If music be the food of health, play ON!


How is music processed?
How might we use it to support memory & brain health?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Source: MedicalNewsToday

Music and Physical Health

In last week’s post, an original Tallis Steelyard tale from author Jim Webster, we saw how music awakened the soul of a woman who was struggling with dementia, barely alert until called by the song.

As I noted at the end:
Music has been well documented to remain in the minds of Alzheimer’s patients long after other memories and much of their Executive Functioning capabilities have faded.

Patients often retain memories of well-loved songs, which gives them a great deal of pleasure, and some can still play instruments. The description of life flooding back into formerly vacant eyes in response to music has been reported repeatedly.

Medical researchers have long noted that listening to or playing music can result in changes in our bodies, regardless of our age or current state of mental alertness, however.

For example, lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been observed in the presence of music. Better sleep and a lowered heart rate are associated with listening to music as well.

Even when you are a bit out of sorts, don’t you feel better immediately when a song comes on that reminds you of a particularly happy memory?

Science rings in

Dr. Charles Limb is a musician and surgeon who specializes in cochlear implants at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. He has been researching how our brain makes that happen. He and his team analyzed neurological responses to a variety of music, especially jazz and hip-hop.

In studies with magnetic resonance imaging [MRI], they have been particularly interested in finding out which areas of the brain “light up” when jazz musicians are improvising or rappers are “freestyling.”

The Universal Language?

They observed that the areas of the brain activated when jazz players are improvising are actually the language centers of the brain (the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior superior temporal gyrus).

When rappers were freestyling with their eyes closed within the MRI scanner, the researchers observed major activity in the visual and motor coordination areas of the brain.

  • Connection to movement centers certainly makes sense, if you think about it. Since rappers are usually moving when they rap, those areas are likely to be brain-linked.
  • But the visual areas?  Hmmmmmm . . . neurolinked to a video perhaps, or choreography?

Seeing when you listen

Haven’t you noticed that when you listen to music your brain sends you visual information as well — a flash of the club where you first danced to the tune, or the face of your partner when it came on the radio, right before you kissed for the first time?

Some people imagine scenes of their own private movie as they hear certain orchestral arrangements. Others report seeing abstract colors and shapes that flow and change with any music they hear. Maybe you see a few moments of a particular marketing video?

I challenge anyone who’s ever watched one of Michael Jackson’s music videos to listen to that track on the radio without at least a flash or two of a moving image!

Even in a Scanner

The brain seems to call upon its language, visual and motor coordination mechanisms when imagining and responding creatively to music both, even when the participants are lying still, eyes closed, and within a scanner.

In fact, Dr. Limb’s team found that the areas of the brain that were formerly associated with interpreting music – the angular gyrus and the supra marginal gyrus, which process semantic information (meaning, vocabulary, etc.) – are deactivated while musicians are improvising.

So what does that indicate about memory and healthy brain aging?

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Emergency Prep for lives that have A LOT of them!


When SHTF is a DAILY Occurrence . . .
and “Stuff Hits The Fan” repeatedly!

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
From the Executive Functioning Series

“Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life,
not a sudden, spectacular program.” ~ Spencer W. Kimball

Time to revisit some older content . . .
(Updated content from a post originally published in February 2015)

Given what’s going in Texas, Louisiana and Florida during this Hurricane Season, there are a lot of “preparedness” articles to be found around the blogging universe these days.

THIS one’s a little different.

The first half of this article is a good disaster-prep reminder you probably will NOT see many other places – but the second half offers a bit of help toward preventing those “emergencies” in our everyday lives.

Lots to learn from the Survivalists

©Phillip Martin – artist/educator Found HERE

New to the acronym? “SHTF” is a Survivalist abbreviation for Stuff Hits The Fan (with another 4-letter “S” word replacing the one I used to keep things family-friendly).

As with any subgroup, Survivalists run the gamut from the extreme through the consumed by anxiety to the worried . . . all the way to the lower end of the scale: those who are merely cautious.

At base, many of them are no different from savers and planners in any other arena — except that Survivalists larder physical supplies and foodstuffs instead of cash reserves in more traditional savings formats.

They’ve lost faith in the system.

That’s something that many of us here in Alphabet City share with them.  Except the system we have a hard time trusting anymore is The Mental Health Care System which includes hospital administrators and health “professionals,” as well as the legislators charged with protecting the rights of the many in our society who have “invisible” disabilities.

It makes sense to me, given the probabilities,
that we ALL might be wise to expect the best
but prepare for the worst. just like those Survivalists.

Global catastrophe’s aside, the “worst” here in Alphabet City seems to happen A LOT more frequently than in the neurotypical population — and history has proven repeatedly that we can expect precious little help from the current state of the Mental Health [lack of an effective] System.

Let’s not spend time going over all of the ways in which the system is broken and desperately needs changing.  Despite the fact that I’ve been ringing that bell for over 25 years now – along with a great many other Mental Health advocates – things continue to worsen nonetheless.

Instead, let’s focus on what we might think about putting in place to, like good Scouts say, BE PREPARED.

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Moving Past PTSD triggers


Do we ever really heal from trauma?
What does “healing” really mean?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
adding to the Habits, Memory, EF, and PTSD Series

Responding to a comment

Right after I published the second part of one of my PTSD Awareness articles, author and blogger Chuck Jackson posted a comment that asked a question I couldn’t  answer at length in the comment format.

Do you ever recover fully from PTSD?

Chuck went on to add some context to his question:

Looking at your list of symptoms (mental and physical), if I was honest with myself, I would still mark yes to over fifty percent.

The majority of the time, I live a happy and enjoyable life. It is only during periods of anxiety or prolonged depression, do these symptoms raise their dirty head.

They are not debilitating, just very annoying.

So, for the most part, I suppose we could say that Chuck is essentially “healed.”

He has moved well beyond some pretty nasty stuff in his childhood (his healing journey shared in his stunning book about child abuse, “What Did I Do?).”

But I believe he is asking another, broader question with a much broader application:

Why am I not beyond all of my symptoms all of the time?

Real questions have real answers, so lets take a look at a couple of questions I’m sure we have all entertained at some point in our lives:

I’ll begin with a segment of my comment in answer to his question.

Forgetting is part of the process of memory too

“Forgetting” is still quite the mystery to scientists, even as they learn more about “remembering” – and that is really at the heart of Chuck’s question.

Most of us would prefer to have a way of “erasing” disturbing tracks laid down as the result of earlier experiences so that we can focus on and recall more positive/supportive reactions, thoughts and behaviors instead of disturbing reactions to PTSD triggers.

