Learning about “How am I Smart?”

Over the years of learning and passing information along to others I have come to know that I am a visual learner and learn/communicate best with pictures and word pictures as well as by example. I understand that people learn in different ways. Therefore I have been able to use my creativity and logic to invent different ways of teaching the same material.

Today while listening to Focus on the Family radio program I was pleased to learn of a wonderful resource for parents, teachers and even for everyone to gain better understanding of how we learn. Guest of the day, Dr. Kathy Koch (pronounced Cook), PhD explained many of the concepts found in her book “How Am I Smart: a parent’s guide to multiple intelligences.”

Basically she said what many of us have experienced; we do not all learn the same things, the same way! Different is not bad; it’s just different!
How many times have we heard or thought “WHY am I sooooo stupid?”. Instead of automatically countering with “You are NOT stupid”! How much better would it be to help explain why it only seems that way? We can use these questions as teachable moments.

Her very logical analysis of the ways in which we learn is a MUST read for teachers, parents and people who are often facing the frustration of “why is this so difficult for me to understand?” In particular, I think this would be of great benefit to people who have suffered a brain injury that necessitates employing a new way of learning and doing.
In a nutshell, Dr. Kuch introduces us to eight brain “smarts”; areas/methods of learning. She points out that God has created us in His image with all of these areas (unless damaged in some way), however we have strengths in some areas over others. Obviously, our areas of strength will yield easier learning and the areas in which we are weaker will be less comfortable or we find more difficult which can become frustrating.

By investigating all of these areas, we can better understand our strengths and work toward improving our ability to relate with those whose strengths are in a different area.
The Eight Smarts are:
1) word-smart
2) logic-smart
3) picture-smart
4) music-smart
5) body-smart
6) nature-smart
7) people-smart
8) self-smart

She went on to start describing characteristics of people whose primary method of learning was within some of the different areas. I say “start” because the radio interview went too quickly. However, the website Focusonthefamily.com made the following download available.

I highly recommend downloading this 4-page resource on how to encourage the best learning experience for all of our children, students and even for a better understanding of how we learn ourselves.

download of How Am I Smart Resource

I have ordered the book because of all the little nuggets of wisdom I heard during the interview. She gave very good examples of how not to crush a person’s spirit with statements that can paralyze them when it comes to utilizing their unique style of learning. We all need to strive to understand one another to be better able to encourage learning and exploring different areas of “smarts”.

I will write a review of the book when I have finished. How are YOU smart?

THINK Before You Interview


20140305-110630.jpgTRUE & TRUSTWORTHY: start with this very important point. A reputable researcher or reporter will be forthright about who they work for, why they are writing the article and provide samples of (or links to) their previous work. One particular news gathering agency CATERS has a reputation with many in this group (including myself) of making good sounding pitches, making promises, and then not following through). It sounds good: “to promote awareness”, handle the topic in a “sensitive manner”, etc. but such by-word, “hook” phrases are too often used to win the trust of an unsuspecting interviewee. Just as you would in a job interview, ask the interviewer for REFERENCES & work samples. Those who are reputable will be independently provable.
HELPFUL or HARMFUL: is doing the story helpful to you and others? Your face & story may be associated with a bad story or misrepresentation. The public can be quite crass in their comments and say things which can be very upsetting. You may attract unwanted attention and/or suffer public ridicule. Information may be leaked which could affect your privacy: such as a host of cameras or reporters showing up at your home, unsolicited phone calls.
INFORMATIVE: does the interviewer have evidence that they are genuinely interested in promoting understanding by giving information that builds up instead of tearing down? Do they do some research in addition to what you give them? Or are they letting you “do all the work” and they just write it down to take credit and money for it?
NOT: there are some negatives things to be aware of and guard against. Some of these “not”s are: demeaning, exploitive, misleading, sensationalistic, security-risk, privacy-invading, disheartening.
KIND: what kind of article/story is it? A scientific journal/report; local news story; national or international, newspaper, magazine, TV, talk show, blog, internet. Do you have final proof approval before something is printed, posted or aired? Do you maintain ownership rights to your story or any submitted items? When will the article or story be “out” (published, posted or aired)? Will you be provided with a free copy of the completed work? When and how will you receive compensation if it is a part of the agreement?

There you have it. I am writing this as someone who has been a writer and editor of news articles. I have several life experiences on both sides of the pen and camera. Therefore, I have a pretty good handle on gathering and proliferating information.

In regard to Foreign Accent Syndrome, there is such a gross misunderstanding of what is going on (mostly because it is so rarely seen and thereby severely under-studied) that we want to help encourage awareness, scientific study and group encouragement. However, PLEASE USE CAUTION IN SUBMITTING YOURSELF TO INTERVIEWS. There are a great number curiosity seekers that would exploit your story for their own benefit without regard to your own. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Please do go to the links below and ask yourself this: if I was the subject of this article would I be happy with these articles? Why is it that although all three of these articles are written by Paisley Ruth Gilmour, there are three totally different authors names? Has she not sold the story and given the publications the right to edit and author derivatives of the work? Who is really benefitting here? Does the article invite understanding, compassion, research, treatment, encouragement, inspiration or hope? Or does it pander to sensationalism, make money off of others, open ridicule and (as one article tags) encourage curiosity of the “bizarre”?

After reading each article I encourage you to read a lot of the comments that were left. How would you feel with such things being said about you?

Here is sample of work done by Paisley Ruth Gilmour in the Daily Mail, Metro and Mirror




I am not intending to besmirch any one person’s reputation. However, I am especially wary of people who present themselves in one way and then act in another. Ms. Gilmour has just provided us with the opportunity to THINK. I cannot know another person’s motives & I am certainly not trying to cause harm to her choice of occupation.

Ms. Paisley Ruth Gilmour may have conducted her interview and even written her version of the interviewee’s story with good intentions, compassion and sensitivity.
However, she makes money by then selling that story to other publications that can and do edit that information as they see fit without consideration to the interviewee. Unfortunately, these articles are proof that not all publicity is good publicity.

Therefore, I post this as an object lesson in how to be more aware of things that we may have previously been unaware.

See how you would feel about this:

Hi Ellen,

Thanks for responding to my post.

As I said, I’m a feature writer and I’ve worked on features for the national newspapers and women’s magazines.

I’ve been learning about FAS recently and would love to talk to someone about working on a feature together.

I wondered if you knew of anyone who may be interested?

It’s a great way to raise awareness for the syndrome and there would also be a fee involved (which could be donated to a charity or research, whatever the person sees fit really).

I’ve worked on some very sensitive features with people from all background, suffering from many different diseases or traumas – so I would like you to know that I would handle everything with the utmost sensitivity.

Any help you can give me would be fab.

All the best,

Paisley x
So…does that sound great to you? Looks good: awareness, sensitivity, national audience…it’s all good right?

Here’s my analysis

What’s NOT said.

Considering Source: what do I KNOW about Paisley. When I gave her the question (I ask everyone about why they want to join this open FB group called “Foreign Accent Syndrome Awareness”) she answered to learn more about FAS and maybe do a story about it as a freelance writer (which I do). That was TEN Months ago.

She is now claiming that she is just learning of FAS and just now saying thanks for the add? =conflict of facts

She worked for and sold to Caters News agency of UK. She doesn’t tell us upfront that she is only interested in people in the UK where they can more easily conduct interview which is important info to know.

She’s asking Me to please give her the names of people that she can interview about FAS. Then she would be able to use my name like this…
“Hi, Ellen Spencer told me that you would be a good one to interview about….”, thereby using my name to build a stronger base of trust. If I am going to build a relationship bridge I will let you know.

As a rule, I do not give out full names nor contact info to anyone without first talking to them. I would hope we all could help protect each others privacy in this way. I would be more likely to say, “if you (interviewer) will provide your contact information, I will pass it along to someone who may be interested.”

Yes, she is a freelancer —writes independently—but she sells her work to these publications which are known to sensationalize. She says she has experience with various people and diseases but did not provide specific example.

Understand the Words like:
Freelancer – is not limited to just employee of one company, makes money by writing and then selling to others.

The offering of a fee- really? How much? How paid? Before or after what stage o the interview? btw I submitted to a Caters interview and was never paid nor did the article ever print. In fact the way in which the interview producer dealt with me was extremely unprofessional. “Will call you back in five minutes” and still not called over four hours later, when I called again.” There were a number of events like this which exposed the lack of concern. If you don’t keep a promise to do these little things, how can I trust you when it comes to the careful handling of this story?

“I would handle everything with the utmost sensitivity” — may be used to build trust, but doesn’t address what happens to the story AFTER she sells it…to places known for sensationalizing and negative connotations. Therefore, since she cannot control what happens to the information after it leaves her…she really can’t make this promise truthfully.

I hope that this post has helped you to see why it is important to THINK before you put yourself out to not only give a face to FAS, but also what that may cost you personally.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. Just please be aware that the publicity that you seek on behalf of the condition may actually backfire. Today, there are many poorly written and even flat-out false writings being used today which only makes living with FAS harder.

One article that is being rebroadcast near daily on Twitter is the false statement that FAS is a “psychological” problem and is caused by “conversion disorder”. It’s STILL being retweeted as Fact even though there are documented medical facts that prove its falsehood. I have requested the correction to “neurological”, but it has not been done…so the lie goes on. As they say in the newspaper business, “A false headline will long be remembered; a retraction is buried on page 12 and may never be seen.”

What do you think about this post? Do you have additional wisdom to share based on personal experience? Please comment below.

Shining Light on Diseases: How’s Your Vitamin D?

Girl-Holding-the-Sun-Sunrise__32633-480x320I recently found out after a blood test that I am very low in Vitamin D. The doctor told me to take a supplement of Vitamin D3 — like 4 times the dose I was already taking! Wow! I knew that I am a gal that likes my sunshine and that Vitamin D is made by our bodies utilizing sunshine. Therefore, the winter months, having less sunshine because the hours of daylight are less, as well as the fact that I usually don’t spend a lot of time outside in my shorts outside in sub-freezing temperatures, would naturally mean a decreased amount of Vitamin D in me.

What I DIDN’T know was just how very many problems can stem from not having a sufficient amount of Vitamin D in our body. I learned a LOT by doing a little research on Vitamin D online. The most interesting aspect of it all is that Vitamin D is NOT a vitamin . . . it was misnamed . . . it is actually a hormone and therefore very important in the regulation of body function. Additionally, Cholesterol is needed by our skins production of vitamin D as it reacts with sunlight. When vitamin D levels are low the body will naturally make more cholesterol to be available for conversion to the needed D.  WOW! What a wake-up call.  So the doctor finds that my cholesterol level is high, so he prescribes statin drugs which reduce the cholesterol and my vitamin D level goes down and then all these problems get even worse. Wow! Additionally, not all Vitamin D supplements are the same.  I mean to say, Vitamin D3 is the proper form for us humans to take. When Vitamin D was first studied and named it was done so with testing on rats which are nocturnal mammals. Since they don’t produce the vitamin D with the help of sunshine like we do, it was believed that Vitamin D was obtained solely by diet; thus the term Vitamin… as in, coming from a source outside the body.

Then too there is the fact that we humans have different skin pigmentation and live in different climates. Those of us who live in areas that experience Winter season with fewer daylight hours and cold temps are obviously not going to have the same Vitamin D levels as someone who lives close to the earth’s equator and temperatures conducive to more time spent outdoors in sunshine. On the contrary, our lifestyles of less time outdoors and more times inside of buildings under florescent lights and in front of computers does nothing to bolster our stores of HORMONE D.

I came upon this fabulous wealth of information by Stasha Gom­i­nak, M.D (a neurologist at Tyler, TX) when I listened to a lecture she gave on Sleep, Chronic Pain and Hormone D. Here is a video Dr. Stasha Gominak Discusses Sleep & Vitamin D (all 5 parts). Listening to all of the video took about an hour and a quarter but it was subdivided into five parts so one could watch or refer to one section at a time if that were easier. I watched it as a whole as well as took note of the power point slides that she gave listing resources and references. This was a professionally done lecture which was communicated in such a way that a layperson could understand. My understanding by what she said during the talk, this was given to a group of caregivers and not just doctors. Therefore it is not full of medical jargon that is beyond a person’s comprehension. Rather it is a very logical account of how HORMONE D is behind so many health problems that many people have today.  I think it is important to mention that she points out the pioneering work done by  Dr. Walter Stumpf and the name “soltriol ” that he coined for this important biological hormone.

In doing more reading and research I found it absolutely fascinating that D3 has an important role throughout various functions in the body. There are receptors in the heart, the brain, the pancreas, the gut, muscles, etc. There is a direct correlation between insufficient D3 and several diseases: neurological dysfunction, migraines, sleep disturbances and quality, pain perception, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraines, acid reflux, diabetes, irritable bowel disorder, heart issues, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, etc. Man!

This all is supported by my own personal experiences. Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome came first, then Insulin Resistance, then Fibromyalgia, acid reflux (I blame that on the meds),migraines started after an auto accident, in 2009 I developed Foreign Accent Syndrome, then my cholesterol was too high. Finally, I had neurological abnormalities after being put onto a statin drug. I KNOW it was as a result of being on a statin drug that I suffered a faux heart-attack and then sever muscle weakness to the point of not being able to stand up or walk. Sure enough, after being off of the statin and employing Physical Therapy, I got better within about three weeks. THEN, I discovered several people (including a parent) that had similar horror stories from being on a statin drug. Then I did research online and saw hundreds of similar complaints. There were even commercials on television stating that there was a class action suit whereby statins were associated with causing people to become diabetic, suffer muscle weakness, heart problems, etc.  I declared “NO more statin drugs for me,” I will use fish oil or krill oil, but absolutely refuse to take that detrimental medication ever again.

Which brings us up to today, I started 2014 with a ten day hellish migraine that wouldn’t go away. Now it’s cluster headaches. Putting together what I have just learned as being the vast number of receptors in our body that NEED vitamin D3 and the fact that I am deficient in it now makes sense. So I have increased my intake of D3 and am going to monitor that with periodic blood tests. Additionally, I’ve learned that Magnesium plays an important role in helping to reduce headaches as does vitamin B.

I am much more informed on the physiology of my body when it comes to Hormone D (soltriol). It explains why I often crave time in the sun and suffer more in the winter. Perhaps a good long tropical vacation is in order.

Let me also recommend Dr. Stasha Gominak’s blog about this subject to you at Vitamin D Hormone: Sleep, Chronic Pain and Headaches.  I personally am excited to have found this information and am sharing it with my doctors and friends. Experience is an excellent teacher and mine is saying to me, “we may just be onto something here; something that can restore health and eliminate disease! I think the overuse of statin drugs is going to do more harm than good unless people see the importance of the cholesterol / Hormone D balance in our bodies.

NOTE: I am NOT a doctor and hold no medical degree. The information contained here is from my own personal observation and experience. It is intended to simply offer my opinions and point to the opinions of others. If you are having any medical concerns, please seek the care of your physician. Although I have stated my dislike for certain classes of medications, one should follow the instructions of their physician along with their own personal convictions. These are intended to point you to some resources and give you a reason to think about your plan of care and overall health. God bless you on your journey to achieving a better state of health.