Tag Archives: ABA

Finding X

Running brings many gifts. Three of my favorites are:

  1. Access and exposure to people you may not otherwise have the grace and good fortune to know.
  2. Running makes you a more informed and enlightened tourist/traveller.
  3. It can bring strengths and weaknesses to the surface, many you may not expect to be related to running, and some that aren’t reality.

Here is one (long) example of this last gift.

As is socially embraced by math-phobics and math-vangelists alike, I often make self-deprecating cracks about my lack of math fluency. One of my most tired lines being, “You figure it out, there’s a reason I decided to be a psychologist, I failed algebra three times”.

If memory serves me right, I actually failed algebra once, in high school, but then I dropped out half-way through re-taking it. By dropped out I mean; simply stopped going to school, got my GED, and moved on with my life (I really, REALLY hated school). Of course, moving on with my life meant having to take “college algebra”, and while I didn’t fail it, I did re-take it to bring up my grade.

This means that I took algebra 3.5 times. (See? I CAN do math!) After which, I should be a freaking Algebra wiz! And you know what. I think I kind of am. Actually, I am more like the Picasso of Algebra.

Seriously. Most specifically I relate to; “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child” – Pablo Picasso.

You see, the reason I struggled in school generally. and specifically with math, is perhaps the same reason I ended up in a professional area of expertise that ends with the words “ANALYSIS” and “ANALYST” (NOT as ironic as you may think, stick with me here). I have a hard time doing things in a prescribed order because that order seems to rarely make sense to me. I vividly remember being in math classes, arriving at the “correct answer”, showing my work, and getting marked down (and made to feel foolish) because I didn’t perform the operations and whatever in the right order. That order being, whatever the text book said, or the teacher preferred.

When I really started struggling at school, academically and socially when I was 15, a very unimaginative psychiatrist diagnosed me with ADHD, prescribed TWO meds, and told me I was lucky to have made it that long with becoming hooked on narcotics, getting pregnant, or getting arrested,  I was almost hilariously far from any of those things so I told my parents he was a moron and never went back (I have REALLY GOOD parents).

In graduate school,  while studying Applied Behavior Analysis, the only two classes I struggled with were two that subjected me to the exact same experience (narrowly defined “correctness” not insults and unnecessary psychotropics), except instead of math operations, it was treatment design.

I’ve found in adulthood, and  in my career as a scientist-practitioner these last five years, that we actually have this amazing freedom to do things in WHATEVER ORDER YOU DAMN WELL PLEASE. This drive to do things in an order that seems functional rather than what the book says, helps me to be creative and actually solve problems more efficiently and effectively (and in a way that might maintain) than if I bang my head against the dogmatic protocols.

Wow, that was vague. Cut me some slack, I’m in the middle of some serious self-actualization right now. 

Perhaps the really major flaw in how we teach both algebra and treatment selection, is that we assume only a specific set of tools is available for reaching the conclusion, and that no other tools could ever lead to the same result. When in reality, you could be solving for the same “X” with a wide variety of tools available at different times and in different contexts.

Runners and coaches take hits to their confidence and performance because of this same fallacy. Just because a plan worked before, or this workout meant this or that THEN, doesn’t mean it will work NOW. We treat data that are fairly arbitrary as law (I’ll digress abruptly now, because this is a whole new 1,000 words waiting to happen).

Here’s my point: I was led to believe for 30 plus years that I suck at math. Then, while running the other day, and having to do a bunch of “X” finding to make sure I didn’t run too far or end up late for work, I realized that there are MANY circumstances where I’m actually pretty darn slick with the math skills, here’s a sampling:

  • calculating the tip on a restaurant bill (20%, dudes, 20%)
  • figuring out when to turn around during a run when I’ve altered course multiple times (as above)
  • re-arranging a training plan (where “X” is always shifting, and so are all the other variables)
  • Orienteering with a paper map and a compass (old school!). At least I assume I could still do this…also, this is totally math. Right?
  • Deciding which quantity of a product is cheaper, even though retailers and manufacturers are seemingly HELL BENT on discouraging you from doing so by never using the same unit of measurement for different packagings of the SAME PRODUCT. Sigh. I work in social services. In Illinois, I’ll always be on budget, this is a crucial skill.

The thing about how math (and problem solving) is taught in general education and how we use it in real life, is that the “X”we’re trying to solve for is often a moving target. Moreover, there are often multiple correct answers, potentially high-stakes (positive AND negative), and sometimes the part where you show your work, is truly the only part that matters. NOT because you used the “right” tools, but because you used the tools you had mastery over, you fostered progress, and so, even if you don’t arrive at the “correct” answer for “X”, you win.

What is the terminal outcome for my career, marathon running, and anything else? I’m not sure, and that’s what keeps me trying to solve for X, making the most of what I have, and chasing Unicorns.

*AB

New pub-trivia facts about Annabelle, and a 5k you should check out

I can't share a running photo, because I haven't been racing! But this is proof positive for you that all else is still in order.

I can’t share a running photo, because I haven’t been racing! But this is proof positive for you that all else is still in order.

