Can Eating Grapes Improve Your Memory?


Pilot study highlights role of grapes
in preventing Alzheimer’s disease
Implications for Memory & Attentional Struggles in Alphabet City

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Edited Reblog from the ClinicalNews blog
Ralph Turchiano on February 3, 2017

Brand New Study suggests Good News!

Grape-enriched diet prevents metabolic brain decline,
improves attention and memory
Public Release: 3-Feb-2017: California Table Grape Commission FRESNO, CA

Consuming grapes twice a day for six months protected against significant metabolic decline in Alzheimer-related areas of the brain in a study of people with early memory decline.

Low metabolic activity in these areas of the brain is a hallmark of early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Study results showed a grape-enriched diet protected against the decline of metabolic activity.

Alzheimer’s disease. as most people know, is a brain disease that results in a slow decline of memory and cognitive skills. Although it’s cause is not yet fully understood, it is believed result from a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

Currently 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease — and the numbers continue to grow.

Study implications for EFD

Scientists noted that the group that was given the grape-enriched diet also exhibited increased metabolism in other areas of the brain that correlated with individual improvements in attention and working memory performance, compared to those on the non-grape diet.

That’s encouraging news for those of us with Executive Functioning Disorders.

EFD, remember, is the term used to describe problems with cognitive abilities that most adults take for granted as products of intelligence, education and maturity — items like planning, problem solving, concentration, mental flexibility, and controlling short-term behavior to achieve long-term goals.

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The Brain Science Podcast turns TEN!


TEN years and still going strong

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the Brain Based Resources Series
with content reblogged from an article back in 2012

“On the Brain Science Podcast we explore how recent scientific discoveries are unraveling age-old mysteries, such as intelligence, emotions, personality, and memory.

We also look at why the brain is much more complex than any computer yet devised.” ~ Dr. Ginger Campbell

The Podcast for Everyone who has a Brain

I have been singing the praises of Dr. Ginger Campbell’s fascinating Brain Science Podcast for years now.

It is one of my very favorite ways of keeping step as science marches on.

Given that she is currently celebrating her Ten Year Anniversary, I decided it was time for me to introduce it anew.

I have many new readers since I wrote my first article urging everyone to check it out.

If you are not already listening, you are missing a fascinating brain-based resource that will make you feel like you have your own neuro-PhD after listening to a few episodes.

In the years since her podcast launched, Ginger has interviewed quite a few leading scientists and writers, many of whom have now become subscribers themselves.  I have described a mere FIVE of these below, hoping to whet your appetite for more.

Woven throughout her interviews are episodes with book summaries and topic-focused informational “lectures” in her own voice, and supporting all is a web-based discussion forum, a FaceBook Group, and her comprehensive website.  Her ShowNotes are top-notch too.

My much earlier unsolicited RAVE offers brief descriptions and links to particular interviews of individuals whose names long-time readers of ADDandSoMuchMORE.com will recognize from articles here.

I hope that you will jump over to skim that post as well – and jump from there to Ginger’s Brain Science Podcast website to give yourselves a real treat.

Click to read: Brain Science Podcast: REALLY Good Stuff!

For ANYONE who has a brain

There are now over 130 interview episodes available, the show has been ranked #1 on iTunes™, and BSP has enjoyed well over 2 million downloads.

  • It’s so popular because she manages somehow to appeal to long time “neuro-geeks” and newbie non-scientists alike.
  • She makes the content easily accessible, not only by adding her own comments to back-fill information that she understands but WE might not – but also by pointing to resources and other podcasts in the series to add additional depth to the conversation for those who want more.

The most recent episodes of the series can be streamed for free, and can also be downloaded to play on another device without charge. Although donations are appreciated, for those who can swing it, you can download several years worth of brain candy for absolutely nothing.

For those of you who prefer to read (or for those who want to do both), a transcript of each episode is available in pdf format for a measly dollar.  I happily pay $1.00 for my pdf downloads — they’re more than worth it!

You can EVEN listen on your smart phone. If you want to stream to your cell, there’s an ap available for an extremely reasonable charge.

Listen while you work, exercise, or relax

While there’s nothing quite like reading the book to add depth to your learning, one of the things I LOVE about this podcast is the intelligence of the interview.

Not only is Ginger a wonderful interviewer, she does her homework before she speaks with each guest. She asks just the right questions to make sure her listeners get the “meat” of the content – and she gives her guests PLENTY of time to develop a thought.

  • She also does everything she can to make sure that everyone in her target audience (“anyone with a brain”) gets full value out of each episode.
  • For interviews of concepts and ideas that might be more complex than new listeners could be expected to grasp on first listening, immediately following the interview itself she returns to summarize, and to cover anything that she feels needs a bit of extra explanation.

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Emotional Mastery to help us move forward


Upgrading how you feel
to help you change what you DO

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

UPDATE: This article was written to support the mood challenges of most readers here.  The blog of one reader reminded me to be SURE to say that some of you are dealing with issues that are more complex, and that other articles I’ve written might be more helpful to you.  Click to the PTSD/TBI LinkList for links to a selection of those.

Riding herd on runaway emotions

I recently found an emotional resiliency blog post by PsychCentral blogger Athena Staik, Ph.D. that fits right in with my focus on change-management in 2017.

She begins with four important points to keep in mind:

  1. Emotion mastery is a built-in capacity, often ignored yet always available.
  2. It is a learned ability to respond in a conscious manner that short-circuits our body’s survival-system to keep it from controlling us and our lives with ineffective automatic reactions and unconscious defensive strategies.
  3. It involves developing an awareness of and connection to our thoughts, emotions and body sensations — so that we are able to, step by step, cultivate a practice, or lifestyle habit of making conscious, informed decisions that will keep us on course toward achieving our goals
  4. In the process of cultivating emotion mastery, we will build the confidence and resilience we need to handle upcoming challenges more effectively.

Emotional Mastery

She continues by using the acronym M-A-S-T-E-R-Y to outline a system she recommends to help us tame our emotional reactivity.

The article seems to have been written from a neuro-typical point of view, so I don’t agree completely with every single thing she has to say about them.

I do agree with her on their importance, however – and I’m sharing in the hopes that her “MASTERY” mnemonic will help us all keep them in mind.

Mnemonic devices are techniques a person can use to help them improve their ability to remember something — a memory technique to help your brain better encode and recall important information.

You can jump over to Staik’s article to see what she has to offer in response to each letter.  My own thoughts will be found in the posts I’ve linked within or below each of her mnemonic assists.

 So lets take a look at them!

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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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Procrastination’s link to kludgy Executive Functioning


Getting a Round Tuit
CUTE — but not very helpful

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from posts in the Challenges Series

Oh those clever seminar leaders!

We all love the little gifties that are passed out at a great many seminars we have attended, seminars designed to help us fashion lives that are more productive and enlivening.

Most of us have a list of things we intend to do when “we get around to it” — but I can’t imagine how being gifted with a little round reminder that we need to STOP “procrastinating” and “just DO it” is going to make one whit of difference.

In most cases it’s shaming, actually, regardless of how positive the humorous intent – and shame rarely works well as a motivational technique.

Related Post: The Top Ten Reasons to Reframe Procrastination

We need to look clearly at what’s going on

Follow through to completion is a linear process modulated by the prefrontal cortex [PFC], the brain’s “conductor” that keeps us on track and in action, step after step.

Our vanilla-flavored friends rarely appreciate the fact that they have an unconscious advantage in the linear processing department – what is frequently referred to as “declarative memory.”  That makes certain kinds of information retrieval, organization and task completion, and – well, just about everything else – a heck of a lot easier for them.

With the ADD/EFD brain-style (and others with attentional spectrum dysregulations – all of us with Executive Functioning glitches), we seem to process sequential information in a fairly disjointed manner — the pieces somehow jumbled together — sometimes not recorded at all, even when we do our very best to keep our attention on matters at hand.

Too many guests at the EFD Table

Because the brain is soft and sloshes around in fluid inside a hard skull with bony protrusions – especially in the front area where the PFC is most vulnerable – any appreciable hit on the head is likely to result in a few problems with Executive Functioning.

Because the PFC is connected to almost every other part of the brain, it’s not much of a stretch to believe that strokes or medications that affect one one part of the brain are likely to have an effect on PFC connectivity as well.

Implication: any individual with a disorder, stroke or other brain damage affecting the prefrontal cortex is highly likely to experience brain-based executive functioning challenges of one sort or another.

In a nutshell, “Executive Function” is the mental ability to organize, prioritize, and accomplish tasks. It is figuring out what to do first, second, third, and so on, to see a task through to completion. Executive function involves things like being able to realistically determine, in advance, how long and how difficult a particular task will be to accomplish.
~ from a great 1st person article by PTSD advocate Linda Lee/LadyQuixote, Impaired Executive Function, My Invisible Disability

Connectivity challenges are experienced by individuals with mood disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, TBI/ABI, and more than a few neurological conditions such as sensory integration disorders, Parkinson’s, dyslexia — in fact, almost all of what I refer to as the alphabet disorders.

Due to the way the brain ages, even individuals who were born with the neurotypical brain style will begin to notice increasingly more Executive Functioning struggles as they get older.

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Living within the boundaries of TIME


Why TIME can be so hard to track
MOST of us battle it – but some of us lose more often

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

If you want to know the truth about TIME, ask a kid

Kids know that, even on December 24th, the time between now and Christmas morning is MUCH longer than the time between the now of the last day of summer vacation and the first day of school.

How long those “golden rule days” last is open to debate in kid-courts everywhere.

Kids who enjoy learning and have great teachers
are positive that the school-day is short,
as the kids who don’t will swear it is interminable.

On this they can agree

Most kids beg for “just one more minute” to watch TV or play computer games – as if a measly 60 seconds is going to give them what they really want: to continue doing something that engages their attention and avoid doing something they find difficult or don’t want to do.

Science tells us that the perception of time is a function of interest and effort.
I say: only partly.

  • NO extra time eases the transitions, for kids or adults – which is a huge part of the problem for anybody who isn’t strictly neurotypical and linear beyond belief.
  • And it takes a lot of work to learn to work with and around hyperfocus – that “trapped in the NOW” state that brains challenged with attentional struggles use to compensate for kludgy focus.

What’s a poor time traveler to do?

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Almost here: Group Coaching


A Process Designed to Support Clients
with all kinds of minds!

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

Does anything below sound like YOU?

  • Have you ever felt that you are essentially alone in your struggles with time and time-management, focus and follow-through as the result of PTSD, TBI/ABI, ADD/EFD — or brain-based struggles as the result of chemo-therapy or medication side-effects or chronic pain — or even something considered “normal,” such as age-related cognitive decline?
  • Do the people you love fail to really understand your challenges, so their suggestions & nudges don’t really help (and sometimes make things more difficult)?
  • Is there a pet project languishing on a back burner for FAR too long, but you can’t seem to “make” yourself get to it – or can’t find the time to do it amid the distractions of life’s many competing to-dos?
  • Have you accepted the dumb idea that your real problem is chronic procrastination because you have heard it so often it simply must be true – as you continue to struggle on in some attempt to just-DO-it?
  • Do you LIVE with someone who constantly lets you down, despite their assertions that they never intend to do so? Would you LOVE to understand how to “motivate” them and keep them on task to completion – BEFORE you give in to your impulse to strangle them?
  • Is your home or office so cluttered you rarely have the motivation to clean and organize, as day slips into clutter-mounting day?

Do you need help
you don’t think you can afford?

Would you love to hire a Sherpa: a highly-experienced, systems-development professional at the TOP of the field, but can’t fit the fees for one-on-one private coaching into your budget?

IN OTHER WORDS:

Do you need a little brain-based coaching to get to the point where you can afford brain-based coaching?

Have I got a Group for YOU!

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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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The Wisdom of Compensating for Deficits


Brain-Change vs. Compensation
TIME is of the Essence

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Self-Help Series – Part I

Arguing with YouTube

I have been watching a lot of brain-based TED Talks of late – talks from notables like the following:

I added links to those videos above so you can click to watch them too.

Their Advice for Us

Each of them hopes to direct the focus of the world to healing the problem rather than working at the level of symptoms.

That makes A LOT of sense, right?
I LIKE these experts, and applaud their efforts.
I have known about the things they espouse for many years now,
and I think each is a great idea.

HOWEVER, something about each of their talks left me with a sense that something was off, or missing — or that, in the way they came up with their advised solutions, they devalued or overlooked a point of view that was important.

It took me a bit of noodling, but I finally figured out what was bugging me.

Three things:

  1. The advice was presented in an either/or, better/worse, black and white fashion that, in some subtle manner, left me with an uneasy feeling. I was left with an impression that they each believed that their way of working was the best way for ALL individuals to proceed — and that we would be somehow foolish to approach finding a solution to compensate for our challenges instead of “fixing” the root cause.
  2. They seemed oblivious to the reality that, for a great many of us, some of their solutions are absolutely out of reach financially (Do you have any idea how much it costs to get a brain scan for diagnostic purposes, for example?)
  3. They left out the TIME factor altogether – and didn’t quite explain who was going to support us while we set about changing our brains by getting more sleep, changing our diets for optimal brain health and healing, or working through exercises that will improve short term memory (for example).

Few of us can afford to take a year or more OFF while we take advantage of the miracle of neuroplasticity to give our brains a fighting chance at “normalizing.”

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Nick: A Personal Triumph over Brain Damage


He’s come back from so much
– proof that nothing is impossible with hard work
and a dream

a hand-crafted reblog adding to the What Kind of World Series
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Autonomy implies Independent motion

In 2009, the 25 year old son of one of the most positive lights in the blogging community, Sue Vincent, had his youthful potential cut short. He was stabbed through the brain in an unprovoked attack and left for dead in an alley.  The prognosis was grim.

