Who the EF am I?
Since you don’t know who the hell I am or why you might want to listen to me, I figure I should address the normal questions. Think of this as my introduction using a modified 5 W’s approach. (You remember that from school, don’tcha?).
Who am I?
My name is Shannyn and I am many things. I'm a mom of 3 mostly grown people. I am a teacher, a romance writer, a curriculum writer and editor, and an executive functions coach. It’s this last one that will be the main focus of my blog, which leads us to…
What are executive functions?
Simply put, executive functioning consists of life skills – time management, organization, planning, prioritization, etc. When I applied for a job to be an executive functions coach, I hadn’t really considered what that would entail, but during my interview when I mentioned that it seemed to me that I would be teaching life skills to students, my interviewer paused and then agreed. Once I started coaching, I found that it was a natural fit for me. I had been an English teacher for a number of years, teaching middle school, high school, and college, and I also have master’s degrees in special education and gifted education. But none of that was what made this a good fit for me.
I’m a good coach because I’ve been a coach for decades. I live in a house full of neurodivergent people. In my family, we have ADHD, anxiety, and depression, just to name a few issues. Long before I even considered what an executive functions coach was, I had been doing the job for my family. I’m not going to tell you that I am always successful—I’m not perfect. But I do what I can to make life work for my clients (starting with family—they were my first “clients”). I have told my youngest that she could be the poster child for executive function coaching. She took my advice and free coaching and makes it work for her.
Knowing that I get paid as a coach, leads to the next question for writing a free blog…
Why? And more importantly, Why Now?
I’m going to start with the Why Now question. First, the obvious answer is that my children are mostly grown, so they need less from me (or so I tell myself anyway), and I have years of experience working with clients who need executive functioning help. In addition, the number of people—especially women and moms—who as adults are getting diagnosed with ADHD and other mental health issues is pretty astounding.
Many of these people were not diagnosed as children for a number of reasons. One of those reasons might’ve been the stigma associated with these kinds of disorders. Even the word “disorder” bothers me. But for many others, it was just unrecognized, especially ADHD in girls. The focus has often been on boys because they “acted out” and were “hyperactive” and “caused trouble.” Girls, on the other hand, were just considered airheads if they couldn’t focus in class. They were daydreaming while doodling instead of taking notes. But they weren’t causing trouble, so it was easy to overlook them.
As they grew into adulthood, many of these undiagnosed people simply felt like failures. Why couldn’t they just write things in a planner? Then they wouldn’t forget an appointment or show up three days early. Why were they always late? They left in plenty of time to get where they needed to be. What do you mean that some people lay down in bed and just turn their brain off and sleep within minutes? And this is compounded when that person is a parent who is expected to manage the lives of others. So now, we get to…
Finding help as an adult for something that you’ve always felt was an issue but now have confirmation of can be overwhelming. Just getting a diagnosis doesn’t solve things. Knowing that you have ADHD or anxiety doesn’t automatically mean your life is going to change and suddenly make sense. Having that diagnosis will often give you peace of mind (you really weren’t imagining things – there are reasons why the systems that work for other people don’t work for you).
There is no quick magic fix. Yes, sometimes meds can help. But they don’t always. Trying to figure things out on your own is a daunting task because you’ve been doing it solo for a long time. And make no mistake, often getting professional help is expensive. I often joke with my kids that they could never afford me as a coach, so they should be happy they get me for free. (Of course, they point out that I can’t afford me either.)
I’m not going to pretend that I have all of the answers for you, but I can offer strategies and tools and examples for you to experiment with. Because that’s what it boils down to—practice and trial and error in order to find what truly works for you. Going it alone can be stressful and disappointing and make you want to give up. Mostly, I want to do this to help you not feel like a fucking failure in life. (Because you’re not)
And I’m going to end with a final Who:
Who are you? Who am I writing for?
I am writing for those people who are trying to figure out what it means to be diagnosed as an adult. I want those people to feel better about themselves. I want them to find systems and routines that will actually work for them.
I am also writing for those people who have to be the executive function jedis for their families. Even if you have the best executive functioning skills and you can organize and control your people like a drill sergeant, you have to remember to also care for you. So many of us go through life doing whatever we need to do, taking care of those we love, that we usually forget to take care of ourselves. It’s exhausting. You might not even realize how exhausting it is (trust me, I know).
Self-care has gotten a lot of lip service over the last couple of years, and I’ll be the first to admit, I suck at it. But then I have to remind myself that if I fall apart who’s going to be there for my family? Who will take my place as executive function jedi?
One final note…
The name of the blog: EFBomb Coach. I chose this name because I am going to be talking about executive functioning (EF), and as I talk (especially about things that matter to me), I do occasionally drop some F-bombs. I curse all the time in real life. (Okay – maybe not when I’m in teacher mode, but in my everyday life, I do. A lot). If swearing bothers you, I might not be the best fit for you. My goal is to be real with you and this is the real me. When I work with my coaching clients, I give it to them straight. When they screw up, I call them out for it. Then I help them try to fix it and learn from it.
I’m also a mom. It's a big part of how I’ve defined who I am for more than two decades. Because my first unknowing clients were my own kids, when my daughter overheard me working with a client on Zoom (she couldn’t hear him and could only make out my tone, so his session was still confidential), she looked at me and said, “You mommed him so hard.” At first, I laughed. But then I thought about it, and she was right.
I don’t pull any punches with my kids or my clients. I’m a straight shooter and I tell it like it is. Even if you’re not going to like it. Even if it’s not pretty. I’m not mean, but I am honest. My brand of honesty isn’t for everyone. And I’m okay with that. But if, based on what you’ve read here, it sounds like we would get along over a glass of Diet Coke (sorry, I’m not a coffee drinker), then come in and stay awhile.