Mysteries of Giftedness: Hello, Old Friend, You’re Back Again


When I first saw the topic, Mysteries of Giftedness, as the theme of the June Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop, my first inclination was to write on several phenomena of giftedness that we see through the lifespan. I thought of touching the mystery, the intuitive powers of many gifted individuals,  and emotional giftedness as an often misunderstood phenomenon. I will write on those three topics, however with an addition, and with a twist.

Touching the Mystery.  My friend and mentor, Annemarie Roeper, and I were sitting in her living room one evening looking at scene below and in the distance.  She remarked that looking in the forefront of her view, she saw cars, buses and the Bay Area Rapid Transit trains that arrived and left the station below.  All of these, she shared were filled with people, going here and there, rooted in their busy world. Then, she pointed to the distance, where we could see the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and above these, a dark blue night sky. She pointed to the sky and intimated that there was where the mystery lies for her – the beyond.

The mystery, as my friend and mentor Annemarie Roeper explained it, is that which is beyond reality as we know it. In this regard, she often spoke of the gifted children of the new millennium as  being much more in touch with the mystery than those of previous generations. She proposed that they have a keen awareness of themselves and their origins. Dr. Roeper proposed that millennial gifted children perceive themselves as mere visitors here in this life, sensing that they would someday return to a larger consciousness – the mystery.

For many, the phenomenon of giftedness may bring with it moments of transcendence – moments when we come to see ourselves as integral parts of the mystery – of the interconnectedness of the universe. As an example of many transcendent moments that I have experienced, I remember a morning summer walk on a country road. The trees on one side of me and meadows on the other still damp with the early dew. I rounded a corner, looked far down the road in the distance, and suddenly I was filled with an overwhelming sense of connection to a universal expression of love. In such moments, we touch the mystery.

Intuitive Abilities of Gifted Individuals. I remember one summer when I was a little girl. I know that I was still a preschooler because of the house that I was standing beside. I turned on an outside faucet and felt the cool water from the hose running over my hand. When I looked up at the summer scene surrounding me, I wanted that moment to last forever and for the season to never end. At that instant, the realization flashed through my mind that this was summer, to be followed by fall, winter, spring, and then summer again. No one had taught me the seasons. In fact in that moment, I am not sure if I could have named them. It was just that I had an intuitive sense of the world and its revolving nature.

Intuitive thinking, in my opinion, springs from the ability of gifted individuals to think abstractly at a much earlier age than most children do. There is speculation that gifted children’s prefrontal cortex, where higher level abstract thinking occurs, develops earlier than that of other children. I have worked with gifted children who were demonstrating adult level abstract thinking as early as two and three years old.  Abstract thinking is an important component of intuitive thinking.

Emotional Giftedness as the Heart of Giftedness. Returning to my friend, Dr. Roeper, I hear her voice once again telling me that emotions are the heart of giftedness. When trying to understand gifted children, educators and researchers often focus on their strong cognitive abilities. However, because of their superior cognition and the fact that they are aware and react to almost all stimuli in the environment, including reading the emotions of others, their own emotions run so deep, with all their consequent sensitivity and intensity. It is exactly because of their emotional giftedness that it is so important that we understand the Self of the child and that we hear and acknowledge their emotions. As gifted elders, our own emotions are just as important. We cannot separate cognition from the emotional and we must honor the integration of both in ourselves as well.

“Hello Old Friend, You’re Back Again.”  I was recently chatting with a friend of mine who is also a former academic colleague. We were talking of the many projects each of us has recently begun as septuagenarians. He is a runner and used a very appropriate metaphor, which might resonate with gifted individuals concerning their continued creative productivity. He said, “I feel like I am just now approaching the starting line of life!”  His words resonate strongly with me not only in terms of my need to be continually engaged and self-renewing. They also reverberate in terms of the mystery, of intuitive thinking, and of emotional giftedness. In so many ways I find that with gifted elderhood comes the realization that the phenomena of giftedness are never left behind. Rather, they constantly re-present themselves as old friends, back again.