He was not expected to survive at all – and not expected to have much of a life worth living if he did.  They were told that if he woke, it would probably be to a vegetative state. At best, he might have the mind and abilities of a two-year-old. The damage was extensive and irreversible. He would need constant care for the rest of his life.

The triumph of will

Over the past couple of years, many in the blogging community already know he did survive, defying all the odds, fighting his way back to achieve wonderful things in spite of the physical challenges with which he lives still, wheelchair bound.

Sue’s article describes even more about his inspiring story, and links to posts about his courage in the face of subsequent challenges, as well as his incredible adventures since that day.

She blogs of the magic of May Day, his skydive… the London to Brighton cycle ride (raising funds for Headway, a charity supporting brain injury victims and their families) … and the Triathlon — all of which raised thousands of pounds for charity.

More than I would attempt, for SURE!

The London to Brighton cycle challenge was a ride of some 54 miles (87km).

It included the ascent of Ditchling Beacon, which climbs nearly 500 feet in less than a mile… all, according to Sue, carrying a bag that weighs as much as a small county on the back as well.

It was made possible with help — others who donated time and the strength of their own bodies to make sure the equipment that supported Nick’s goal was packed and transported so that Nick was able to start and complete the ride.

But Nick dreams of still MORE.

Autonomy enough to travel

Sue explains in her article that Nick’s dream of autonomy with travel is currently hampered by a plethora of problems accepted as “normal” with his current “trike” – in a manner that some angel on earth has found a way to overcome with the Mountain Trike, a cross between a mountain bike and a wheelchair.

More than the smooth terrain necessary for most wheelchairs, this trike can go off-road and up mountains. It can handle sandy beaches, ford streams and cope with muddy tracks and cobbles. It even has a luggage rack.

More important, it is a manual wheelchair with an innovative propulsion system that Nick can use, even with reduced mobility and struggles with coordinating both sides of his body.

It doesn’t need batteries, can be fixed by most bike shops in an emergency and, crucially, doesn’t need anyone to push it. He can go out into the wild places alone for the very first time in seven and a half years.

Source: Independent motion – can you help?

Meet Nick

A few of you may follow Nick’s blog and may already have read about his recent preparations for his biggest adventure yet — looking forward to accomplishing the impossible once again, proving that ‘impossible’ really isn’t, if you set your mind and heart to something.

If you are new to Nick’s story, I hope you will give yourself the gift of reading about it – and that you will take the time to watch the video he has included on THIS post – especially those of you who are close to giving in and giving up.
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Is struggling with weight a “Second Brain” problem?


The Hunger Games of The Second Brain
– from Knowing Neurons

a hand-crafted reblog adding to the Brain-Based Series
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Gut Feelings

Most of us know what it means to have “a gut feeling” – whether it feels intuitive in nature, or a queasy feeling in reaction to something negative or disgusting.  We tend to feel it in the solar plexis or below.

Many of us consider this “gut feeling” idea a metaphor – or believe that the brain in our head sends signals to the gut that produce these feelings.

Not exactly.  Your gut actually has a brain of its own (of sorts).

The nervous system that lines your gut, the enteric nervous system (ENS), is popularly called the “second brain.” This complex network of over 100 million neurons along the gastrointestinal tract works independently of any commands from the brain!

How it Works

The ENS manages the body’s digestive system using the same functional machinery as the brain – a network of neurons, neurotransmitters and proteins. The ENS plays an important role in governing food habits via bidirectional communication with the central nervous system (CNS).

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Brains Need SYSTEMS to Develop


Learning CHANGES the Structure of the Brain:

Impossible in the face of chaos

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC

“You don’t cure a different organization of the brain;
you find ways and strategies of helping that brain learn [. . .] in a different way.
It’s not about cure, it’s about teaching different ways.

~ Maryanne Wolf
reading expert & author of Proust and the Squid

Building a Brain

While it is true that no two brains develop in a manner that is exactly the same, babies come into this world with a brain specialized for learning – a pattern-recognition device designed to bootstrap learning into a structure of additional patterns.

The brain develops in a manner not dissimilar to the way in which a computer uses certain hardwired sub-routines to locate and activate still more code that allows for the loading and interpretation of additional programs — which facilitates their use for creating new ideas.

The human brain builds the new structures and networks it needs to allow it to continue to learn.  The process by which it does that work is known as neuroplasticity.

Not all that long ago, most of the science-crowd mistakenly believed that there was a relatively early window in which neuroplasticity operated. It was once thought that all of the neurons our brains were ever going to have developed within that window, and the systems the brain used to learn were set after a particular point in childhood.

Baby brains develop amazingly quickly

If you’ve ever spent any time at all around an infant, you might recall their unfocused stare and their unselfconscious movements and facial expressions.

It may not be immediately apparent to parents who spend day to day time with the baby, but adults who visit only occasionally are usually amazed at how much more that child is able to interact with the world each time.

Suddenly, it seems, that tiny child is able to focus on an object of fascination.  S/he responds to the direction of a particular sound and reaches for things. The baby exhibits what adults recognize as curiosity about the world around them and develops preferences.

Order out of Chaos

Babies come into a world of seeming chaos: sights, sounds, temperature, texture and more, with little in place to help them make sense of it all. They have to build the brain that will help them learn for the rest of their lives.

The task of their amazingly neuroplastic infant brains is to learn to recognize the constants that help them to derive meaning from a cacophony of stimulation that the majority of us learn to filter out – eventually.

And it is the task of the adults around them
to provide those constants.

As infants learn to recognize the simplest thing, as far as adult sensibilities are concerned, their brains grow and change their structures. As the baby’s brain learns that certain types of vibrations need to be visually interpreted, others audially, and so forth, it reorganizes its pathways for the most efficient recognition and interpretation of incoming data. It condenses the complexities of sensory awareness to comprehend “meaning.”

Assimilation of the basic concept of Mom, for example, requires a complex network of connections that, very quickly, allows the baby to understand that the source of his or her food is mother, and that she is one single element:

  • those hands are part of my mother,
  • those arms are part of my mother
  • that face is my mother smiling
  • that other face is still my mother, frowning
  • those sounds make up my mother’s voice
  • and I have a voice too

A lot of brain-based learning must take place before the baby assigns emotional or intellectual meaning to what s/he observes, eventually able to extrapolate expectations of sensory awareness to form new ideas about his or her world like, “I have a voice too.”

A LOT for our brains to learn

It makes sense that it might have seemed that brain-development is essentially a childhood task. Because young children have so much to learn so quickly, brain growth and change seems, by comparison, to stop in adulthood.

It has been postulated that, because of the size limitations of the birth canal in an upright-walking human being, our babies are born essentially nine months premature.  The increase in size of the infant’s brain after birth is phenomenal, compared to the growth in an adult brain. A baby’s brain doubles in size in their first year alone. By age three it has reached 80 percent of its adult volume.

Highways and Byways

It is a logical extrapolation that after a certain point, the brain would use what it has built in a manner similar to the way in which a city uses it’s roads to connect grocery store to neighborhood to a particular location in the center of town. There may be a hundred ways to drive from place to place, but nobody sober cuts through yards to form new roads that were never there before.

Except, with the brain, that hasn’t turned out to be exactly true.
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Good news on brain-aging from The Nun Study


Healthy Brains for a Lifetime

We really DON’T have to lose it as we age

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
Reflections on Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Protection

Cognitive decline is NOT inevitable

A quick review before some data that will bring smiles to a lot of worried faces (especially for writers!):

There is still a lot to learn from School Sisters of Notre Dame “Nun” Study — the longitudinal scientific exploration of aging and Alzheimer’s disease originally funded by the National Institute on Aging.  Data, tissue, and genetic material collected in this landmark study will, no doubt, prove invaluable to a great many meta-studies long into the future.

Thanks to the Sisters’ unprecedented generosity of spirit, however, we now know a lot more about how the brain ages than we did, even a few years ago.  We also know more about dementia and what factors seem to be neuro-protective.

The oft-cited study centers on a group of a relatively homogeneous order of 678 Roman Catholic sisters (American, no drug use, little or no alcohol or tobacco, similar housing and reproductive histories, etc.) — which minimizes extraneous variables that may confound other similar research.

Along with, ultimately, hundreds of others in their order, a few brave nuns agreed to volunteer for a long-term study of aging and Alzheimer’s disease, hoping to provide evidence that might be used to teach the rest of us how to escape the worst ravages of this heartbreaking illness.

To repeat a comment from my last article [You don’t HAVE to lose it as you age: Moving Past Mind-Blips and “Senior Moments”]:

Upon autopsy, even some of the individuals discovered to have what used to be accepted as “positive Alzheimer’s identifiers” (senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles), managed to escape the behavioral devastation of the disease.

Others had only recently begun to exhibit signs of mental decline in the year or two before their deaths (at 80 and beyond), despite brains that would have predicted a significantly earlier onset of dementia.

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You don’t HAVE to lose it as you age


Moving Past Mind-Blips and “Senior Moments”

Maintaining & improving your brain’s vitality as you age

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
Reflections on Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Protection

“A mind equipped with a wide range of
previously formed
pattern recognition devices
can withstand the effects of neuroerosion
for a long time.”

~ Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, PhD, from
The Wisdom Paradox 


Along with suggestions designed to help, this article begins to debunk the myth of “to be expected” age-related cognitive decline — as it explains the mechanics of memory and outlines the functional trajectory of the healthy brain as time marches on.

In the Memory Issues Series, anyone currently struggling to fit into a neurotypical mold, even if you are GenX or younger, will find a lot of information that will help you develop effective you-specific strategies to work around some of the things that give you fits and shut you down.


Our Worst Nightmare

Staying in SHAPE as we age (Source HERE)

Most people who have lived with cognitive decline in an up close and personal fashion (in particular, the ravages of any of the dementias in a loved one), frequently report a back-of-the-mind concern that they are looking into a mirror of their future selves.

Time marches on, and we’re all getting older. The first wave of Baby Boomers – that spike in the population statistics once Johnny came marching home from World War II – turned 65 in 2012.

With the third-act aging of more and more of the Boomers, this conversation will become increasingly frequent, as those back-of-the-mind concerns rise to conscious awareness and become the worries of a greater portion of our population.

Take a D-E-E-P breath — you don’t HAVE to lose it as you age!!

Prevention is the better part of valor

You wouldn’t wait until the day before the marathon to train for it, would you? Same thing with healthy brain aging! Don’t wait until decline begins to start doing something about it — if you want to experience the rosy finish you can expect if you begin to employ neuro-protective techniques NOW

Good news for most Boomers –
it’s not too late to start turning things around!

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Attentional struggles? Not ME!


WANNA BET?
Check out a few of the Symptoms of Attentional Struggles

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from an article published June, 2011

NOT just for ADD

MANY people – not just those diagnosed with ADD/EFD (or anything else) – report challenges with procrastination, follow-through, time and transition management, recalling directions, names or what they said they would do, keeping the bills paid on time, beating back the clutter, keeping on top of the laundry or the filing or the mail — or effectively handling any number of pile-ups of house, garage and lawn chores.

More than a few struggle to have much of a life beyond the all-too-familiar “mess it up, clean it up” cycle — in any one of a host of arenas.

DID YOU KNOW that fluctuations in your ability to manage the Attending system are at the root of every single one of them?

Not necessarily diagnostic

If YOU have even more than a few of the characteristics listed in this article, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have diagnostic ADD – or any of the bona-fide Executive Functioning disorders.

It DOES indicate that you’re juggling more balls than you can manage at one time, and one or more of the The Dynamics of Attending is suffering for it.

Room at my Table

I’d like to invite the rest of you to allow yourselves to benefit from the coping techniques I developed for the ADD community over the past 25+ years.

Whichever camp you belong to, ADD/EFD, “Senior Moment” tripsters, or CrazyBusy, I’m fairly certain you will find that employing a few ADD Coaching techniques will help you become more intentional with your attending, life will become a whole lot easier to manage, and your friends and loved ones will be much happier with the way you relate to THEM.

Looking through The ADD Lens™

I have found the idea of looking at things through The ADD Lens™ extremely helpful. In other words, looking at your functioning challenges as if they were a result of Attention Deficit Disorder.

If Challenges like any of those below (or their kissing cousins) keep you from getting things done, pretend you do have ADD/EFD and start to utilize a few of the techniques that have been found to work with people who have been diagnosed with ADD:

See if looking at yourself through The ADD Lens™as if you had full-blown, diagnostic ADD/EFD – gives you a way to approach areas of prior difficulty in a way that you can handle them successfully.

In The Journey toward Optimal Functioning™, we must give ourselves permission to utilize any trick, tool or technique that will help us to achieve it.

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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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Tinkerbell Comments – scorn and disbelief


I don’t clap, so you’re not real
The failure of many to understand or believe

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
in the Monday Grumpy Monday Series

Preaching to the Choir

I spend a great deal of [non-billable] time in an attempt to remain current and relevant in my field.  As part of that endeavor, I troll the internet, reading and engaging with a great many posts by fellow bloggers of a great many related-though-different areas of focus – ADD/EFD comorbidities like TBI/ABI, Sleep Disorders, Bi-Polar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Chronic Illnesses of various sorts, and more.

Again and again I come across attempts to “explain what it’s like” – especially to others who don’t struggle similarly, most likely read primarily by those who do.

