A Nomadic Lifestyle and ADHD with Kelsey Sterkenburg
Having ADD or ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Hear from people all around the globe, from every walk of life, in every profession, from Rock Stars to CEOs, from Teachers to Politicians, who have learned how to unlock the gifts of their ADD and ADHD diagnosis, and use it to their personal and professional advantage, to build businesses, become millionaires, or simply better their lives.
Hey guys, Peter Shankman the host of Faster Than Normal. I wanna talk for a second about the Skylight Calendar, the wonderful sponsors of this episode and one of the things that keeps myself and my daughter on track. Skylight sits on your wall and tells you what you have to do today; what chores your child has to do today. It’s basically a family calendar all-in-one. You can color code. It is amazing for people with ADHD. I am truly in love with this thing. We look at it every single day. It tells us the weather. It tells us what’s on our calendar. It tells us what chores are left to do. Oh, time to feed the dog! – Mark it off on the calendar. My daughter can check the box when she’s done and the chore disappears. It is one of the best things we’ve ever had. You can get yours with a discount using code: PeterShankman for 10% off, up to 30 bucks off. You’re gonna love this Skylight calendar. And you are gonna love.. I mean, truly it is amazing for people with ADHD or basically anyone who wants to keep track of their schedule. It sits on the wall, added bonus. You can throw your own photos onto it as a screen saver- on your wall! So now your wall has pictures. That’s cool. Check it out. I’ll put the link in the show notes. https://www.skylightframe.com Discount Code: PeterShankman for 10% off, up to 30 bucks off.
In her own words: Hello, I’m Kelsey! I am in my early 30’s, originally from Michigan, and got diagnosed with ADHD when I was 26. I graduated with a degree in Psychology and Public Relations, and have worked in several different roles in sales, customer service, operations, and marketing in the computer software industry within the last decade. Shortly after being diagnosed, I sold my house, furniture, and all my belongings to pursue a nomadic lifestyle. From the years of 2017-2020 I participated in an organization called WWOF, where I worked on several different organic farms across the US in exchange for room and board. During this time, I worked remotely, tried stand up comedy, adventured, and brainstormed on how I could make money on my own terms. In 2020, I moved to Nashville and in 2023 relocated back to Michigan. I have a passion for fitness, international traveling, learning, and meeting other neurodivergent people. Today we learn why Kelsey Sterkenburg decided to try out the nomadic lifestyle and if it is perhaps a choice for you also, enjoy!
00:40 – Thank you so much for listening and for subscribing!
02:06 – Welcome and introducing Kelsey Sterkenburg
03:00 – What made you decide to go Nomad; the ADHD diagnosis?
04:20 – On WWOOF-ing ref: https://wwoof.net/destinations/
05:00 – On actually making the commitment and doing it. Yeah…how did you do that?
06:20 – On leveraging the prep-work and risk taking
07:00 – On settling-in and how she got into WWOOF-ing
08:27 – Did you ADHD play a big/small role in your being able to learn something new, and in a hurry?
09:45 – What was in a typical day that got you to that euphoric high?
10:00 – A day in the life on the farm
11:05 – On re-claiming perspective and finding a passionate work ethic once again
13:38 – Would you recommend this lifestyle for other people with ADHD; maybe to change things up even? If so then why?
16:30 – What are you doing now?
17:26 – How do people find out more about you? Socials: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelseysterkenburg/
Another big shout out to Skylight calendar!
18:00 – We are thrilled that you are here! ADHD and all forms of neurodiversity are gifts, not curses. And by the way, if you haven’t picked up The Boy with the Faster Brain yet, it is on Amazon and it is a number one bestseller in all categories. So check it out. Click HERE or via https://amzn.to/3FcAKkI. My link tree is here if you’re looking for something specific. https://linktr.ee/petershankman
18:41 – Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits.
Guys, as always thanks so much for subscribing! Faster Than Normal is for YOU! We want to know what you’d like to hear! Do you have a cool friend with a great story? We’d love to learn about, and from them. I’m www.petershankman.com and you can reach out anytime via email at [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse!
TRANSCRIPT via Descript and then corrected.. mostly somewhat:
[00:00:40] Peter: Hey everyone, what’s up? My name is Peter Shankman. I’m the host of the Faster Than Normal podcast, and I wanna give a big shout out to Skylight for sponsoring this episode again, Skylight Calendar, guys, I told you about this thing before. I love it. It sits in my kitchen wall and tells my daughter exactly what she has to do. It tells her what she has to bring to school. It tells her what she can leave home. It tells her what chores have to be done. I don’t have to yell at her anymore. She doesn’t complain. We can throw photos on there of family, of friends, of my parents, of her, of of her mom’s parents, everyone. She sees everything. She can touch screen it when she’s done. She loves going over feeding the dog and then touch screening to say that she’s fed the dog and the chore disappears. They’re color coded, which is great for people like me who have ADHD and people like you. Check out Skylight. It is a phenomenal, phenomenal calendar. It’ll make your life so much easier and simpler,. You’ll have so much less to complain about. Skylightframe.com . Use code Peter Shankman and get up to 30 bucks off your first offer. And I wanna thank them again for sponsoring the podcast. The Skylight calendar is incredible. Skylight frame.com. Check it out. https://www.skylightframe.com Discount Code: PeterShankman
[00:00:40] Peter: Hey guys. Peter Shankman. Welcome to that episode of Faster Than Normal. I am your host as I have been going on, I don’t know, six years or something ridiculous like that. It is lovely to have you here. We are having a good time. We’re gonna have a good time today. We’re gonna talk to a wonderful young woman named Kelsey, but before we do, I wanna give a big shout out to Skylight Calendar. Makes the skylight frame. They now have the skylight calendar, which let me tell you, has changed my life with my daughter. She doesn’t argue with me over what chores to do anymore because they’re literally on a digital calendar on our wall, in our kitchen table area place. Basically, she goes in, she pours her Honeynut Cheerios. She looks up at the calendar and says, oh, okay, today I have chorus and have to bring my coral music and I have to feed the dog and I have to do all this stuff. And as she does it, she clicks the checkbox on the touchscreen and she checks it off. She loves doing that. It’s color coded for people like me who have ADHD. It is the easiest thing in the world. You can upload all your photos to it as well. So when you’re not using the calendar, it shows cool photos. Remind you of places you’ve been in, things you’ve done. You can get up to 30 bucks off with the code: PeterShankman at skylightframe.com. Huge, huge fan of this calendar. It has made my life a lot easier, and we want to thank them for hosting or for, for sponsoring the hosting of this podcast. As always, it is wonderful to have such wonderful, wonderful, fascinating, and brilliant sponsors such as Skylight Frame. Check out the frame, check up the calendar. You’re really, really gonna like it. Use code Peter Shankman. For 30 bucks up to 30 bucks off and lemme know what you think. So with that said,
[00:02:06] Peter: I wanna welcome Kelsey. Kelsey, I’m gonna screw up your last name again. Sterkenburg. Is that right? Yes. Yep. All right. Got it. Kelsey is in her early thirties, she’s originally from Michigan. She got diagnosed with ADHD when she was 26. She graduated from the, with a degree in psychology and public relations, and worked in several she worked in several different roles in sales, customer service, operations, and marketing, blah, blah, blah. But after she got diagnosed, she decided to sell her house and furniture and all her belongings and pursuing nomadic lifestyle from the years of 17, 2017, 2020. She participated in an organization called WWOF, or. Which I like, where she worked on several different organic farms across the United States in exchange room and board. During this time, she worked remotely. She tried standup comedy. She adventured, she brainstormed how she could make money on her own terms. In 2020, she moved to Nashville and 2023 back to Michigan. She loves fitness, international traveling, learning, and meeting other neurodivergent people. Kelsey, welcome to Faster Than Normal.
[00:02:59] Kelsey: Thank you so much. Thanks for having.
[00:03:01] Peter: My pleasure. So you have an interesting life when you decided, Hey, I’m ad, was it because you decided, because you had ADHD that you decided you were gonna go nomad or was there something else involved?
