Episode 51: Quick Bite, Gift-a-Palooza

Chris Wells & Emma Nicholson

Release date: January 12, 2024

In episode 51, Chris and Emma shared the news that they are presenting at a virtual summit, Gift-a-Palooza, and discussed their plans for the session. This is also the first episode where we’ve included outtakes at the end. We hope our errors and laughter are as amusing for you as they were for us!

Gift-a-Palooza will be the first time Chris and Emma team up for a presentation. Their session is “Navigating the Tides of Change: Positive Disintegration in Gifted Adults,” and it’s happening on Saturday, February 3, from 4:15-5:30 pm EST. The full conference dates are February 1-4, 2024, and there’s a fantastic lineup with something for everyone in the gifted community.

From the hosts, Dr. Michael and Julie Postma of Gifted & Thriving: “This 4-day celebration is dedicated to helping individuals and families in our Gifted & Multi-Exceptional community move from a place of surviving to thriving—by coming together to share and explore our experiences, challenges and joys! This year, we're bringing together 45+ top experts for an array of engaging discussions, live Q&As and special events for educators, families, adults, health professionals and other community members!”

If you want to join us, please consider signing up with our affiliate link. The cost is $139 USD for all access.

Links from this episode

Click here to sign up! (Affiliate link: https://www.giftedandthriving.com/a/2147748168/TznuMaEi)

Gifted & Thriving (website)

Chris and Emma at Gift-a-Palooza 2024, Navigating the Tides of Change: Positive Disintegration in Gifted Adults.


Emma: Chris, today we're talking about Gift-a-Palooza.

Chris: That’s right. Gift-a-Palooza is a four-day conference hosted by Dr. Mike Postma and his wife, Julie, who run a company called Gifted & Thriving. So the conference is for all types of people in the gifted community, from parents to educators to gifted adults. It'll be good. I'll admit that I haven't actually participated in the past. This is the third one. But I wanted to last year. It just conflicted with something I had to do. This year, instead of trying to do a session by myself, I thought it would be fun to invite you and for us to bring our work together to the Gift-a-Palooza audience.

Emma: And we've never presented together before, so this is going to be a heap of fun.

Chris: I think it will be a heap of fun. I love recording podcast episodes with you, so surely presenting at an online conference will be fun, too. It'll be good practice for the Congress, where we'll be doing a workshop together.

Emma: It will be good practice. And it'll be nice to, as you say, be working together on something else other than the podcast. I know, too, when you present, when you're doing it by yourself, there's a bit of nerves involved. Sometimes, it helps to have someone holding your hand.

Chris: It does. I didn't mean for us to have a title that was so similar to the conference theme. I swear that I did not see what the theme was going to be when I came up with our title. Or I should say we came up with our title. The theme is “Navigating an Uncertain Future: Cultivating and Nurturing Hope in the Gifted Community.” Our title is “Navigating the Tides of Change: Positive Disintegration in Gifted Adults.” So, you know…

Emma: At least we're on theme, right?

Chris: We're on theme. There are more than 45 speakers. I think there are five keynotes. And, like we said, it's virtual. It's February 1-4, 2024. They kindly gave us an afternoon block of time so that you don't have to get up at four o'clock in the morning.

Emma: It's mostly kindness to me, I think. Yes, I appreciate it. And there's going to be panels and stuff, right?

Chris: Yeah, not only are there going to be presenters but there'll be panels as well. There's like a homeschool panel and an expert panel. We have an affiliate link. So if you want to sign up for Gift-a-Palooza, we would extra appreciate it if you could use the link that we provide in the show notes.

If you see us share the link on social media, please use our link, so that we get profits from this because this is my full-time work and I work for donations. Which honestly is another part of why this was an appealing option for me because I don't have another day job. This is my work.

Emma: We do appreciate everybody's support. So, look out for the link if you are interested in attending. It should be good because we were talking about the fact that it covers three different areas. So there's education, social and emotional needs, and mental and physical health. Obviously, we're going to be there repping the theory.

Chris: We'll be there repping the theory and talking about how to navigate positive disintegration if you're a gifted adult. If you're the parent of a gifted child, this conference is especially for you. Dr. Joy Lawson Davis will be talking about “Effective Partnership Building with Culturally Diverse Families and Organizations to Improve Outcomes for Culturally Diverse Gifted Neurodiverse Students.” There are definitely some education-oriented ones. Like I said, homeschooling is represented. There's a session on college planning. They're talking about gifted and 2E kids, especially.

