“Come On, Karen, FOCUS”

Today I talk about Executive Function why we don’t have any.

Turns out, when our brains are entirely consumed with basic security and survival work (as Dr. Aisha Ahmad explained in her excellent guest post last month), there just isn’t much brainpower left for anything else.

Case in point, I actually marched around the house practically in tears for 10 minutes just trying to find my phone to make the damned video, and ultimately had to resort to the indignity of Find My Iphone on icloud. Except that I couldn’t remember the password to my Icloud and had to endure the abject misery of trying to dig that up out of my unhappy brain (And naturally my phone was right next to me on the sofa where I now live my life, buried in the blanket).

And while making the video I forgot to mention that my biggest stressor right now is that my 19 year old son traveled cross country to Vermont yesterday and today, for a summer internship with low income kids through Americorps. The internship is of course online but they wanted the program leaders in town for things like deliveries and so on. I’ve been an utter wreck as he first, makes his away through pandemic hotspots (Boston) to get there, and then…. is on the other side of the country from me in a pandemic.

None of this is even remotely normal, and our brains just don’t work. And that’s ok.

Adding: I think it’s worth becoming more aware of our cues of Executive Function Overwhelm. For me:

  • Irritability, first and foremost, over the smallest things
  • Fatigue
  • Negativity
  • Uptick in self-criticism

What are your symptoms?

Stay tuned for our guest post on Executive Function coming up tomorrow.

New makeup:

Stellar Limitless Foundation in S04 – my new obsession–this foundation is literally like a second skin, so light, so satin, so perfect. This color is my color. Took two tries to find it.

Urban Decay Lo-Fi Mousse in Echo (because I loved my one in Amplify so much)

NARS Contour Blush in Paloma – this was a cast-off of my daughter’s and is too red for me, but the product quality is incredible (the first contour product that, if I get the right cool tone – eg “Talia” – might possibly get me away from my Kevin Aucoin) and the highlighter that comes with it is so creamy, brightening, and non-creasing under the eye that it blew away all my other powder products that I’ve spent the last year trying to perfect. Which is good, but also a bit aggravating, tbh. Why did i spend all that money?

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About Karen Kelsky

I am a former tenured professor at two institutions--University of Oregon and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I have trained numerous Ph.D. students, now gainfully employed in academia, and handled a number of successful tenure cases as Department Head. I've created this business, The Professor Is In, to guide graduate students and junior faculty through grad school, the job search, and tenure. I am the advisor they should already have, but probably don't.


“Come On, Karen, FOCUS” — 2 Comments

  1. As someone with significant ADHD, it’s gratifying to hear some recognition that executive function impairment is serious, it is not your fault, and it does not mean that you are a screwup who should just give up.

    ADHDers live our entire lives with the symptoms you describe as “not normal,” so we have already developed strategies for managing them. When is higher ed going to stop judging us as defective and start treating with us with compassion and understanding?

    • I am undiagnosed as yet but believe that I experience one of the diagnosable cognitive conditions. I am trying hard to foreground this support on TPII but I’m not very versed in it. I’d welcome guest posts and resources.

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