From an article I posted 3 years ago now,
Brain-Based Habit Formation:
~~~~~~

Any golf pro will tell you that eradicating their clients’ bad habits is the toughest challenge they face.

It’s much easier and quicker to coach someone to play par golf if they’ve never picked up a club than if they’ve been a bogey golfer for years.

Only the best golf pros understand why that is so and what to do to overcome it more quickly, however!

Brain-Based Habit Formation also explains that old pathways never actually get “deleted” — so unless the bogey golfer practices the new habits EVERY SINGLE TIME he picks up a club, he is likely to slip back into his old habits.

And every single time he “rehearses the old,” he deepens the “brain-grooves” of the habit he wants to eradicate.  In the same manner:

If you focus on your triggers and allow them to control you,
you are likely to find yourself back-sliding quickly.

What is needed is to link a new action to an old cue – to pull yourself gently but intentionally away from the old fears and other manifestations (symptoms) the moment you realize that you are “rehearsing the pain.”

So, in that sense only, I will tell you that,
at present, “PTSD” never really goes away.

NOW, let’s unpack that a bit – because that does NOT mean that you are going to have to suffer for the rest of your life. After all, as I said to Chuck, who cares whether “PTSD” goes away or not if it never troubles you!

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Moving Past Task Anxiety to stop “procrastinating”


Procrastination vs. Task Anxiety
Executive Functioning struggles redux

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series

Poor Organization & Task Completion

Most of us with Executive Functioning struggles have difficulty “putting it all together.”

Our cognitive deck of cards gets shuffled in the process of recording “awarenesses” into short term memory and consolidating for long-term storage.

That makes it harder to figure out which cards to pull when it comes time to play the game — making it difficult to respond appropriately, or to correctly evaluate consequences, outcomes and timing.

As a result, projects tend to be abandoned unfinished in our dissatisfaction with our lack of ability to play at a level that makes the game interesting rather than an exercise in frustration.  Before we know it, we’ve labeled ourselves chronic procrastinators — and so have most of our associates and loved ones.

It certainly may look like chronic procrastination to anyone looking on. And boy howdy do those onlookers love to sling that label around — as if they believed that merely pointing it out would launch us into activation!

I would like to suggest that what’s really going on here is Task Anxiety.

Task anxiety, just what it sounds like, is what science used to call a “limbic system” activator — where your brain and body are primed to fight, flight or freeze, NOT to get things done!

EVEN those who push through and force themselves to tackle the tasks on their To-Do lists are, according to the latest studies, up to 50% less effective than they would be if they handled the task anxiety FIRST.

  • According to scientific studies conducted in the past few years by Dr. David Rock and his team, and Emotional Regulation Research founder, Stanford’s Dr. James J. Gross:

The degree to which your “limbic system” is aroused is
the degree to which your PFC [prefrontal cortex] is deactivated.

  • Task completion is decision-dependent — and deciding depends on prefrontal cortex activation.
  • The PFC of “the ADD/EFD brain-style,” which includes all of us with Executive Functioning struggles, is already under-performing, relative to the neurotypical population — and the research above was NOT carried out using the ADD/EFD population!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Madelyn’s 3-point Procrastination Primer

1. The greater the number of items to accomplish on the way to completing any particular task, the higher the likelihood of so-called “procrastination.

2. The higher the number of decisions to be made on the way to completing any particular task, the lower the probability that it will begin or end in a timely manner.

3. The more each item or decision depends on the completion of a prior step, the more likely it is to result in shut-down — and the greater the likelihood that the project will be tabled for another time.

Related Post: Procrastination — Activation vs. Motivation

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here’s the GOOD news:

Simply identifying what’s going on, whether you actually DO anything about it or not, helps to bring the PFC back online somewhat.  And there is SO much more you can do!

Identifying these areas and naming the steps involved will go a long way toward intentionality.

Awareness is always the first step, and “naming” it is the second.

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Time, Stress and Denial


You CAN change your relationship to time
(or just about anything else)
But, of course, that means you have to CHANGE

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time Management & Executive Functioning Series


“The adrenal system reacts to stress
by releasing hormones
that make us alert and reactive.

The problem is
that the adrenal system
cannot tell what’s a regular case of nerves
and what’s an impending disaster.

The body doesn’t know the difference
between nerves and excitement
— between panic and doubt . . .”

~ Grey’s Anatomy, Season 9, Episode 8

WHY ARE YOU LATE?!!

If you have any flavor of Attentional Struggles – or Executive Functioning challenges for any other reason — I don’t have to tell you how tough it is to work with t-i-m-e!

If you are anything like me (or some of my former clients and students), finding out that many ADDers lack an internal sense of time— or a reliable one, anyway — was a huge relief.

At last!

An explanation for why others can set a time
and show up promptly and we can’t.

Whoa!  BACK UP JACK!

There are two potential problems with that “at last” momentary relief:

  1. Can’t” refers ONLY to attempting to deal with time internally
  2. An explanation is NOT a get out of jail free forevermore card

SO, if you have always struggled with something specific, (like time-management, in this example) and you want to leave that behind forevermore, you absolutely must begin to set new “time-management” systems in place if you EVER want anything to be different.

That, ladies and gents, is where things begin to fall apart in brand new ways . . .

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Chunking TIME to get you going


Getting Started
Getting the GUI Things Done – Part 2

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
in the Time & Task Management Series

Getting back to GUI!
Looking at Good, Urgent, and Important

In Part 1 of this article, Getting off the couch & getting going, I began by suggesting a down-and-dirty way to tackle a number of different kinds of tasks by throwing them into a few metaphorical “task bins.”

In this way of moving through malaise to activation, I suggested that you separate your tasks into 3 metaphorical piles, and I began to explore the distinction between them:

  1. Tasks that would be Good to get done
  2. Tasks that are Urgent
  3. Tasks that are Important

In the way I look at productivity, any forward motion is good forward motion!

Making a dent in a task sure works better than giving in to those “mood fixers” we employ attempting to recenter from a serious bout of task anxiety — those bouts of back and forth texting or endless games of Words with Friends™ — and all sorts of things that actually take us in the opposite direction from the one we really want to travel.

Dent Making-101

Anyone who is struggling with activation can make behavior changes and kick themselves into getting into action by breaking down the task until it feels DO-able in any number of ways, such as:

  1. Picking something tiny to begin with, like putting away only the clean forks in the dishwasher – or just the glasses, or just the plates – or hanging up the outfit you tossed on a chair when you changed into pajamas and fell into bed last night, or picking out only one type of clothing from the laundry basket to fold and put away;
  2. Focusing on a smaller portion of a task, as in the closet example in the prior post;
  3. Chunking Time — setting a specific time limit and allowing yourself to STOP when the time is up.

Now let’s take a look at that last one.
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Getting off the couch & getting going – Part 1


Worry, Worry, Worry!
. . . The agony of agonizing

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series:

Let’s Get GUI!
Looking at Good, Urgent, and Important

When I first began to blog on the topic of organization and task completion, I was initially daunted.

It seemed to me that productivity, accomplishment, follow-through and planning were such HUGE topics for anything less than entire books — difficult to handle briefly, even in an entire Series of posts on each topic!

While most of what I read on the inter-webs focuses on Tips and Techniques, I wanted to explore underlying principles, and I wanted to share them from a brain-based perspective.

QUITE the challenge — especially since I knew that most readers wouldn’t have my background of information, so I had to include an explanation of terms before I could move on even to underlying principles, much less sharing techniques that many have found helpful.

Don’t miss: Getting Things Done-101

The extent of the challenge stopped me for a while, I must admit, and it took me some time to begin to figure out how best to do it without wearing people out.  Long-time readers may have noted that my earlier articles are much longer than the ones I have been posting lately.

Whittling things down remains a challenge, but I don’t let that keep me from trying to be helpful in as brief a manner as I believe can get the job done for most people.

Moving along anyway

I am inspired by the malaise that seems to waft in with the summer heat, and I want to explore more about Getting Things Done. I plan to continue to whittle things down to a size we can manage in two ways:

  1. Dividing this topic and this article into parts, and
  2. Using language and examples that will relate primarily to those attempting to Get Things Done at home, whether the tasks are personal or professional in nature.

Let’s start by thinking about how to tackle a number of different kinds of tasks by throwing them into a few metaphorical “task bins.”

Getting GUI

Take a look at your task list every day (which implies that you make one, right?)  Separate the tasks that would be good to get done from the tasks that are URGENT and IMPORTANT.

Good to get done tasks

Good to get done tasks help you move your life forward – without the not-so-subtle pressure that normally accompanies a To-DO! List.  This category is for the “treadmill tasks” of life: the recurring chores that really don’t need to be done at a specific time or day, as long as they are done fairly regularly.

These are the tasks I keep encouraging you to put on autopilot:

  • Figure out a reasonably effective way to do them
  • Do them the same way every time so that they can become habitual.
  • Put them on auto-pilot. “Auto-pilot” habits don’t debit cognitive resources!  No deciding, no agonizing, and your conscious mind is freed for more important work.

Urgent Tasks

Urgent Tasks are two-fold, both of which you are going to work toward eliminating from your life as you learn more about what you need to be intentional about getting things done.