[00:03:11] Kelsey: You know, it was, um, it was mostly the ADHD. It was just this kind of light bulb came outta my head and it made sense at the time of my life. Um, I was a little bored with how I was living. I, I was trying to kind of fit in and mask do what everyone else was doing around me. Um, kind of just live the Midwest life and it felt very hard for me. Um, I felt very stable. I felt very safe, but I didn’t feel like I was doing what I really wanted to do. Um, and it’s hard, you know, when you first get diagnosed it makes so much sense. It’s just you finally have, you can see color. Yeah. After living in black and white for so long. So for me, I just thought, I wanna travel, I wanna go see things, I wanna go do things. And of course I, you know, I knew I had to work and I knew I had to have everything, kind of my ducks in a row. But I did feel confident in myself for the first time in my life. I felt like I can do this! You know, I wanna go move somewhere different, somewhere new, and I’ve always been pretty adaptable. So I kind of just looked online and I, um, I had heard a lot of people talk about, um, woofing is what it’s called. And it actually is, um, an organization that allows you to, um, like you mentioned, live on organic farms and, um, move around the country and, um, you’re not necessarily making money, but you’re not losing money. So I saw that as an opportunity to grow and discover my love for working again. I had gotten a little bit stagnant in that department. Um, I had kind of lost that passion because I was doing things I didn’t truly have a passion for. Um, so I just decided to go for it.
[00:04:52] Peter: Lemme interrupt you up for a second. Let’s talk about that. Cuz the concept of sort of selling all your crap and just going out, working on an organic farm or doing anything like that. You know, a lot of people talk about it, oh, we should do this or do that, but it’s scary as hell to actually make. Sleep and do it is scary as hell. So how did you swallow that fear and turn that into action? Because fear usually negates action when you’re nervous, you usually, you, you’re paralyzed by fear, yet you just, some somehow swallowed your fear and did it. What was it that made you do that?
[00:05:19] Kelsey: I did. You know, I put together, I’ve always been, I’ve found that when I’m very motivated towards a goal, I know it’s gonna happen and I know I’m going to get there and it, it, I may seem crazy to the outside world, but to me, It makes sense and it’s just, I’m laser focused, right? My hyper-focus was on, so I knew I wanted to sell my house. Um, I just knew that wasn’t for me.
[00:05:42] Peter: So you owned the house in that point?
[00:05:44] Kelsey: I did, yeah. Wow. I did and I tried everything. I tried to really just create a lot of stability where I was and. Like I said, follow the norm and do what everyone else was doing. And I had done every single, I felt like I was checking off, you know, things on a list, and it felt really, um, I just felt kind of uncomfortable with it, which is strange because usually at that point in life, you, uh, feel steady and you feel comfortable. But for me, I wanted to be outside my comfort zone a little bit. So I felt like I had a little bit of a nest egg once the, the house went through. Um, and I thought to myself, I’m smart, I’m capable. I can do this, you know, and as long as I’m frugal and, um, I’m careful, I think that it will all work out because I had been playing it safe for so long at that point that. I wanted to take a risk. I wanted to go. So it was, uh, a little bit of a leap of faith, but I also had that confidence. I just knew that I was gonna be okay and I was excited. So I kind of let that draw me into, um, making that decision. Um, but I went and, um, I was excited and, um, I ended up just kind of being thrown into. Um, I went to California actually first in San Diego and, um, found a place to live pretty quickly. Um, and, you know, started the job hunts. And while I was doing that, I started to look at, um, WWOOFing because I had actually. Um, met one, I met a friend that was doing, um, woofing in Arizona and he actually, um, kind of introduced me to it. I had never heard of it before. I always, uh, you know, I just assumed that was something that, you know, maybe rich kids would do, but it was really for anyone. Um, and I thought to myself, I don’t really wanna stay only in San Diego. Um, I had stayed there for a little bit. I wanted to see more. I wanted to do more. So I thought, what can I do that will allow me to. See more of this country and move around a little bit, but not, um, you know, not have to start over each time with housing and that kind of thing. So I saw, um, woofing as an opportunity to be out in nature. Um, Learned to work hard. I worked on farms, I worked with animals. Um, I helped rebuild fences. Um, and just really worked with some really interesting people. Um, and you’re, you know, you’re meeting people from all walks of life at the same time because there’s other volunteers, um, at each site that you choose.
[00:08:26] Peter: Tell me about your adhd. How do you think your ADHD played into you’re being able to be on a farm and do something incre entirely new. Right. And, and, and, and learn something basically on the fly with your feet in the fire.
