Elizabeth Rose Arifien (Move Beyond Words) ADHD & Dyslexia

When I was 20 I read ‘The Power Of Now’ which had a dramatic effect on me and my life choices. It inspired me to move to London from my village in Derbyshire and dream big. I recently read ‘The Surrender Experiment’ by Micheal A Singer which was filled with rich lessons and I would love to read it again but I have lent it to someone, and cannot remember who… if you’re reading this can you send it back ;).

Name: Elizabeth Rose Arifien
ND Type/s: ADHD & Dyslexia
What do you do: Social Entrepreneur, choreographer, and singer.
Where do you live: Margate

How did you start your day today? Do you have a morning routine? What do you have for breakfast, do think a good diet is important?

I have a bit of a bad habit of rolling over and responding to emails and messages that have come in when I first wake up. I then do stretches and take myself downstairs for my morning coffee. I usually fast until 12pm/1pm so no breakfast for me. Diet is important to me. I lost my way in lockdown but have reminded myself how well I do with structure. I began to do the 6 week Method with Louise Parker. No sugar, no booze and exercise. Sounds awful doesn’t it but I found it to be life changing and after the 6 weeks I have continued many of her recipes and suggested structures.

How do you stay active? And what do you do to relax?

I stay active by doing strength training twice a week with Clare Yates, I have recently begun reformer pilates again which is fantastic for me. I also play badminton with a group of friends, I’ve never played badminton before and it’s a bit of a laugh to be honest, we don’t know the rules, we just try and hit the thing. I also go to Hotpod yoga Margate which is a joy. When I can, I attend Creative Dance London’s sessions which are improvisation based and a great space to let loose and expand your creative thinking. Creative Dance London is a company I founded in lockdown 2.0. Lastly, I live by the sea so cold water swimming is something I love to do, it helps me to go beyond my fear boundaries and feel the joy on the other side of my mental blockages.

Do you have a favourite word or phrase?

I don’t but I love finding phrases or quotes. I guess one that springs to mind is, “Don’t let anyone dim your light”

Have you read anything good recently? Is there a book that changed your life?

When I was 20 I read ‘The Power Of Now’ which had a dramatic effect on me and my life choices. It inspired me to move to London from my village in Derbyshire and dream big. I recently read ‘The Surrender Experiment’ by Micheal A Singer which was filled with rich lessons and I would love to read it again but I have lent it to someone, and cannot remember who… if you’re reading this can you send it back ;).

Which 5 albums would you want to have with you on a desert island?

Oh, this is tough…
1. Neil Young – Harvest
2. Beyonce – The Gift
3. Jay Z – 444
4. Jeff Buckley – Grace
5. Paulo Nutini – Sunny Side Up

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and who was it from?

The meaning of life is nothing, only the meaning we add to it. You have a choice.  I was given this advice by Jerry Baden in the Landmark Forum in 2016, a game-changing experience.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you were a grown-up? And what was your first Job?

When I was younger I wanted to be a choreographer. My first job was buttering bread rolls in my mum’s cafe when I was about 7 years old, my first ‘proper’ job was working on a meat and cheese counter in the market in my local town. I was 16 and also worked on a make-up counter on the Sunday for Guerlain, a chalk and cheese experience, excuse the pun.

What do you do now and how did you get into it?

Now, I work for myself managing two social enterprises. I also collaborate with others as a choreographer, dance artist and backing singer. Life’s a bit of a mix of things at the moment but that’s the way I like it.

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t sing and dance, from a really young age my sister would create plays for me and my 11 cousins and I would perform in them. I went on to become a professional performer in musical theatre but came up against challenges that I believe related to my ADHD and Dyslexia. This led me to creating Move Beyond Words (MBW) to look at ways we can rethink the creative structures that do not serve those with neurodivergent tendencies. This is why we (myself and Charlotte Edmonds) co-founded MBW.

Creativity and thinking differently are often credited to neurodiversity. Would you say that is true? And if yes, could you give an example?

Yes, I believe this is true. I do also think we all have access to this muscle, we just have to train it. Naturally people with dyslexia do have those creative thinking skills because our minds so easily wander into other thoughts and worlds. I do not have the science for this but I can only speak from personal experience… I think this question might be best answered by watching this film, UN[BOX]ED that Charlotte and I co-directed and choreographed.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus, what do you do to get back on track? Do you have any hacks, tips or do you use any apps to keep you on track during the day?

I make sure I speak to someone honestly about where I am at. I can easily become overwhelmed and it is extremely difficult so I do have things in place such as a coach, for some this might seem inaccessible but there are places such as ‘Coach Me Free’ where you can get the support you need. I am usually 99% of the time hyper focused, my mind is always running on a speedy setting, I do have anxiety when I do stop so I manage this with exercise and meeting up with people and finding a good book to read.

How does your Neurodiversity affect new relationships? This can be professionally, socially or romantically.

Massively! I have an access rider, I am aiming to get more comfortable with sharing this in new collaborations. It’s tough though and feels exposing so I have a conversation with the producer or project manager when working with new people so they can express where I may be challenged and how to navigate this with other members of the team. We all have strengths and weaknesses so aim to get a little better at sharing these. I also have ‘delightfully dyslexic excuse the typos’ on my emails so people are aware up front. It’s important to me that people are aware because we have so many misconceptions. I want to be an example of someone who is doing well whilst dancing with the label.
Another trick I have to support me whilst I am writing is to put on relaxing music and light a candle, I make sure my space is clear of distractions too which really helps me. Dame Darcey Bussell also said this is how she manages her dyslexia on our podcast Move Beyond Words.

What makes you happy?

Creating new works in collaborations and then letting them go on to have a life of their own.
My family and my husband and life in general. I love life… so cheesy but true.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

I would say founding two social enterprises and putting myself in a position to learn and grow. I would also say a huge achievement was sharing work at the Royal Opera House and V&A. That was all about mine and Charlotte’s personal journeys with dyslexia. It was so special to have others resonate with these dance performances.

Do you have a Positive ND message to the world? Imagine you have a £5 million advertising campaign to spend on billboards all over the world, what would you say?

Hmm, I need more time on this one but the first thing that comes to mind is… Do you.

Final question – where can people find out more about you? Do you have a website and social media pages?

Yes, feel free to connect…

Elizabeth Rose Arifien

More on Move Beyond Words below:

Move Beyond Words


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Our series two Move Beyond Words podcast is released on 1st December and can be found on all major streaming platforms. Tune in and let us know what you think.