Photo by Hunter Bryant on Unsplash:

This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page June 2016 Blog Hop on Gifted in Pop Culture. I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page for their inspiration, support, and suggestions over the last two decades. You can see blogs of others here.

The Sea in Elderhood: Part 1


My husband and I recently returned from two weeks at the shore, providing us with rest, respite, and time to re-group. As is my habit, I chose to take along a book that would assist me in accomplishing those three R’s, and I downloaded a new book to accompany my leisure time. Gift from the Sea, by Ann Morrow Lindbergh, is a book that I returned to for the third time over the course of the last four decades. I read it once as a young adult and gifted a copy to my mother, then again in middle adulthood. Now, as an elder, I find fresh meaning in the lines. In fact, Lindbergh’s writing is always so fresh and rich, that I will return to the book as the topic for this blog a number of times over the coming weeks.

The edition I currently have is the 50th anniversary edition,  with an introduction by the author’s daughter. In it, Reeve Lindbergh writes, “At whatever point one opens Gift from the Sea, to any chapter or page, the author’s words offer a chance to breathe and live more slowly.” Later, she writes of how her mother tried, “to live from a core of inner stillness,” despite the bustle and turmoil of her life. For me, these words were especially true as I reflected on them, walking the beach at dusk each evening. In this entry, I wish to share how the experience evoked for me the many different water spaces in my life.

The waves of the Atlantic lapping the sand at low tide initiated a reverie of the water places – spaces that always bring me peace – that I have visited. How many beaches and riversides have I known in my lifetime – in the States, in Canada, Spain, France, Ireland, England, Mexico? In what ways have they impacted my life? I look down at the sand and see how the waves have carved patterns that resemble mountain ranges running north to south with rivulets cutting through them as rivers do. A little further on designs, cascades, scallops, sheets of ruffles that go on and on. Then a stretch of pieces of broken shells that form scoops like ice cream atop cones carved in the sand at their base by the receding waves.

I look out at the water and I see myself as a young girl with my Aunt Georgine beside me as I kicked and stroked myself into a swimmer in the Chesapeake. I see the waves setting up and breaking far into the distance and I remember a moment of strong transcendence that I experienced sitting on a cliff overlooking the Pacific at the age of seventeen. I observe a large wave crashing over a surfer, carrying her forward without forgiveness and I remember a college afternoon in Goleta, cliffside to the University of California, Santa Barbara. A friend and I swam around a rocky point and were almost thrown mercilessly by the waves against the rocks, probably to our deaths. I look out across the waves, transporting myself to the other side of the Atlantic and I remember the first time I saw the Mediterranean as a young woman in search of herself in a foreign country. I remember the day that I came to accept the beautiful St. Lawrence River – our fourth coast – as my touchstone place, where my husband, our sons, and I can forever return to and celebrate family.

These and more memories passed through my mind as I walked on the beach each evening. In later blogs, I plan to reflect on how water spaces impacted my life in the past and what remains of those influences in elderhood. I hope I have piqued your curiosity!


Lindbergh, A. M. (2005). Gift from the Sea (50th Anniversary Edition). NY: Pantheon Books.

Photo: Beach by Erika Julin on Flickr: (CC BY-NC 2.0).


“G” in Popular Culture ~ or ~ How to Be a Gifted Elder


Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm.  This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity.  The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.  (The Columbus Group, 1991).

My friend, Stephanie Tolan, shared with me recently, “As a kid I thought grownups were just “done.” Just who they had grown up to be. It’s so interesting to discover the growing continues.”  

My own life mirrored Stephanie’s experience. I was selected to be a part of a group of students in late elementary school which, as I now understand, was the beginning of gifted education instituted as a result of the wake-up call that was Sputnik. However, the “G” word was never used in front of us. Those of us selected went to a special room and worked on creative projects. I remember one that I did, a poster presentation with the title, “The Race for Space.” That was the extent of the program. Moving on to junior and senior high school, I forgot about any special group or program. Thus, I “grew out” of being gifted, even though the concept had never been explained to me. Or so I thought.

It was not until I became a gifted education specialist that I began to understand that giftedness is something we do not outgrow, nor is giftedness a crystallized construct that never changes. Furthermore, it was not until recently that I recognized myself as a gifted adult. I wrote the following about my discovery for the SENGVine a few years ago.

  We did not hear the word gifted as a child. We thought we were odd. Even as we age, it is difficult to say aloud, “I am a gifted adult.” We realize the differences in our reasoning, but mostly in our feelings. When loved ones hurt, we feel physical pain. A breathtaking sunset brings tears to our eyes. We lie awake at night, wishing we could set things right in the world. We labor to internalize the wisdom of Candide to tend our own garden; and, when we do so, it is with an intensity that could ignite the universe. 

Now I am an elder.  thought when I retired, I was supposed to quilt, watch TV, and travel occasionally. I thought I would be leaving everything else that defined me behind – wife, mother, professional. What a surprise! I am still gifted as an elder and must find my way in this strange new world. Thankfully, there are role models like my mentor, Annemarie Roeper, and others who teach us how to be a gifted elder. What I have learned from them, I pass on to readers through this blog. The following is a list of ten suggestions for how to be a gifted elder.

  1. Be aware of your giftedness and honor it.
  1. Find others who also honor giftedness and let you be you. I remember when I retired and decided to go back to school to study Clinical Psychology. Some looked askance at me and some even asked,  “What in the world do you want to do that for? Can’t you just retire?” When I finished my program of studies and started this blog, how heartening it was to see the look of understanding on my spouse’s face that communicated that he knew I had to move on to something new.
  1. Know that the overexcitabilities, the intensities, which we may have learned to cope with during our adult years, return. Perhaps that is because we are weaker/less resilient; or perhaps, we are using our resources to cope with aging. Perhaps we reach the age and the wisdom of the crone and are content with who we are, with our natural selves. In any case, they resurface and we need to learn new ways to address (and celebrate) them.
  1. Touch the mystery, your spiritual self, through mindfulness, spirituality, reading, or whatever brings you to a transcendent sense of awe.
  1. Wear the presence of gratitude.
  1. Recognize signs of depression and, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, who struggled with it most of his life, “get action.” Each day, make a list of positive activities that you enjoy and pursue them with delight. Follow your bliss.
  1. Honor previous friendships and re-connect, forge new ones. Life is all about relationships.

9. Stay active. Swim, use a step meter, dance, learn yoga.

10. Be gentle with yourself.


Navan, J. (2013, February). 100 Words of Wisdom: Joy Navan. SENGVine. Retrieved from:

Photo Credit: Giananandrea Villa on (


This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page May 2016 Blog Hop on Gifted in Pop Culture. I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page for their inspiration, support, and suggestions over the last two decades. You can see blogs of others here.

Z is for Zig Zag


During the course of my doctoral program at the University of Ottawa, it was my honor to work as a research assistant for Dr. Janice Leroux and to assist her in analyzing hundreds of transcript pages of interviews of eminent Canadian women. From her research, several constructs of success emerged. Among them were voice, agency, and self-efficacy. As a result of her analysis, she was able to construct a model of successful development that took the form of a spiral chandelier.  At its core was self-agency, and the tiers circling the core were constructs of resilience, collaboration, autonomy, spirituality, and others

In my research and book on gifted females I found similar factors. The young women in my studies with the clearest sense of self-efficacy also had distinct voice, autonomy, resilience and more. The strongest construct by far was that of personal agency. I wrote, “Agency for the successful woman signifies a sense of herself as a significant participant in a society that needs her gifts” (Navan, 2009, p. 79). Rather than passivity, which connotes that one is a receiver of the actions of others, agency means that the individual is an active contributor in the world.

In light of the above, I ask myself, has my path as a gifted female been a spiral, meaning that I followed a smooth, circular path, building one tier upon the other? My answer is a resounding “No.”  I believe that, yes, I had an inner core of agency, however – due to many of life’s twists and turns, the journey has been far from smooth and my path has been more of a zig zag.

An example of the zig zag metaphor is this blog and the other writing that I have done after retirement and since finishing my latest degree (M.A. in Clinical Psychology). Since I was seven years-old, I dreamed of being a writer. Yes, I have done academic writing for my entire career. My dream, though, was to write personal narrative, poetry, and fiction. It is now, almost seventy years later, that the words are flowing. What a pleasure it is to compose, to construct a phrase, to share my insights! I hope that you, my reader, have found pleasure in reading them as well. My muse has arrived!

People tell me it’s a sin
To know and feel too much within
I still believe she was my twin but I lost the ring
She was born in spring but I was born too late
Blame it on a simple twist of fate

Simple Twist of Fate, by Bob Dylan (©Bob Dylan Music Co)


Leroux, J. A. (1998). Follow your dream: Gifted women and the cost of success. Gifted Education International, 13, 4-12.

Navan, J. L. (2009). Nurturing the gifted female: A guide for educators and parents. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Photo: Modified Rectangle Zig Zag by Kristen on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge

Y is for Second Person Singular


La Puerta del Sol, Madrid

You. You have thought for a long time that you would like to try writing in second person singular ~ you. You think that you can do so in this blog by offering a series of vignettes of places you have lived, studied, and worked. You begin with Madrid.


At eleven, you prepare to  leave the Ateneo where you have been studying since five in the afternoon…

A las cinco de la tarde.
Eran las cinco en punto de la tarde.
Un niño trajo la blanca sábana
a las cinco de la tarde.

Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías ~ Federico García Lorca

You had a quick merienda about seven o’clock in the bar downstairs when your friends arrived from the university. Rather than a bite to hold you over until dinner in the Spanish style, the merienda for you is the evening meal, owing to your limited student budget as well as not needing anything after a heavy bocadillo of a baguette, serrano ham, and cheese. The light over your study desk casts a swirl of whitish yellow on your desk , one of hundreds in the 4411558559_8006fac4ca_mvast library. Before you switch it off, you muse once more, wondering which of the many illustrious intellectuals may have studied there also, at this very desk, students like you. Alcalá Zamora? Unamuno? Ortega y Gasset? Or perhaps one of your professors – Julián Marías, Laura de los Ríos de García Lorca, or Carlos Bousoño? Then, as you descend the gorgeous staircase to the exit, you and your friends meet up to make the short trek to the Metro in Puerta del Sol.

You feel the cold as you leave the Ateneo, but it is not until you round the last corner into the Puerta does the strong north wind take your breath away.  Your pandilla, your group of Spanish pals, tells you that this is the wind that during the winter comes straight from the Arctic Circle to the meseta, the high plain where Madrid is located. This is definitely a night for chocolate y churros before entering the metro station, where everyone will go their separate ways. The sight, the texture, and the taste of this plato típico – like hot, dark chocolate pudding and heavy donuts, is one you still recall 48 years later, as you experiment with the second person singular.


Photo ~ Puerta del Sol by Manuel on Flickr: (CC BY 2.0).

Photo ~ La escalera by pegatina1 on Flickr: (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Photo ~ Churros y chocolate on Flickr:  (CC BY 2.0)

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge

X is for Rejection or Acceptance


“X14114788851_76d509ee67_b,” used as a verb can connote both rejection (i.e., to cross out) or acceptance (i.e., to indicate a choice, as in an election). We spend our life accepting, rejecting, making choices. We are, according to existential philosophers, the sum total of our choices. That can be a pretty confusing total of acceptances and rejections for an elder. What are some of the acceptances and rejections of my own sum total of choices?