[00:08:37] Kelsey: Yeah. Um, I think, um, like most ADHD people, I think, um, we’re very spontaneous. We’re very excited to learn. Um, when we’re interested in a subject, it’s, you know, there that hyper focus comes on. Um, so for me, I had always been. Um, aware of just my adventurous spirit, you know, being spontaneous and, um, interested in a lot of different things. So I, I feel the most sharp when I’m moving. When I’m, um, talking fast. I’m moving fast. I’m meeting other people. I’m, you know, there’s novelty around me, so, Um, those things excite me. And, um, I think that because I had kind of been bogged down by, you know, sitting in a chair for eight hours a day and trying to, you know, living that monotonous life for a while that I was, I just, it was polar opposite of that. It was just so much dopamine. Um, and I wasn’t medicated either, so it was just this, um, I guess you could call it like a euphoric high.
[00:09:44] Peter: Tell us about it. But I was, what, what was the typical day that got you to that euphoric high?
[00:09:48] Kelsey: Um, what was it that got me there?
[00:09:51] Peter: No, tell us, tell us about a typical day there. Cause you said it was euphoric high, so what were you doing? What was a typical day like for you?
[00:09:57] Kelsey: Absolutely. So what I would do is I would, um, wake up and, um, you could actually pick what kind of work you wanted to do. So, um, wake up, they actually, they feed you. They give you kind of room and board. It’s, it’s very nomadic, like I said. So it’s, um, you know, it’s not for prim and proper. It’s, you know, you’re, you’re dirty and you’re not. It’s not a hotel, but you’re living, well, you’re living on someone’s property and you’re, you’re helping, you’re giving back to a really good cause and, um, and you’re treated very well. So I would wake up, um, have breakfast and um, you know, you kind of just, Get started, you’ve just kind of developed this routine and you’re told, okay, you know, you’re in charge of the horses today or you know, the donkeys or you know, go out in the field and start um, you know, doing kind of the farm chores. And they of course had walked me through how to do that every single day. And, um, I specifically wanted to work with animals cause that is one of my biggest passions. So I would go out and kind of complete all the farm duties, and that would take a couple hours. Um, it wasn’t easy, I will say, but it didn’t feel What kinda,
[00:11:02] Peter: when you say farm, when you say farm duties, what were you doing?
[00:11:05] Kelsey: Yeah, I was, um, kind of like bailing the hay in, um, feeding all the animals and, um, I actually was milking the cows as well. Wow. Um, and doing a lot of different things just, um, to kind of keep all the operations up and running. This was a, I had worked on a couple different farms, um, up in the PNW area. Um, Northern California and um, also one in Montana as well in the, the Bozeman area. So each farm was different. So you do have to really just adjust to, um, the owners and their expectations, what they would like you to do. Um, but it was like a little bit of gardening as well. There was a little bit of, um, you know, learning how to manage a garden. Um, and also a lot of the food prep, you know, kind of taking in the eggs and the milk and kind of doing a little bit of food prep in the kitchen. So it kept me busy, as you can imagine. Sure, yeah. Um, a six hour shift would go by like a snap of the fingers. And I could not remember the last time I felt so, um, so busy and, um, productive and I felt like I was back in college again where I’m learning new things and you know, I’m interacting and I’m away from my phone for, you know, that period of time. And I’m just really, really happy. I feel like this is a good fit for me and this is what I need. Um, so I kind of felt like I had become a drone before that. Um, just kind of masking and blending in and trying to do what was expected of me. And then I finally chose to do something that I thought would help me grow. Um, that’s a little bit unconventional, but it worked and it did really help me establish a hard work ethic again. Um, which in turn helped me kind of decide what I wanted to do next, um, with work. So, um, but it did definitely teach me that I prefer to work by myself. Um, I, I like to be independent. I like to, um, I prefer the more the self-employment route I guess you could say. So I kind of, uh, discovered my entrepreneurial spirit during that time and, um, learned a lot though. And I did that for, um, about a year and, um, did a little bit of traveling in between there.
[00:13:25] Peter: That’s very, very cool.
[00:13:26] Kelsey: Tell us as well, so very risky.