Please forgive me the fact that most of this post is a duplicate of what you’ll find on another blog, one that I hope you’ll have an interest in after reading this. I’ve been on a long slow road to getting my blogger mojo back after a rough 2014 in terms of training, racing, and running culture in general. I’ll begin elaborating on these things, as well as the typical over-indulgent posts you subscribe here for, in the near future. In the meantime here are a few “Annabelle Trivia” bits for you to enjoy:

  1. I rarely untie/retie my shoes. My mother has scolded me for this since the day I learned to tie laces in the first place. My running shoes get re-tied maybe once a month on average, and my non-running sneakers maybe twice in their lifetime, if that. *note: sometimes before a race, if I’m nervous, I’ll tie and retie my laces upwards of 15 times – a life lived in extremes.
  2. I AM running the Boston Marathon this year, my 4th shot at the course. I WILL NOT be anywhere near PR shape.
  3. I am still working on being OK with #2
  4. I really enjoy the boxed wine from Target
  5. My favorite foods, in random order are: apples, lasagna, pie (apple, blueberry), single-malt scotch, pickles, Classic Lays potato chips, Skittles, Goat cheese … you can see why I’ve never seen 10lbs within range of my racing weight.
  6. I recently traded in the 1999 Chevy S10 Pickup that I’ve been commuting over 300 miles a week in for 4 years. My spiffy new ride has lots of bells and whistles, and now I have all kinds of data to illustrate that I spend, on average, 15-20 hours per week in my car…no more mystery about my injuries!
  7. I am a race director (mostly self-appointed and title)! I’ve always wanted to be at the helm of an event, and here we go, I’m feverishly trying to expand my skill-set to ensure success (yes, this is me asking if any of you want to join my planning committee).

Why you should register for the Super Sunny 5k today!

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, and I hope your 2015 is off to a great start! For me, a few notable things come to mind when I check in with my personal goals (in no particular order):

  1. I have created some energizing momentum toward my professional
  2. goals in just the first 5 weeks of the year.
  3. I am, thankfully, 7 weeks into training for the Boston Marathon!
  4. I’m struggling with a couple of health related resolutions I made for 2015…time to find a different motivation!
  5. I’ve witnessed more than a dozen breakthrough moments as GCS staff members and people receiving services work toward their goals!
  6. My job is sometimes hard to understand, sometimes challenging, and always important. I think everyone who works at GCS could say the same, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
  7. I’ve developed a deeper understanding of just how much of a turning-point 2015 might be for the work we do at GCS, both as employees and people receiving services.

Let me elaborate on this last points MILLION dollars, 70 of them. SEVENTY MILLION DOLLARS! For me, this is such a large figure, that it doesn’t seem real, yet at the same time, it sort of terrifies me.

For me, this is such a large figure that it doesn’t seem real—but it does seem terrifying. If you are like me and this figure seems too big to touch, let me bring it closer to home. With the end of the tax increase of 2011, your personal paychecks will increase by a few dollars. Multiply that by all the income-earners in Illinois, and you have over a billion dollars! A portion of this tax money is allocated to providing crucial services to adults with developmental disabilities. More of your paycheck in your pocket means tax revenue decreases. When the tax money decreases, the funding thus decreases.

Currently, GCS sees an annual gap of $300,000 for day-program services alone. That is to say, after financial support from the state and federal departments is exhausted, we need to raise $300K in order to continue to provide quality, progressive, and inclusive support.

Overwhelming, isn’t it? I sure think so! Take a deep breath, because you can make a real impact very easily! Here are two ways to help:

1.)  Contact your legislative leaders! They are the play-makers, and they can’t know what is important to us if we don’t tell them! Use the links below to advocate for those we support, and for that which we believe in, and strive for.

Senate

House

2.)  REGISTER TODAY for the Super Sunny 5k. Your $25 registration fee goes right into filling these funding gaps, and you’ll also have to opportunity to help us raise additional funds in the registration process. Click here to go to our registration page.

With hope and aspiration,

*AB

Why we do what we do

I was just working on a post similar to last week’s containing links to articles and other things that have helped me stay on track with my marathon training this week.

But then I got pinged that my boss had just forwarded an email to me with the subject line “Why We Do What We Do”.

I’m stopped in my tracks. It had perfect timing because I’ve had a few challenging experiences recently that left me feeling like the harder I try to do the right thing, the more resistance I get. After reading this article and watching the 12 minute video, none of that matters.

It also addresses the question of not only why I work at my chosen profession, but why I run: because I am uncontrollably compelled to, and to not pursue it, would be to not lead the life think is most meaningful.

Read the article here.

And, if you can’t get the video to load you can view it here as well. (it’s the one called “Wright’s Law”.)

Please follow the links and watch the video I don’t have the extra $60 to pay so that I can embed video onto my blog, I promise, it’ll be worth the 12 minutes of your life.

With tremendous love,

*AB

An exercise in gratitude (a mindful one at that).

People often blog, write articles (and fund-raising pitches) about why they do things (such as running). But in daily life we usually are more wrapped up in HOW we do things. The cost of focusing on the technical rather than the inspirational (motivation?), is our gratitude. And to lose sight of gratitude is to miss the point completely.

I run for a lot of different reasons, but the only one of those reasons that is constantly present, is that every single run reminds me of just how much ability, choice, freedom, love, respect, dignity, and learning opportunities I am awarded each and every day that I choose to get out of bed.

These are exactly the same reasons that inspire my career choice.

The following is reblogged from AT: Your Life. Thanks Teresa!

“Eighteen years ago today my then boyfriend, now husband, brought me a bouquet of green carnations for our four month anniversary because at the time green was my favorite color.  How sweet is that?

As time goes on in a relationship it is easy to not only stop doing things like remembering monthly anniversaries, but also to stop remembering to be grateful when the other person does little things for you.  Whether it is a spouse, significant other, child, or friend, the day to day acts of living can get in the way of stopping to be grateful for the other person.  How sad is that?

Today I urge you to take some time to think back and remember kind things people have done for you.  Write a journal entry on people in your life you have to be grateful for.  Think of some ways to show your gratitude.  By focusing on the positive aspects of your relationships with others and being grateful for them, you are encouraging more positive energy to show up.”