The closing keynote is from Dr. Tracy Cross, Psychological Wellbeing of Students with Gifts and Talents. I can tell you, I went to a session with Tracy Cross at NAGC in 2021, and his wife, Jennifer, and they were talking about suicide and gifted learners. It was so powerful and poignant. These people have really done a lot of work in this area. And so, know that there are a lot of high-quality sessions, and we're excited to present together. It'll be fun.

Emma: It's basically like a one-stop shop for gifted people to meet people like themselves and find out information that's relevant to them. That segues nicely into something I was going to talk to you about because we're going to be talking about positive disintegration. I know at NAGC, this is something that you touched on in your presentation there, is that this theory is not only for the gifted—more people can benefit from it. But why does it specifically relate to this population?

Chris: Well, gifted individuals tend to have a more intense experience of life, especially the ones who have overexcitabilities. It's pretty clear to me from my research that most gifted individuals have overexcitability, but not all. The ones who do, and especially the ones who have multiple types of overexcitability, tend to go through disintegration as children. We've talked about experiencing dynamisms when we were kids.

Our goal for this conference is to share where the connections are with giftedness and what this experience looks like throughout the lifespan. Because it's not like you can only look at where you are from the lens of adulthood. We all have these lives that got us here, right? One thing that connects gifted people with the theory is early existential concerns.

Emma: I think you're on point there because a lot of the guests that we've had on the podcast talk about how much the theory resonates with them, and then they have this lens to look back at what they've experienced. I know that's our experience, too. Both of us have found the theory really helpful in understanding our journey and how we got here because we've talked about this before—it's more than a theory, it's a thing that you experience. Even when you don't understand what it is, you're going through it regardless. I think that's why it's important for us to go and talk about this.

We've talked about finding the needles in the humanity haystack before and giving them the tools that they can use to help themselves. So, we're going to a place where arguably there's going to be a big collection of needles that don't know they’re needles. Or can't explain what they've been through because they don't have the language or the framework to hang their experiences on.

I think that's why it's important for us to go because you're right, Dąbrowski said that people, particularly in the overexcitable population, or creative and talented, are going to go through this stuff. It's important for us to go there with the language and the framework and the lens and that mirror—through our experiences—and say, hey, that's what I went through, or that's what I'm going through now. I think that's the gift that we're bringing to Gift-a-Palooza.

Chris: I agree. I'm glad that you brought this up because you're reminding me that one of the reasons why I wanted to do this conference is because I'm so used to talking to academics and doing conferences like NAGC. Even the Dąbrowski Congress used to be a really academic conference. I would argue that we're trying to change that this time and to bring this to the needles, like you said.

If there's one thing that's really clear to me, it's that it's important to talk about the theory and how it looks regardless of even whether you're using the language “gifted.” But to talk about these experiences because people see themselves in it. We know we provide good mirroring for the gifted population to some extent, right? That's pretty clear. So, this is just another opportunity to bring our work to lay people who need it.

And trust me, I am going to remember that and I'm going to try—for once—to not be academic in my approach to giving a presentation, but to talk about how to navigate this as somebody with lived experience who can tell you how to navigate it. And leave the citations behind to some extent.

Emma: Leave the books at home, Chris.

Chris: Trust that you can always say to me, why do you think that, Chris? And I will tell you and give you the citations to support why I think this. Or, if lacking citations, some other evidence. Sometimes, it's from my own journals. I have my own research I've done.

Emma: I think that's what's going to be good about us doing this as a double act, though. Because I'll be there with zero academia in my blood going, come on, mate, we can do this. We can be normal people.

Chris: That's hilarious. We can be normal people. Yeah, define that. Laypeople.

Emma: I think that's going to be one of our focuses as well, is not just saying theory, theory, theory. We're going to be talking about our experiences because after doing all this stuff with the podcast, we know about the importance of mirrors and applicability as well. You give them a bit of theory, it's like, well, show me an example of that. We are two examples, plus we have all the people that we talk to. It will be good practice for the Congress. Because the theme is “Living the theory.” We get to think about how we're going to talk about this from a lived experience perspective and not from a citation perspective.

Chris: My plans for posts in January—I still have to do Michael's work by decade, but I'm only going to do one a month because I don't want everybody to burn out on reading too much about Michael. No offense, Michael, but I have other stuff I have to write about, too. And one thing is dynamisms. My approach to writing about the dynamisms is going to be to give you what I believe are examples from my own life and make sense of periods of disintegration.

