In about two weeks, the hugely popular ADDA (www.add.org) conference is coming to my hometown of Detroit, Michigan. I’ll be there, of course, presenting- more on that later.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that this organization changed my life- it did- and it can change yours. Let me explain.
When I was in the early stages of understanding my own ADD years back, I was hungry for information. I attended some local conferences, but I needed more. I somehow heard about ADDA- they were new and were putting on their first national conference. I knew that I just had to go.
What happened is something I will never forget. It wasn’t only about learning what ADHD is and how I could acquire new skills and catch up with the latest research. No…it was waaay more than that. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like an outsider. I felt like I had arrived home.
There were people like me, bumping into tables, dropping their purses (or accidentally leaving them in the conference rooms). People who had met 5 minutes earlier had forgotten the person’s name. There was a constant stream of folks going to the front desk to get yet another key made for their room.
I looked around me in amazement and felt…I had arrived. There was no shame in having my ADD “moments”, because everyone else was having theirs as well.
I began to connect with people from all over the world and we shared our experiences, our embarrassments, worries but best of all, we developed new friendships that I have nurtured to this day. In fact, though most of my ADDA friends don’t live in my town, I stay in contact with some every day via email.
After leaving that first conference, with a sadness in my heart, I looked forward to attending the next year’s conference. Then the next year’s and on and on. A few years after that first conference, I offered to volunteer for the national board. More friendships developed and soon, I became a board member and even the vice-president for a time.
I remember one ADDA conference where Dr. Ned Hallowell gave an opening keynote. There were many hundreds and hundreds of adults with ADHD in that audience and he kept us spellbound for over an hour (not an easy feat when everyone has ADD!). Dr. Hallowell became an ADDA buddy and I’m thrilled to see that he will be coming to Detroit ADDA, giving the closing keynote.
There was one ADDA where Sari Solden gave a keynote and she, too, kept us all in the palm of her hands as she talked about her “sheep shame”. Having recently moved out to the country, she thought she could live a more ADD friendly life…until she realized that her sheep badly needed grooming, re-living all those old feelings of shame. It was hilarious. But it held so much meaning for me. And guess what? Sari will be doing the opening keynote! It can’t get better than this.
ADDA brings out the best of us. We have fun; feel empowered with new information, resources, tips and skills. Self-esteem soars as we discover that we aren’t the only one who leaves our car key in the freezer. In fact, there’s a collective sigh of relief that we can finally be ourselves without worrying about what others think of us. Oh, did I say fun? Well, Rick Green will be the third keynote, and I’m sure we’ll be having a good laugh with his wacky humor.
Another memory- at one conference, I re-connected with friends I had met at a previous ADDA conference. We hung out together in their room and my 50-year-old friend got up and started jumping on her bed. She was free to express herself, her happiness and sense of freedom.
I really really really hope that if you can get away for just a few days from your job, your family (or bring them with you!), that you’ll join me in Detroit. I would hope that you’d come find me, attend my session, and introduce yourself so we can shake hands or even hug. Because when you’re at ADDA, you will want to hug everyone you meet. You really do become one of the ADDA family.
Ready to register? Do it! Join me July 18-21. At www.add.org .
I’ll be presenting on “Survival Tips for Women with ADHD” and also joining Sari Solden and Linda Roggli for a pre-conference Networking Warm-up for Women Session, including a Q/A. And if I gather up the courage, I’ll sing a song or two at the famous ADDA talent show.
Want to hear me carry on even more about ADDA? Watch this: http://youtu.be/gUZwA2ToBJs .
How about you? Have you ever been to an ADDA conference? Share your stories below!