Type 1 Urgents are those items that carry a monetary, legal or emotional penalty for remaining undone — many of which are the result of not getting out in front of them earlier.

Taxes, license renewals, bills, birthday cakes, presents and cards all fall into the Type 1 Urgent category at the beginning.

Don’t beat yourself up about your struggles with this category — or ruminate over the fact that you “should” have taken care of whatever it is before it became a problem that had to be handled immediately (or else!)

Simply identify the items that belong here to make sure you don’t drop those balls in the future.

Many of us with Executive Functioning issues have developed the unfortunate habit of using the adrenaline rush that accompanies urgency to be ABLE to focus with intentionality.

Adrenaline is an endogenous psycho-stimulant (produced within).

It does work; we tend to get more done. But it comes with a high price tag.  There are healthier forms of energy that will help you get things done — more about those to come.

Bona fide Emergencies

Bona fide emergencies generally won’t make this list at all. They are the things that you rarely have time to put on a list in the first place, nor do you need to.

Fire, flood, illness, accidents and broken bones, necessary and well-maintained equipment that suddenly gives up the ghost  — things that it’s unlikely you could have predicted but MUST be dealt with immediately — ALL fall in the category of bona fide emergencies.

The only way to plan for bona fide emergencies is to leave a bit of ease in your schedule every single day so that you stand a shot at getting back on track when you have to stop to deal with them.

Type 2 Urgents are the things that you are going to practice saying no to: that means setting boundaries.

My favorite quote that describes this category perfectly is this one:
“Lack of planning in your life does not constitute an emergency for me.”

Many of the items in this category wouldn’t be on your plate to begin with if you would get the time and energy vampires off your neck.

Other items pop in here when you say yes because you can’t imagine how to say no.  You would not find yourself rushing to buy a hostess gift for a party with that couple you don’t enjoy, for example, if you hadn’t said yes in the first place!

We have a tendency to say yes to these items we really don’t want to do because it requires little of our decision-making power to respond in “emergency mode” — it feels like MORE to do to refuse to play, so we play.

It feels great to put out a fire — not so great to prevent one.

I’m not saying that setting boundaries is an easy fix, but it is a simple one, and the only one that will ever work to get Type 2 Urgents out of your life forever.

Unfortunately, until we learn to set and protect boundaries around what we allow others to push onto our plates, our behavior teaches those around us to do exactly what we do NOT want them to do.

To begin with, demote the Type 2 Urgents:
Don’t say no, say LATER.

Take a baby step toward teaching your family and friends that ONLY when you’ve accomplished what is IMPORTANT will you be able to focus time or attention on Type 2 Urgents.

They may never understand that you have more important things to do than pick up the pieces of somebody else’s dropped ball or help them handle their over-commitments or lack of boundaries, but it is essential that you understand that reality yourself.

When you say, “Not now,” show any whiners and complainers your list of what needs to be done first and tell them to get them workin’ on it if they want you to be finished faster.

You probably won’t be able to count to three before you hear (with attitude, no doubt), Oh, never mind!

[More about this in an earlier article: Priorities-101:Yes means No]

So what’s IMPORTANT?  

That’s a VERY good question.  What IS “important” to you?  I’ll give you a hint with another favorite saying:

Nobody ever said, at the end of life,
“Darn!  I wish I’d spent more time on my chores.”

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Benefits of Boundaries – and how to set them – Part 1


Boundaries safeguard your personal rights
. . . and so much MORE

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Coaching Series

Does YOUR Castle need a Moat?

Think of a Boundary like a moat around your castle.  It’s actual purpose was to keep scoundrels, bandits and warlords out and the people inside the walls safe to go about their lives and pursue their interests in peace.  That works!

During times of danger and conflict other friends and neighbors around the countryside could come inside the castle for protection.  A drawbridge spanning the moat provided a way for the keeper of the castle to let people in or keep people out.

So it is with happy, successful lives.

It is important to find a way to establish and maintain a safe distance from needs of other people that are not in alignment with our own best Self-interest.

Some people are not particularly evolved at the time they interact with you.  They tend to take advantage of the kindness of others — particularly the ones who don’t know how to raise the drawbridge to protect their own castles (like saying NO or leaving a situation before it starts causing trouble they repeatedly look to you to fix).

Related Post: 12 Tips to help you Take Back your TIME

Bounderies make you YOU

As my personal coaching mentor Thomas J. Leonard used to say,
“Boundaries help define who you are and who you are not.”

Emotionally healthy people set Boundaries that attract certain people and protect them from others. Learning to set and enforce Boundaries in a loving and appropriate manner are, in fact, two essential life skills most of us need to develop on the way to becoming healthy adults.

  • Setting personal Boundaries acts as a filter to permit those people who are up to where you are in life to come in and join the party.
  • Personal Boundaries also allow you to stop those who are not yet ready for you by raising your metaphorical drawbridge – as well as defining what actions are appropriate inside your metaphorical castle.

That, in turn, is reflected your experience of living – which frequently sets its tone – the tune to which you call yourself to dance.

Ideally, of course, we wouldn’t attract certain types of people and behaviors to begin with, but while we are working on that particular skill wouldn’t it be great to have a way to immediately course-correct?

Effective Boundary management is a great way.

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Advice and Boundaries


Linears and  Holographics
Different strokes for different folks

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections Post to introduce an upcoming Boundary Series

WHY won’t everybody LISTEN?

We humans are funny critters. We want everybody to do everything OUR way.

Secretly, we sincerely believe that whatever we have figured out effectively for our own lives would transfer to anyone else’s — if they’d only DO IT RIGHT, gol-nabbit!

The same advice is meted out to tortoises and hares, linear and holographic thinkers alike, depending on who seems to be currently doing better in the races we like to time.

THEIR problems would magically disappear with OUR solution,
IF ONLY they’d:

  • try hard enough
  • give it enough time to become habitual
  • “want to” badly enough
  • stop resisting
  • or procrastinating

 — or really wanted a solution and not simply a chance to complain!

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Time management tips for better Executive Functioning


EF Management Tips and Tricks – Part IV
Time Management Systems to Develop into Habits

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART FOUR: In support of The Executive Functioning Series

Quick Review:

In the introduction to this part of the article, I went over some of the concepts underlying the systems approach and why it works.

Basically, systems and habits help us conserve cognitive resources for when they are really needed. I added the caveat that nothing works for everyone any more than one size fits ALL very well.

For those of you who have the motivation and time to figure out how to make an “off the rack” outfit fit you perfectly, be sure to read for the sense of the underlying principles and tweak from there to fit your very own life.

If you can’t “sew” and are disinclined to take the time to learn (since most of us have trouble keeping up with what we are already trying to squeeze into our days), remember that I offer systems development coaching, and would love to turn my attention to your life.

I am going to warn everyone one last time that few of my clients ever really hear me the first dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these Basics float right past you too.

The sooner you make friends with the basic concepts – and put them into place – the sooner life gets a lot easier, more intentional, and a whole lot more fun.

FIVE Underlying System Basics

Found in Part-2
1.
Feed Your Head
2. Structure is your FRIEND
3. Nothing takes a minute

Found in Part-3
4. Write it down (any “it”)

In this section:
5. PAD your schedule
PAD-ing: Planning Aware of Details™

Don’t forget, as you read the final principle:

Each of you will, most likely, need to tweak to fit.  However, some version of all five underlying concepts need to be incorporated into your life (with systems and work-arounds in place and habitual) before challenges recede and strengths have more room to present themselves in your lives.

No pressure — let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker.

As long as you don’t actively resist you will be one step closer to getting a handle on that systematizing to follow-through thing.

So let’s get TO it!

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Executive Functioning Systems


EF Management Tips and Tricks – Part III
Time, Memory & Organization Systems
to Develop into Habits

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART THREE: In support of The Executive Functioning Series

The Quick Review:

In the introduction to this 4-part article, I went over some of the concepts underlying the systems approach and why it works.

Essentially, systems and habits help us conserve cognitive resources for when they are really needed.

I added the caveat that nothing works for everyone any more than ONE SIZE FITS ALL very well.  For those of you who have the motivation and time to figure out how to make an “off the rack” outfit fit you perfectly, be sure to skip past the literal interpretation to read for the sense of the underlying principles.

For the REST of you: if you can’t “sew” and are disinclined to take the time to learn (since most of us have trouble keeping up with what we are already trying to squeeze into our days), remember that I offer systems development coaching, and would love to put my shoulder to your wheel.

The quick warning:

I want to warn everyone yet again that few of my clients ever really hear me the first dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these Basics float past you a time or two as well.

The sooner you make friends with the concepts I’m sharing – and put them into place in a way that works for you – the sooner life gets easier, more intentional, and a lot more fun.

FIVE Underlying System Basics

Found in Part-2:
1.
Feed Your Head
2. Structure is your FRIEND
3. Nothing takes a minute

In this section:
4. Write it down (any “it”)

Concluding in Part-4 with:
5. PAD your schedule
PAD-ing: Planning Aware of Details™

Remember to remember as you read the principles to come:

MOST of you will probably need to tweak to fit as you incorporate the principles into your life (and/or take a second look at systems and work-arounds you already have in place that have now become habitual). If you really want to begin to experience the level of personal effectiveness you say you want, take a close and open-minded look at principles that have a 25-year track record of helping.

If you start to feel resistance,
let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker for a while.

As long as you don’t actively resist (as if YOU are the exception, fighting the ideas or ruminating over the thoughts that yet another person simply doesn’t get it), you will be one step closer to getting a handle on that systematizing to follow-through thing.

So let’s get right back to it!

 

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EF Management Tips and Tricks


5 Tips for better Executive Functioning
Part II – Systems to Develop into Habits

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART TWO: In support of The Executive Functioning Series

Quick Review:

In the introduction to this 4-part article, I went over some of the concepts underlying “the systems approach” and why it works.

I explained how systems and habits help us conserve cognitive resources for when they are really needed.

I went on to add that despite my dislike of articles and books that offer seemingly fix-it-ALL tips and tricks, I still share online tips myself from time to time — and that I was about to share five of them, despite the fact that  I strongly prefer sharing underlying principles, so that anyone reading might be able to figure out how to tweak to fit. 

  • I appended the caveat that nothing works for everyone any more than one size fits all very well, despite what the merchants would like you to believe.
  • I’m sharing the “tips” for those of you who have the motivation (and time to dedicate) to figure out how to make an “off the rack” outfit fit you perfectly.

Since most of us have trouble keeping up with what we are already trying to shoehorn into our days, if you can’t “sew” and are disinclined to take the time to learn, remember that I offer systems development coaching, and would love to put my shoulder to your wheel.

For the rest of you, I’m about to gift you some foundational principles I work on with my private clients, right along with whatever it is they came to “fix” – what I call my 5 System Basics.

I have to warn you again, however, that few of my clients have ever really embraced them the first couple dozen times I brought them up, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these Basics float right past you a few times too.

The sooner you make friends with the concepts I’m about to share – and put some systems into place around them – the sooner life gets easier, less frustrating, and a LOT more fun!

 

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5 Tips for better Executive Functioning – Part 1


EF Management Tips and Tricks
Systems vs. Solutions

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART ONE: In support of The Executive Functioning Series

Introduced in an older article, ADD/ADHD and TIME: will ANYthing work?, this is what I remind my students and private clients:

Even though they are not exactly the same thing, most people with Executive Functioning challenges have quite a bit in common with people who have been diagnosed with ADD.

In addition to short-term memory glitches, the things that seem to negatively impact effectiveness most often are problems with activation and follow through.

When I work backwards to figure out what’s going on, I almost always discover foundational problems with time management and/or troubles with transitions.

Both of these struggles are exacerbated when few of life’s details are systematized, which means that very little can be put on auto-pilot.  Every action requires a conscious decision – which not only requires a greater number of transitions (that eat up time), it burns up cognitive resources.

  • “Processing space” in the conscious portion of our brains is not unlimited, at least not in the bottomless well meaning of unlimited. Consciousness is a resource-intensive process – your brain REALLY doesn’t want to burn up those resources making the same decisions over and over again.
  • DECISIONS are prefrontal cortex intensive – using the conscious pathways in your reaction/response mechanism – whether you are making a major decision or one as seemingly inconsequential as to what kind of ice cream you want in your cone.
  • The greater number of day-to-day to-dos you can relegate to unconscious processing, the more cognitive bandwidth you make available for tasks that truly require you to think about them consciously.
  • That means “standardizing” the timing and the steps – developing systems – so that they become HABITS.

Caveat: there are no one-size solutions

Despite my dislike of articles and books that offer seemingly fix-it-ALL tips and tricks, from time to time I still share online tips myself. 

  • I usually add the qualification that nothing works for everyone any more than one size really fits all – at least not very well.
  • I prefer to share the underlying principles, so that readers might be able to figure out how to tweak to fit – kinda’ like some of those fashion sites that tell you how to use a sewing machine to take a nip here and a tuck there.

But many people can’t sew, not everyone wants to take the time to learn, and most of us have trouble keeping up with what we are already trying to squeeze into our days.

That’s why some people make a living doing alterations –
or, in my case, coaching change.

 

HOWEVER, for those of you who have the time and motivation, I’m about to share again what many of my private clients hire me to help them put into place (no matter what “problem” we are working on at the time) – what I call my 5 System Basics.

I have to warn you, however, that few of my clients have ever really heard me the first few dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these basics float right past you too.

Even when you’re desperate, change is flat-out HARD!

Try to remember as you read:

These aren’t merely a collection of five simple “suggestions.” If you have already noticed a few functioning struggles, try to hold them in your mind as practically absolutes – but lightly.

The five underlying concepts I’m about to share really do need to be accommodated in some fashion — with systems and work-arounds in place — before most of us are able to manage our energy toward follow through that doesn’t leave us endlessly chasing our own tails.

Lack of structure is really not the direction we want to travel if our goal is a life of ease and accomplishment.

Let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker.

As long as you don’t actively resist the ideas, (nit-picking the concepts or ruminating over the thoughts that yet another person simply doesn’t get it), you will be one step closer to having a handle on that follow-through thing, regardless of your current struggles with Executive Functioning.

Think of the underlying concepts, collectively, as a lever that will allow you to adjust your expectations appropriately, and to help you to figure out where you need to concentrate your time and effort ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible).

Trying to systematize a life without the basics
is like trying to start a car that’s out of gas.

  • Agonizing isn’t going to make a bit of difference.
  • Neither will “voting” – you may hate the idea, they may hate the idea. Sorry Charlie, it is simply what’s so
  • Hearing what a doofus you’ve been for not focusing on that little gas detail (especially hearing it internally) will shut you down and delay you further.
  • Go for the gas.

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS WARNING!

The upcoming five concepts that will begin to put some gas in your car are simply that: FUEL.

Until you make sure your “car” has fuel, you can’t do much about checking to see if the starter is going bad. You may also learn you need to adjust the steering mechanism. Oh yeah, and you certainly won’t get very far on lousy tires.

  • You don’t expect your car to magically transform with a little gas, do you?
  • How about a whole tank full of gas?
  • How about gas and four new tires?

Yeah, right!

Try to remember that the next time the self-flagellation begins, as well as when you feel defensive and become offensive.

You can’t eat an elephant in a day —
EVEN if you take one tiny bite at a time.

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Overcoming the bad to get to the GOOD



The Power of Positive Thinking
Moving past WHAT & WHY to get to HOW

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In the Executive Functioning Series

Memory and Energy Management

Visiting a few blogs as I begin to populate a brand new Pinterest Board [Our TBR Lists], I clicked over to add one of  D.G. Kaye’s books, “Words We Carry.”  (Some of you may already know that D.G. Kaye is the name under which blogger Debby Gies pens her many books)

I jumped over to read and “like” a few reviews on the Amazon site for this book, and my eyes took note of something that read like what is often referred to as the publisher’s blurb.

Sharing her journey toward overcoming the demons of low self-esteem with the determination to learn to love herself, Kaye’s book allows us to see clearly how hurtful events in our lives can linger, and set the tone for our lives.

I was instantly reminded of an article I posted over three years ago now, on a topic I believe it’s time to revisit: our tendency to collect and carry every stick and stone that has ever broken our bones.  [Are we hard-wired to focus on the bad news?].

I began that article with a question that I think is an important one:
“How come the bad stuff sticks and the good stuff fades??” 

On the way to answering that question I asked another, in response to a comment from one of my virtual friends, essentially this:

I have lived 365 days times my years on this earth.
They can’t all be keepers — and this one wasn’t.

While that’s a wonderful lens through which to look at our occasional experiences of one of those days,  my brain immediately popped in another question:

Why CAN’T all the days be keepers?

I mean, why don’t we just filter out the crummy parts and file away what was good about the day so that ALL of our memories are pleasant and uplifting?

I’m aware, I went on to say, that Pollyanna isn’t exactly everybody’s idea of their favorite role model, but WHY NOT?

I believe I did a good job explaining why our brains tend to hang on to the “warnings” – a memory technique that was extremely pro-survival.

It’s helpful to understand why whenever we are agonizing over yet another of those negative thoughts inspired by some of our earliest experiences.

However, I don’t believe that it is exactly pro-LIFE to allow our brain to continue to have its way with us – especially when we can retrain it.

Life-lessons from my clients

As I continue to say, my clients bring more than a few “juggling struggles” to their coaching calls. They frequently call for their appointments with resolve and hope tarnished by the latest disaster . . . which reminds them of an earlier one, and off we go.

We spend the session in another way entirely, as I practically drag them over to reliving their successes. They hang up with a much better view of themselves — one that empowers them to “get back on the horse” to gallop full speed ahead once more — until the next time something stops them cold and we revisit the process.

We all do it until we train ourselves not to.
And those “positivity” reminders don’t help until we do.
Wrong technique.

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Friday Fun: Fashion and Shopping


Can’t take fashion seriously?
(or maybe you take it TOO seriously?)
Whatever!
Let’s ALL laugh the whole thing off

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Brain-Based and Friday Funnies Series

Quick Review before we get to the Funnies

Today is Jodie’s last installment of our collaboration exploring fashion as a “change agent.”  So before I send you over to A Touch of Style to finish up the series and read my closing observations, I want to review the point of fashion week before I inspire everybody to exit with a chuckle or two.

Don’t skip this review – it’s vital to everyone who wants to spend his or her “golden years” having fun rather than merely waiting for the inevitable.

Epigenetics and Fashion Week?

In Making Friends with CHANGE, posted  a week ago today, I briefly underscored the miracle of lifetime neuroplasticity — that the brain can change its structure and its function throughout our lifespan, depending on what we do with it.

We’re not stuck with – or blessed with – a lifetime contract on the brain we had when we were born.

Here’s the Good News

Gene expression is dependent upon our environment, the actions to which we commit ourselves, and even upon what we think and imagine.

The genes that shaped our brain in utero are literally capable of being turned on or off in reaction to how we respond to the targets of our focus, actually “rewiring” the brain we were born with with every new and different experience.

Changing anything is healthy-brain-aging friendly.

Change forces the brain to create new “roads” it can use when its usual pathway is damaged by any one of a number of things: stroke, concussion, medication, chronic stress – whatever.

If we change and grow as we go through life, our brain rewards us by creating new connections that will serve us well as we age.

Here’s the bad news: it works both ways

If we allow ourselves to stagnate, comfortable in our same ole’/same ole’ ways, we merely deepen the grooves of those same ole’/same ole’ pathways.

That’s GREAT for habit creation to handle those nattering Treadmill Tasks (distraction insurance that releases cognitive bandwidth for more important endeavors), but not a great strategy for brain-health overall.

For most of us, doing what we’ve always done is a recipe for functional backsliding called age-related cognitive decline – unless we are very, very lucky.

But in order to experience the benefits of brain-change, we must actually CHANGE what we ask it to do, with activities like:

  • studying something completely new to us
  • learning a new language
  • practicing a new musical instrument
  • exploring a new environment
  • taking up a brand new & challenging hobby

WARNING: if we don’t keep it up, the pathways created by our brain-healthy changes actually atrophy and die from disuse.

So, just like physical exercise, it’s important to pick something we actually enjoy to keep us motivated to keep it up — so we keep on making friends with new changes.

Making friends with CHANGE as we change our clothes

Jodie and I decided it would be fun to put our heads together to see if we could come up with a week’s worth of challenges specifically designed to shake things up, forcing change to our SELF-images on the way to helping us become more “change-friendly” overall.

As I commented in Jodie’s first post of this 3-part series . . .

Not only have researchers begun to discover the importance of “play” to healthy brain development and continued health, any time we spend making friends with change is what is called “neuro-protective.”

Together we explored how playing with what we choose to wear – recombining items we already own or adding something inexpensive to alter the look – can be a terrific way of making friends with change.

Stay tuned for more about change and healthy brain aging – including tips, techniques and work arounds. Meanwhile . . .

I’ve left you links to all three of Jodie’s posts at the bottom of the funnies, so be sure to pop over to see how three different challenges were interpreted by three different “real person” models representing three different decades — along with some additional comments from me to underscore the brain- benefits.


AND NOW for some fashion-related humor TODAY . . .

How many of the situations below make YOU nod your head
(or shake it)?

YOU PLAY TOO

If you have something on your website or blog that relates to the theme, especially if it’s humorous, please feel free to leave a link in a comment. (Keep it to one link per comment or you’ll be auto-spammed, but multiple comments are just fine and most welcome).

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10 Organizing Principles for the Organizationally Impaired


NOT Your Mama’s Organization

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of the Challenges Inventory™ & ADD Coaching Series
my edited reposting of a five year old article

If at first you don’t succeed . . .

I know.  I’m right there with you.  You’ve read all the books and made a good stab at following their advice, and you still live in what might affectionately be called a pig stye if only it were that neat.

Give it up!

Those books were NOT written for you and me.  They were written for fundamentally organized people with relatively reliable follow-through skills and abilities.

They simply needed a little how-to help and advice.

I don’t work their way.
Do YOU work their way?

How DO you work?

If you don’t get real about how you work, you will never be able to determine what YOU need to do to to keep from spending half your life looking for things that were “right here a minute ago” — and the other half tripping over dirt and detritus.

As I began in an even earlier post (ADD & Organized?) . . .

Yea verily, even YOU can learn to be organized
just as soon as you understand
the reasons why you’ve been stopped in the past.  

Those of us who struggle with any of what are referred to as Executive Functions work a bit differently than those neurotypical folks.  We do not have vanilla-flavored brains.  We’re more like the ice cream with the mix-ins.  Our stoppers are not their stoppers.

HERE’S the KICKER: it’s a different mix of stoppers for every single one of us.  

So much for helpful hints and tidy lists!  

That said, I’m going to go w-a-a-y out on a limb by offering my top ten organizing principles that I now call, collectively, The Executive Functioning Organizing Manifesto — a summary of some basic concepts that need to be embraced and understood if you want to have a shot at working out what you need to do for YOU to be organized.

In future posts in this series, I will expand on some of the points below.
For NOW, print ’em out and hang ’em up and follow them!

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Do you have a minute? Sorry for the Inconvenience.


Tough Love Lessons
from an Empathy Deficit Society

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Walking a Mile Series – Part I

“There, but for the grace of God, go I”

Not my problem, not my business?

Our society seems to be rapidly moving to a state where it is empathy-averse. The next few posts are my attempt at trying to change that sad reality in some small fashion by telling my personal story. It is time

Many who are still able to care what happens to others take the “wait and see” approach, hoping perhaps that some of the problems will resolve without their involvement.

I have noticed it most overtly in response to current political actions of late, but I have always seen it most pervasively in the continuing lack of Mental Health Awareness.

That attitude troubles me greatly.  We need each other, and the quote at the top of this page has never been more apt.

I always planned to speak out about it, once I put my life back together after a horrendous event that all but took it away from me entirely. But there was so much to do in the aftermath that time got away from me.

The attitude I observe, that seems to be increasing since the start of the most recent election cycle, has emboldened me.  I think it’s time to put some polish on a few drafts and publish them.

The Value of Personal Stories

Sometimes hearing the stories of people you know, even a little, makes a greater impact than any urging to step up, speak out and make a difference ever could.

So I will be sharing two personal experiences, one a great many years ago and the other only a few. I plan to divide the article into three parts, mindful of the time many of us lack for reading extremely long posts, even though these will be longer than many.  They will post on consecutive Wednesdays.

I am posting them NOW to underscore the reason we all need to increase our willingness to get involved before the next DSM is forced to add a new category: EDD – Empathy Deficiency Disorder.

Sympathy vs. Empathy

Sympathy is “feeling sorry for” a person in a particular situation. It is a feeling that allows us to be grateful that we are not the ones going through the experience personally. But it also fosters a pull to allow ourselves to sit back and do nothing to ease the burden for another.

Empathy is “putting ourselves in the shoes of another,” allowing us to imagine what we would find helpful and encouraging, and perhaps to step up to extend support – if only a little bit, and maybe more than that.

Talk and Timing

As I said in one of my updates to an article years ago now, NO contact possible: mugged at gunpoint, modern medicine is very different than the first time I had a broken bone but, unfortunately, bones don’t heal correspondingly rapidly.

My first experience was the result of multiple, serious, spiral fractures to my right leg, many years ago.  The damage was the result of a skiing accident that left me unable to get out of bed for a month, in a hip cast for about 8 months, and a leg that was smaller than the diameter of my arm once the cast was finally removed.

The negative impact to my acting career was substantial, but my attitude remained essentially positive – despite a great many challenges – thanks to more than a little help from a small handful of my friends.

This is my story

New York City, where I was living when I broke my leg, was in the middle of a transit strike, and New York cabbies were reluctant to take the time to deal with someone on crutches or in a wheelchair.

  • At that time I lived with a godsend of a roommate who stood at the curb to hail a cab while I was hidden from view, so that I could get where I needed to go.
  • She also emptied my bedpans for that first bed-ridden month. She kept me company, the bills paid and our services on, and food in my belly.
  • At no time – for an entire year – did she display impatience or treat me differently. Nor did she suggest that I pretend that lack of autonomy was less of a struggle for me than it was. She helped me keep my spirits up with conversation and laughter.
  • At NO time did she expect that I pretend my situation could be handled by “thinking positively” about it.  She understood without having to be reminded, that “motivational” talk of that type would have felt belittling.
  • She sat with me patiently during the times I wept over the seeming relentlessness of the situation.

Thank you Janine.  I was extremely grateful at the time but, until the contrast of my more recent experience, I had NO idea how very much your help and your attitude made it possible for me to make it through that time emotionally – and whole.

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Naps help Memory


 Our Brains are not Designed
to Learn Non-Stop
Sleep is essential for memory & learning

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Sleep and Memory Series
All Rights Reserved

National Sleep Awareness Week PostMarch 2 – 9

Sleep is more important than you think

Some preschools are still considering the elimination of naptime to fit in more teaching.

According to new studies,
that is probably a lousy idea.

Researchers have already shown that, following a good night’s sleep, facts learned one day are retained better the next, in learners both young and old.

It is looking like midday naps, discovered to be essential for brain development in infants, perform the same memory-enhancing function for toddlers and young children as a good night’s sleep for teen and adult learners.

Naps appear to help memory and learning

A study published in PLOS ONE suggests that a little snooze in the middle of the day may help kids retain information they learned earlier the very same day.

[Laura Kurdziel et al., Sleep spindles in midday naps enhance learning in preschool children]

To repeat what I disclosed in an earlier article, Emotional Mastery to help us move forward:

Sleep has been proven to play a critical role in both physical and mental well being. Sleep deficiency is not only associated with physical disease, but also with a range of emotional disturbances from subtle to dramatic.

A great many important functions take place while our brains sleep — such as the healing and repair of the heart and blood vessels, as well as the brain’s housekeeping chores, when memories are consolidated and debris is swept away with the help of glial cells.

Other related neurodiversity posts:
You Don’t Want to Pay the Interest Charges on Sleep Debt
Sleeping with the Enemy: Mom’s N-24

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Dealing with Distractions


When the mind drifts away
Even when we’re trying hard to concentrate

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from The Challenges Series

This article (and Series) speaks to ANY of us who struggle with staying focused and on-task, by the way.  Distractibility is common with depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and in plain vanilla brains with too much to do and too little time in which to do it all. What do you think is behind procrastination?

More about Distractibility

As I said in the conclusion to an earlier post of this series, Distinguishing Distractibility, most brains screen out persistent stimuli.  That talent is part of the mechanism that ensures the survival of the species.

In order to be alert to something that might be life threatening, the brain automatically decides that ongoing stimuli are merely “background,” no longer important enough to pass along to the conscious mind.

I’ll use the sense of smell to give you an example of what I mean . . . 

Because smells are processed directly by what used to be referred to as the limbic area of the brain (instead of having to go through the thalamus, like the other senses), most ADD/EFD and “vanilla” brains – those without the cognitive mix-ins – usually have the same experience of the way it works.

Lessons from the Kitchen

Have you ever prepared a Thanksgiving meal, or been in the kitchen while one was being prepared?

Think back to those amazing smells. Mmmmmmmmm – heaven!

Yet, if you stay in the kitchen, after a while you stop noticing them.

In fact, when another person comes into the room exclaiming, “Boy, it sure smells great in here!” you can’t really smell those amazing aromas anymore, even if you try.

Because cognitive bandwidth is a limited resource, your brain has “backgrounded” the persistent odors so that you will be available to pay attention to any new ones, possibly needing immediate attention — like the fact that the rolls are burning.

If you leave the room (or the house) for a few minutes then come back into the kitchen, even a short while later, every good smell will hit you like a wave in the ocean. “Wow. It does smell good in here!”

YOU don’t have to think about handling the “backgrounding.”

Your brain does that for you, just as transparently as your brain tells you how to walk down a sidewalk without your having to consciously consider each little step in the process — allowing you sufficient “brain space” to think about something else.

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Friday Fun: Memory


I know we’ve met many times,
but what was your name again?
Let’s laugh the whole thing off

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Friday Funnies Series

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

What we can and cannot recall at any particular time depends on a lot of factors . . .

our generation … our cultural imperatives … what sticks out among the familiar … the time of day and how much sleep we’ve had lately … whether we are well-hydrated — even what we ate for breakfast.

Unfortunately, the mechanics of human memory still remain a mystery to the science crowd.

They now know a great many more things, however, for example:

* THAT memories are not stored in one part of the brain alone – nouns, names & faces are stored in different areas (and some brains have trouble with ALL of them)

* THAT bits of memories are distributed — each time they are recalled they are reconsolidated anew

* THAT how we feel and think when we recall them changes memory’s bits and bytes — which is why eye-witness testimony is not reliable

* THAT more recent memories become tougher to recall as we age, even when we can vividly remember what happened much earlier in great detail, and

* THAT attention and focus (and sleep) are essential for effective long-term storage. If we are paying attention elsewhere, storage for recall is iffy (and when we don’t sleep, brain filing is a crapshoot) — even our own promises to our significant others

But that is ALL little consolation when they can’t help us with CRS:
that disabling “disorder” when we
Can’t Remember Stuff.

Related ComicWinter Food Storage

All is not lost

Source: Wrong Hands

Fortunately, there are quite a few brain-based explanations and work-arounds for memory’s glitches.

I continue to share a great many coaching tips and tricks to help with more reliable storage and recall (and I’ve included links in this post to some of my longer, more serious articles on memory).

Today, however, we’re going to temper our frustrations with a quick bit of humor.
How many of the situations below have you experienced in YOUR life?

Oh, and after today, Funnies post only occasionally

Reminding you of what I disclosed in last Friday’s introduction to this series, Funnies about Perspective: unlike the ongoing Sunday Smiles and Monday Funnies you’ll find on Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog, my Friday Funnies will show up only occasionally, usually clustered around a theme.

If I get the feeling that things have gotten a tad serious here in the world – or on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com – get ready for another hit of humor, most likely another Friday Funny.

YOU PLAY TOO

If you have something on your website or blog that relates to the theme, especially if it’s humorous, please feel free to leave a link in a comment. Keep it to one link per comment or you’ll be auto-spammed, but multiple comments are just fine and most welcome.

AND NOW for some more humor . . .

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Happy New Year’s Life Upgrades to YOU


Resolutions? Affirmations? Intentions?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An edited reposting of an earlier idea

Drawing of a hand, arm, quill pen and paper, under the words New Year Resolutions - as if in handwriting.

A therapist I know has this to say about change:

“Everybody wants things to be different,
but nobody wants anything to change.”

He doesn’t add, “especially anything about THEM” – but I have always believed that’s what he was really talking about: the devil you know, and all that.

What IS it about change that makes us cringe?  

Never one to ask a rhetorical question without some kind of an answer gnawing at the edges of my mind, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking it is – at least where those of us with ADD/EFD brain wiring are concerned: it’s so darned disorienting.

  • JUST when we get a few processes on autopilot so that we can finally avoid the dreaded decision-making horror with every step of the process, and . . .
  • Just as we get things systematized, automated to the point where short-term memory deficits are no longer as likely to trip us up . . .
  • Some idiot updates the software and nothing works the same way anymore. (Those of us in the WordPress.com blogging community know I’m not JUST speaking metaphorically here!)

It’s beyond frustrating – it makes us feel stupid. It’s salt in an ADD/EFD wound that’s barely scabbed over to begin with.

Our only alternative is to revise and adjust, which sometimes feels like beginning anew — and often is exactly like beginning anew.

It seems that ever since the recently deceased futurist Alvin Toffler first published his only-constant-is-change Future Shock in 1970, nothing holds still for very long at all.  And, forced to adapt, we are absolutely powerless to do anything else about that but bitch.

Is it any wonder that we want to dig in our heels whenever and wherever we have a bit of power and change doesn’t seem absolutely necessary?

  • RESOLVE to change something we’re used to?
  • Change something about US?

When pigs fly, and not one moment sooner!

And yet . . .

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How to navigate those “Home Alone” Holidays


The Single Person’s Holiday Playbook

(Putting an end to those awkward holidays!)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An edited reblog of a previously published article

ENOUGH with the questions from well-meaning others!

Whether we are alone by choice or circumstance, holidays can be, at best, awkward.

Found on: Lolsnaps

“Have any plans for the upcoming holiday?” can be asked at any moment – even by total strangers trying to be friendly in grocery lines.

ANY version of, “Not really,” is something they do NOT, actually, want to hear.

Nor is it something that most of us who are already feeling marooned are eager to utter aloud.

No Mom, s/he won’t be coming

As any single person who’s ever gone “HOME for the holidays” can probably tell you, being “unpartnered” during special family events can present a unique set of challenges, especially the first time.

It runs the gamut:

  • from feeling awkward, maybe a bit defensive about your [lack of] relationship status this particular holiday,
  • all the way to feeling that you must either “ruin everyone’s holiday with a display of pique” -or-
  • grit your teeth, grin and bear it as you attempt to find a way to politely field unintentionally rude inquiries about why you happen to be alone.

The Formerly Familied

Far too many individuals who are divorced, widowed, separated (or outliving their families and many of their friends) can find solo-holidays sad and depressing.

A friend of mine, an emotionally healthy, extremely self-reliant, empty-nest single parent says her married kids “make other plans” for major holidays — at the very least every other year.

She really doesn’t resent the reality that the kids have their own lives, hope to start their own family traditions, and deserve to feel unconflicted about making holiday plans that won’t always include her,  BUT . . .

She says that she can’t face cooking a holiday meal for one OR going to a restaurant alone when everyone but her seems to have somebody celebrating WITH them.

She also finds it unbearably depressing to fuff around in her pajamas and slippers ALL day, even though she feels like she is “all dressed up with no place to go” if she doesn’t.

Reaching out to help others?

Even singles who volunteer at soup kitchens and so on have to make it through at least a portion of the day totally alone, at a time that was once known for family get-togethers.

People who never drink anything stronger than root beer have confessed that the idea of becoming a regular at their town’s version of the Cheers bar crosses their minds more than a few times, just to have somewhere to go and a few people to talk to on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve.

Different ways to make it work . . .

Since I have spent most of the major holidays alone for many years now, I’m hoping that I will be able to help you look at things in ways you haven’t already thought of, tried and rejected.

In any case, I’m not planning to rehash the holiday survival tips already found all over the internet (but in case you have missed a few bloggy ideas, check out the articles under the Related Articles ’round the net heading in the links below the original post.)

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

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Beyond the Limitations of a Post-It Note™ Brain


 

TIME Perception is a factor of Awareness

The more conscious the process,
the longer it seems to take

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post from the Time & Task Management Series
Part THREE (Part I HEREPart II HERE)

According to Dr. David Eagleman, we humans are more than passive observers where time is concerned. And he should know. The author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, has studied Time perception for well over a decade.

According to his research, we are not merely watching the river of time flow by as if time happened TO us, or we happened IN time. Science is learning that our brains are actively constructing time.

Re-engineering Brain Resources

In Eagleman’s words, It turns out that it has everything to do with novelty, and with how much energy your brain has to expend.

So, when you can predict something, not only does your consciousness not come online, but [the event] feels like it goes by very fast.

In other words, driving to work may seem relatively fast eventually. The first time you had to do it, however, it seemed to take longer because of the novelty, as well as the amount of brain-power you had to burn the first time you did it — before your brain was able to predict much of anything about the trip.

Essentially prediction means that if it’s something you’re doing repeatedly, you’re actually “rewiring” — reconfiguring the circuitry of the brain.

You’re actually moving things into your sub-conscious circuitry, which gives you speed and efficiency, albeit at the cost of conscious access.

So you have to pay a lot of conscious attention if you’re learning to do something new, like playing golf or driving a car.

After a while it’s not necessary, because you’ve changed the circuitry of your brain — no longer at the effect of the conscious awareness of what you’re doing.

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Sherlocking for Task Completion


Looking at the details
of any problem with follow-through

How do YOU need to proceed?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post from the Time & Task Management Series
Part TWO (Part I HERE)

Follow my process as you Sherlock your own

As I continue to remind you: ONLY when we take the time to Sherlock the details of how and why we get stuck are we able to figure out what might work to help us get UNstuck!

And I promise you that it is RARELY as simple or straightforward as the self-help books might lead you to believe, neurotypical or otherwise.  Everything depends on how any particular task intersects with your particular Challenges Profile™.

As you examine some of the details of my own particular problem example below, think about some of the areas in your life that might look like one type of problem but are actually the result of something else entirely. 

The Leaning Tower of Crockery

Creative Commons, Wikipedia

Creative Commons, Wikipedia

There is no room for a dishwasher in my current apartment. I’m stuck with the task of washing everything by hand.  As much as I hate it, it’s nothing compared with the struggles I faced in my last apartment.

During a hateful period of several weeks there was a faucet drip, compounded by a sink-drainage problem for at least two.

During this particular period, it could take hours for the sink to drain completely. Increasingly powerful drain cleaners did little to clear the clog effectively. Water backed up in my kitchen sink and my dishes piled up unwashed while I waited for my landlady’s follow-through skills to kick in.

Since water in that particular first-floor dwelling always took several minutes of running before it approached a temperature anyone might consider warmish, the sink filled with cold water before I had a shot at getting water delivery hot enough to clean anything.

It made me increasingly furious to have to boil water like a pioneer before I could wash my dishes, so I stopped.  Cold.

Calming myself down

Getting my shorts in a knot about the drainage problem wasn’t going to make it go away. Emotional upset would only increase the difficulty of getting anything ELSE accomplished.  It made sense to stay busy elsewhere so I wasn’t constantly aware of the problem building in the kitchen.  Some distractions are actually helpful!

Except for nightly applications of drain cleaner and cleaning out the goop in the sink – a process that seemed to be undone by morning – I tried to avoid using the kitchen sink at all. I waited for my landlady to find and fix the problem, calling her every day or so with a reminder message. Day turned into day after day.

Even though the resulting mess was beyond hateful in many ways, and even though I could not FORCE myself to handle it “in real time,” waiting was more of a choice than a problem with procrastination.

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Predicting Time to Manage Tasks


Beating Back Task Anxiety

by understanding your relationship to TIME

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post from the Time & Task Management Series
Part ONE

What’s YOUR Tendency?

As regular readers already know, I tend to put my faith in what science crowd refers to as “anecdotal evidence”  — learning from what I have observed in my clients, myself, and what I have heard from thousands of ADDers who have attended conferences and participated in my support groups and workshops in the twenty five years I have been in the field.

As I expanded my evidence collection to include the experiences of the other citizens of Alphabet City (TBI, PTSD, OCD, EFD, AS, etc.), I began to mentally record their experiences as well, and factor them in to my techniques and theories.

When the science supports what I see in the population, I quote it.  When it doesn’t, I ignore it or argue with it. It makes no difference if 98 out of 100 people studied tend to do xyz if my client and I happen to be among the 2% who do abc.

It doesn’t matter.  Your job is the same either way: check your gut to see what makes the most sense to you and try it on.  Tweak from there. Check out another tool when something doesn’t work for you.

But hang on to the first!!  Just because you need a hammer NOW doesn’t mean you won’t need a lug-wrench later!

My take on Anecdotal

  • For years I struggled valiantly attempting to adopt “majority rules” norms — with little to no success and a lot of wasted life.
  • It took a long time for me to develop even a rudimentary feeling of entitlement to my own process, learning to close my ears to the words of the “experts” and neurotypical Doubting Thomases who kept telling me that I was only kidding myself or making excuses.

I coach, train and share here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com hoping to help others avoid some of the wilderness-wandering that has characterized much of my own life. And to remind myself of what I’ve learned.

Trying something different

I want to encourage you to find what works, not what is supposed to work

So, in the first part of this multi-part article, let’s take a look together at how people relate to time and tasks, and how that affects our ability to plan our schedules and run our lives.

Let’s examine the real stoppers to OUR forward progress to see if we can figure out how to work around them, independent of the “standard” assumptions and techniques – a process I refer to as Sherlocking.


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TIME to think about Group Coaching


Time Troubles and Coaching
For people who are “ALWAYS” running late and rushing around
— and the people who love them —
(who would like to understand how to change that sad fact)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Group Coaching Series

BEFORE  I tell you about the upcoming start of an affordable new Coaching opportunity designed to help you with A-WHOLE-LOT-MORE than time-management, let’s take a moment to chat about time itself.

Time can be MANAGED?

For over a quarter of a century now, I have been fascinated with anything related to the topic of the awareness of the passage of time. It has always been a mystery to me – and I now know that I’m not the only one with that peculiar problem.

Personally, I can’t recall a time when time made sense, except in the context of NOW and not-now.

Even when I explain it to someone who thinks they understand, it seems that nobody gets the implications. I am frustrated beyond belief when they continue to ask me time-based questions.

My secret fascination with the mechanics of time’s awareness began long before I first learned that I seem to be one who was born without that internal tic-tic-tock with which most people DO seem to have been equipped, part of the standard package.

I’ve been told I can’t get one now, even as an after-market upgrade.

Oddly, I have a great sense of rhythm – which is time-based – so I can change time-ING, but predicting how long something will take or how long ago a life landmark occurred is always beyond me.

Back in my acting days, when I had to do a 30-second spot and I was over or under by a few seconds, I understood how to tweak the cadence to end “on time.” But I never could stay tracked attempting to “time” much of anything for much longer than a minute (or “time” a dance number — I simply stayed in step with the music until it stopped).

Are YOU one of the time challenged?

None of us know what we don’t know . . . so how can we frame a question another will understand? It seems like magic when others are able to manage something in arenas where we are totally at sea.

The best analogy I’ve been able to come up with for a lack of time-sense is that it’s like trying to teach the tone-deaf to sing.

Friends who aren’t able to sing on pitch can’t tell when they wander away from the tune, and I have never been able to help them learn to do so.  They simply can’t hear it.

Unlike those who can’t match a pitch, however, I always knew there was some “secret” that others knew and I didn’t (and therapists have had a field day with this, by the way – “Madelyn, I don’t have answers for you!”)

I simply couldn’t imagine how to frame a question beyond, “How do you DO that?” or “What am I missing?” – which, I suppose, seemed more like feigned ignorance or an unwillingness to take personal responsibility to others. So I stopped asking. I hated the look on their faces, even when their responses weren’t cruel, and even though I understood they didn’t MEAN to be cruel.

Making sense of a lack of sense

I found out that there was such a thing as “a sense of time” in the same article I found out about adult ADD, published years ago in the New York Times magazine section – Frank Wolkenberg’s now landmark, “Out of a Darkness.”  I was 38.

My reaction to that particular aha! was, “Well, NO WONDER every one else can get places on time — they’re cheating!” (as if “a sense of time” was like having an exam crib sheet stuffed up their sleeves.)

Once I understood that some inner chronometer allowed others to somehow feel that time was passing (and how much time was passing, for most of them), I understood immediately that I had to stop attempting to “figure it out” and focus on easy-to-set alarms (one to STOP, to get ready for the next thing, another to begin walking out the door — etc.) That’s how I did it — and how I have to do it still.

I found it fascinating to hear that some people LOST their sense of time following a head injury. I know it must be frustrating for them, but at least they know how to explain what’s missing — not that it helps others to understand what they’re talking about or the extent of the resulting struggle one whit better.

Related Post: Lessons from the TBI Community

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Coaching for those Senior Moments


ADD/EFD or
Age-related Mind Blips?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections on memory before moving on with help

When your mind is like a steel sieve

It’s bad enough when we can’t recall a name in the middle of an introduction. It’s worse when we can’t remember where we put our keys when we’re running late — and so embarrassing when our minds drive right by birthdays and anniversaries.

We feel scatterbrained when we have to go back into the house several times to check that we turned off the lights, locked the back door, or unplugged the iron.

We feel stupid when we forget a basic fact we haven’t pulled out of our mental databases for a while – like how to divide fractions or figure percentages, or the spelling of a common word, for example.

We worry that we might be getting SENILE when we can’t recall entire events – like going to see a specific film with a certain person who is absolutely positive we were there with them, perplexed when we still don’t remember once they supply details to support their case.

If we don’t remember seeing the film at all, we begin to worry about incipient Alzheimer’s!

Memory lapses are not limited to those middle-aged mind-blips science sometimes calls “age-related cognitive decline.” It’s also awful when a student’s mind goes blank when s/he’s taking an exam after studying diligently for several nights in a row.

Question Mark in red circle; magnifying glass attempting to make it clearer.While the kids might substitute a different word for the last letter in the acronym, we all find it unbelievably frustrating when we have a CRS episode – those times when we simply . . .

        Can’t Remember Stuff !

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My way IS the Highway?


ALL Kinds of Solutions
for ALL Kinds of Minds

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from posts from January 2012 and March 2015

Get up Early … Exercise to FOCUS! … Bite the Bullet … Eat that Frog
Give it your ALL … Connect with the Pain … Clean out your Closet
Throw out your ClutterAccelerate your willingness . . .

WHY won’t everybody else do what they should?

Yep! So many people think that everybody else needs to do everything their way. It’s as if they believe that exactly the same techniques that have been effective in their own lives would transfer equally well to anyone else’s situationif those slackers would only DO IT RIGHT!

Everyone’s problems would magically disappear with “simple” solutions, IF ONLY everybody else would:

 — or really wanted a solution and not simply a chance to complain!

As if everybody needed to do the same thing – right?

I know what works for you – uhuh, uhuh-uhuh

More than a few Success Gurus approach the subject of productivity and goal fulfillment from a paradigm that not only is unlikely to work for everyone on the planet, I believe that much of what they suggest does not work very well at all for citizens of Alphabet CityIn fact, it shuts many of us down.

These “experts” certainly don’t mean to shut anybody down – and many find it difficult to impossible to believe that they do.  Still, they speak in soundbites that encapsulate the cornerstones of their systems.

They tend to promote techniques in alignment with the claim that increasing commitment to change, demonstrated by “giving up your resistance” to whatever it is they are suggesting, is the single most important step that turns the tide for many of their clients, students and seminar attendees – and that it would work for you too, if you’d only give it a try.

Different folks and different strokes

  • Tortoises and Hares
  • Linears and Holographics
  • Detailers and Concepters
  • Prioritize First or Do it NOW propronents
  • DECIDE and Do or Follow the Flow

Does anybody REALLY believe that the same “success techniques” are likely to work effectively for each of the examples above?  Their ways of approaching life is at opposite ends of the spectrum.  Who’s to say that one style is the “right” approach and the other is not?

Taking different routes to work

How you get to a particular location in your town, for example, depends upon a great many variables: where you are coming from, the amount of gas in your tank, the time of day, what else you are trying to accomplish on the same trip — even the type of vehicle you are driving and the state of your tires.

I can recommend the way I travel as the most direct route, or the one with the fewest stop lights, or the most scenic.  But it’s not true that one or the other is “the best,” or that the recipient of my suggestion is intractable or doesn’t really want to get where they are going if they choose another route.

In a manner similar to how a city’s network of roads determines how various people travel to the same destination, the connections that make up the networks in our brains determine how our brains operate. Variations in the way we navigate our world – physically or mentally – are a product of our “equipment” and how life tends to work best for us.

Still, we all like to give advice, and it makes us feel great when people take it.  But it doesn’t mean that we know “better.”

During my 25+ year coaching career, I have worked very hard to jettison “I know better” thinking. I have been relatively successful moving beyond the temptation to spread judgment like a schmear on a bagel, but I still defend my right (and yours) to offer advice, raising our voices of experience to offer information and suggest solutions.

It’s not the advice that is the problem – it’s the misguided expectation that others need to take it!

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Productivity: Paying Attention on Purpose


Keeping our Attention on Intention
Accountability check-ins for purposeful follow-through

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

The Link between Attention and Intention

Many qualities and skills combine to produce successful follow-through. Today, we are going to focus on the importance of attention.

If you ever hope to stop scratching your head or beating yourself up over your struggles with staying on track and getting things done, understanding the implications of the concept of attention is foundational.

Every single technique I have developed, coached and taught over the last 25+ years has been structured with the underlying goal of strengthening  the attentional muscles – or compensating for them when they are weak.

No matter what your most frustrating problem is: clutter-management or up-front organization, making yourself start or procrastinating at the back end, time or mood management  — and a whole host of other challengesunderneath them all is a problem with attention allocation and management.

If you don’t understand how to work with yourself to focus your attention on what you want, when you want and for as long as you must, you’re going to have problems in some or all of those arenas.

So let’s get to it!

As I said in Brain Waves, Scans and ATTENTION —  One of the goals of comprehensive brain-based ADD Coaching is to identify areas where our clients can improve on the intentional direction of attentive awareness.  Nobody gets much done if they can’t focus very well on what they’re attempting to DO.

HOWEVER, without supportive follow-through structures in place, whether professional, partner or peer, the self-discipline to stay focused and in action for as long as it takes, is rare.

As our attention meanders from distraction to competing priority our willpower seems to drain away, leaving us wanting nothing so much as a vacation or a nap!

And then we turn on ourselves, beating ourselves up with negative thoughts and comments we’d never say to another living soul.

Related Posts: How to STOP Chasing your Tail
Productivity, Focus & Follow-through

How Come?

In case you missed it in Why Accountability Leads to Follow Through, it’s not that we’re lazy or lack sufficient motivation, even though many of us have been accused of exactly that, far too many times.

It’s that few of us realize that, no matter how strong our initial commitment, will-power requires cognitive bandwidth that is limited in supply. Just like a a muscle, it can only be exercised for so long – and handle so much – before it gives out.

We see the negative effects most dramatically in the citizens of Alphabet City, whose attentional “muscles” aren’t as strong to begin with. However, we can ALL use a little wind beneath our wings to help us keep on keepin’ on.

Related Post: From Impulsivity to Self-Control

Unfortunately, it becomes difficult to impossible to reach that happy state of managing our attention with intentionality until we understand what it is, exactly, that we are attempting to manage.

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Accountability & Systems on Auto-Pilot


Systems Development is Part ONE
It’s that consistent follow-through part that’s the killer!

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Treadmill Deja Vu

As I explained in Keeping Up with the Treadmill Tasks, published over 2-1/2 years ago, Treadmill Tasks are those things that are never really done. No sooner do we put a task behind us than its evil twin materializes in front.

If we expect to eat every day, somebody has to fix the food. Then somebody has to deal with the dishes at least once a day or so, and wipe spills off the counters and the floor (at least well enough to keep the Board of Health away from our door).

Oops, let’s not forget to take out the garbage – and how about that grocery shopping?

Then there’s the general digging out: policing the living rooms and the bedrooms, the kitchens and the bathrooms . . . not to mention those home office to-dos, even for those of us who work for wages somewhere else.

SOME-body has to attend to all of those items or everybody must live with the consequences of mounting disorder and disarray that eventually makes life practically unlivable.

When YOU are that somebody – especially if you are one of the citizens of Alphabet City – I’ll bet you frequently feel like your life is little more than one rapidly revolving to-do list, and that you will never be able to cross off anything anywhere near the bottom.

Hang on – help’s coming!

But wait – there’s MORE!

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