Related posts:
Mental Health: What we’re dealing with
Update: Imploding
Do you ever feel like giving up?
It’s Not Me, It’s You!
Things I wish someone told me after my TBI

Click around on almost any support and advocacy site you visit and you will almost always find a comment or several discussing one of the most difficult situations common to practically every individual with functional challenges.

There seems always to be a need to overcome the comments of seemingly empathy-deficient, unthinking, tough-love advocates who doubt the veracity of what they are seeing and hearing.

There is too much pain in too many comments disclosing that too many others seem to imply (or actually state with suspicion or supposed certainty) that we are somehow and for some bizarre reason, exaggerating, making up excuses, diagnosis shopping or outright  “faking it.”

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The Brain: Why much of what you think you know is WRONG


Science Marches On
and older information becomes obsolete

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

The Importance of Life-Long Learning

It’s an essential endeavor for everyone with a brain to continue to seek out and pay attention to credible information that will help us delay – or avoid – the onset of dementia, preserving cognitive functionality as we age.

However, it is especially important for scientists, treatment and helping professionals to keep up with new information and incorporate it into their theories, tests and treatment protocols.

And yet . . .

I have been beating this drum – while seeking new, scientifically valid information for over 30 years now – in my futile attempt [so far] to get some traction toward effective care for those of us with Executive Functioning disorders.

A concept known as Confirmation Bias explains part of the reason that my efforts [and those of others] have, for the most part, failed – but timing is everything.

Related Post: Why we HATE to Change our Minds

Getting updated, substantially more accurate information to “the professional down the street” simply takes far too long, as the continual explosion of partially-informed new coaches, bloggers and pinners confuse and confound the issue further.

They all seem to be well-intended, albeit at least partially misguided, spreading obsolete information all over the internet at an unprecedented rate.  For those who make an effort to continue to learn, it seems that the more that new information might persuade them to update their theories and methodologies along with their information base, the more tightly they hold to cherished beliefs – the very essence of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory makes predictions that are counter-intuitive — predictions that have been confirmed in numerous scientific experiments.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept or the term, you will probably be surprised to see how widely it applies. Once you learn to pay attention to it, you will also be surprised at how it changes your behavior as well as your perception of your world.

Embracing its reality might also encourage you to investigate brain-based information further, allowing your mind to incorporate the latest in scientific findings, rather than repeating information that is, sometimes, decades old.

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Life Success on YOUR Terms


You DON’T have to
Do  it their way
How does that change The Name of the Game for YOU???

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

Success Stoppers

It’s difficult for motivational coaches used to midwifing the success of client after client to believe that what works for so many doesn’t necessarily work for EVERYONE.

In particular, more than a few Success Gurus approach the subject of productivity and goal fulfillment from a paradigm that I believe does not work very well at all for citizens of Alphabet City.  In 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.

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

They tend to promote techniques in alignment with the claim that increasing a commitment to change, demonstrated by “giving up your resistance” to what 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.

What if you can’t?
– or –
(horror of horrors!)

What if you don’t WANT to? 

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Really?

We are doomed to a life of struggle and poverty unless we can somehow force ourselves to do something that feels like climbing a mountain in cement boots or taking steps out of the way rather than in the direction we want to travel?

Is our reluctance a clear sign of something else – like fear of failure (or success), lack of motivation, or a vision that is insufficiently compelling?

Oh, please!

I have observed – time and time again in my Boomer-Generation life – that the only things insufficiently compelling are all of the “in order to” steps that have now been set in concrete —  attached to the result as if they represented stepping stones along the one and only path to a successful life.

Different strokes for different folks

The connections that make up the networks in our brains determine how are brains operate in a manner similar to how the network of roads in a city determine how various people travel.

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.

**********************************************************************************************
My friend Jason recently provided an excellent example, the day after he failed to see one of Cincinnati’s abundant potholes until he drove right over it.  Oops.

He was forced to replace the resulting flat tire with his spare.  He learned the hard way that driving faster than a certain speed was a recipe for disaster until he had four regular tires.

Rushing to get to an appointment the very next day, his spare failed on the interstate. There went his entire morning. He missed his appointment entirely.

Even though the Interstate was the direct route for a great many people, it certainly wasn’t a route primed for success for Jason!

Probability of results – the standard bell curve

What does SCIENCE have to say about it?

With technical advances like functional brain scans, science has discovered more about the brain in the last twenty years than in the previous hundred. And yet they are decades away from understanding the mechanisms of consciousness – how we do what we do.

BellCurveMeanwhile, scientists have undertaken studies that have allowed them to compile aggregates that attempt to explain human beings and their behaviors in a sort-of bell curve fashion — even though they also know that, individually, we are unique.

The one thing they know for sure is that each of us struggle through life’s challenges with brains that work slightly differently – and that some of us are doing very well with brains that are a whole lot more different!

Ironically, scientists have made as many breakthroughs by studying the behavioral and functional exceptions at the tail ends of the bell curve as they have about the so-called “normally” functioning brains that make up the center portion.

The initial question driving the American research in the recently launched Human BRAIN Initiative do NOT center on sameness, in fact, but on differences.

***************************************************************************************************
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say by way of introduction to this immense project:

The BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, also referred to as the Brain Activity Map Project) is a proposed collaborative research initiative announced by the Obama administration on April 2, 2013, with the goal of mapping the activity of every neuron in the human brain.

Based upon the Human Genome Project, the initiative has been projected to cost more than $300 million per year for ten years.
**********************************************************************************************

Source: NIH BluePrint

Click to enlarge to read, but please do NOT comment on ANY illustration pages – comment below the articles themselves — Source: NIH BluePrint

Which Means . . .

BRAIN Initiative scientists are asking, essentially, the following questions:

**********************************************************************************************
“How do the differences in the wiring and firing of human brains translate to their behaviors, their emotions, their approaches to practical tasks, and the way that they think?”

**********************************************************************************************

We don’t have the cognitive bandwidth to process each of the inputs of the of our senses, piece by piece, every single time we need to make a decision or recombine information to learn something new.  So the way in which we approach much of anything at all is determined by what science has decided to call our connectome – the wiring and firing of brain cells that make up our cognitive maps.

And STILL we try to categorize

© Courtesy of Phillip Martin – artist/educator

It’s what our brains have evolved to do – beginning way back when only those who could quickly answer the following question survived to pass their genes along to us.

Do I eat it, or does it eat me?!

As the cerebral cortex evolved – that outer layer, the brain’s conscious thinking portion – there wasn’t a whole lot of room inside our skulls to allow for our brains to get much bigger, or our heads would have to grow so large our necks would snap.

So the “category method” was conserved for its efficient use of resources, which indicates that the brain is a pattern matching machine of sorts.

Similar to the way most of us store items in our silverware drawer (forks with forks, spoons with spoons), our brains store different inputs differently. When it comes time to retrieve information to be able to use it, the brain attempts to sift through the “drawer” where it usually keeps information of that type, rather than its entire “kitchen.”

Categories aren’t Constants

Based on a combination of genes, environment, experience, usage and personal preference, we each categorize according to our unique perceptions of our inputs.

Something as simple as an apple, for example, could be “filed” in any one of a great many categories:

  • Foods, healthy foods, foods I like (or don’t), or even “foods I can’t eat easily, now that I have dentures;”
  • Non-meats, non-protein diet items, fruits, Paleo-diet approved comestibles, fruits I can feed my dog without harming him;
  • Objects that are round, objects that are red, objects of a certain size;
  • and so on.

Thinking logically, given the vast number of connections we must make to explore intellectually (much less accomplish even a very simple task), one person’s cognitive map could not possibly be the same as his neighbor’s — even if we are comparing two so-called neurotypical maps from the fat portion of the bell curve.

Why ELSE would resources as great as $300 million per year for ten years have been dedicated to discovering how we DO what we do?

Also working against the logic of the reality of diversity is our brain’s addiction to certainty: we want to be able to size up our world and our fellow human beings quickly and once and for all!

Beyond the Meyers-Briggs, etc.

Productivity gurus and success coaches continue to invent methods that center on CATEGORIES.

  • They publish and market books, typing matrices, questionnaires or inventories that support their ideas about how humans operate – even though there are most certainly NOT millions of dollars worth of studies to support their ideas
  • And that’s fine.  Helpful, even.  Our brains like categories.

Not quite so helpful is what tends to happen next.

In an effort to be clear and concise, the gurus tend to communicate their “typing” in a manner that almost seems to insist that they are describing universal principles.

We’re encouraged to identify ourselves and our compatriots within one of their identified “types” — promoted to jumpstart understanding and communication, multiply sales, increase work-team or marital success — even to decide how best to educate our children.

The more people who find a particular chunking helpful, the more the ideas proliferate in a manner that seems to insist that there is something wrong with US if we can’t easily locate ourselves in one of them.

Hey – if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t blame the FOOT!

Styles of Productivity

With apologies for seeming to attack any particular chunking as the article concludes, one of the more popular methods of late centers upon what is called The Four Styles of Productivity.

Carson Tate, founder of Working Simply, a North Carolina-based management consultancy and author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style has gotten quite a bit of press about the simplicity of her particular chunking system.  Less is more, I suppose.

According to Tate, each of us falls into one of four personal productivity styles. We have all four styles within us, she admits, but similar to whether we’re left- or right-handed, we have a strong preference.

Through her experience, reading and research, Tate claims to have identified four styles, each with distinct characteristics by which they can be identified: Prioritizers, Planners, Arrangers and Visualizers.

That method may well be useful as a place to begin – but four?
Really?  Only FOUR?

Come ON!

Doesn’t it seem a tad silly to base something as important as our own success productivity (or the success of our companies) on whether or not we (or they) “do it” in any manner that one or another system indicates is THE way it’s done?

Doesn’t it seem more logical for each of us to be encouraged to figure out how to drive the brain in our individual heads by examining the outputs of the brain in OUR heads – writing our very own User’s Manual to guide our actions and endeavors?

It does to me, in any case.

Throughout my adult life, I know that I have gotten into the most trouble when I doubted my own experience in response to the certainty of someone else promoting something else as the best way to go about this business of life.

Once I figure out what items that I, uniquely, need to have in place to function best, as long as I can set things up to keep those items in my life and use my own unique systems and strategies,  I do VERY well.

I have even been accused of not being able to relate to ADD/EFD because I am obviously not a member of the club.  Me – the ADD Poster Girl!

The extent to which any one or several of the items I need to function best are missing or unavailable is the extend to which I flounder and fail – when others comment that I seem to be little more than a stuttering wonder!

I would like to suggest that might be true for YOU as well.  Get in touch if you’d like to hire me for some coaching help identifying what you, uniquely, need to have on board, and to midwife the process of putting those items into place.

© 2015, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”

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IN ANY CASE, do stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series (one-on-one couples or group), click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end (or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page). Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)
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ADDing to Subtract


How much change can you tolerate
before you STOP trying to cope?

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

We HATE to give things up

Have you ever tried to convince a kid to give away a toy – even a toy s/he no longer plays with and, truth to tell, never cared much for in the first place?

Most kids will take quite a bit of convincing, and some will throw a fit and refuse.

Truly clever Moms and Dads replace the toy with something new – putting the emphasis on what their kids are getting rather than what they are giving up.

And most parents who follow the “one-in/one-out” rule figure out very quickly that the swap needs to be agreed upon UP FRONT.

If they can get the child to fork over the old toy before they receive the new one, so much the better.

An Overwhelmed Brain says NO!

Have you ever allowed yourself to get in over your head?  In your home, for example, have things ever gotten so messy that you begin to doubt your ability to ever clean it up?

I refer to it as being “over my limit.”  Finding myself over my limit happens to me regularly.

  • It happens every single time I move to a new home, for example, or the times I’ve been too sick to have the energy to do much beyond making it to the kitchen or the bathroom and back to bed.
  • It also happens during (and following) any period where the serious illness of a close friend or family member shifts my priorities.
  • Things seem to get worse every day.

Suddenly – or so it seems – I can’t cope any more.  EVERYTHING seems to be everywhere.  I can’t see the items for the clutter, and life becomes a scavenger hunt of epic proportions.

The professional organizers would probably tell me to start pitching things left and right to “clear out the clutter” – but which things?

What the neurotypical never seem to understand is that overwhelm shuts down our capacity to make effective decisions.

  • I don’t know about you, but the few times I’ve allowed myself to be pushed to toss against my better judgment have ended badly.
  • In a couple of cases, it took me months to jump through the hoops to replace something I’d tossed that I actually needed – and that’s after I’d spent a great deal of time looking for it.
  • As I grow older, I am less and less willing to throw those months under the neatness bus!  Especially since I’ve learned the hard way that “neat” and “organized” are two completely different things.  I’ll bet you have too.

Fear of Tossing?

No, I haven’t developed “fear of tossing” as a result, like some of my clients, but I HAVE learned not to jump in pitching when I’m overwhelmed.

And I’ll bet you have too – whether it is the result of a conscious decision or merely what looks like intractability to anyone watching.

  • What’s the worst thing that could happen? they ask, in their ignorance.
  • Are you kidding?  I’m barely hanging on NOW – my goose is cooked if things get worse.

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YOU are Bigger than your To-Do List


Human BEINGS vs Human DOings

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

Edited “Reprint”

The following words were edited, inspired by an email I sent to a prospective client quite a few years ago now.

Having been referred by a colleague as someone deserving of a sliding-scale  coaching opportunity, the candidate was investigating coaching with me.

First, they wanted to make sure I would do it in the same manner touted by a coach they followed online.

My immediate reaction was, “Why are you calling me rather than investigating coaching with THEM?” 

The answer brought me up short: because you offer sliding scale and they don’t. 

Whoa! Budget shopping for a COACH?

FIT, not price

Whether or not that person believed me (or whether you do), you can’t shop for a coach on price.

There are coaches available at all price points. Brand new coaches charge at the bottom of the scale, and most experienced coaches reserve one or two “sliding-scale slots” for certain types of clients (or people in certain situations that mandate a lower fee).

I know because I trained a lot of them personally!

Paying top dollar won’t necessarily buy you better coaching – but attempting to pay the least amount possible just might buy you a lousy fit for what you’re up to – which will amount to lousy coaching.

I don’t know what ultimately happened with this individual, but I kept my email follow-up, knowing I would want to share it once enough time had passed.

Since I am offering private coaching once again, I thought that this would be an excellent time for a “reprint.”

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For a REALLY Happy New Year


2015 is breathing down our necks
(perhaps it might be wise to do more than a bit of thinking about it)

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

As I ready myself for my own Christmas celebration on Twelfth Night, let’s take a moment to focus on the other big end-of-year celebration: New Year’s Eve.

Nutshell New Years

We count backwards from ten as the clock chimes and the ball drops. We toast and kiss, and blow funny-sounding horns wearing funny-looking hats, often dressed in formal finery.  Many of us party on until dawn.

© Phillip Martin – artist/educator

Yep – that’s New Years Eve in a nutshell for many of us around the world – or at least the image in our minds.

And then what?

Regardless of how heartily we’ve partilied the night before, we awaken at some point on New Years Day, hoping for the best in the upcoming year.

Some of us even take the time to write down a few of those ubiquitous New Year’s Resolutions, without really expecting ourselves to follow through this year, anymore than the years before it.

Pinterest and the daily papers provide image upon image making fun of the practice – or at least of the people who don’t practice their practice.

And most of the plans of those who resolve and regret fail to materialize through lack of long-range planning.

To fail to plan is to plan to fail?

As I implied in a much earlier article about planning for the New Year, unless we want the upcoming year to be exactly like the one in our rear view mirror, it’s time to get busy with some change-management.

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 we know, and all that.

What IS it about change that makes us cringe?

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Breaking the back of Black and White Thinking


Three Tiny Things

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another of The Black & White topic articles from
The Challenges Inventory™ Series

click image for source article

In last week’s article [What GOOD is Black and White Thinking?], I introduced the idea of maintaining your own version of my Three Tiny Things Gratitude Journal™

The Three Tiny Things™ process encourages us to pare down the scope of what we explore when we look for things for which we can be grateful.

This concept focuses on a slightly different objective than other gratitude suggestions you may have heard: this idea is going to take on the task of breaking the back of black and white thinking (and lack of ACTIVATION).

As I implied in my introductory article, Black and White Thinking is probably the most insidious of the Nine Challenges identified by The Challenges Inventory™.

In Moving from Black or White to GREY I went on to say:

  • Until addressed and overcome, black and white thinking will chain one arm to that well referenced rock and the other to that proverbial hard place. At that point, every single one of life’s other Challenges will loom larger than they would ever be otherwise.
  • With every teeny-tiny step you take into the grey – away from the extremes of black and white – life gets better, and the next step becomes easier to take.

What I want – for me, for you, for EVERYONE – is to be willing to change the experience of life by transforming our black and white thinking – one small step for man, one giant leap for man-KIND!

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What GOOD is Black and White Thinking?


If Black & White Thinking Never Works
How come so many people DO it?

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

Image from Kozzi.com

I have received some version of one of the two questions above more than a few times recently.

Since I’m now guiding my writing by the number of blog comments or questions a topic generates, I’m thinking it’s time to turn my attention back to Black and White Thinking.

As I implied in my introductory article, Black and White Thinking is probably the most insidious of the Nine Challenges identified by The Challenges Inventory™.

In Moving from Black or White to GREY I went on to say, “It’s like a VIRUS: it infects, proliferates, and spreads to others.”

  • Until addressed and overcome, I asserted, black and white thinking will chain one arm to that well referenced rock and the other to that proverbial hard place. At that point, every single one of life’s other Challenges will loom larger than they would ever be otherwise.
  • With every teeny-tiny step you take into the grey – away from the extremes of black and white – life gets better, and the next step becomes easier to take.
  • By the end of the Black and White Thinking Series, what I want for you is to be in a place where you are ready to change your life by transforming your thinking – one small step for man, one giant leap for man-KIND!

Be sure to check out the sidebar for how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

But does it EVER work?

Black and white thinking? Sure, it works sometimes.  I’m sure you’ve heard about “the exception that proves the rule.” 

Here is the short version of my answer to the implied question of
WHEN it works:

Although there are better ways to get the job done, it can work for you when you are mired in a decision quandary and absolutely MUST move forward.

  • It reduces rumination as a result of “choice overload” in a manner that unlocks brain-freeze.
  • It lowers the expectation that you will be “perfectly satisfied” with whatever choice you make, ultimately leaving you happier than you might have been otherwise – either way.
  • Parenting small children aside, it usually works best when the individual making the choice decides to employ it – not as well when others force a black and white decision upon them. (Ask any parent about how well their teens react to either/or enforcements: they can sulk for days!)
  • It is helpful when making decisions during bona-fide crises situations, where choices are reduced dramatically to begin with (the reason that many of us can say that we are “good in a crisis”)

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Repair Deficit


Domino Problems Redux?
When you can’t seem to FIX faster than things fall apart!

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series
Predicting Time to Manage Tasks – Part-III

300px-Domino_effectHOW can I catch-up before it’s all too late?

Domino problems are what I have named that frustrating but all too familiar situation where it seems that no matter what you do – or how long you agonize over what you CAN do – one thing after another goes wrong anyway.

In my own life and the lives of my neurodiverse clients and and students, there are periods of time when it seems like one little oversight or problem “suddenly” creates a host of others — as we watch in horror as our lives falls apart, each new problem created by the one before it.

“I drop out one little thing and there I am,” one client said tearfully,back in the hole again, with no idea how I’ll get out this time.”

“Everything seems to fall apart around me, and I shut down with the stress of it all,” said another.

Still another said, “My family is tired of bailing me out, and I’m tired of hearing them yell at me about it. I feel like such a loser.”

That’s the Domino Problem Dynamic in a Nutshell

And when something NOT so little drops out – our doing or Murphy’s – HEAVEN HELP US!

Why the name “domino problem”? Because the domino dynamic is similar to that activity where you set a row of dominoes on end, then tap the first one to watch them ALL fall, one at a time, as the domino falling before it knocks it down.

Domino Problems are a major contributor to so-called procrastination: we reach a point where we are afraid to move because we are afraid we won’t be able to handle one more thing going wrong!

I keep searching for a way to explain the dynamic, on the way to suggesting some ways to work around it before everything is in shambles at your feet. “Repair deficit” is my latest attempt.

Repair Deficit

The term may seem oddly familiar to those of you who “attended” the world’s first virtual Gluten Summit in November 2013.

Dr. Liz Lipski used the term as a way of explaining “increased intestinal permeability,” in answer to a couple of recurring questions:

  1. Why is it, if gluten is supposed to be so bad for us, that everyone who eats it doesn’t develop what is euphemistically called “a leaky gut” and/or other conditions which supposedly have gluten intolerance at the root of the problem?
  2. How come people can be healthy for years on the standard high-gluten diet then suddenly, in late life, be diagnosed with celiac disorder or something else attributed to gluten intolerance?

Lipski’s explanation of the repair deficit dynamic in the physical health venue ALSO provides a handy metaphor for the explanation of why some of us are able to swim to shore after our life-boat capsizes, while others go down with the ship — or why some of us “leap tall buildings in a single bound,” only to be stopped cold by something that looks relatively minor.

So stay with me as we learn (or review) a bit about digestive health, on the way to taking a look at how repair deficit situations operate in the non-food areas of our lives.

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Keeping up with the Treadmill Tasks


Didn’t I just DO that???
It CAN’T be time to do it again!

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series
Predicting Time to Manage Tasks – Part-II

treadmill_GreenSuitOver and over and OVER

Treadmill Tasks are those things that are never really done. No sooner do we put the 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 clean up once each meal is over.

And then there is the grocery shopping, laundry, dusting and general digging out, taking out the garbage, making the beds, policing the bedrooms, and the bathrooms, and the living rooms, and the kitchens . . .

SOME-body has to attend to all that or everybody must live with the consequences of the mounting disorder and disarray.

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 just one gigantic Groundhog Day to-do list.

I know that I do — far too many more days than I’d like to!!

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Moving from Black or White to GREY


Moving toward Balance:
How Much of a Challenge IS Getting to Grey?

unbalancedScales

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
One of The Black & White topic articles from
The Challenges Inventory™ Series

As I implied in my introductory article, Black and White Thinking is probably the most insidious of the Nine Challenges identified by The Challenges Inventory™.

It’s like a VIRUS: it infects, proliferates, and spreads to others.

  • Until addressed and overcome, black and white thinking will chain one arm to that well referenced rock and the other to that proverbial hard place. At that point, every single one of life’s other Challenges will loom larger than they would ever be otherwise.
  • The good news is that turn-around is not only possible, with some concentrated attention to what’s going on, turn-around is inevitable.
  • With every teeny-tiny step you take into the grey – away from the extremes of black and white – life gets better, and the next step becomes easier to take.

By the end of this segment in the Black and White Thinking Series, what I want for you is to be in a place where you are ready to take the first step toward CHANGING what’s going on now by transforming your thinking – one small step for man, one giant leap for man-KIND!

Since awareness is always the first step on the road to change, let’s take a closer look, considering what well might have been a huge contributor to the development of what’s going on now.

No One is Immune

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But I Don’t WANT to Give Up TASTE!


Taste preferences are NOT simply
what you are used to eating!

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Sweet Tooth/Self-Health Series
(click HERE for the prior article)

OneGrainMore

see production details on onegrainmore.com

 

Clicking the graphic above will take you to YouTube for what is being touted as the funniest nutrition video ever made — One Grain More.

  • Admittedly, you wouldn’t have to go far to win that particular award – few nutrition videos are known for what you might consider entertainment value – and humor is practically always in short supply when nutrition and health are discussed.
  • I have to agree that this nutrition video, a parody set to the music of Les Miserables, IS pretty darned clever.
  • It puts it right out there – our secret thoughts and deepest fears about eliminating gluten and sugar from our diets, even if we have to pay for our taste preferences with allergic reactions – and it’s very well done! (It will open in a new tab or window – depending on your browser’s settings).

It’s short as well as an amusing beginning for this article – so go take a look, then close that window and come back here for an introductory explanation of WHY we like what we like — and why we crave certain foods.

When you reach the end, you will understand more about what is behind our preferences and cravings — and it will be a whole lot easier to figure out how to sneak some good ole’ fashioned TASTE appeal back into food that’s good for your health.

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Sugar Cravings in Alphabet City


From the Front-Lines
of the Sugar-Shackle Battles

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Sweet Tooth/Self-Health Series

Phillip Martin - artist/educator

Phillip Martin – artist/educator

Hello-my-name-is-Madelyn
and I am an addict

If there were ever any doubt about it, I now have irrefutable evidence.

During the more than several hours over the last couple of days that I have been researching, planning and first-drafting the articles that will comprise the upcoming Sweet Tooth Series, I have gotten up FIVE times to journey to the cookie jar.

That makes it pretty darned clear that, as with any other substance abuser, even thinking about a sweet-tooth can activate my cravings.

It seems that each time I reached an impasse or a segue point, I simply HAD to have a hit of sugar to kick-start my brain again.

Give me a Break?

I’m not totally off-base in my thinking about the cognitive benefits, you realize.

A study conducted by David Benton, a psychologist at the United Kingdom’s Swansea University, found that in the approximately thirty minutes after having a sugar-laden drink, 9 to 11-year-old schoolkids were better able to concentrate on tasks and scored higher in memory tests (Biological Psychology, vol 78, p 242).

  • I repeat that little ditty as my ADDled brain feeds me the excuse that a cookie is less damaging than the nicotine stimulation of the cigarette I also crave, as I suck on the cigarette-shaped plastic pacifier that is little-to-no-help whatsoever!
  • Yet I overlook the cookie costs at my own peril – and I am as aware of them as any alcoholic who knows that bathing his brain in spirits is a really dumb idea (as he downs his second cocktail and orders his third).

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How to live a life that doesn’t suck


from Selorm Nelson - click graphic to read

from Selorm Nelson – click graphic to read

Does anybody REALLY live
“a LIFE they LOVE?”

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
A Walking a Mile in Another’s Shoes Post
Part 1 in a Series

I know, it’s a bizarre way to begin

It is an ESPECIALLY bizarre question out of the metaphorical mouth of a coach.

For those of you who aren’t yet aware, “life” coaching is a profession renowned for holding the “Live a life you LOVE banner aloft (above a table marketing miraculous services that will transform your life with the click of a PayPal button).

I’ve used the phrase myself – more than a few times.  It seemed a handy “short-hand” in my attempt to describe the benefits of coaching. But today I’m giving that hyperbole a bit more thought.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been under the weather all week and I’m now in the grouchy phase where I’m feeling sorry for myself – but I think the topic merits some frank discussion, don’t you?

Because I think we’re focusing on the wrong objective, which will continue to lead us astray.

I’m coming to believe it’s a set up, actually — for an expectations mismatch that will make us truly miserable, regardless of what our lives look like at any particular moment.

If it works for you, carry on. I’m all FOR hyperboles that work, but I’m not sure this one does.

I’m wondering if it’s time to move on to something that works better with the way our brains are designed. Do your best to read with an open mind.

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