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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September is the BEST time for what activity?


Forming or Changing a HABIT
and setting new goals!
Don’t wait for New Years Resolutions

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Habits, Decisions & Attention Series

New year, new goals

Somebody needs to write a new anthem: The kids are back in school!!  (My brain wants to sing it to the tune of The Boys are Back in Town)

Except for our under-appreciated, overworked teachers, most parents begin yearning for September long before July is in their rear view mirrors.

As much as they look forward to more family time during the school year, most have forgotten how having the youngsters at home all day tends to make a shambles of their schedules.

But the teachers are aware of something that the rest of us tend to overlook . . .

September really begins the New Year

I don’t care how old you are, unless you were home schooled or spent your younger years in full-time boarding school, most of us feel a fresh gust of wind beneath our wings at the start of every school year.  That tends to be the case even for those of us who don’t have kids at home anymore – or never had kids at home (old habits die hard).

  • Few of us complain about the early appearance of new notebooks and school supplies in the stores nearly as much as we kvetch about shelves of early Jack-o-Lanterns, Pilgrims, Turkeys and Christmas sparklies.
  • Many of us are as pleased by wandering the aisles to replenish our supplies of journals and pens as the kiddies who are excited to see the latest in backpacks.
  • And many folks fill the first few pages of those brand new journals with brand new goals for the brand new “school year” – an old habit reactivated.

Those folks and the teachers are aware of something
that the rest of us would do well to keep in mind . . .

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Of Kings and Kindness


A Tallis Steelyard Tale
Written especially for us by a popular & prolific author

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Story: © Jim Webster, all rights reserved

Mental Health and Fantasy?

In a blog conversation about his newest Tallis Steelyard tales, The Monster of Bell-Wether Gardens and other stories, author Jim Webster disclosed that he was about to launch a blog tour, sharing stories from and about his protagonist, Tallis Steelyard.

I commented that if he had anything mental health related I’d be happy to participate.

His response was, “I was wondering if anybody else had ever introduced mental health issues into Fantasy Comedy of Manners!”

Quick as a flash, he penned the story that debuts below!
I am honored to be able to host it here.

A little background

This episode picks up our hero following his previous adventure, which those of you who are curious will be able to find on Sue Vincent’s blog — although everything you need to enjoy this story is complete below.

I added a bit of formatting for neurodiverse readers who find it difficult to stay focused on longer strings of similarly formatted text, but the author’s words are unchanged (British spellings included).

Let’s not quibble over American and English spellings as we sit back to read this delightful tale.

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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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Back to Boundaries


Different Categories – Different Strategies
They’re all still Boundaries

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

Moving on with the Boundary Series

In the prior post, The Benefits of Boundaries, I likened setting Personal Boundaries to having a moat with a drawbridge around your castle.

Raising and lowering the drawbridge helps to ensure (enforce) the kinds of behavior that you will and will not permit yourself to experience in your environment.

The “moat and drawbridge” of Personal Boundaries acts as a filter to permit only those people who are up to where you are in life to come into your castle and join the party.

Setting your boundaries defines the actions and behaviors that are unacceptable from those you do allow inside your metaphorical castle — in coordination with your Standards, which also determine how you will interact with them.

Different types of Boundaries

Dolly, the author of the wonderful koolkosherkitchen blog, left a comment under the prior Boundary post that led me to decide that, before I continue, I need to further define what I mean by the terms I will be using in the ongoing Boundary conversation.

In addition to Boundaries we set around behaviors of others, there are boundaries we need to have in place that determine our personal behaviors, sometimes referred to as “self-control.”

Boundaries can be further divided into several “domains” —
physical, intellectual, social and emotional.

While there is certainly overlap in some of these categories, let’s take a look at distinguishing these “types” from one another.

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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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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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Standing FOR High Standards


Indications of who you really are
Creating your Reality

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

Higher or Lower?

Several years ago I posted a couple of coaching articles written to open your paradigms on the way to breaking loose from the habit of perfectionism and black and white thinking:

The Virtues of Lowering your Standards
and
Getting to Good Enough

And now it may seem as if I am encouraging you to do the exact opposite. Sheesh!

It’s a trick of language – two different meanings for the same word

When I speak of “lowering your standards” (small “s”) I am using the meaning most similar to, “an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations.” ~ Google Dictionary

Using that meaning of the word, I am referring primarily to getting beyond that crazy idea that “any task worth doing is worth doing well.”

Many folks continue to intone that meme as if it were a universal truth, without stopping to notice that it’s a great big black and white SHOULD.

It always seemed to me that if the task’s worth doing at all, any forward progress is good forward progress, right?

Aren’t these “Do it WELL” folks the same ones who swear
that “slow and steady wins the race?”

Think AGAIN

JUST because a task is worth doing, doesn’t mean that it is
automatically deserving of top-of-the-line priority focus.  Duh!

A job worth doing is worth doing adequately, too.

There is not enough time in anybody’s life to do every single thing in an A+ manner.  Good enough really IS good enough for many of life’s to-dos and activities.

Embracing that idea leaves a great deal more time for working at the top of your game where it really matters – like honoring your very own Personal Standards.  It makes for a much happier and more satisfying experience of living.

Friend and colleague Tom Nardone came up with a nifty chart to underscore that idea.

Raising Personal Standards is a different animal altogether.

When I speak of raising your Standards (capital “S”), I am using a meaning closer to (but not really the same as) “principles of conduct informed by notions of honor and decency.” ~ Google Dictionary

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August 2017 Mental Health Awareness


 Special days & weeks in August

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for mental health related issues
(and a calendar for the month!)

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the ADD/ADHD Cormidities series

WE are the cure. Found HERE

 

Online Marketing Gurus extol the effectiveness of piggy-backing posts onto particular events – how about one or several of the ones below?
They make GREAT, positive writing prompts!

Mark your blogging calendars!

Many days of the year have been set aside every month to promote awareness or advocacy of an issue, illness, disability, or special-needs related cause.

In addition to a calendar for the current month, each Awareness post attempts to offer a list highlighting important days and weeks that impact and intersect with mental health challenges — reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create additional problems with cognition, mood, memory, follow-through and attention management.

If I’ve missed anything, please let me know in a comment so that I can add it to the list below.

I pray that 2017 is the year
when EVERYONE becomes aware of
the crying need for upgraded mental health Awareness —
and FUNDING – so that things begin to change rapidly.

Stay tuned for more articles about Executive Functioning struggles and management throughout the year (and check out the Related Posts for a great many already published).

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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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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.

Read more of this post

Sleep Awareness and Health


The importance of  Sleep
to health, cognition and longevity

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Sleep & Sleep Disorders Series

Sleep and Sleep Disorders

A quick gander at June’s Awareness Calendar tells you that the  first week in June is Sleep Disorders Awareness Week.

I have already written a great deal about sleep and sleep disorders, but I couldn’t let the month pass without adding an Awareness post to that Series.

According NSART, the National Sleep Awareness Roundtable, promoting the awareness of the importance of sleep is an extremely worthwhile endeavor.

About SLEEP

NOT the passive state once believed, sleep is a highly active state essential for both physical health and BRAIN health.

Although we all do it, few of us know very much about it – and fewer still make sure we get enough of it to drive our brains and bodies effectively, limping along with chronic sleep debt.

Many of us would LOVE to get more sleep, but struggle falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping in sync with norms that allow us to coordinate with the timing demands of our chronically busy 21st Century lives.

NIH, the National Institutes of Health estimates that sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans alone, common in both men and women and people of all ethnic groups.

According to the authors of the website Talk About Sleep:

“At least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders each year, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems.

These disorders and the resulting sleep deprivation interfere with work, driving, and social activities.

They also account for an estimated $16 BILLION in medical costs each year, while the indirect costs due to lost productivity and other factors are probably much greater.”

They go on to say that “the most common sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy,” which is an indication of how LITTLE research has been done on the chronorhythm disorders – disorders of sleep timing.

But you don’t have to have a diagnostic sleep disorder of any kind to experience the negative effects of sleep debt. In fact, most of us in industrialized societies are chronically under-slept, which means that most of us have racked up sleep debt to a significant degree

Insufficient Sleep is a BIG Problem

The cumulative effects of sleep loss and sleep disorders represent a significantly under-recognized public health concern.

It is associated with a wide range of long-range health problems – all of which represent long-term targets of public health agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

  • hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure)
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • depression
  • heart attack
  • stroke, and
  • impulsive, at-risk behaviors

In 2008, an organization called Healthy People 2020 met to begin the process of determining 10-year national objectives for promoting health and preventing disease.

They ultimately targeted four main objectives:

  1. Increase the proportion of persons with symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea who seek medical evaluation (only ONE of two types of sleep apnea, btw)
  2. Reduce the rate of vehicular crashes per 100 million miles traveled that are due to drowsy driving
  3. Increase the proportion of students in grades 9 through 12 who get sufficient sleep
  4. Increase the proportion of adults who get sufficient sleep

And it all begins with awareness.

Read more of this post

Executive Functions & YOU


Executive Functioning
for Optimal Functioning™
What’s involved and what can go wrong?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
another part of the Executive Functioning Series

MORE folks on Team EFD than folks with ADD/ADHD

The executive system is a carefully orchestrated combination of processes that, together, merge and mingle to make us human and to make us, well, us!

These functions continually work together to help us manage hundreds of cognitive and practical tasks of life, day in and day out.

Not only that, they do it in the blink of an eye, and primarily below the level of our conscious awareness. At least, they do it that way when everything is on board and working “normally.”

New here? Read What ARE Executive Functions? for more description & detail.

The area of the brain that makes possible many of the wonderful cognitive abilities differentiating humans from the rest of the mammals is the frontal third of the outer layer of the human brain, referred to as the pre-frontal cortex [PFC], right behind the forehead:

  • the last part of our brains to evolve,
  • the last part of our brains to develop in the womb,
  • and the last part of our brains to mature as we grow up

And it’s fragile

The PFC is especially vulnerable to damage — both before and after birth.

The living brain is soft, floating around inside a fluid filled environment keeping it from bumping up against the inside of a hard skull that, in turn, is protecting the fragile brain itself.

Your PFC can be injured very easily bumping up against that bony skull, even when no direct hit to the head was involved in the original incident.

Anything that makes the brain “slosh around” in the fluid in a manner that causes it to come in contact with the skull results in at least minor brain damage, and the PFC is often involved.

Read: How Do Brains Get Damaged?  Is YOURS?

THAT means that in addition to individuals with disorders, stroke or some type of substance-promoted damage affecting the PFC, anyone who’s been involved in almost any sort of accident is likely to experience brain-based executive functioning challenges of one sort or another.

It also means that most adults have at least a few EF issues, not only individuals with:

  • mood disorders (anxiety & depression included)
  • autistic and attentional spectrum disorders
  • TBI/ABI,
  • Parkinson’s
  • dyslexia & dyscalculia
  • more than a few neurological conditions such as
    sensory integration disorders 

in fact, almost all of what I refer to as the alphabet disorders — as well as, currently, MOST of us over 45, as the memory centers begin to age.

So what does THAT mean?

Read more of this post

Reaching the Boiling Point


We still have some time
but we have to act – NOW

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

The content I am revisiting is an edited & condensed version of
probably the most important information I have ever shared
(in over 500 information-dense articles).
It applies to every single person living.
I hope those of you who missed it on Monday will
take the time to read it all this weekend – and tell your friends.

ABOUT Boiling Frog Syndrome

In a recently posted article from the Executive Functioning Series [How well do you REALLY function?], I explored the tendency to accommodate an accumulation of difficulties until we are struggling to cope and practically desperate — whenever things decline gradually.

UNFORTUNATELY …

The water temperature is perilously close to reaching the boiling point where global health is concerned.

We are ALL likely to be cooked to death if we don’t act together to turn down the heat – no matter how young or old we are currently.

According to U.S. statistics, in 1960 5% of the GDP** was spent on health care.

By 2010, that figure had increased to 18%
  over three and a half times higher —
and continues to increase.

It is projected that by the year 2040 — unless things change significantly — over 40% of the gross GDP** of the US alone will go into health care.

~~~~~~~~~~
**GDP [Gross Domestic Product] is the total value of everything produced by all the
individuals, companies and corporations in a country, citizen and foreign-owned alike.
It is considered to be the best way to measure the state of a country’s economy.

This is obviously a problem we cannot possibly afford

An unusually large portion of our health expenditures come as a result of the chronic, progressive “diseases of old age” — that become exponentially more prevalent the longer we live, and that become increasingly more expensive to manage (vs. cure, since we currently don’t have ways to cure them).

Yet we currently dedicate only a fraction of 1% of our biomedical research budget to the basic biology of aging — and millions of dollars of budget cuts are currently in the planning stages in the US alone.

DAUNTING Statistics Already

100,000 people die of old age-related illnesses every single day.  That’s over THIRTY World Trade Towers, by the way, just to put it in context.

Every single day.

Frailty alone kills 6-7% of the population and leads to many of the other debilitating diseases which increase dramatically in the over-45 population (yes, forty-five!)

The bad news is that if we live long enough — without a drastic change in how we approach health-science research — most of us WILL be challenged by one or more of the debilitating and costly degenerative illnesses.

Getting rapidly worse

According to the UN, the population of elderly human beings is the fastest growing around the world, and the number of elderly people by 2050 will be close to 2 BILLION.

MOST of us reading will be among them – any of us who have not already succumbed to one of the diseases of aging, that is.

We need to turn things around – NOW!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
By the year 2020 – in the entire world – there will be more people over 65 than under 5 years of age. As the 5 year olds enter the workforce, those who are now 65 become 75 and 85 and begin to become terminally ill.

We won’t have enough people on the planet
to afford this ailing and aging population.

By overcoming the diseases of aging, we can literally save trillions of dollars
— along with millions of lives that are now doomed to suffer as they die.

~ ‪Liz Parrish, CEO of BioViva Sciences USA – Human of the Future‬ (video)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Most of us are suffering from Boiling Frog Syndrome over the issue of healthy aging, refusing to give it the consideration it merits.

That manifests in our lack of willingness to advocate aggressively for resources to address the many challenges of aging that the clear majority of us WILL face before we die.

Our most important health-related goal needs to be applying our resources to solve the global challenge of remaining as healthy as possible for as long as possible – for as many people as possible.

“One of the biggest frustrations for me in my work is that old people don’t complain enough about how GRIM it is to be old — and if they did, maybe something more would be done about it.” ~ biomedical gerontologist ‪Dr. Aubrey de Grey‬.

Read more of this post

Executive Functioning & Diseases of Aging


A Humanitarian Problem
short-sighted at best – unconscionable at worst

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

This might be the most important post I have ever written
(out of 500+ information-dense articles).
It applies to every single one of us,
so I hope you will take the time to read it all.

A tragic implication of Boiling Frog Syndrome

As I began in an article as part of the Executive Functioning Series, two Mondays ago [How well do you REALLY function?], when things decline gradually we tend to accommodate the accumulation of difficulties until we are struggling to cope and practically desperate for help.

Before I continue with a Series of articles designed to describe and discuss EF struggles, what’s involved, and explain what you can do to mitigate the effects (before, during and after they develop), I want to take just a bit of a side trip to talk about something that WILL affect ALL of us, one way or another — unless, of course, something worse gets us first.

EF challenges as the result of AGING

According to a biomedical gerontologist ‪Dr. Aubrey de Grey‬, what we consider and accept as “normal” aging is far more complex than the accumulation of an increasing number of birthdays — that is, chronological aging.

Biological aging is a different matter entirely, and that is what his organization studies and believes they will be able to impact positively.

Biological aging is what causes the greatest number of functional problems in brain and body, responsible for cognitive struggles as well as the pain and suffering of the degenerative diseases of aging.

So remember that when researchers like de Grey talk about “reversing” aging with restoration therapies, healthy aging is the focus of their desire. Looking and feeling younger for an extended life-span is a beneficial side-effect.

Dr. Aubrey de Grey redefines Aging

“Aging is the life-long accumulation of ‘damage’ to the body that occurs as intrinsic side-effects of the body’s normal operation.  The body can tolerate some damage, but too much of it causes disease and disability.”

DAMAGE: changes in structure and composition that the body cannot – or can no longer – automatically reverse.

Dr. de Grey is the Cambridge educated co-founder and Chief Science Officer of SENS Research Foundation, dedicated to exploring and combating the aging process, a 501(c)(3) public charity that is transforming the way the world researches and treats age-related disease.

Dr. de Grey is also the Editor in Chief of Rejuvenation Research, a bimonthly peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Mary Ann Liebert that covers research on rejuvenation and biogerontology.

Speaking all over the world for many years, to lay as well as professional audiences, he spreads the message that the deleterious effects of aging are not something we need to accept as a given — in other words, they are NOT conditions that are impossible to prevent or reverse.

He presents his cogent explanations and arguments for the need for a drastic change in paradigm in many lectures, debates and discussions available on YouTube.

We do NOT have to accept the idea that the decline and eventual disappearance of the body’s resilience is inevitable.  ~ mgh

Turning things around

“One of the biggest frustrations for me in my work is that old people don’t complain enough about how GRIM it is to be old — and if they did, maybe something more would be done about it.” ~ Aubrey de Grey

  • The desire for healthy aging is an issue that concerns 100% of the people currently living today.
  • Yet most of us are suffering from Boiling Frog Syndrome, refusing to give this issue the consideration it merits — which includes our lack of willingness to advocate aggressively for resources to address the many challenges of aging that the clear majority of us WILL face before we die.
  • It surprises most people to learn that, for example, only a fraction of 1% of the research budget of the U.S. Federal Government goes toward the basic biology of aging.   Other countries don’t allocate appreciably greater funding, and some do much less.  ‘Sup with that?
  • Once enough people begin thinking about the physical and cognitive devastation of aging as medical problems that we can actually prevent and reverse – insisting that our political leaders consider it seriously and fund it appropriately – it will change the way we approach the public health “game” completely, with predictably positive results for every single person reading these words.

Our most important health-related goal needs to be applying our resources to solve the global challenge of remaining as healthy as possible for as long as possible – for as many people as possible.
~ mgh

Read more of this post

Surviving Cancer – a celebration


30th Annual National Cancer Survivors Day
June 4th, 2017 — 1st Sunday in June

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

Just a quickie to honor fellow survivors

Although I recently made the decision to post only twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, I couldn’t let today pass without some sort of announcement that might serve as encouragement to anyone still fighting.

Cancer is not always fatal.

My own 5-year clear was decades ago now.

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

From my June Mental Health Awareness Calendar:

30th Annual National Cancer Survivors Day
Sunday, June 4th, 2017  (First Sunday in June)
The Official Website: National Cancer Survivors Day
Improving Cancer Survivors’ Mental Health

As a melanoma survivor myself  — several decades clear now and one of America’s more than 15.5 million cancer survivors — this is indeed a day to celebrate (and pray that lives & research funding will NOT fall victim to short-sighted budget cuts)

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

As an American, I plan to celebrate today by writing to the policy-makers and members of the Appropriations Committee advocating that the budget for medical research and health-related concerns be increased — in strong opposition to the $billions$ of dollars the current administration includes as cuts in their proposed budget.

Won’t you join me?

It is unconscionable to attempt to balance the budget by putting the lives and health of MANY MILLIONS of American citizens at risk.

Making Sense of Remission

Read more of this post

June 2017 Mental Health Awareness


Special days & weeks in June

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for mental health related issues
(and a calendar for the month!)

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the ADD/ADHD Cormidities series

JUNE is PTSD Awareness Month —
June begins with Sleep Disorder Awareness Week
and National Cancer Survivor’s Day

Online Marketing Gurus extol the effectiveness of piggy-backing posts onto particular events – how about one or several of the ones below?
They make GREAT, positive writing prompts!

Mark your blogging calendars!

Many days of the year have been set aside every month to promote awareness or advocacy of an issue, illness, disability, or special-needs related cause.

In addition to a calendar for the current month, each Awareness post attempts to offer a list highlighting important days and weeks that impact and intersect with mental health challenges — reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create additional problems with cognition, mood, memory, follow-through and attention management.

If I’ve missed anything, please let me know in a comment so that I can add it to the list below.

I pray that 2017 will be the year
when EVERYONE becomes aware of
the crying need for upgraded mental health Awareness —
and FUNDING.

Stay tuned for more articles about Executive Functioning struggles and management throughout the year (and check out the Related Posts for a great many already published).

Read more of this post

How well do you REALLY function?


Soldiering ON with less
than Optimal Functioning™
when we could REALLY have a much easier time of it

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
part of the Executive Functioning Series
May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

Do you suffer from boiling frog syndrome?

You’ve probably already heard the story about cooking frogs by putting them in cold or tepid water, then slowly bringing it to a boil — even though they would have jumped out immediately if they were suddenly thrust into hot water.

Other versions of the story assert that, as long as the temperature increases slowly, the frog is able to adjust its body temperature to remain comfortable — until it ultimately becomes too weak to jump out before it’s cooked.

Just a myth, but apt

According to an interesting article on Wikipedia, neither version is true, but the analogy is perfect: as things slowly but steadily worsen, most of us adjust and accommodate, even when we could find ourselves in much better situations if we’d only react more quickly and reach out for help.

  • In my 25+ year coaching career, only a rare few individuals ever reached out for help or brain-based information until they were practically desperate, and almost all had been leading what I call “limp-along lives” for years.
  • More than a few had been taking pricey vacations or eating lunches in restaurants to get away from the stress of the work environment, or indulging in daily caffeine fixes at several dollars a pop, still convinced that they couldn’t afford coaching fees — until they felt they “had no choice.”

For YEARS it only made sense in the context of Boiling Frog Syndrome.

Even if they were cracker-jack “over-achievers” when they were younger, they contributed their functional and cognitive slow-down to aging
. . .  or the demands of parenthood
. . . or the increasing complexities of modern life
. . . or the rise of social media expectations

. . . or anything other than being flat-out worn down by repeated, unrecognized struggles with Executive Functioning they never understood how to overcome.

So What Goes Wrong?

It’s mentally and physically exhausting to continue to swim upstream.

  • As long as you are swimming with the current you get carried downstream with much less thrashing about on your part.
  • Not only that, when you’re swimming upstream, if you stop stroking for even a minute, your life goes backwards.  Nobody can keep up that kind of effort.
  • Before you realize it you are swimming alone, unhappy that life is so much work, but not really expecting it to be easier because you’ve always had to “work twice as hard for half as much” — or so it seems to you in your most private of thoughts.
  • You begin to believe that everybody struggles in the same fashion, but suspect that the others are somehow better able to cope than you are.

But it doesn’t have to be that way

It recently occurred to me that many people don’t reach out for help, perhaps, because they have forgotten (or have never really known) what effective focus and follow-through look like.

They’re falling victim to “that happens to everybody”
or “this is the best I can expect from myself” thinking
to explain and attempt to accept their various challenges.

Things can get WORSE as time goes by . . .

because each new skill must build on the ones before it.

If you never learned to add or subtract, multiplication and division would remain a mystery.

If you never really mastered basic arithmetic, how could anyone expect you to do well as you moved through school?

Similar to moving from basic arithmetic to higher math, learning how to manage life’s many challenges is also an incremental, multi-stepped process.

So, for the next few Mondays, I am going to detail the problems many of my clients had been putting up with because ““that happens to everybody,” and do my best to explain what’s behind the struggle — in the hopes that I will finally inspire more of you to spend a few months working with me to turn things around before you feel like you are about to crash and burn.

Lets START by taking a look at some of the problems
that are NOT “normal” functioning.
Read more of this post

Memory Glitches and Executive Functioning


MEMORY ISSUES:

AGING Executive Functions and Alphabet Disorders
(ADD/HD-EFD, TBI, ABI, OCD, ODD, ASD, PDA, PDD, MDD, MS, etc.)

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from the Memory Issues Series:
Forgetting/Remembering | When Memory Fails

BlankMemoryMEMORY: Movin’ it IN – Movin’ it OUT

With Alzheimer’s getting so much press these days (and with adequate mental healthcare for Americans unlikely for the next four years or more, since extremely short-sighted House Republicans are willing to vote in accord with the unconscionable desires of the billionaire in office) — most of us are likely to be more than a little fearful when our memory slips, even a bit.

Understanding how memory works can help us all calm down —
about at least that much.

As I mentioned in When Memory Fails – Part 2, the process of memory storage is an extremely important part of the memory equation — but if our brain’s librarian can’t find what we want when it comes time to USE the information, what good is it?

 

USB_memorystick 64x64

Human Memory vs. Computer Memory

It would be wonderful if human memory were at least as reliable as those “memory sticks” that allow us to sweep files we need to have with us onto a nifty portable device we can use anywhere we can find a device with a USB port.

Unfortunately, it isn’t.

But before we explore the process of moving information into long-term memory storage, our brains’ version of a “memory stick,” let’s take a look at the ways in which our “neuro-librarians” deliver what we’re looking for once it is stored there.

The “regurgitation” portion of the memory process is a factor of, essentially, three different processes:

  • recognition
  • recall, and
  • recall on demand

Let’s distinguish each of them before we go any further.

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May 2017: Mental Health Awareness


Special days & weeks in May

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for mental health related issues
(and a calendar for the month!)

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the ADD/ADHD Cormidities series

May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
Online Marketing Gurus extol the effectiveness of piggy-backing posts
onto particular events – how about one or several of the ones below?
They make GREAT, positive writing prompts!

It takes a village to transform a world. ~ mgh

Mark your blogging calendars!

Although May has been set aside to promote ALL Mental Health Awareness issues, many days of the rest of the year have been set aside every month to promote awareness or advocacy of an issue, illness, disability, or special-needs related cause.

In addition to a calendar for the current month, included on every Awareness Month list at ADDandSoMuchMORE.com are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create additional problems with cognition, mood, memory, follow-through and attention management.

Since I have written prior articles on many of these issues, I have added links to a few posts with explanations, for those of you who are interested in learning more or blogging about these issues yourselves.

If I’ve missed something Mental Health related that you believe needs inclusion, please let me know why in a comment so that I can add it to the list below.  Thanks!

May 2017 be the year
when everyone becomes aware of
the crying need for upgraded Mental Health Awareness.
All the way to the TOP!

Stay tuned for more articles about Executive Functioning struggles and management throughout the year (and check out the Related Posts for a great many already published).

Read more of this post

What’s my Style?


Interpretation vs. Replication
How do I choose to dress myself today . . .
and how does that affect my brain?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Brain-Based Series
2nd Collaboration with
Jodie’s Touch of Style

Mom Jeans?

Some of you may not have heard the term, and many of my female readers may have heard it often enough to shoot on sight.

Even if you’ve never been aware of the concept of “Mom Jeans” before you read it here, the Moms with teen-aged daughters anywhere near their size don’t need a definition:

If your daughter hasn’t already tried to abscond with your favorite pair of jeans, put them in the Mom Jeans pile, meaning, according to the Saturday Night Live sketch, “Over the hill, lady, just give it up!”

Related Video: Original Mom Jeans Parody

Apparently, 7-9″ zippers are verboten, since waistbands are not allowed anywhere near anyone’s natural waistline anymore.

Even those styles that first came out as “hip huggers” many decades ago ride too high to please teen-aged fashionistas or the networks today.

Still unsure of their own opinions, the kids band together to undercut everyone who no longer has (or never had) the body to dress like they do, and the networks seem willing to do practically anything to curry favor with this demographic.

Something similar seems to happen every generation. We Boomers, remember, turned a skank eye on all of the preferences of the grown-up population when we were teens: “Don’t trust anyone over 30!”

Nobody’s Safe from Censure

Even Dads make good Mom Jeans targets!

Get real. Bodies change as time goes by.
Priorities change too.

Moms & Dads agree

Working hard to be able to send the twins to college somehow totally eclipses spending time in the gym to keep those washboard abs in show-off shape.

Paying for braces for those teen teeth means that questions about fashion are likely to be replaced by far more practical concerns:

  1. Does it fit at all?
  2. Is it clean enough?
  3. Does it need mending?  Or ironing?
  4. Can I breathe in it?

And who cares anyway?

When grownups start dressing to please the average teen (or Madison Avenue Marketing Exec), the world will be in worse shape than it is already.

Everybody knows they won’t be pleased until they are decades older themselves, no matter what we choose to put on our bodies.

And aren’t we pleased as punch that we are no longer in the throes of a time when fitting in with the in-crowd – or rebelling against them – was all that mattered?

Still, being comfortable in our own skin doesn’t necessarily mean giving up, giving in, freezing solid in time, or attempting to keep up with the Joneses’ kids.

Change your Clothes, Change your Brain

So I am continuing the 3-part series with Fashion Blogger Jodie Filogomo of Jodie’s Touch of Style.  We are using the various ways in which women play with the idea of  fashion at different points of their lives to illustrate the importance of play, choice and change to healthy brain aging, taking advantage of the miracle of neuroplasticity.

Just Tuning In?

Jodie models looks and clothing more likely to appeal to 40-50-somethings, her  stepmom, Nancy is the 60’s model, and her mom, Charlotte is the 70’s model.

Read more of this post

Change your Clothes, Change your Brain?


Fashionistas & their Opposites
A brain-based look

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Brain-Based Series
Collaboration with
Jodie’s Touch of Style

Fashionistas First

You’ve seen them on television, on the internet, in the tabloids, maybe even in your own neighborhood, right?

Whatever we think about how they put themselves together, we tend to notice that we see them in a different outfit every time we see them – even if we see them several times on the same day.

Many of us who like to think of ourselves as serious thinkers love to make fun of them.  We frequently believe they’re vapid, self-focused vanity plates wasting time and energy on items that don’t make one whit of difference.

And we’d be wrong.

They might not be changing the world, but they certainly are changing their clothes!  And that’s not such a bad thing, you’ll come to find out as you keep reading.

Frozen Fashionitas

Most of us have met at least one of these ladies.  A perfect example is the college beauty queen who hasn’t changed her style since her heyday, despite the fact that she is now middle aged or older.

Her hairstyle is practically the same, often chemically processed at considerable trouble or expense to remain exactly the same color.  Her wardrobe usually has a slightly “Delta Dawn” feel to it – frozen in time.

Youngsters sometimes point them out in a manner you wish they wouldn’t, and often at the top of their lungs, “Look Mom – that old lady looks just like Aunt Theresa!”

Another example is “Sensible Susie.”

She has decided what is appropriate and what is no longer suitable for any number of reasons: since she’s gained or lost weight, now that she’s older, the kids are in middle school, her husband got a promotion — whatever!

She may well be right, but the problem is that she turns what might have been a good idea into a rule book from which she never varies.

She may be easy to shop for, but nobody would ever accuse her of being “fashion forward,” and she’s often one of the first to point out the supposed flaws in the outfit of a contemporary.

Make way for “Matching Molly”

My own grandmother could have been the Matching Molly poster girl.  If an ensemble was purchased as an outfit, the various items might as well have been sewn together.

Suggesting to her that she could wear the jacket from Outfit A over a dress – or with the skirt from Outfit B – was practically enough to give her apoplexy.

She had a fit if I mixed and matched in my own wardrobe too, especially with items that she had given me as birthday or Christmas presents — there was no such thing as “separates” in my grandmother’s closet or her world view.

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Making friends with CHANGE


Habits, Brain Changes & Brain Aging
Why your brain resists change
and how you can make it do what’s good for it – Part I

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Brain-Based Series
Collaboration with
Jodie’s Touch of Style

“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 

About the Brain that Changes Itself

It took science a long time to agree that an old idea was not only obsolete, but completely WRONG.

Until 1970, it was generally believed that the brain might as well be carved in stone after a certain childhood window of a great deal of change.

What is practically universally accepted these days is that our brains change and grow throughout our lives.

In fact, learning anything new after a certain age would be impossible unless the brain were capable of forming new pathways, which also involves the ongoing creation of brand new brain cells (neurons) and connections (synapses).

Another way to say it

Dr. Norman Doidge, author of The Brain’s Way of Healing and the New York Times best-seller The Brain that Changes Itself (the all-time bestselling science book in Australia) puts it this way:

Plasticity simply means that the brain can change its structure and its function depending on what it does.

And that means, depending on what we react to when we’re sensing and perceiving, our brains will “rewire” depending on the actions that we commit ourselves to, and most intriguingly, depending on what we think and imagine.

ALL of these things can change the structure of the brain.

More about Doidge here: The Brain Science Podcast Turns TEN!

HOWEVER, since the brain is, essentially, a pattern-recognition organ, most human beings kick and scream when we are forced to change. Many of us who would like to change – maybe even those of us who are eager to change – struggle still.

Change is not easy

Change requires our conscious attention to doing things differently. Consciousness is a resource-intensive process. Your brain REALLY doesn’t want to burn up those resources dealing with the same information and making the same decisions over and over again.

Brains like the easy-to-pattern-match same ole/same ole, despite the fact that it’s not particularly good for them long term.

Even though it’s a huge help to put what I like to call the treadmill tasks on autopilot (like laundry, dishes and dusting) – a practice I highly recommend – that old saw about variety turns out to be an understatement where moving through the rest of life is concerned.

Unless spices are the main ingredients in the meals at your house, you are underestimating the importance of change to healthy brain functioning over your entire lifetime.

And still, we resist

Almost ALL of us, ADD/EFD or not, have a small – perfectly “normal” – part of our personalities that balks unless a new idea or different manner of approaching a change in something familiar is totally appealing in the moment we are “supposed” to take it on.  Why?

As I began in an earlier article, Change, Growth and Decision Dilemmas, it is essential to understand a fundamental, psychological truth about all human beings, ADD/EFD or not.

We are conflicted about growth and change.

At bottom, most of us crave safety as strongly as we crave freedom and adventure, although not in equal measure at all times and about all things.

The fact remains that there is a conflicted relationship between making choices at all – and new choices in particular – and preserving the freedom to do whatever we want.  To escape the discomfort of the conflict, it is all too tempting to fall back on “the devil we know” – and so we usually do.

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A Shih Tzu’s take on Brain-based Coaching


April is Counseling Awareness Month!
and I can tell you all about how great coaching works

Guest blogger: TinkerToy

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

People coaches and dog coaches have a lot in common

And so do their clients! We all like treats and fun and attaboys — and we all hate the nasty voice!

Some coaches do that tough-love thing, but Mom doesn’t believe that the nasty voice ever works.  It just makes us too scared to keep trying.  She doesn’t even do the nasty voice when she tells me no.

And we all LOVE it when we can suddenly do something we never could before — it’s just that the things that 4-legses and 2-legses figure out how to do are different.

Mom coaches over the phone and I hang out in her office and listen in. She says the only reason I’m allowed to stay around and eavesdrop is because I can’t tell anybody except other dogs.  They don’t care anyway – they don’t even know these 2-legses.

But I’ve learned a LOT about 2-legs coaching that way, and Mom decided to let me tell you some of her coaching secrets (besides fun and laughing – there’s always a lot of that when she coaches).

FIRST you have to be ready, willing and able

Even the coaches who don’t know the first thing about how the brain works say that, but I don’t know why any coaches put it that way – kinda’ dumb if you ask me. What makes more sense is able first, then ready, and willing last of all!

When I was hardly bigger than my mom’s two fists I wasn’t able to do a lot of things I can do now easy-peasey.

Even once I got a little bigger, my tiny brain was still learning about things like eating crunchy food and running.

It took a while for my brain to be ready before it could even think about being willing to learn to do more – like where it was okay to go to the bathroom, and tricks for treats.

Not that babies are looking for coaching – that would be silly – but when grown up two-legses are sick, or in the middle of something they don’t need help with, or recovering from an operation, they might not be ABLE to add coaching to what they have to manage right then.

My Mom wants me to be sure to add that anybody who’s an active addict will never be able until they are clean and sober for at least a year and working a program. 

She says that first they have to be available for change, with a mind that’s not cloudy or thinking about drugs and stuff.

Next you have to be ready

The time has to be right and you have to make room in your days.

  • I’m never ready when I’m really sleepy, for example, not even to play some of my favorite games.
  • I’m not ready when other dogs are around either.  We all  have to have private time with our coach to be able concentrate on what were up to.
  • And I’m never ever gonna’ to be ready to cut back on my time with my fans at my Cheers bar (where everybody knows my name), even for all the best treats in the world!

Some of my mom’s earliest clients didn’t seem to be ready to make room in their schedules at all — not even for all of their appointments over the phone.

They kept missing them over and over – or calling to say that something had come up, like it was the very first time instead of mostly.

They kept themselves too busy to have time to even think about coaching tricks during the week, or do even the simplest coaching homework – like making a list of their challenges or something – and they weren’t ready to say no to something old  to make room for something new.

They just weren’t ready period, no matter how much they said they wanted their lives to be easier and better.

Poor Mom had to tell them to come back when they were ready. Even when she first started out and really needed the money, she never kept coaching anybody she couldn’t help.

Like CATS, for example – most cats don’t want to be ready.
They practically dare you to try to make a difference with them.

Different Rates

Mom does whatever she can to make coaching affordable for most anybody who really wants it, but she gives me the family discount (meaning free, since I don’t have any way to get money anyhow I barter with kisses).

But sometimes 2-legses haven’t made room in their budgets for their coaching fees – or else they spent the money they set aside on something they suddenly decided they simply had to have.

That meant they couldn’t keep coaching long enough for things to turn around in their lives (even for group coaching, which doesn’t cost as much as coaching with Mom privately).

That’s another way you have to be ready – for about six months for most 2-legses, according to Mom – which sounds long but really isn’t when you consider that your whole life can be more fun after you pick up a few new tricks.

Anyway, you can keep coaching for as long as you want once you know the basic tricks – even years for some of her clients.  There’s always more to learn, and she really helps 2-legses get things done from week to week, so life moves forward easier and faster.

Last but not least you have to be willing

Mom says that mostly means it has to be your own idea.  It won’t work if you’re doing it because somebody else decided it would be good for you, for example – or threatened you into it.  You probably wouldn’t let it work – like those cats.

Dog clients don’t have to worry about the next part, but 2 legses also have to be willing to tell the truth to their coach, even if that means they have to be willing to feel a little embarrassed sometimes (like when I get caught tearing up paper, for example – whenever it tempts me the room is covered in confetti before I can stop myself).

And you have to be willing to keep getting back on the horse – even though I don’t know if you have to actually be able to ride a horse to be able to get a coach.

I don’t think so, but I’m not really sure about that part.  You can ask my mom before you sign up for it, anyway.

The fun starts once you decide you are able, ready and willing!

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April 2017: Mental Health Awareness


Special days & weeks in April

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for mental health related issues
(and a calendar for the month!)
Posting a day late so nobody shouts, April Fools!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the ADD/ADHD Cormidities series

Online Marketing Gurus extol the effectiveness of piggy-backing posts
onto particular events – how about one or several of the ones below?
They make GREAT writing prompts!

It takes a village to transform a world. ~ mgh

Mark your blogging calendars!

Many days of the year have been set aside every month to promote awareness or advocacy of an issue, illness, disability, or special-needs related cause.  It has – or will – affect most of us at some point in our lives.

The World Health Organization [WHO] has identified mental illness as a growing cause of disability worldwide.  They predict that, in the future, mental illness – and depression in particular – will be the top cause of disability.

That’s globally, by the way.  There has been an 18% increase in depression alone in the decade from 2005 to 2015.

Awareness Helps

In addition to a calendar for the current month, each Awareness post offers a list highlighting important days and weeks that impact and intersect with mental health issues.

Included on every Awareness Month list at ADDandSoMuchMORE.com are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create problems with cognition, mood, memory, follow-through and attention management.

There are quite a few events in April, so I haven’t lengthened the post by adding text to explain them all.  Instead, I have added links to related posts, blogs and websites with explanations, for those of you who are interested in learning more – or considering blogging about these issues (make sure you come back and leave a link if you do).

If I’ve missed anything, please let me know
in a comment so that I can add it to the list below.

May 2017 be the year
when EVERYONE becomes aware of
the crying need for upgraded Mental Health Awareness
especially at the top!

Stay tuned for more articles about Executive Functioning struggles and management throughout the year (and check out the Related Posts for a great many already published).

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Take Me Out to the BALLGAME!


Life gets GOOD

Once you understand
how to drive the very brain you were born with
— even if it’s taken a few hits in the meantime™

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Diagnosis & Treatment series

A lot of people have ADHD,
but they don’t want to talk about it.
But I am who I am,
and I don’t feel bad about it.
~ Major league baseball player Andrés Torres

Late to the Party

I have to admit that, because I’ve never been the world’s biggest sports fan, I’m more than a bit late to this particular party.

Maybe some of you missed it too?

I just read a heartwarming human interest sports story about Andrés Torres, a ball-playing superstar who couldn’t get to first base until he accepted that he needed to get real about a treatment protocol for his AD”H”D.

As the New York Times article began:

“Discerning a fastball from a changeup is difficult enough; imagine doing it with untethered focus, attention meandering.

This was precisely the obstacle impeding Andrés Torres, who stumbled for a decade through baseball’s minor leagues, working for a break, always falling short.

Only when Torres accepted the extent to which he was debilitated by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, finally embracing the medication and therapy prescribed five years earlier, did he begin to blossom as a ballplayer.”

And blossom he most certainly did!

In case you don’t follow baseball very closely either, after many disheartening years of limping along, barely functioning in an arena that was incredibly important to him — no matter how hard he worked — his story took a dramatic turn for the better.

In 2010 Torres helped the San Francisco Giants win the World Series —
before moving on to play center field and bat leadoff for the Mets.

If you aren’t already aware of his story, and especially if you are still struggling yourself or are the parent of a child who is struggling, click to read a few of the links in the Related Content section, always at the end of my articles.

Ring me in

As the founder of the ADD/EFD Coach Training field, co-founder of the ADD Coaching field, an ADD/EFD advocate, coach, trainer & speaker for over 25 years now [and the ADD Poster Girl herself], I can assure you that this article was RIGHT ON in terms of their point of view.

Unfortunately, the scientific point of view is under-reported, most likely because the complex nature of Executive Functioning disorders makes them difficult to recognize and harder still for anyone who isn’t highly ADD/EFD-literate to diagnose.

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How do brains get damaged? Is yours?


Even a “little” hit to the head can cause problems that can last for years
But that’s not the ONLY way your brain can be damaged

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the TBI/PTSD Brain-based Series

In our attempt to understand ourselves and our environment, we often end up talking about the brain — “that three pound lump of jelly you can hold in the palm of your hand” ~ V.S. Ramachandran

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month
Brain Awareness Week
– March 13-19, 2017

More Common that you realize

Brain Injury can happen to anyone in the blink of an eye, whether it happens as the result of stroke, car accident, playing football, taking a tumble off a bike, or sometimes even when you trip and fall walking down the sidewalk.

After-effects can persist for years in some cases — and you don’t actually have to hit your head to bruise your brain, by the way.

The only brains most of us have ever seen are models, or brains that have been solidified by chemicals, leading us to believe that they are solid structures that are fairly rugged — and that it might take a significant hit to damage a brain.

Nope! The living brain is soft, floating around inside a fluid filled environment keeping it from bumping up against the inside of a hard skull that, in turn, is protecting the fragile brain itself.

The severity of brain damage can vary with the type of brain injury.

  • A mild brain injury is temporary, sometimes barely seeming to cause much of a problem at all, and often limited to headaches, confusion, memory problems and nausea when it does.
  • In a moderate brain injury, symptoms often last longer, can be more pronounced and can result in other challenges and impairments.

In the majority of cases of mild to moderate brain damage your brain recovers completely, as long as you give it time to heal.

Don’t let that encourage you to take brain injury lightly

Your brain can be easily injured bumping up against that bony skull, even when no hit to the head was involved in the original accident — especially the PFC [prefrontal cortex], the executive functioning portion right behind your forehead.

In addition to brain injuries that involve even limited damage to the skull, anything that makes the brain “slosh around” in the fluid in a manner that causes it to come in contact with the skull results in at least minor brain damage.  What frequently follows can be much worse.

Subsequent swelling or bleeding is a big problem with shaken baby syndrome, for example. I also learned from the overnight death of the young brother of a colleague that all children injured in sledding accidents need to be taken to the doctor to be checked out immediately – before you put them to bed.

Closed head injuries frequently result in what is called diffuse brain damage — damage to several areas of the brain — that also can cause a variety of subsequent problems with cognition, speech and language, vision, or difficulties getting other parts of the body to respond.

Anyone who has a head or brain injury needs immediate medical attention. Depending on the extent and location of the damage, brain injury that seems mild can be as dangerous as more overtly serious injuries.

The extent of potential brain damage is determined by neurological examination, usually including X-rays or brain scans, and neuro-psychological assessments that check out reflexes and cognitive abilities. After checking for brain bleeds and swelling, the first goal is to stabilize the patient to make sure that blood pressure is controlled, and that blood carrying oxygen is flowing to the brain to prevent further injury.

With the correct diagnosis and treatment that contains the damage, even more serious brain injuries do not necessarily have to result in long-term disability or impairment, although approximately half of severe injuries require surgery to repair a ruptured blood vessel or to relieve pressure on the brain.

Every brain injury is different – and ALL need time to heal

Found on Pinterest

Regardless of cause, brain injuries can range from mild to severe, with a majority of cases you hear about being concussions.

It can sometimes take many years for brains to heal from certain kinds of damage, but it always takes longer than a day or two for your brain to recover completely from even minor damage – and longer still if you suffer another injury while it’s still healing.

Football players eager to get back on the field aren’t the only ones who fail to understand why and how long they have to take it easy to avoid long-term damage, even when they believe they are ready to hard-charge it again.

You really do have to take it easy afterwards, just as you would if you’d injured an arm or a leg, but even more important.

Brain damage disrupts the brain’s normal functioning, and can affect thinking, understanding, word-retrieval and language skills, and/or memory, sometimes for years afterwards and sometimes not evident until years later.

Other than those who play professional sports, males between 15 and 24 are most vulnerable because they are the population most frequently engaging in risky behaviors. Young children and the aging also have a higher risk, probably because they are most likely to have balance challenges that result in falls.

Symptoms of Brain Injury

There are many, but negative effects cluster in what can be thought of in terms of three functional systems:

(1) intellect, which is the information-handling aspect of behavior;
(2) emotionality, which concerns feelings and motivations;  and
(3) control, which has to do with how behavior is expressed.
Source: Neuropsychological Assessment, 3nd  Ed., 1995,  by Muriel D. Lezak

These commonly include trouble with some or all of the following: 

• attention and concentration 
• short-term memory   • organizing/prioritizing
• impulsiveness   • task switching,
  and occasionally
• poor social skills   and   • mood swings.

EXCELLENT Related Post:
Lost & Found: What Brain Injury Survivors Want You to Know

Causes of Brain Injuries

In this article we won’t be looking at brain damage in the womb as part of a genetic or congenital disorder (fetal alcohol syndrome, for example) or damage to the fetus due to maternal illness or accident.

I also won’t cover in this post what is often referred to as Acquired Brain Injury [ABI] — brain damage due to disease, stroke, medication, alcohol and drug use, or oxygen deprivation. ABIs affect the brain at a cellular level, most often associated with pressure on the brain, or as the result of a neurological illness.

I want to focus on the kind of brain damage most likely to affect most of you who read and follow ADDandSoMuchMore.com — and the most commonly reported source of brain damage is trauma.

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