[00:13:31] Peter: Tell us, uh, I guess this is my, my only my, my last question to you, because this is fascinating to me. What. You re would you recommend this lifestyle for a year or two years or three years for other people with h adhd? Because it seems to be for people who are stuck and, and in this sort of A D H D, um, uh, spinning their wheels type mentality, which we’ve all been in from time to time. And there are some people who are just looking for, okay, maybe this is a way to break everything and, and change everything up. Would you recommend it?
[00:13:59] Kelsey: I would, and I’ll tell you why, and I know a lot of people can relate to this. I had a lot of people trying to stop me from doing this. They said, you know, you’re gonna fall on your face. You’re not gonna make it. Um, you don’t have enough money, you don’t have enough experience with life. You know, all these things. And um, and I had always found that the more people told me not to do something, the more motivated I was to do it. Um, and so I stopped kind of sharing. I stopped oversharing and I started to really just quiet the noise around me, um, and stopped comparing myself to, you know, other people. Um, and that’s hard to do in your twenties, as you can imagine. It gets easier as the years go by, but, um, I thought to myself, you know, this is smart. This is a way that I’m not really losing any money. I’m not really. Um, the biggest, you know, fear I guess is just a couple months off of a real corporate job, you know, but at the same time, with everything we have in our remote world today, digital marketing, you know, you can start your own business online. There’s a, there’s a ton of ways to be creative and make money, and I thought.. I don’t think this is gonna be hurting me. I think this will help me grow. This will reshape my perspective of life. Um, kind of bring back that childhood spirit, you know, that childhood energy and, um, get me excited about life again. And not learning the same thing in an office day after day. Um, I just, I also really wanted to rediscover my work ethic. I wanted to feel like I was really, really earning my time and my money. Um, and, you know, feel fulfilled at the end of the day. And I did. I feel like it really helped me reset, um, and put me back on the path that I was meant to be on. So it changed my life, it really did. And I know I, um, I know others have had much, you know, greater experiences with moving to different countries or traveling. but.. it definitely gave me that travel bug and that, um, thirst for life. And, um, I recognized that there were other neurodivergent people that were in that environment and I didn’t feel alone and I felt, wow, there are other people like me that have struggled and just had to do something that was a little bit crazy to uh, maybe find themselves and discover where they’re meant to be. Um, so I
[00:16:29] Peter: What are you doing now?
[00:16:30] Kelsey: Um, so now I am, um, kind of, I’m also still working remotely in a, a software, um, company that does analytics for, um, LMS systems. So we’re kind of tracking the performance analytics for instructional designers that are creating different courses over different LMS systems. So I’m kind of working as more of a, I guess you could call me a jack of all trades, a customer success kind of manager slash business sales representative slash operations manager. So I’m, I’m in a role right now that is a really good fit. Um, it really does let me wear all the hats I like to wear. Um, and it also lets me thrive because I’m, um, working independently and, um, I don’t really have anyone overseeing anything I’m doing. It’s just, I’m just kind of given the reins to run with it.
[00:17:25] Peter: That’s awesome. So, very cool. Kelsey, how can people find you if they wanna learn more? They, I have a feeling this might change in lives. How can people find you?
[00:17:32] Kelsey: Yeah, they can actually, um, find me on, um, LinkedIn. Um, I’m pretty active on LinkedIn, just Kelsey Sterkenberg um, or they could find me on. I have Instagram, I have Facebook, um, all those tools and my name is pretty, um, un uncommon. Yeah, true. So I think, uh, it won’t be too hard to track me down, but yeah, and I’d be happy to, you know, provide my contact information if needed.
[00:17:58] Peter: Very cool guys. Kelsey, thank you so much for taking the time. Really appreciate it. Kelsey. This is a really interesting interview. I found myself really fascinated by this. Thank you so much, Peter. Awesome guys. Listen to Faster Than Normal. We want to hear what you want to hear. Let us know what you think. Don’t forget, uh, the Boy with a Faster Brain is still number one. It’s burning up the charts. Grab your copy, buy a copy and donate it to a library. They’re shutting down libraries in this country. Man. This is. Keep libraries alive, buy a copy and donate it to a library. And if you do that, shoot me an email, let me know you did and I’ll send you something fun. But either way, keep listening. We’ll have another episode next week. ADHD is a gift, not a curse, as is all neurodiversity. We love that you guys are here and we’re greatly thankful that you tune in every week. Stay safe, stay well. We’ll talk to you soon.
Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at shankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week!