One of them is Episode 8, Surviving Disintegration. We talked about when I was 21, and it ended up in these two suicide attempts. I want to do a review of that period from my journals and share the excerpts that I talked about when we were recording that episode. That'll naturally lead me to talk more about what Dąbrowski said about dynamisms, and all of that will be good preparation for Gift-a-Palooza. So, it's going to be a synthesis of everything I do this month and obviously everything I've done to this point.

Emma: Which is interesting you bring that up because sometimes when we talk about dynamisms—particularly when I'm trying to write about them—I'm always coming to you and saying, is this correct? Sometimes, we find that we experience them in different ways, which is also a cool aspect of us doing this together. Because then we get to say, well, you could experience the dynamism this way, but then also there's another way to do it.

When we're talking about astonishment in oneself, I wrote about it one way because I'd experienced it more as a positive kind of thing, because that was the period of my life that I was kind of leaving behind me. But you then brought up one, no, it doesn't necessarily have to be a positive feeling. You can have it in a negative way. I think it's good for us to collaborate on this because we can show various sides of how that actually applies and plays out.

Chris: Totally. When you brought up those examples, you were astonished with doing better and seeing where you were in your life, I think. I have examples of that, too. But when I think of astonishment as a dynamism that moved me to where I am now, it's being astonished by something that’s not good. That's what I'm going to give examples of from 1994.

It was like a shock to realize that I was experiencing panic attacks and going through things that I hadn't before, and I was experiencing phobias and stuff—I had never had that. So, it was shocking to me, what I was going through when I wrote about it. That's a different kind of astonishment than what you described, and what I was experiencing was also mixed with unilevel dynamisms. So, I'll talk about that.

Emma: My experience of it was more because I'd left a shit relationship where I was being controlled a lot, and I was doing things that I knew made me uncomfortable and I knew were not authentic for me. Then I got into a space where I was free of that and I was able to act more in alignment with who I was and went, oh, maybe I'm not such a shithead. Maybe I'm not such a nasty person, and was able to actually pleasantly surprise myself in a more genuine way. So, you know, depending on where you are in your life and your circumstances, sometimes these things play out a little differently.

Chris: They do. There's actually a lot to be figured out around this. I think that what's going to be so important in the next decade of my life is to bring lived experience to our understanding of dynamisms, and work with case material like Michael has, but in a different way. I know that I'm meant to collect and analyze data from a different perspective than him. A lot of Michael's work was with moral exemplars, and this is a conversation that I tried to have with him recently. I said, your work was exploring the highest reaches of development and these incredible exemplars. My work is more to talk about what positive disintegration looks like in people who are not at that level, and the people who are really struggling and stuck and need to get out of it. That's what I hope to bring to life from the periods of my life when I thought I was mentally ill.

Emma: My experience of this is, I can tell you what these dynamisms look like from the perspective of having been a real shithead at times and not being the complete opposite to an example.

Chris: Yeah, I think people would be shocked by what I was like when I was young, and this is the whole point of inner transformation. I am a different person than I was when I was young, and I'm multiple different people from that person at this point. I expect to continue growing, and I'll be somebody else. I'll be somebody else tomorrow or next week, too.

Emma: I'm always trying to do better, which I think is part of the potency of the message that we're going to take to Gift-a-Palooza is it's not giftedness isn't all kittens and cake and roses and unicorn farts. Sometimes it's having absolutely no idea about who you're supposed to be and feeling like a failure and imposter syndrome and all that stuff that we see coming up repeatedly, not just with us, but with others, existential dread and feeling like you don't have a grip on shit. For us to go in there and be able to talk about intensities and psychological tension and how you experience dynamisms, I think that's going to speak to people in more ways than a lot of us want to admit.

It's funny because I was just cutting another podcast before I came in here, and it was talking about Gothic novels, and how sometimes you need to see the darkness to have some appreciation and knowledge of what the light looks like. I think you can't always talk about being gifted or going through positive disintegration or overexcitabilities or dynamisms or any of that stuff from a completely rosy lens. Sometimes you've got to dig into the shit because people are feeling that way sometimes, whether or not they want to share that. And we've always talked about the whole, you know, you're not broken, you're not alone. Hopefully, we can take that message with us in February.

Chris: I know we will. We're looking forward to it. It'll be fun.

Emma: Yes. As I say in Star Wars, come to the dark side. We have cookies. It'll be fun.

Chris: It will. We'll put the links in the show notes—the link to join—and anything else that's relevant when I go to do the show notes.