Jeff Harry
This show allows you to listen to our recent group call with Jeff Harry of Rediscover Your Play. Jeff provides tips, insights, and interactive exercises to learn more about “Playing With Your Inner Critic.” Find the full discussion in the Embracing Intensity Community.

#6: Ep. 202 Chipping Away at Societal Conditioning with Julia R. Wild
This show focuses on highly sensitive people. My guest loves helping HSPs uncover the layers of conditioning put on them by society and bloom in their uniqueness. Julia R. Wild is a bestselling author, spiritual teacher, and trauma educator with a Master’s degree in psychology. She is also a writing, creativity, and life coach.

#5: Ep. 207 “But I’m Not Really THAT Smart”
I’ve heard a lot more comments lately along the lines of, “I relate to your work, but I’m not really gifted.” In this episode, I discuss why gifted folks might not recognize their own gifts, along with some resources to explore if you suspect that you might be gifted.

#4: Ep. 236 Gifted and 2E Assessment
This solo episode is about a topic that I’ve thought about for a long time, so I’m happy to bring it to you. We will discuss getting an assessment as a gifted or twice-exceptional adult, so I hope you find my thoughts and tips helpful.

#3: Ep. 208 Coaching and Mentoring Neurodivergent Adults with Dr. Kimberly Douglass
I found this guest in the most unusual place: TikTok! I first noticed her work with gifted and twice-exceptional people, and I knew I had to have her on the show. Dr. Kimberly Douglass is president and CEO of Remote Learning Solutions.

#2: Ep. 226 Asynchronous Development in Gifted Adults with Tiff Choumm
Our June Guest Call was on Asynchronous Development in Gifted Adults. Asynchronous development is a hallmark of the gifted experience, when we may have developed far ahead of our peers in some areas and have fallen behind in others. This can continue into adulthood, especially for those who are also twice-exceptional, and it can impact many aspects of our life experiences. Find the full discussion in the Embracing Intensity Community.

#1: Ep. 205 Twice Exceptionality–When Giftedness Meets ADHD
Last year, I participated in an event called Camp ADHD, where folks around the world shared talks and discussion on topics related to ADHD. I spoke about twice-exceptionality, specifically as it relates to ADHD, and the topic seemed to resonate with many, so I decided to share my talk on twice-exceptionality on the podcast as well.

I’m super excited to announce our 2022 guest speakers and general topics! (Specific details are subject to change.) You can find the schedule listed in the events calendar on the Embracing Intensity Community, and it will soon be on the 2E Connection and Embracing Intensity website calendars!

January 22–Leela Sinha, from Ep. 7: The Intersection of Queerness and Neurodivergence

February 19–Alexandra Loves, from Ep. 67: Passion vs. Drama

March 19–Boontarika Sripom, from Ep. 177: Play

April 16–Cosette “CoCo” Leary, from Ep. 181: Building Confidence and Resilience

May 21–Aileen Kelleher, from Ep. 241: Perfectionism

June 18–Mara McLoughlin, from Ep. 230: Neurodivergent Social Connection

August 20–Dr. Kimberly Douglass, from Ep. 208: Navigating Systems as a Neurodivergent

September 17–Dr. Matt Zakreski, from Ep. 240: Self-Advocacy

October 15–Nadja Careghetti, from Ep. 198: Tidying Up Your Brain (Marie Kondo-Style)

November 19–Julia Wild, from Ep. 202: How to Heal


Find more information at

Jan 10, 2022

Today’s guest has wonderful Instagram posts, many of them covering her work with twice-exceptional adults. I’m a fan of hers, and she’s a fan of the podcast, so it’s exciting to introduce her to the Embracing Intensity audience!


Aileen Kelleher is a licensed clinical social worker, therapist, and coach. Her therapy practice in Chicago specializes in helping gifted and twice-exceptional children build social-emotional skills, self-compassion, and confidence to recover from anxiety, depression, and other mental health difficulties. Her international coaching practice focuses on helping gifted and 2E women harness their talents to help them find fulfillment and fun in their personal, professional, and social lives.


Show Highlights:


  • Why Aileen is intensely passionate about working with 2E people and sharing tools and resources
  • How Aileen’s personal brand of intensity manifests in her passion and her ability to embrace conflict and argumentative engagement; she appears intimidating to others and feels emotions deeply
  • Growing up, Aileen experienced bullying from her peers that put her “on guard” with anxiety and fear where there was the capacity for negative emotions; she also had an early sense of social justice
  • How Aileen identifies now as a 2E person who has anxiety, depression, and some ADHD characteristics
  • In school, Aileen was a student who was eager to please her teachers and experienced solid support from her mother; she struggled to fit in and be accepted with peers
  • How, as she grew older, she began challenging authority, rebelling, and calling out injustice
  • How being from a large, Irish Catholic family trained her to use direct bluntness that not everyone accepts
  • How Aileen learned to tone herself down and tune herself out by escaping in reading books and watching TV; in later life, she numbed herself through substance abuse to “check out” from reality
  • How Aileen experienced her out-of-control intensity through raging at people as a young person and now uses writing, exercise, and art as ways to maintain control
  • How Aileen has learned not to be “the biggest voice” in the room but to lift up and make room for the voices of others in community and collaboration
  • How Aileen uses her fire for good by being helpful and learning all that she can about what she feels passionate about; she has also learned to admit her mistakes and keep going
  • How Aileen helps other 2E adults find meaning, joy, and purpose in their lives
  • How relationships with family and friends have helped Aileen learn to reach out for help and trust herself
  • Why Aileen likes helping others define and find their personal values
  • How ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) helps gifted kids figure out what they care about beyond simply proving how smart they are

Parting words from Aileen: “You are OK just the way you are, even if you feel like you don’t belong in a certain situation. That doesn’t mean that there is something fundamentally wrong with you, and it’s OK to ask for help if you need it. Gifted and 2E can have full and satisfied lives, and the fact that we are different shouldn’t stop us from pursuing what we want--and what everyone else gets to have.”



Find Aileen on Instagram or at Her work with kids is at   

Dec 22, 2021

Continuing our top 2019 reruns. This has been one of our top episodes from it’s very start! 2019 was our first year of guest speakers, and we took a break for 2020 but had a great run in 2021. I’m super excited about our upcoming 2022 series especially because all of my top choices got back to me right away and agreed to speak. I’m still waiting on a few scheduling clarifications, but I’m pleased to announce that Jan. 22 we will have Leela Sinha, author of “You’re Not Too Much” talk about the Intersection of Queerness and Neurodivergence, and Feb 19th we’ll have Alexandra Loves talk about Passion vs. Drama! Get on our mailing list for updates and log in information at You can support the continued growth of these free calls by joining our community at or supporting Embracing Intensity on Patreon!

Navigating relationships successfully can be one of the most challenging things we ever do. The intensity and outside-the-box nature of twice-exceptionality (gifted plus disability), adds in a whole new layer of challenge. In this episode, Dr. Melanie Hayes shares both the joys and the hurdles of twice exceptional relationships.


In this episode:

  • Common issues in all relationships.
  • Additional challenges for twice-exceptional people.
  • Meeting our unmet needs in relationships.
  • A recipe for twice-exceptional people to connect with who they really are and have fulfilling lives. 


Embracing Intensity Community

Support Embracing Intensity on Patreon

Dec 13, 2021

Continuing our top 2019 reruns. One of my most popular topics is twice exceptionality, especially as it relates to ADHD. This is what prompted my work in sharing stories of twice exceptionality on YouTube and my upcoming 2E Comics. I’ll be launching a Kickstarter in the new year to help fund support with illustration so I can make it happen with my limited time!

Coincidentally, this episode features input from Brendan Mahan of ADHD Essentials, and he just shared his most recent episode with me on twice exceptionality this week! Go listen to “Giftedness is Not Achievement w/ Aurora Remember Holtzman on ADHD Essentials!

I've been asked a lot about twice-exceptionality recently and especially on how to identify ADHD when giftedness is also involved.

In this episode:

  • Characteristics observed in people who are both gifted and ADHD.
  • Characteristics that may be common with giftedness, but are even more extreme when ADHD is thrown in.
  • Assessment patterns I've observed with kids with ADHD.


Embracing Intensity Community

Brendan Mahan's ADHD Essentials

Dec 6, 2021

Continuing the tradition of reruns for the month of December, and this month I'll be sharing some of my top episodes from 2019. The top guest episode was on Positive Disintegration w/ Chris Wells, and she has a new podcast on the topic that just came out recently! You can find the discussion recording and her latest talk on Overexitabilities in the Embracing Intensity Community.

Kazmiers Dabrowski was an early proponent of what we now call the neurodiversity movement. He asserted that what was viewed as "neuroses" were not an illness, but in fact a sign of high developmental potential! His theory of Positive Disintegration views the importance of falling apart, or disintegrating, before integrating into a higher whole.

This week, Chris Wells, Director of Qualitative Research at the Gifted Development Center, dives deeper into Dabrowski's life, what led to his theory and how it applies to us in the current day. 

In this episode:

  • How Dabrowski's theory relates to the current neurodiversity movement.

  • How his own life experiences and trauma impacted his theory.

  • The importance of values.

  • The three factors of developmental potential.

  • How dynamisms, or the forces that drive our actions, serve as a catalyst to higher development.


Chris' New Podcast on Positive Disintegration!

Finding Treasure In Ruins Blog Post

Embracing Intensity Community

Gifted Development Center

Nov 8, 2021

I first met today’s guest when he enthusiastically shared some of my animated shorts on 2E experiences. We have followed each other, and I’m a big fan of his advocacy work. Join us to learn more!


Dr. Matt Zakreski is a psychologist who works with gifted and twice-exceptional folks. We have connected over social media, and I’m excited to talk to him today and introduce him to the Embracing Intensity audience.


Show Highlights:


  • How Matt is intensely passionate about his experience as a “grown-up gifted kid,” helping people through therapy and training, ultimate Frisbee, craft beer, Bruce Springsteen, and comic books
  • Why Matt’s personal brand of intensity means that he wants things to be “this way,” and has a tough time when they aren’t; he wants to know expectations ahead of time
  • How Matt learned to embrace his giftedness later in his school years and had to find his people in the arts
  • Why Matt speaks the language of caring and wants to be around people who care about something
  • How even with ADHD and giftedness, Matt appreciates authenticity in himself and others
  • In his school experience, Matt realized how to “flex” his gifts in language arts but struggled in STEM classes
  • How Matt advises families to learn from his mistakes to “work smart, not hard”
  • How Matt felt responsibility and a lot of expectations as the oldest child in his family
  • How Matt felt the divide in high school between living in the sports world as an athlete and the arts world 
  • How Matt tried to tone himself down and embrace his leadership style of being second in command
  • How Matt felt his intensity out of control significantly when he was bullied in 8th grade
  • How Matt uses his fire for good by helping kids learn to lift others up instead of tearing others down
  • Why getting in touch with his emotional world and being vulnerable have helped Matt harness the power of his intensity
  • Personal habits that have helped Matt use his fire positively are taking time daily for long walks, podcasts, and music
  • How Matt helps others use their fire by helping them be their best selves
  • Why it’s energizing to make time for yourself 
  • Parting words from Matt: “If you are too much for some people, then those are not your people. Do something for you, and do your version of it. Have the confidence to put your own spin on what self-care looks like for you. We have to value putting ourselves in inspiring and charging situations instead of draining ones. You are worth putting yourself first.”


Find Matt on Facebook.


Oct 25, 2021

If you or someone you love is a gifted person, you understand that it can complicate many situations in life. It’s wonderful to know that empathetic and supportive professionals are dedicating their lives to advocacy for these individuals. Join me to learn more about one such psychotherapist in today’s episode!

Gail Post is a clinical psychologist, parenting coach, workshop leader, and writer. In clinical practice for over 35 years, she provides psychotherapy in the Philadelphia area with a focus on the needs of the intellectually and musically gifted. Gail does consultations with educators and psychotherapists and parent coaching throughout the US and Canada. Dr. Post served as a co-chair of a gifted parents’ advocacy group when her children were in school, and she continues to advocate through workshops in schools and parenting groups. Her writing related to giftedness includes online articles, several books, chapters, plans for an upcoming book, and a long-standing blog, Gifted Challenges. Gail is just one of the popular gifted writers whose work is included in the book, Perspectives on Giftedness: Sound Advice from Parents and Professionals by GHF Press.

Show Highlights:

  • Why Gail is intensely passionate about working with gifted and twice-exceptional teens and adults, advocacy, parenting issues, nature, art, music, and trying to make a difference
  • How psychotherapists help clients with mirroring and attunement to create encouragement for the changes people need to make
  • Why it’s difficult to find psychotherapists who specialize in giftedness
  • Why Gail’s personal brand of intensity looks like overthinking and being passionate about her work and values
  • How Gail grew up feeling things intensely and feeling out of sync with others as she tried to fit in
  • How Gail was affected by white privilege and by other issues of the 70s like the Vietnam anti-war movement, women’s right, and civil rights
  • How Gail had to tone herself down as a shy child when she learned to hide her abilities and talents
  • Why Gail got out of control when she felt things and reacted strongly, especially in work settings
  • How Gail uses her fire for good in helping people, writing, and utilizing her strengths, and engaging with her interest in the human psyche and behavior
  • How Gail harnesses her power by knowing her strengths, pacing herself, and managing stress
  • How she helps others by encouraging them to feel safe and accept themselves with empowerment in challenging situations
  • Gail’s upcoming book, Perspectives in Giftedness, written with several other authors: her articles include “How to Explain Giftedness to Your Child,” one about what happens when kids know they are smart by society or school tells them they are not, and one about college planning to teach students and parents what they don’t know about the process
  • Why we shouldn’t tell kids their IQ number because it can harm them or hold them back
  • Final words from Gail: “I encourage everyone to work on self-acceptance with who you are because that’s the foundation for moving forward in life. It’s also important to accept your child’s imperfections and all of who they are.”


Gail Post 

Gifted Challenges 

Connect with Gail on Facebook.

Perspectives on Giftedness: Sound Advice from Parents and Professionals, (A Collection of Essays by GHF Writers)

Oct 17, 2021

We are celebrating our 5th anniversary of the Embracing Intensity Podcast by sharing past guests, listeners and community members answer to the question "What does Embracing Intensity mean to me? 

I'm also launching my new website at - go check it out and explore! 

Oct 11, 2021

The podcast is marking a huge milestone this week as we celebrate our 5th anniversary! In today’s show, we go outside the box as we discuss the importance of storytelling when it comes to giftedness, equity, identity, and inclusion. Join us to learn more!

Marc Smolowitz is a previous guest on the show, and I’m thrilled to have him back to talk about one of his projects, The G Word film. Marc is a multi-award-winning director, producer, and executive producer who has been involved in more than 50 independent films. His works have touched viewers on five continents and screened at the world’s top-tier film festivals. Marc is currently in post-production on The G Word, a feature-length documentary that aims to be the most comprehensive film ever made on the topics of gifted, talented, and neurodiverse education across the US. The film tells seven stories with different perspectives and asks the urgent equity question, “In the 21st century, who gets to be gifted in America, and why?” The film is poised to premiere in 2022.

Show Highlights:

  • How the pandemic has affected Marc’s work on The G Word and other projects
  • A broad overview of The G Word and the important stories highlighted by the film
  • How changemakers are working to make a difference in the gifted and talented community
  • How we can use our voices to be allies for the disenfranchised
  • How a zip code can be ultra-defining in the resources and opportunities available to people
  • How Marc is working to “take the temperature” of people around the country in assessing how giftedness has been affected by the pandemic
  • A look at the spirit of G/T/N Awareness Week (gifted, talented, neurodiverse), which is scheduled for October 25-29; this is a FREE five-day slate of virtual programming with a different focus each day. (See Resources to register.)
  • Why free and appropriate public education is a social contract--a promise made to all parents for their children
  • Why we as advocates and allies cannot quit fighting to make a better civil society for “more of us rather than less of us”
  • Why we need a much more communal and collective narrative around giftedness and neurodiversity in our country
  • Why The G Word is a mainstream educational film


The G Word Film  Find out more about the film, find resources, and sign up for G/T/N Awareness Week.

Find the film on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Sep 27, 2021

I’m excited to introduce you to today’s guest. She’s a highly esteemed expert in the area of neuroscience and twice-exceptionality. Join us to learn more!

Dr. Nicole Tetreault is a compassionate author, meditation teacher, and international speaker on neurodiversity, neurodevelopment, creativity, mental health, and wellness. Her book, Insight into a Bright Mind, explores groundbreaking research examining the experiences of unique, creative, and intense brains while advocating for new directions of human diversity and neurodiversity. Nicole is the founder of Awesome Neuroscience and translates the most promising neuroscience and positive psychology for people to live their best life. She is on the faculty at Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity and Education, and she leads a new generation of meditation practices by fusing novel discoveries in neuroscience with the ancient art of meditation. As the recipient of the Milton Career Exploration Prize from CalTech, she founded the novel nonprofit, Beyond the Cell, a transformative program to rehabilitate incarcerated women through guided meditation, neuroscience, literature, and expressive writing. Nicole believes we have the ability to wire our minds for positive plasticity through compassion and wisdom to live the life we dream.

Show Highlights:

  • Why Nicole is intensely passionate about neuroscience, positive psychology, and understanding diversity with compassion
  • How Nicole knew from a very young age that she was different than others and greatly affected by social injustices
  • How Nicole struggled when her intelligence didn’t match up for her in the classroom
  • How Nicole spent her adult years rewiring her brain with new patterns, thoughts, stories, and ideas
  • What Nicole would tell her former teachers about how they were “missing” each other
  • How Nicole experienced stereotyping and white privilege growing up as a blond Caucasian girl in a private school in a part of Los Angeles with a large Latino and Chinese population
  • How Nicole had to tone herself down in phases in her life, mostly by learning to hide in middle school and again in grad school
  • How Nicole’s intensity got out of control in grad school when she felt pressure and anxiety to be perfect
  • Nicole’s transformational meditation practice to regulate her intensity and emotional intelligence
  • The challenge in balancing a good mindfulness practice with what goes on in today’s world
  • Nicole’s take on spiritual bypassing and toxic positivity
  • How Nicole uses her fire for good in connecting and partnering with others who are passionate about equality for neurodiverse people
  • Nicole’s habits that help harness the power of her intensity: giving herself breaks for investigation, creativity, and curiosity; meditation; writing every day in a journal; and partnering with other creatives in the community
  • How Nicole helps others use their fire by helping students see their magic and helping other people see their individual gifts
  • How Nicole’s book: how it came about when she listened to her gut, how it inspires others, and how she wants to change the language about being twice-exceptional


Nicole Tetreault 

Find Awesome Neuro on Instagram and Twitter

Insight into a Bright Mind: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Stories of Unique Thinking by Nicole A. Tetreault

Connect with me: 2E Connection

Sep 13, 2021

Today’s solo episode is about a topic that I’ve thought about for a long time, so I’m happy to bring it to you. We will discuss getting an assessment as a gifted or twice-exceptional adult, so I hope you find it helpful for me to share my thoughts and tips.

Show Highlights:

  • Considerations that are universal to all assessment types:
    • If you think you are gifted, you probably are.
    • Make sure the person doing the evaluation has experience with giftedness and twice-exceptionality.
    • Realize that every assessment will have limitations and strengths, and every evaluator will have personal biases.
  • Five types of assessments:
    • Diagnostic assessment
      • This will be done with a trained professional who can give a diagnosis. Always look for someone with experience with giftedness and neurodiversity, and ask what tools they use.
    • Psychometric assessment
      • This evaluation can give valuable information about your strengths and weaknesses, and it’s very standardized for comparison to others. It has limitations, like false lows and big gaps in highs and lows.
    • Qualitative assessment
      • This evaluation looks beyond just the numbers with things like observations, records, interviews, etc. It gives very useful information.
    • Self-assessment
      • The challenge in this evaluation is that there is a lot of information to take in.
    • Multimodal assessment
      • This kind of evaluation can be any combination of the other four types; it uses a variety of tools all together.
    • Helpful books: (See Resources for more information.) The Power of Difference, The Dyslexic Advantage, The Gifted Adult, and Your Rainforest Mind


Connect with me: Aurora Remember 

Find out our upcoming group call on Overexcitability with Chris Wells:  Embracing Intensity 

Check out the following resources:

Cognitive Processing Inventory at LDinfo

Gifted Adult Checklist at Gifted Development 

Paula Prober’s Giftedness Checklist from Your Rainforest Mind


The Power of Different by Gail Saltz, M.D.

The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock and Fernette Eide

The Gifted Adult by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen

Your Rainforest Mind by Paula Prober

Aug 30, 2021

Today’s show lets you listen to our recent group call with Jeff Harry of Rediscover Your Play. Jeff helps us with tips, insights, and interactive exercises to learn more about “Playing With Your Inner Critic.” Join us to learn more!

Jeff Harry is a Workplace Play Consultant, International Play Speaker, and Positive Psychology Play Coach. He helps individuals and companies navigate difficult conversations and address their most challenging issues using play and positive psychology. While we spend most of our time pretending to be important, serious grownups, it’s when we let go of that facade and just play that the real magic happens. Fully embracing your own nerdy genius gives you the power to make a difference and change lives. Jeff believes that we already have many of the answers we seek, and by simply unleashing our inner child, we can find our purpose and help to create a better world.

Show Highlights:

  • An interactive exercise to shed light on how we judge ourselves and need to allow more freedom in our mindset
  • The reasons we don’t play anymore are because the external noise and our internal negativity bias keep us from playing.
  • How leaning into our intuitive mind allows us to work with our inner critic
  • How our brain makes connections when in a flow state and allows creative actions
  • How to get in flow: relax, figure out what calms you down, quiet everything, and allow yourself to “get bored”
  • Your inner critic has a playlist; what does yours say?
  • How to identify what your inner critic says to you
  • How to identify what your inner critic sounds like and looks like, and why you need to give it a character name
  • How to empower your inner child by affirming the opposite of what your inner critic says
  • How you can create new neural pathways by using empowering language
  • How addressing your inner critic helps deal with the outer critics
  • How to spark your inner child
  • Why you need to allow feelings to flow through and go
  • How to ask, “What is driving my decision?”(The answer SHOULD be play, curiosity, and experimentation!)
  • What old BS story are you willing to let go?


Rediscover Your Play

Aug 16, 2021

Today’s guest is truly a multipotentialite with interests spanning gender nonconformity, psychology, healthy eating, photography, and the creative arts. He has discovered ways to embrace his creativity and merge his talents to offer meaningful help to others in their struggles. Join us to learn more!

Greg Halpen is a food blogger and food photographer who created the food blog, Craving the Yum: Eating After Chemo. Chemotherapy can do a number on our palates, leaving our taste buds desensitized and frustrated about what to eat that actually tastes good. Greg gives chemotherapy patients the steps and practical tools to reimagine meals without compromising the YUM factor. Through his food blog, he shares the secrets to preparing meals that are simple, healthy, and extra.

Show Highlights:

  • Why Greg is intensely passionate about helping people navigate the frustrating and difficult waters of figuring out what to eat during and after chemo
  • How Greg’s personal brand of intensity covers multiple areas of creativity: music, theater, food blogging, and photography
  • How Greg’s childhood trauma spurred him into creative outlets as coping mechanisms
  • The difficulty for Greg in not having a support system to help him grow as a creative person
  • What Greg wishes he knew back then: “There are people in the world who WILL see you and get you.”
  • The cultural factors that affected Greg as a gay young man with confusing feelings that couldn’t be expressed and realized
  • How digging deep into learning about homophobia and hetero-normative thinking helped Greg cope
  • How Greg has had to purposely shrink himself down to be smaller because of his insecurity as a person
  • How men are affected by sexuality and gender issues very differently than women
  • Why Greg has felt out of control when he couldn’t harness his creativity amidst the chaos of life
  • How Greg uses his fire for good in being of service to others and helping people
  • How he learned the important lesson that he isn’t at the center of everything
  • How therapy, cooking, and helping others with food relationships have helped Greg harness his intensity
  • How Greg helps others use their fire by helping them to make small changes and understand “diet culture confusion”
  • Up next for Greg: writing a book (the free mini-version is available on his website now!)


Craving The Yum 

 Get Greg’s FREE mini-cookbook, Eating After Chemo!

Visit our website to learn more about the Embracing Intensity community and events

Visit our new platform with resources and events for the 2E community

Aug 10, 2021

I didn't promote last week's episode very much because I got super deep into the rabbit hole on a new project that really. Kind of pulls together a lot of the little projects that I've been doing in this past year.

It's called 2E Connection, and it's a directory for twice exceptional folks to share, explore and find support!

In this episode:

  • What inspired me to create 2E Connection
  • A sneak peak at some of the content so far
  • How you can support keeping this free site accessible AND sustainable


2E Connection

Embracing Intensity Community

Harnessing the Power of Your Intensity Workbook

Aug 2, 2021

My guest today was diagnosed with ADHD and twice-exceptionality later in life. We have connected through TikTok and are learning a lot from each other. He demonstrates kind accountability in his TikTok posts and shows authenticity in his longer YouTube posts that I greatly appreciate. Join us to hear his unique perspective.

Sean Szolek-Van Valkenburgh grew up in Indiana surrounded by orchestral, classical, and contemporary music. His formal musical education began at age 7 when he started studying piano and performing in choral ensembles. As his musical education progressed, he noticed that he had the unusual gift of chromesthesia. Through TikTok, Sean avidly posts about being a professional musician and artist and connects with over 680,000 followers; he refers to them as “kings, queens, and monarchs.” He hopes to provide a safe, inclusive, and entertaining platform that prioritizes genuine content creation and critical thought.

Show Highlights:

  • What is chromesthesia? Multiple senses cross in the brain, making it possible to hear music and also see it in colors, textures, and patterns
  • How Sean uses TikTok to share music and chromesthesia
  • Why Sean is intensely passionate about educating and helping people see the world in different ways, especially the “lightbulb” moments of learning
  • How Sean’s personal brand of intensity cuts through to the truth and presents it to people, shining light on obscure areas in the legal system
  • As Sean grew up, he was very adamant about certain fixations, like dominoes and Jenga; his twice-exceptionality was masked by his ability to study and learn, but his ADHD was overlooked for a time
  • How his ADHD impacted the way he planned and self-regulated himself and caused imbalance in his mental health
  • How Sean was socially isolated with a few superficial friendships and focused on his hyperfixations
  • How Sean had to learn in college to apply himself to social constructs
  • The cultural factors that affected Sean as he and his sister were black twins adopted by white parents, and how this helped inform his cultural understanding
  • How Sean had to tone himself down as a counselor at a fine arts summer camp and learn how to expend his energy in appropriate ways
  • Why Sean depends on established routines and structures that work with his ADHD
  • How Sean has gotten out of control on social media in exposing the truth and presenting the facts, sometimes finding it difficult to strike a balance
  • How Sean uses his fire for good in helping people channel their fire into artistic expression in different ways
  • How Sean harnesses the power of his intensity through self-regulation and recognizing the power behind his personality and neurodivergence
  • How Sean recognized his twice-exceptionality
  • How Sean has learned to take time for himself and take mental inventory with introspection
  • Sean’s advice: “Be educated and aware when you speak about ADHD. Know your abilities and disabilities. It’s a long journey. Find your authentic self and work on defining yourself.”
  • How to ask for accommodations
  • What Sean is working on for the future


Find Sean on Instagram:  @seanszolekvanvalkenburgh

Find Sean on Twitter:  @SeanSzolek

Find Sean on TikTok:  @seansvv 

Jul 26, 2021

Our July Guest Call was on Intuitive Flow & Creativity with Kari Betton

About Kari:

Kari Betton is a coach and mentor for highly sensitive and twice-exceptional people, with a passion for helping them find their innate sense of intuitive flow.

Too often, we can be focused on developing our mental health, physical health, intellect, etc, but including intuitive development in our personal development practice creates an easier foundation for all types of development within you to be congruent with each other.

A personal intuitive wandering practice can have profound implications on achieving the results and designing the life that you desire. In this call, Kari will focus on how to attain clarity and enough space in your life to listen to the inner wisdom that you already have.

In their spare time, Kari enjoys recording and producing their podcast Decolonizing Sexuality, vegan foodie adventures with friends, and painting galaxies.

You can find out more about Kari and their work at:

In this episode:

  • What is effort transcendence?
  • Maintaining a trajectory of expansion over time
  • When to give drops, and when to be your fire hose self


Embracing Intensity Community

Workbook on Harnessing the Power of Your Intensity

Jul 19, 2021

I’m excited to introduce you to a speech therapist whose work is informed by the autistic community and her personal experience in identifying as twice-exceptional. Her heart and passion are to help give a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves. Join us!

Mara McLoughlin has over ten years of professional experience working with autistic and other neurodivergent people and their families. She has been a student and teacher of yoga and mindfulness for over 25 years, knowing that building these skills can help build a better world. She is a certified provider of the PEERS program that exists for the educational and enrichment of relational skills. With both her bachelor’s and master's degrees in Communication Science and Disorders, she knows that communication is fun, difficult, and the key to life. To learn and gain confidence in the initial steps of founding friendships and self-regulation skills can help improve the lives of everyone.

Show Highlights:

  • Why Mara is intensely passionate about yoga and working with autistic people and their families
  • How Mara’s intensity looks like a strong sense of fairness and fiercely advocating for those who can’t speak for themselves, especially those with autism or aphasia due to stroke
  • Growing up, Mara was a precocious speaker who struggled in school and was a determined but difficult child
  • How the masking component has affected Mara in “code-switching” according to different situations
  • The misconception about autism and the children who aren’t identified by their response to social cues
  • The relationship between non-binary gender identification and autism
  • How cultural factors affected Mara as she grew up in white, conservative, suburban Chicago as she didn’t follow the “rulebook” or the status quo
  • Why she was unsuccessful in toning herself down or tuning herself out because she couldn’t conform to others’ expectations
  • How Mara moved to the West Coast and found where she fits in and feels at home
  • How a stroke affected her partner at age 43 and brought out Mara’s advocacy skills
  • How Mara uses her fire for good by being a fierce advocate for people who have different brains, helping to build capacity in environments for different learners
  • How Mara harnesses the power of her intensity through breathing, yoga and movement, meditation, mindfulness, and gratitude
  • How Mara helps others use their fire through the PEERS program with social and emotional development in making and keeping friends and solving conflict
  • Mara’s business, IRL Social skills, which is a collective of speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists who help families of autistic teens and adults
  • How Mara uses immersion therapy in her work


Connect with Mara:  irl Social 

Find IRL Social Skills on Facebook and Mara McLoughlin on Twitter and @pawsomesocialskills on Instagram.

There are lots of upcoming great events happening in the EI Community. Check us out at Embracing Intensity 

Jul 13, 2021

A while back I had seen a lot of posts about the overlap and similarities between ADHD and Autism, and it got me thinking about some observations I’d made both personally and professionally testing neurodivergent kids over the years.

I posted this tweet asking folks the following questions:

Curious with the #Autism vs. #ADHD discussions recently, if you have one or both, what do you relate to more:

  1. Big Picture vs. Details
  2. Order vs. Chaos
  3. Think in Words vs. Pictures
  4. Acquired Knowledge vs. Novel Problem Solving
  5. Process Fast vs. Slow

Elaboration Welcome

More recently I posted the same questions with elaboration on TikTok and the responses were fascinating!

I think my biggest takeaway from hearing personal accounts from so many neurodivergent folks is that even when there’s a consistent pattern that is statistically more likely in a specific area of neurodivergence, they are not hard and fast rules. 

Jul 5, 2021

I met today’s guest through the neurodivergent community on Twitter. Join us to learn more about his inspiring story.

Joseph Gitau is a writer, singer, and blogger who has been diagnosed with ADHD and Bipolar I. With his childhood and youth being spent between his native Kenya and the US, he has a unique perspective about how neurodivergence is treated differently in both countries. Joseph uses his talents to promote mental health throughout his creative outlets.

Show Highlights:

  • Why Joseph is intensely passionate about mental health and the arts
  • How Joseph’s personal brand of intensity includes music and twice-exceptionality
  • How Joseph’s journey of discovery through school was difficult because he was an introvert
  • How the Kenyan tradition of children being “not seen and not heard” was very difficult for Joseph as an ADHD music-lover who always wanted to sing and play music
  • Joseph’s years in Kenya and the US, and how his ADHD and bipolar diagnosis came about
  • How Joseph has to tone himself down--even today
  • How Joseph’s intensity got out of control when he dropped out of university, and he didn’t know what to do next
  • Why Joseph does the important work to break the taboo around ADHD and promote mental health awareness
  • Why Joseph’s writing includes interracial characters
  • How celebrities represent neurodiversity to the world
  • Why society uses labels to put people in different boxes
  • How Joseph came to accept his neurodivergence
  • The mixed feelings around neurodivergence, superpowers, white privilege, and economic privilege
  • How Joseph uses his fire for good through his blog where he talks about the educational system, neurodiversity, and how marginalized people are affected
  • Joseph’s plans for the future
  • How Joseph harnesses the power of his intensity through yoga and learning to balance structure and flexibility
  • Joseph’s parting advice: “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Nothing is set in stone except what you did yesterday. Do what’s right by you, and people will respect you.”


Find Joseph Gitau on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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