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Monday, July 8th, 2019

A Celebration of Life

Recently my wife, Sue, and I, along with my niece, Molly, and her 11-year-old daughter, Josselyn, who dreams of becoming a star of stage and screen one day, went to see Hugh Jackman at Madison Square Garden. This is part of a five-month world tour in some thirty cities for this 50-year-old phenom who seems to get younger every year.
As we sat and watched his dazzling performance, backed up by a cast of over 150 musicians, technicians, dancers, singers, and stagehands, not to mention his beautiful wife, Deb, seated in the audience, whom he serenaded in the sweetest, most romantic moment you’ll ever see in a live performance, I had to wonder not only at the huge talent of this man—his range, from song to dance to stage to screen to drama to comedy to variety—but to the extraordinary goodness of him as well.
The theme that ran throughout the two hour show was a full-on celebration of life in all its dimensions, in all its variety, in its total and glorious diversity. Out came Keala Settle to sing a searing rendition of the song “This Is Me” which she made famous as the Bearded Lady in “The Greatest Showman.” It includes the lines, “When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out, I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.”
How much Hugh Jackman understands and loves all this, loves differences in people, how much he celebrates it in the show he put on that night—and night after night around the world—as well as his wish to bring all people, no matter who, together. He said, “When I was in Minnesota, they taught me a new term, LGBTQA. I said I knew about LGBTQ, but what’s the A? They said it stands for ‘Allies’. I said, Great, because I’m an ally for sure. Now we have a term that includes everybody.” But then he went on to add, But when I got to New York, they told me, “Oh, no, Hugh, the ‘A’ stands for ‘Asexual’. Well, I’m not asexual, but I am an ally for sure!”
Hugh is an ally indeed, an ally of us all, a man who, along with Deb, applies his tremendous talent and resources to unite people, spread understanding and good will, raise spirits, and fill people’s lives with song, laughter, and love.
He’s a friend to our cause as well, the cause of invisible differences. Those lyrics from “This Is Me” could just as easily come out of the mouth of a person who has ADHD or dyslexia as out of the mouth of a woman who has a beard or a man who’s mocked for being short, fat, or funny-looking.
As I sat there in Madison Square Garden, being moved to laughter and tears by the World’s Greatest Showman I thought to myself how wonderful it is that God gives us a Hugh Jackman to offset the guttural voices of hatred and division, of ignorance and bigotry and scorn, that God gives us a Hugh Jackman to inspire us as he tours the world tirelessly raising hope every night, lifting up the people who can’t see the stars.
As I listened to his resounding voice and marveled at the light step of his dance, I knew that this man who was once a little boy in Australia watching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly on TV, had been plucked up by the spirits that look out for us all and sent on a mission, a special World Tour, in which he was to put to rout the evil-scaled demons and dragons that kill people’s dreams and replace them instead with this shining star, this astonishing Knight in Red Circus who cast a spell upon us all, from little Josselyn sitting next to me, her mouth agape and her eyes as open as her heart, to the entire hurting and waiting world, if it would only listen.
Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Recognition Responsive Euphoria

Over the past few years, Dr. William Dobson has helped multitudes of people of all ages who have ADHD by developing the concept of “rejection sensitive dysphoria,” or RSD.  The painful syndrome of feeling acute and profound dejection at even the slightest perceived insult or “dis” is common among those of us who have ADHD.

I’ve observed a sister syndrome of RSD in my 69 years of living with ADHD and my 38 years of treating the condition in children and adults.  This sister syndrome is, in my experience, even more common that RSD.  I call it:

“Recognition Responsive Euphoria,” or RRE.

Perhaps because people who have untreated ADHD are so accustomed to making mistakes and receiving criticism, they become positively giddy when they receive positive recognition.  The best way to get them charged up and motivated is to praise—legitimately, honestly—some element of a project they’re working on, an outfit they’re wearing, a proposal they’re developing, an idea they’re hatching.

 My friend, John Croyle, head of the home for abandoned children in Alabama called Big Oak Ranch, told me years ago that one of the best ways to instill hope in kids who have lost hope is to “be a dream maker, not a dream breaker.”  That’s all about providing recognition for whatever positive action a person might perform.  It helps everyone.  However, for people who have ADHD, it takes us to a whole new level.

The typical day of a person who has ADHD—of any age—if it is not treated is rife with frustration, rejection, and failure.  But it is also true that people with ADHD are remarkably resilient and spunky.  One of the best ways to get them going in a good direction, in spite of all the negativity they have to contend with, is to find something positive to recognize in what they are doing and notice it.  Go for it.  You will quickly see eyes light up, and the person swing into action like a whirling dervish of positive energy.

I’ve written a lot of books.  But I couldn’t have written a single one of them without frequent doses of positive energy—recognition, encouragement, doses of keep on keepin’ on—to keep me going.  Thank God my wife, Sue, seems to have an endless store.

Make sure you find people who have lots encouragement and recognition to give.  They are precious.  Some people are notoriously stingy with it, as if it were a valuable coin not to be parted with.  True, it’s not to be given underserved, for then it loses all its power.  But neither should it be withheld until a person produces achievement worthy of a Nobel Prize.

If you have ADHD, and you find that you are low on motivation, energy, and are not working up to your potential, a reason for that very well may be that you are not getting enough recognition.  Once you find the right person or better a still, the right people to give you that recognition, then you can tap into the tremendous power of Recognition Responsive Euphoria.

If you need it, it does not mean you are weak.  I need it like crazy, and I am not weak.  Most people who achieve in creative fields need it like crazy, and they are not weak.  People with ADHD need it, and we are anything but weak.  People with ADHD are some of the strongest people in the world, emotionally, constitutionally, never-give-up-wise.

So know this about yourself and others with ADHD and plan how to tap into and get or give Recognition Responsive Euphoria!

Monday, December 31st, 2018

Happy New Year 2019!!!

Thank you! Thank you for being a part of my community.  We work hard to bring you useful and entertaining material, but it would all be for naught if you didn’t take the time to read it. So, again, thank you, thank you, thank you.
What’s my message to you for 2019? Would you like me to have a message, or are you tired of messages? Maybe you’d prefer a couple of jokes, or a reliable cure for hiccups (the reason there are so many is that none of them is reliable), or my recipe for red beans and rice, which, honestly, is to die for. I learned it when I was in medical school at Tulane in New Orleans. Mmmmm, makes me hungry just to think about it. Or maybe you’d like another photo of our new puppy, Max, now 75 pounds, only 7 months old.
But no, I am going to send you a message. I can provide all those other options in future newsletters if you’ll write to me and tell me which you want (drhallowell@gmail.com). My message for 2019 is one I am sure you have already guessed. It is terrible that I am so predictable. The sun rises, the sun sets. Taxes are due April 14. You set off fireworks on the Fourth of July. And Ned’s message? Love, love, love.
Okay, so I say connect. Because you can’t love everyone. By the way, if you are one of those people who doesn’t know how to love, I have a guaranteed way for you to learn. This method is foolproof and will work on anyone, any age.  Get a dog. But coming back to love and connection, these are the absolute proven keys to everything that matters most in life. This is a solid fact. Health, longevity, happiness, it all comes back to love and connection (and a dog, or a cat if you must).
What do I mean by a connection? Anything you feel joined to, part of, desirous of, close to, emotionally attached to, moved by, motivated by, inspired by. Anything that gives meaning or joy to your life. A piece of music, a work of art, a football team, a meadow, the restaurant where you met the woman or man you love, the street where you found that 20-dollar bill when you really needed it, the boss who gave you a break when you really needed it, your grandmother, fudge, a funeral when it’s done right, New York at Christmas time, Cape Cod in the summer, oysters on the half shell, red beans and rice made by me, your children, the nap you take after Thanksgiving dinner, the tears you cry on someone’s shoulder, the person whose shoulder you cry on, the person who shows you how to forgive, the person who betrayed you asking for forgiveness, the light at the end of the tunnel, the single red geranium in a clay pot on the kitchen table there to greet me in the cottage I rented all by myself one summer week, heavy rain in the middle of the night when you’re in bed, any child looking up at you with trust, people over 40 who have not become cynical, my wife Sue, Tabasco, the memory of my cousin Lyn who died way too young, the sound of waves crashing onto the shore at Harding’s Beach where Lyn loved to walk, honeysuckles in Chatham, boiled lobster, my best friend Peter, playing squash, delivering babies, a straw hat with a red band, hoopla wherever it happens like at the Puerto Rican restaurant we ate at the other night, the Messiah, Fenway Park, snow before it becomes a problem, polite and humble people, the works of Samuel Johnson, every episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, pasta, feta cheese, taramasalata, church music, Christ Church Cambridge, the memory of our dog, Ziggy, the fact that hope still does spring eternal, the works of Dav Pilkey, the Lincoln Memorial, and that we are all connected, you, and I, and all the rest of us, now and forever.
Happy 2019!
Blessings upon all of you!
Ned
Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

All I Want for Christmas. . .

Was it my two front teeth?

What do you want this time of year?  Do you still have your two front teeth?  I am lucky enough, at the  age of 69, still to have mine.  They stand there like mini enamel tombstones, ready to sparkle my smile or bite into an ear of corn, my reliable chompers that I am grateful to have.

What do I really want for Christmas?  What do you want?  For Chanukah or whichever holiday you celebrate?  I bet what you want is what every adult wants: peace, love, harmony.  Paid bills.  Good health.  Boundless joy everywhere we look.

We have a new dog, since our beloved Ziggy died six months ago.  Our new dog, Max, embodies boundless joy.  He’s a rescue dog, picked up off of a dirt road in Alabama, a puppy, starving, cuts on his paws and ears, emaciated, just about dead, so they told us.  Must have weighed 10 pounds if that.  They fed him and treated his wounds and transported him up to Massachusetts where he went to a foster home for a while to get healthy.  That’s when we met him.

He was about six weeks old then and weighed about 25 pounds.  He had filled out from the emaciated pup on death’s door and had become the beginning of the full-blown personality we know today.

Today? Max, Maximus, Maximillion weighs around 70 pounds, looks for all the world like Scooby Doo, and is all legs and paws and mouth and 100% heart.  He’s a beautiful, big, brown loping dog who bounds into a room like a crashing wave.  If there’s a gate across the doorway, which we put up when he was smaller, now he simply leaps over it.  Once in the room he jumps into whosever lap he sees first and immediately starts to lick that person or to take the person’s arm into his mouth, not to bite, but to massage the arm with his large, white teeth.

His size and smooth brown coat makes me think he might be part Great Dane or Dobermann or maybe a bit of Boxer.  We’re going to send in a dog DNA test to find out for sure.  Who knows what that will bring back!  Maybe a trace of Chihuahua just to mess us up.

This boy is a true beauty.  But he is still just a puppy, growing and quite out of control, despite our attempts with obedience classes and such.  He loves to chew. . .everything.  His favorites are shoes, hats, scarves, pillows, blankets, doormats, boxes, wallets, credit cards, and whatever he can snatch off of the kitchen counter.  We love it, of course, when he will agree to chew one of the many chew toys we’ve bought for him.

But his greatest, most unavoidable quality is indeed his boundless joy.  Max bounds.  Boundlessly.  Everywhere he goes, he bounds.  Tail wagging, big brown eyes looking up ready to engage, paw ready to lift to shake, Max makes his rounds of our four story (including basement) house, until sleeping at night in our son Jack’s room. Jack is his official owner.  Jack picked him out, along with our other son Tucker.  Sue, my wife, cautioned them against a big dog, to no avail, and now, although she calls Max such a bad dog when he chews her favorite shoe, she loves him as much as all of us do.  It is impossible not to love Max, as bad as he can be.

                Meet Max

Boundless joy delivered by a being who destroys your favorite shoe, poops in middle of your living room floor, jumps up onto your guest’s lap, and wolfs down your dinner from the very plate you were about to eat it off of.  Isn’t this the secret to finding the best in life?

That’s what I want for Christmas.  Even more than my two front teeth, I want Max.  Max.  Maximus.  And all that Max brings with him.

May your holidays be filled with Maxes of your own.  Thank the Lord for Max and whoever bent over on that dirt road in Alabama to pick up that half dead pup who’s come to bring us joy.

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Give Thanks

The time is coming to give thanks.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  I’m a holiday-lover, so there’s a lot of competition, but Thanksgiving always ranks near the top for me.

Let me give you a bullet-point list what I’m thankful for.  In no way is this complete.  I’m offering simply to prompt you all to do the same.

  • the freedom to change the station when the Kars for kids ad comes on
  • the slick look of pavement when it rains
  • Christmas season in New York City (I know this is a cliche, but I love it so)
  • the sausage grave my wife makes every Christmas morning
  • my wife, Sue (ok, another cliche, but if you knew her and all the she puts up with…)
  • of course, our 3 kids, now 29, 26, 23
  • our new dog, Max, 3 months old, 80 pounds, a rescue mutt from Alabama; he is systematically destroying our house but we love him to pieces anyway
  • Mozart’s Jupiter symphony
  • Tom Friedman and David Brooks columns in the NY Times (ok, so I am a liberal, I hope that’s all right)
  • That I am turning 69 and coming out with a new book with John Ratey in 2019
  • hot dogs with lots of mustard
  • and sauerkraut
  • taramasalata (it’s a Greek spread…. to die for)
  • the salt air when you cross over onto Cape Cod
  • NAMI
  • button-down collar shirts (I’m a preppy)
  • lying in bed, watching TV with Sue late at night
  • the fact that I can still play squash a little bit
  • all of you who read this newsletter!

…. what are your favorite things?

Dr. Hallowell’s 2018 Distraction S3 Mini 11 Thanksgiving message. 

Dr. Hallowell’s 2017 Thanksgiving message

Dr. Hallowell’s 2016 Thanksgiving message

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