  • The rejection of the dream of becoming a writer at a young age.
  • The acceptance of that role now, as a septuagenarian.
  • The rejection of youthful agnosticism.
  • The acceptance of myself as a spiritual being.
  • The rejection of reading male authors as a mid-adult in favor of female authors.
  • The acceptance of seeking a balance of male and female authors later in life, reading the book for its content and importance, not the gender of the writer.
  • The rejection of leisure time spent enjoying fiction for many years as an academic and professional.
  • The acceptance of an easing of the pressures of professional life and a return to reading for pleasure.
  • The rejection of life as a Spanish teacher as I became a gifted specialist and professor of gifted education. 
  • The recent acceptance and return to teaching Spanish online to gifted youth and lovin’ it.
  • The rejection of the thought of aging, thinking I would rather pass before old age had me in its grips.
  • The acceptance of aging as a joyful and spiritual process.

What are some of the acceptances and rejections of your sum total of choices?

Photo by Maria Iglesias Barroso on Flickr: (CC BY-NC 2.0).

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge

W is for Winter of Content(ment)


The photo of the painting on the left is another piece from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art  (Snow on Alden Brook, Neil G. Welliver, 1983).  Perhaps it was the pensive mood of the weekend – my friend and I spent part of it planning a collaborative book. Perhaps it was that we passed the time in the museum sharing experiences of seniorhood. In any case, upon viewing the painting, the phrase that popped into my mind was – winter of our content – with allusion to Steinbeck and Shakespeare (The Winter of Our Discontent).

  Lately I discovered that the stage of life that I dreaded for most of my life is, in fact,  a wonderful time of life. In elderhood I find myself at leisure to create, to dive into relationships in ways that time did not allow previously, to be gentle with myself, to be authentic in new ways, to BE.  Far from the depressing stage that I envisioned,  I have entered a joyful part of my life journey.

  I often find myself chuckling when I realize that there are few have to’s at this age. I do not have to work, even though I choose to be engaged in creative production. I do not have to do chores on a set schedule in order to fit everything into a work-centered lifestyle. I can sit and read when I want, enjoy sitting outside without feeling that there is something else that I have to be doing, and I find myself reminding myself that, yes, I can have extended conversations with my spouse and with friends without worrying about the have to’s. Most importantly, I find more time for spiritual contemplation.

Yes, dear reader, despite the aches and pains, the knowledge that our bodies are deteriorating, and the finality we face, this IS the winter of contentment.

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge

V is for Vivacious



 Gifted elders are vivacious. They are not necessarily vivacious in the  physical sense, although some are.  I love to dance and my husband and I even won a twist contest in our fifties. Nevertheless, I do not consider myself physically vivacious or vivacious in my appearance.

Visiting elders in nursing homes confirms my belief in the mental vivaciousness of gifted elders. I see it in their eyes, the spark, the spirit that is a combination of alacrity,  curiosity, and creativity. A friend who is in the mid to late stage of Alzheimer’s still has her quick and gifted sense of humor. Another is a model of hospitality and as good at conversation as any of our friends. Another is always reading and has boxes of books waiting to devour. My mentor, Annemarie Roeper, was writing and publishing into her nineties.

Gifted elders need their vivacious spirit affirmed. It pains me when I see caregivers treat them as mentally challenged or talk to them as if they were infants. A student whose family I assist in educational planning recently expressed her need to have conversations that were not limited by having to give lengthy explanations or having to slow down. The student voiced the need to have gifted conversations daily. Gifted elders want this too.

Are there vivacious gifted elders who you can gift with conversation and understanding?

Photo: You’d never guess she uses a cane. by Ann Fisher ( Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge

U is for Unraveling


As we enter our seventies, it is easy to dwell on changes in our minds and bodies with a view toward the negatives. We may experience pain and loss as our bodies age and as our lifestyle as we knew it for so long is left behind.

This photo of the work “Unraveling,” by Ursula Von Rydingsvard, is from a recent trip that a friend and I made to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The installation sparked my thinking about old age as an age of unraveling. There are two ways that I might choose to think about the verb, “to unravel.” The first is the negative connotation,    meaning at loose ends, or coming to pieces. That is the view of aging as one of pain and loss.

However, relying on my knowledge of Spanish and French, I choose the connotation of the words, desenlace, or denouement. These words literally mean untying or unknotting, and are used as literary terms for the resolution of the conflict in the plot of a literary word. In literature, the author unties all the twists and turns, knots if you will, of the plot to resolve the story, play, or book, thus leading to the conclusion. In our lives, our unraveling may be similar. What are some of the knots, the conflicts, that gifted elders experience that are waiting to be resolved in the final stage of our lives?

 Untying involves setting one’s agenda for the years (days/months?) that remain. Agenda-setting or goal-setting involves taking stock of our resources and proposing goals that respond to those realities. Thus, having surveyed my resources, I will never run a marathon, but I do intend to train as a marathon writer and to finish the three books that are in different stages of writing, to publish a book of poems, to read, to connect with loved ones, and to maintain my mobility during my final years. I will call on all the resources at hand to assist in untying and resolving those goals.  Surveying my fiscal resources, I will not spend them all at once on a world cruise. However, I do intend to travel each year, visiting familiar and unfamiliar places. As gifted elders we can plan a fulfilling agenda within the confines of our resources.

 Untying is setting our life in order in the sense that, in consideration of our loved ones, we simplify the process that they will need to go through after we pass. Do our loved ones know who to contact? Do they know where important papers are? Do the know what our wishes are?

 Untying involves saying what is left unsaid. For the past several years I have kept a gratitude journal, focused on family. Our youngest son who lives nearby knows where to find that journal to share with his brother and the rest of the family upon my demise. I have also begun final gifting, writing poems, notes, and other missives to family and friends and designating meaningful gifts from our belongings that will be significant to them.

Untying means resolving the inner tensions within ourselves  – letting go of past hurts and touching the mystery, the spiritual, in ourselves. Mindfulness, prayer, or other types of meditation become a daily ritual that assist us in unraveling. 

 What ties and knots do you have that need to be unraveled?

*Photo of “Unraveling” by Ursula von Ryndingsvard. In the collection of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.


 This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge


T is for Tower


Yesterday, I shared that I am traveling this week and that all the posts for this week were written before my departure. Because time is pressing in, this post is not as developed as I would like it to be. I share lines from the lyrics of a song by one of my favorite singer/composers, Leonard Cohen, interspersed with some connections I make to the lives of gifted elders. Enjoy!
                 Tower of Song
Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on
I’m just paying my rent every day
Oh in the Tower of Song…

I have lost four colleagues from my university since the beginning of this year. It is sobering to see role models like they were to me pass so suddenly. Extending the circle, my husband and I hear almost each week of lifetime friends who have passed. Each day is a gift, and a day to honor those we have lost. If you are a gifted elder, or if you have gifted elders as loved ones, my hope is that you will experience gratitude each day, no matter the aches or pains.

In the Tower of Song

I was born like this, I had no choice
I was born with the gift of a golden voice
My colleagues in the field of giftedness know what we risk when we use the “g” word. Many believe the term gifted is elitist. We cannot deny who we are. We were born like this. We had no choice. Among gifted adults and elders we find most of the same traits of gifted children, often with more intensity; for example, perfectionism, heightened empathy, curiosity, intense sensitivity, high energy, keen imagination.  Be gentle with yourself and with other gifted elders.

Now I bid you farewell, I don’t know when I’ll be back
There moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track
But you’ll be hearing from me baby, long after I’m gone
I’ll be speaking to you sweetly
From a window in the Tower of Song

Leonard Cohen is a writer who sees through so much of the deceit in the world. This is also true for most gifted elders. Embrace your new role as crone – a wise elder. We need the voices of elders in our world!

You can access the video of Cohen singing Tower of Song at: .

Photo by Marleen Trommelen on Unsplash (

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge