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Ep 93: Learning Outside the Lines in College with Neurodivergent Advocates Ryan Neale & Jonathan Mooney

Mother's Quest Podcast

Release Date: 09/22/2022

Ep 102: Milestone Hike Revisited: A Mother Son Neurodiversity Journey show art Ep 102: Milestone Hike Revisited: A Mother Son Neurodiversity Journey

Mother's Quest Podcast

Welcome to this first episode of Season Nine of the Mother’s Quest Podcast with a returning and special guest, my own son Ryan Neale. I first sat down to record an episode with Ryan in 2017, on his 13th birthday, after we embarked on a milestone hike, using the ascent and descent at our local Sugarloaf Peak to pack up the lessons of his first 13 years of life and my first 13 years of motherhood.  At that time, Ryan knew he wanted to close out his teenage years the same way he began them. So this past March, in what felt like the blink of an eye, his 20th birthday approached and Ryan...

Ep 101: Stoking our Soul Fire for a Revolution from Home with Beth Berry show art Ep 101: Stoking our Soul Fire for a Revolution from Home with Beth Berry

Mother's Quest Podcast

Welcome to this last conversation of 2023, with coach, teacher, small group and retreat facilitator at Revolution from Home, mother of four daughters and author of the book , Beth Berry. Beth says she has revolution in her bones. It began when she was seventeen and pumping milk in the bathroom of her high school for her now-grown eldest daughter. It has since gradually evolved into a tender, fiery conviction to reclaim motherhood from every disempowering personal and cultural story she can wrap her head and heart around. Beth has spent thousands of hours mentoring and supporting mothers...

Ep 100: Mothering as Revolutionary Love show art Ep 100: Mothering as Revolutionary Love

Mother's Quest Podcast

This September 11, 2023, I had the honor of holding space for an intimate conversation with civil rights leader, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, and best-selling author of the book The fact that we were recording on September 11th was meaningful, because the tragic event that had taken place 22 years ago shaped Valarie in profound ways and set her on a path that she never expected. Valarie became an activist after a man of the same Sikh faith, a father and family friend she called uncle, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was the first person murdered in hate violence in the aftermath of 9/11. ...

Dear Body Revisited: And Then I Got Shingles show art Dear Body Revisited: And Then I Got Shingles

Mother's Quest Podcast

This month, I was planning to record a special solocast to welcome in our 100th episode of the podcast. Instead, three days before my son Jacob’s scheduled knee surgery on July 11th, I got diagnosed with shingles. I’m recovering well and so is Jacob thankfully. But it really caused me to revisit my relationship with my body. There was a need for forgiveness all the way around, a rebuilding of trust and a recommitment to myself. In case you’re not familiar, shingles is the re-emergence of the chicken pox virus, which if you’ve ever had chicken pox lives dormant in your nerves and tends...

Ep 99: Building and Thinking Outside the Box with David Neale show art Ep 99: Building and Thinking Outside the Box with David Neale

Mother's Quest Podcast

I’m honored to share this special Father’s Day Episode featuring my very own father-in-law, David Neale. I started dating my husband Chris when I was only 19, so I realize David has been a source of inspiration and guidance in my life for over 30 years. How lucky I am to have had his example of leadership, impact, and joy for life to light my way for my entire adulthood!  The inspiration for this episode was sparked several months ago at a big milestone birthday celebration David organized to honor his 80th year. That celebration was also the launch of a new fund he initiated...

Ep 98: Sometimes Change Sucks  Ep 98: Sometimes Change Sucks "Reflections at the 5 year Anniversary of the Manifesto Challenge” With Graeme Seabrook

Mother's Quest Podcast

In 2018, I sat down for a special Mother's Day episode with Graeme Seabrook, a life coach and maternal health advocate, affectionately known by the thousands of mothers she supported as the "Mom for Moms." We hit it off immediately, delving deep into her Motherhood Bill of Rights and my E.P.I.C. life framework, and noticing that both had become manifestos for how we wanted to live our lives while raising our children. During that episode, we co-created what we called a Manifesto Challenge, inviting other mothers to create their own. And afterward, we would reconnect in some way each May,...

Ep 97: Reclaiming Our Time and Creativity through Fair Play in the Household  with Eve Rodsky  and special guest Co-host Caren Lettiere show art Ep 97: Reclaiming Our Time and Creativity through Fair Play in the Household with Eve Rodsky and special guest Co-host Caren Lettiere

Mother's Quest Podcast

Welcome to this special Season Seven finale episode of the Mother’s Quest Podcast, released on International Women’s Day 2023. It feels like just right timing to bring this conversation to you, but the seeds for this episode have been germinating since last spring, when Jill Daniel of Happy Women Dinners came to me with an invitation. She asked whether my sister Caren, founder of Democracy Clothing, might be interested in hosting a brunch at her house in Los Angeles with best-selling author Eve Rodsky. I had recently learned about Eve’s groundbreaking work, where she transformed her own...

Ep 96: Coming Home To Ourselves with Self-Care Coach Jamie Greenwood show art Ep 96: Coming Home To Ourselves with Self-Care Coach Jamie Greenwood

Mother's Quest Podcast

In 2016, on a leap of faith, I signed up for something called a Power Circle and was guided through a six month process by this amazing facilitator Jamie Greenwood. In the space that Jamie held for a small group of us, I said out loud my dreams for Mother’s Quest for the first time, and at Jamie’s urging, started a Facebook Group for the community I hoped to grow in my journey. Six plus years, almost a 100 podcast episodes, and over a thousand FB Group members later in my journey, Jamie has become a mother herself, and has evolved her coaching practice into one that teaches big-dreaming,...

Throwback Thursday: Smashing the Kyriarchy with Books for Littles Ashia Ray show art Throwback Thursday: Smashing the Kyriarchy with Books for Littles Ashia Ray

Mother's Quest Podcast

I am honored to bring you back to a powerful and important conversation with a woman who deeply impacted my life and my children’s life, Ashia Ray of Raising Luminaries and Books for Littles. Thousands of parents like me seek Ashia's help in finding the best books to foster age-appropriate conversations with our children about white supremacy, cissexism, ableism, and other issues. Her thoughtfully researched and child-tested book lists, at BooksForLittles.com and in her private group is a big help for parents like me.  Grab this opportunity to widen and deepen your awareness,...

Throwback Thursday: “Flawed” with Truth Bomb Mom Kristina Kuzmic show art Throwback Thursday: “Flawed” with Truth Bomb Mom Kristina Kuzmic

Mother's Quest Podcast

2022 is almost over; it’s time to reflect and set intentions for the upcoming new year!  As I thought about what episode I wanted to bring back to you, I kept coming to this conversation with the Truth Bomb Mom Kristina Kuzmic. One of the most powerful takeaways of this episode is how owning her flaws and sharing them vulnerably with her children has become a key to living her epic life.  If your 2022 has been anything like my year, there have been a lot of things that didn't go exactly as planned. But I hope this conversation gives us all permission to look at the things that...

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I’m honored to bring you this special part two with dyslexic writer, award winning author, entrepreneur and activist Jonathan Mooney, this time interviewed by my neurodivergent college freshman son, Ryan Neale.

If you haven’t yet listened to part one for a full exploration of Jonathan’s E.P.I.C. life journey, I encourage you to go to that episode next. This episode, inspired by part one, was Ryan’s opportunity, just before he left for college, to ask Jonathan for wisdom and guidance about how to flourish at a university while being neurodivergent. What unfolded was that and so much more.

In this episode, I passed the microphone completely to Ryan, sat back and listened to him and Jonathan uncover how we can all learn and live outside the lines and stop faking normal. I invite you to listen to this conversation with the same sense of curiosity and trust. I hope you will arrive at the end as Ryan, Jonathan and I all did, personally transformed by the experience.  


About Jonathan Mooney:

Jonathan Mooney is a dyslexic writer and activist who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old.

He is a graduate of Brown University and holds an honors degree in English Literature. At Brown, he became the co-founder of Project Eye-To-Eye, a widely duplicated mentoring program for disabled students. He is also a winner of the prestigious Truman Scholarship for graduate studies in creative writing and education and was a national finalist for the Rhodes scholarship.

Jonathan Mooney’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, HBO, NPR, ABC News, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. A nationally recognized advocate for neurological and physical diversity, he’s been speaking across the nation about neurological and physical diversity for two decades, inspiring those who live with differences and calling for change.

He has published three books: The Short Bus, Learning Outside the Lines, and Normal Sucks.


Connect with Jonathan:

Jonathan’s Books Mentioned in this Episode:


About Ryan Neale:

Ryan Neale is a neurodivergent UCLA Freshman from San Mateo, California. His parents discovered he was differently wired when he was 18 months old but he has been in mainstream education for his academic career, with most people around him not knowing about some of the struggles that he faces.

His experiences masking his neuro differences have given him a unique perspective on many of the struggles neurodiverse people face, such as public stigma, internalized ableism, and the ever-present desire to fit in. As he has begun advocating more for his needs, he has high hopes to use his perspective and communication skills to increase public understanding of neurodiversity, and hopefully create a more inclusive society for everyone.

In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball, coaching youth sports, roughhousing with his little brother, and diving headfirst into his many fantasy special interests. He is thrilled to have participated in the 2022 Stanford Neurodiversity Summit on a K-12 student panel. You can listen to the panel here.

Connect with Ryan: 


Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • How Ryan got introduced to Jonathan and his book Normal Sucks 
  • Jonathan’s invitation to Ryan to lean into his “badassness” 
  • How Jonathan transcended the obstacles in his path as a neurodivergent young adult with ADHD and dyslexia on his way to Brown College
  • The biggest barrier for Jonathan on his path: the internalized messages that he was stupid, lazy, crazy
  • The key question Jonathan says we should be asking instead of “how smart are you?”
  • How and why an F on an English final became an inflection point for Jonathan in his advocacy journey  
  • How neurodiverse students can survive and thrive in a flawed system   
  • The importance of meta-cognition
  • Why we should reframe our language from “diagnosis” to “assessment” that identifies both the challenges and strengths of being neurodiverse.
  • The importance of seeking out people in your life that can help you build self-knowledge and find the good in you
  • What Ryan and Jonathan think Batman has to teach neurodiverse students
  • The negative impact of trying to pass or mask as “normal” and what helped Jonathan move from shame to pride in his own journey   
  • Jonathan’s message to “find your crew” and do something to contribute and make the world better
  • The commitment Ryan is making as he embarks on his college journey

Resources and Topics Mentioned:



Related Podcast Episodes: Listen to these Next


This Episode’s Challenge: 

Jonathan challenges us to not ask yourself, “are you going to be successful?” but instead,  to hold yourself accountable to be successful in the right way. 

He wants us to stop hiding and be out and proud of our differences that make us special. This way, we can give to the community with purpose, pride, and passion.


This Episode is dedicated by Cindy McCormick:

Some people are lucky enough to have a career doing EXACTLY what they were born to do - Cindy is one of them. She loves running Cindy McCormick College Advising (CMCA,) but more importantly, she thrives on guiding high school students along their paths to college. She received her B.A., teaching credential, and Masters in Education from UCLA; instructional writing certification from UC Santa Barbara; and college counseling certificate from UC San Diego. With the highest standards in education, training, and ethics, she believes in getting to know her students thoroughly while relentlessly researching schools to ultimately guide kids to their best fit college homes.

Before college advising, Cindy taught school in both Westchester County, NY and Southern California, and then specialized as a college application and essay writing instructor. She also served as a PTA President and a team manager of a global top-ranked STEM student team for ten years.  

As a mother of five children, Gifted And Talented educator, autism specialist, and Spanish bilingual instructor, Cindy embraces diverse abilities, perspectives and backgrounds. Her wide variety of experiences allow her to bond with all kinds of teenage personalities and interests; she delights in getting to know each student, motivating and coaching them, and ultimately customizing their unique college plans.

In her downtime, she loves spending time with her family of 6 men, running marathons in beautiful places, and cuddling her Goldendoodle, Ollie.


Connect with Cindy: 



Our Fall Virtual Milestone Hike Is Here!

Ready to press pause and set YOUR course for an intentional new school year?

Our kids have had new beginnings… now it’s time for us!

Sign up today for the fall Mother’s Quest Virtual Milestone Hike and a powerful interactive experience like none other.

Intrigued? Check out the links below for more info and to register for one of two upcoming dates: 

Tuesday Sept 27 - https://mailchi.mp/mothersquest/septvirtualhike22 

Saturday Oct. 1st - https://mailchi.mp/mothersquest/octvirtualhike22 

It's Pay from the Heart to make it accessible to anyone who wants to come. Hope to see you there!

P.S. Have a friend who would like to join? Invite them along. Always better to hike with a friend


Mother's Quest Circle: Next Chapter Edition

We will be opening the registration for the Mother’s Quest Virtual Circle soon!

I'm facilitating a Mother's Quest Virtual Circle in November for moms like me who have children going off to their next chapter (whether that is college, trade school, travel or the workforce) 

Our children's next chapter is a window of opportunity for us to invest in ourselves in new ways. Doing it in community with like-minded mothers is always powerful. 


Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest