Chrono-Crazy: N-24 vs. DSPS


November 24th is
N-24 Awareness Day
Let’s take a closer look at
Sleep TIMING

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

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!
I hope everybody was awake for it.

Even as I typed the words above, I figured that many of you would think I was kidding – while others of you, sadly, weren’t “on phase” enough to be awake and alert for a joyful celebration.

Some of you may even have snoozed-on well past the time you were supposed to arrive for that Thanksgiving luncheon. And I’ll bet at least one of you reading slept the day away.

And I ALSO bet you catch a lot of flak from your “sleep normal” friends and loved ones about your screwy sleep schedule — even if you have been formerly diagnosed with one of the Chronorhythm Sleep Disorders and have attempted to explain your challenges with sleep a number of times.

At least that’s been true for me for most of my life.

What’s going on here?  (Sleep TIMING glitches!)

I’ve written quite a few prior articles about sleep timing, some linked in the Related Content section at the bottom of this article, with links to all of the articles available from my Sleep Linklist: Everything you ever wanted to know about Sleep.

As I previously explained in articles about CRSD (ChronoRhythm Sleep Disorders) and N-24 (Non-24 Hour Sleep/Wake Syndrome), there is a part of everybody’s brain that regulates body rhythms, especially sleep – the suprachiasmatic nucleus.

SEE: When Your Sleep Clock is Broken

That’s what makes some people Morning Larks and some people Night Owls – most of them only slightly skewed to one end or the other.

Even though many can adapt to the sleep timing expectations of their circumstances, they are only sharpest when their body clock tells them they are supposed to be awake and alert and when they are supposed to be drowsy.

And that’s why many of us struggle to fall asleep at “standard” hours — early enough to be fully rested before we have to get up to start the next day. Many of those strugglers suspect insomnia, but it has never been troubling enough to pursue a formal diagnosis.

Then there are those whom others consider “extreme larks” and “extreme owls” – most of whom, whether they realize it or not, are probably diagnostic for one of the disorders of sleep TIMING.

Some of those individuals have been MIS-diagnosed with insomnia when what’s really going on is that their brain’s clock isn’t set to support standard sleep timing!

Disorders of Sleep TIMING

Even though today is N-24 Awareness Day, this particular article is going to distinguish between N-24 (where a person’s body clock insists that the day is longer than the 24 hours that is relatively standard here on earth) and another disorder that is frequently confused with it: Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome [DSPS] or Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder [DSPD].

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Flashback: Can This ADDer Be Saved? – Part 3


Keeping Track to Focus Energy

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

Going for the Gold!

Part-3 of this story outlines the two very different manners in which two best friends with two very different kinds of ADD stepped through the process of working with the same ADD Coach.

They designed increasingly more effective lives that suited their two extremely different working styles and individual goals.

This part’s a bit longer, but it’s a real feel-good – especially for those of us who will never be as organized as Katy – and I think most of you will enjoy reading it to the end.

Throughout this story I will continue to use “ADD” instead of the DSM-5 “ADHD.”
Click HERE to find out why.

A few Coaching Results from Clients themselves found HERE

Onward and Upward!

As you learned in Part-2, after that fateful day when Katy Nolan finally “hit the wall,” she did something that is still rather unusual in the ADD universe: she began looking for an ADD Coach immediately. (Click HERE to read PART 1 of this story, where Katy “hits the wall”)

Pinterest – from a 1940s catalogue

Katy had already learned a lot about ADD from her next door neighbor and best friend Barb, listening to her process her pathway through diagnosis and treatment over endless cups of coffee.

She just never imagined that any of her own struggles might be ADD-related.

She and Barb were so different.

SHE had always been so in-control and competent – able to keep up and keep it together, even if it killed her.

Barb had always been the maverick — a free-wheeling spirit who never seemed to get it all together.  There were more than a few days when Barb didn’t even make it out of her pajamas, with many afternoons when Barb’s oldest kids came home from school suspecting that they’d have to start dinner because she’d lost track of the time.  Again.

Still, the more Barb talked, that fateful day in the kitchen, the more Katy could see how similar differences in the brain might possibly have very different presentations.

Besides, Katy was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and was desperate for explanations, even though she was more than half afraid she would discover there were no answers.

If it worked for Barb . . .

Katy could really see the difference in Barb since she started working with her ADD Coach.  Not only had Barb learned a great deal more about ADD, she was finally doing something other than merely dreaming about becoming a professional photographer – Barb’s dream since the two best-friends first met.

Donna helped Barb figure out what it would take for her to do it, and then coached her through each of the steps on her road.

Barb hadn’t found her dream job yet, and she certainly wasn’t pulling in a six-figure salary, but some of her photos were finally beginning to show up in print somewhere besides her basement studio.

The first time a small check for her work appeared in Barb’s mailbox, both women felt like she’d won the lottery.  Those checks are not only arriving more often, they are getting bigger, bit by bit.

Katy could barely articulate her own goals when she began calling in for coaching – other than waking up in any state besides total exhaustion and not letting anything major slide off her very busy plate.

Still, she appreciated having the kind of focused guidance Barb had received as she prioritized her own next steps, without fearing that she was about to turn everything else in her life upside down.

Tracking in her Coaching Notebook

Donna, Katy and Barb’s ADD Coach, requests that each of her clients immediately set up a coaching notebook: a three ringed binder with tabbed dividers, where they can securely “file” everything coaching-related in one easy-to-locate, easy-to-update, easy-to-grab location — pages secured, yet easy to rearrange at will.

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Friday Fun: Happy Thanksgiving!


Things that inspire GRATITUDE
heheheh!
(Let’s laugh the whole thing off)

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

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

Let me begin by wishing a sincere (though belated) Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends who celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of every October – no doubt because the harvest comes earlier “up there.”

I hope it was joyful —
and that you can all finally button your pants again.

Last year’s American Thanksgiving post started out sincerely and crept into funnies.  Although most of us somehow made it through the year since last November’s election here in the used-to-be-good ole’ USA, I think we need a lot more humor to lift our spirits as we limp toward the New Year holding our collective breath.

So even if you’re rushing around hoping to be able to celebrate Turkey-lurkey Day with a modicum of calm this coming Thursday, here’s a bit of humor to help you keep some perspective.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Are you hosting the upcoming feast, taking assorted dishes prepared in your own kitchen to somebody else’s table, or not cooking at all this year because you have been invited elsewhere or plan to dine on restaurant cousine?

Is anybody currently dieting in preparation for Thursday’s pig-out, or have we all already given up and given in to the 10 pound holiday creep?

Whatever! Let’s get the weekend started with a few chuckles.

Take a look at a few time-related funnies that I tripped across on Pinterest.

How many of the situations below make YOU nod your head?

YOU PLAY TOO

If you have something on your website or blog that relates to the theme, especially if it’s humorous, please feel free to leave a link in a comment.

Keep it to one link per comment or you’ll be auto-spammed, but multiple comments are just fine and most welcome.

AND NOW for some more humor TODAY . . .

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Flashback: Can This ADDer Be Saved? – Part 2


Katy Moves Forward

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

This week let’s take a look at some of the background details of the story begun in Part-one of this 4-part article, posted last Monday.

Click HERE to read PART 1 of this story

This part of the story outlines the steps Katy took to locate her support structures, leading up to her decision to hire Donna as her coach. Throughout this story I will continue to use “ADD” instead of the DSM-5 “ADHD.”  Click HERE to find out why.

 

A few Coaching Results from Clients themselves found HERE

You GO Girl!

After that fateful day when Katy Nolan finally “hit the wall,” she did something that is still rather unusual in the ADD universe: she began looking for a Coach immediately.

Since she was intimately aware of every little detail of her best friend and next door neighbor Barb Sitwell’s coaching sessions, Katy knew right away that she, too, wanted that kind of help.

Those first couple of years after diagnosis had been extremely frustrating for Barb, and both women could really see the difference in Barb’s life since she and Larry could finally afford to have Barb begin working with her Coach.

Katy believed she had all the ADD-info she needed

After all, she had been listening to Barb process every step since diagnosis, and they both had seen Barb’s many challenges for years before that, even though they only recently understood the reasons behind them.

Since she and her best friend were so very different, Katy wasn’t at all convinced
that it would turn out that she herself had ADD.

Still, she liked the idea of having some kind of guide to help her step through the process, identifying and prioritizing each of her own inevitable next steps following what Barb called Katy’s recent Boggle – no matter what the reason behind it turned out to be.

Whatever was going on, she was sure she didn’t have time to agonize over how to proceed without upsetting the tenuous control she exerted over the responsibilities she was already juggling.

Unlike their friends the Sitwells, the Nolans were a two-income family. They didn’t have to wait for a raise or a promotion to be able to hire the services Katy needed and wanted, and Katy couldn’t fathom finding the time or energy to add self-education to a schedule that was already jam-packed.

But which coach?

Although she trusted Barb’s Coach Donna already, and it was obvious from her work with Barb that Donna had a lot of information about ADD under her belt, Katy was initially concerned that the sessions would take place over the telephone.

She also wondered if hiring an ADD Coach before she
knew for sure if she even had ADD might be premature.

She was dubious of any advice to hire a Coach and a therapist, and more than a little ambivalent about the possibility of medication.  Still, she was more than ready to embrace any diagnosis that would offer an explanation for her feeling that she was always swimming against the current,” swept backwards every time she missed a single stroke!

After quickly mulling it over, she decided that placing a call for an appointment to check out her considerations and assumptions with Donna might be wise.

Besides, at this point, she didn’t know what else she might try.

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What happens when we’re hungry?


Hunger can affect more than our mood
It can also influence our willingness to engage in risky behavior

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

Hunger and the Brain

You have probably noticed that being hungry can affect your overall mood and feelings of well-being — and that hungry people are often difficult to deal with.

Memes all over the internet frequently
describe that feeling as “hangry.”

But did you know that hunger can also influence the way you respond and make decisions, encouraging you to engage in risky behavior? This reaction can be seen in a wide range of species in the animal kingdom.

Experiments conducted on the fruit fly, Drosophila, by scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology have shown that hunger not only modifies behavior, but also changes the use of neural pathways, revealing that hunger affects decision making and risk perception.

For those who don’t understand why scientists bother studying fruit flies:

  1. the fruit fly is a wonderful genetic model organism for circuit neuroscience (studying connections) and gene/behavior influences.  (Model organisms that are especially valuable when similar early-stage research simply could not be carried out in humans);
  2. their extremely short life-cycle allows research labs to observe effects over many generations quickly – in an extremely cost-effective manner;
  3. their small size means that the equivalent of the entire population of a city like New York could be kept on a measly stack of trays in a single laboratory
  4. scientists and labs usually don’t have to overcome a public perception problem.  Except for incredibly ignorant comments like the ones made by Sarah Palin when she complained loudly about “totally wasted research funds” during the 2008 Presidential campaign, very few educated people rally to object to research on fruit flies.

Related posts:
A Lesson for Sarah Palin on Fruit Fly Research – YouTube
Mapping behavior in the fruit fly brain — ScienceDaily

DID YOU KNOW THAT, among other things . . .

…they can be used to study sleep — that coffee keeps them awake, and that old fruit flies sleep less than young ones?

…the first “jet lag genes” were found in these flies, which aided in their discovery in humans?

…the first learning genes were discovered in fruit flies and operate in the same manner in humans?

…in fact, about 75% of human disease genes have a recognizable match in fruit flies? (i.e., “Homologous” – having the same or a similar correspondence, as in relative position, structure and/or function)

…since they can get drunk and addicted to alcohol, they have been immensely helpful in addiction research?

…they have advanced our understanding of cancer, epilepsy & Alzheimer’s enormously and can be used to help develop future medicines for these conditions?

…they have functionally similar stem cells and have taught us a great deal about their behavior and regulation?

…they lead the way in dietary research, helping science discover what to eat for healthy ageing?

…Drosophila is the insect behind 10 Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine?

Source: Why the fly? | Manchester Fly Facility

And NOW they are helping scientists study the effect of hunger and nutrition on behavior.

Field observations and studies of other lab animals have shown us that the willingness of many animals to take risks increases or decreases depending on whether or not the animal is hungry. (For example, a predator in the wild only hunts more dangerous prey when it is close to starvation.)

In recent years, this behavior has even been documented in humans: one study showed that hungry subjects took significantly more financial risks than their colleagues who had eaten their fill.

In addition, it seems that the fruit fly, Drosophila, changes its behavior depending on its nutritional state.

But how does that work in the brain,
and what can we learn from it?

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Flashback: Can This ADDer be Saved?


A Tale of Two Clients – Part 1

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reposting an article in the The ADD Coaching Series

In a comment communication with  mike2all on his blog ReadAfterBurnout.com, I was recently asked about my coaching.  I took his question to mean, “How does your Coaching work?”

After a relatively brief response to his question I also encouraged him to take a look at a 4-part series of articles written shortly after I first began blogging here on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com.

That got me thinking that it might be time to repost an edited version of each part of this short-story like article.  I doubt that many of my new readers in the past five or so years since these articles were originally published have seen any of them.

They are written in a “magazine conversational” style, and are each relatively quick reads. STAY TUNED for newly edited versions of the remainder of the story.

Can This ADDer be Saved?

A few brief stories of Coaching Results from Clients themselves found HERE


 

And so it begins . . .

Like many of us, Katy Nolan was a full time homemaker with a full-time job.

She adored her husband Paul, a terrific father — but not really much help around the house, meaning not really much help with anything having anything to DO with running a household, actually.

Sometimes she joked that she had three kids — Mary, her second-grader, Tom her big fourth-grader, and Paul, the baby! Fortunately, Katy was one of the most organized women anyone knew, so she managed somehow to keep the home-fires burning, despite the demands of  a high-stress job.

Most days she managed to stay on top of things, but she went to bed exhausted every night and woke up every morning dreading the day. She loved her job, her kids, her marriage, and their newly remodeled home — but deep in her heart she hated her life.

“What’s wrong with me?” she often wondered.

THE DAY THE WORLD CHANGED

The words that started Katy’s day were about the worst she could possibly imagine, “Mommy, I don’t feel very good!”

“Not today!” she complained under her breath, feeling guilty for the thought.
“Please let her be well enough to go to school today and I promise I’ll be Florence Nightingale tomorrow!”

Her upcoming week was booked solid with urgent work to-dos and a million errands related to the upcoming Easter holiday. She had taken the day off to work on an important report due Friday — without the distractions of the office.

For some reason she usually struggled to get her thoughts on paper at the office with the background of the constant ringing of the telephones and chatting of her office-mates.  She also struggled against the frequent interruptions of her new boss, the micro-manager’s micro-manager. Her recent memo about the “slippage” of the quality of Katy’s reports was scathing.

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Friday Fun: Springing & Falling


PLEASE don’t make us
change our clocks again! ::sigh::
Meanwhile, let’s try to laugh the whole thing off

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

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

Is it just me or didn’t we just change all the clocks?  Or at least we were supposed to. (Surely I’m not the only one who still has some of her clocks and watches set at the same time they were supposed to be set the last time we fell back?)

Am I the only one confused by the fact that in America they call it “Daylight Saving Time” whichever way the clock gets set?

Hmmm . . . well, in case anyone doubts the fact that my expertise is the result of life-long personal experience, this post might remove the doubts, at least where my relationship to time is concerned!

Source: cartoonaday.com

Who WANTS this nonsense?  Does anybody actually like dancing this springingly/fallingly two-step?

Ho hum.  It’s not like it matters to anyone in charge anyway.

Don’t forget it’s coming up again this Sunday, at least for those of us living in America (or is that technically Monday morning – or maybe Saturday night late?)

Whatever! Let’s get the weekend started with a few chuckles.

Take a look at a few time-related funnies that I tripped across, mostly on Pinterest.

How many of the situations below make YOU nod your head?

YOU PLAY TOO

If you have something on your website or blog that relates to the theme, especially if it’s humorous, please feel free to leave a link in a comment.

Keep it to one link per comment or you’ll be auto-spammed, but multiple comments are just fine and most welcome.

AND NOW for some more humor TODAY . . .

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Things that scare dogs on Halloween


Who Needs Ghost Stories?!
Guest RE-blogger: TinkerToy

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

Happy Halloween everybody!

Mom said I could write another post for Halloween this year, but she hogged our computer so much I couldn’t get it done.  Sheesh!

But I didn’t want to give up the chance to say hello to all my fur and feather pals (and their two-legses), so I decided to try the “press this” thing on the one I finally convinced her to let me write last year.

I even repeated the links to some of the blogs of my buds on the bottom of this “reblog”, so you could get to be friends with them too.

Some of my Mom’s two-legses friends have some pretty cool Halloween offerings this year, and there are links to a few of those below as well.

I hope you like my Halloween post (I promise that it’s A LOT shorter than most of Mom’s stuff) – and that you’ll let me know that you took the time to click over to the original to see some of the photos I included.

If they weren’t so scary they’d be really funny!


Scary things done to dogs

TinkerToy here, reminding you not judge me for that. (Remember, I didn’t get much of a vote, and Killer wasn’t on the menu.)

That’s NOT me over there, by the way. It’s one of the scary things — done to a dog that looks a lot like me.

Mom wasn’t planning to let me at the computer for a few more weeks last year. BUT, since my first ever post, Blogging Tips from a Shih Tzu got more comments than any of hers, she couldn’t exactly think up a good reason to say no.

This is a reblog of my second ever blog post — and it’s about the scariest thing about Halloween.

NOT what you think!

I’ll bet you were thinking I was going to blog about the hateful two-legs who abandon dogs, the horrors of puppy mills, or dog-abuse.

While those are ALL very scary things indeed, my Halloween post is going to focus on what the two-legs do to us on this one particular day each year — just because they think it’s funny, and just because they can.

Yep – dog costumes!

Even before I was born, Mom had a Pinterest Board called Deck the Dog where she pinned all sorts of pictures of puppies and dogs dressed in all manner of outfits. She said it made her laugh. (Weird sense of humor, this two-leg I live with.)

THEN, shortly after she heard about the Halloween Costume Party at my Cheers bar down the street, I caught her looking for “ideas” – and not very many of them looked like pictures of anything she’s thinking about for her.

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November 2017 Mental Health Awareness


November includes N-24 Awareness Day

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for many other mental health (and related) issues

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

I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.
Edward Everett Hale

Each month is peppered with a great many special dates dedicated to raising awareness about important emotional, physical and psychological health issues that intersect, exacerbate or create problems with cognition, mood and attention management.

ALL great blogging prompts!

As October comes to a close, it is almost time for a brand new month filled with days designed to remind us all to help spread awareness and acceptance to help overcome the STIGMA associated with “invisible disabilities” and cognitive challenges — as well as to remain grateful for our own mental and physical health as we prepare for the upcoming holidays.

Mark your blogging calendars . . .

. . . and start drafting your own awareness posts to share here. Scroll down for the November dates, highlighting important days and weeks that impact mental health — as well as those remaining active for the entire month. (The calendar is not my own, btw, so not all mental health awareness events linked below are included ON the calendar.)

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

Attention Bloggers: If you write (or have written) an article that adds content to any of these categories — or other mental health related days in November — please leave us all a link in the comment section. I will move it into its appropriate place on the list in the article, or into the Related Content section.  It will remain for next year’s calendar as long as the link works.

And please feel free to reblog this post if time runs short.

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Habit Formation BASICS


Understanding the HABIT habit
How your BRAIN wants you to do it

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

Your Brain is Habit-Building Friendly

© Creative Commons on Wikipedia from Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator

Habits are patterns – and the human brain has evolved to be a pattern-recognition machine.

As we learned in an earlier post in the Habit Series, Brain-based Habit Formation, a part of our brain called the basal ganglia keeps track of those links that are built through repetition.

It’s important to know and remember that pathways remain available for reactivation as long as the basal ganglia are intact.

That can be BOTH good news and bad.

  • It’s good news if we drop out the activities that lead to the development of a behavior we want in our lives and decide we want to try again.
  • It’s bad news when we stop paying attention to building our new habit and backslide into the non-productive ones before we know it.

In an MIT report of a 2005 study, Dana Alliance member Ann Graybiel wrote encouragingly,

“We knew that neurons can change their firing patterns when habits are learned, but it is startling to find that these patterns reverse when the habit is lost, only to recur again as soon as something kicks off the habit again.”

To underscore what we covered in Part-1 of the entire Habit Series,
Habits, Decisions and Attention . . .

In a 2011 Associated Press article, Dr. Nora Volkow explained that most individuals assign more value to an immediate reward than a long-term goal, based on what science reports about the preferences and behaviors of study participants.

Those study subjects probably represent most human beings fairly closely.

——————–
Dr. Volkow is a Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives [Dana Foundation] member,
and director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA]

She goes on to say that the pleasure our brain gets from repeatedly reinforcing the immediate reward is transformed over time into a habit through the processes modulated by the neurotransmitter dopamine (which long-time readers may remember from Brain-based Habit Formation: the Dopamine Pleasure/Reward System).

Volkow explains that the dopamine-rich part of the brain named the striatum (the major input station of the basal ganglia system), “memorizes rituals and routines that are linked to getting a particular reward. Eventually, those environmental cues trigger the striatum to make some behaviors almost automatic.”

Hold that thought!

Especially for ADD/EFD readers

Many of you already know that one of the reasons why stimulant medication is effective is that it increases the bioavailability of dopamine, the amount available for your brain to use.

Impaired dopamine metabolism in many of the citizens of Alphabet City almost approaches reward-deficiency syndrome [RDS]which is the main reason why consistent and immediate positive feedback is frequently required to reward our ongoing efforts and keep us on task.

Related Post: Virtue is NOT its own Reward

Volkow’s research is great news for us, however – it means that we can learn to manipulate our own dopamine production, even without medication!

Releasing more dopamine through the brain’s automatic response to performing positive habitual activities allows our brains to feel increasingly more pleasure.

That serves as wind beneath our wings as we develop even MORE new habits – as long as we keep it up. The additional dopamine will help with intentional focus overall, too!

No need for the rest of you reading to feel left out, however.

Creating habits that get us where we want to go eventually becomes its own reinforcement no matter how our brains were originally wired — as long as we don’t continually reactivate our bad habits.

Like attracts like

As explained in Habits, Decisions & Attention, Keystone Habits are habitual behaviors that have what is sometimes termed “a multiplier effect,” serving as a CUE for additional habits in harmony with the original set of actions.

By taking advantage of the multiplier effect of Keystone Habits, attracting the formation of positive changes congruent with the original habits, less productive habits will be naturally “pushed aside” by the new pathways created by the new habits — unless we continue to reactivate the old pathways.

That’s the reason why I gave you the final assignment in the previous habits post: “identify what you want to create instead.”  That will be step-one in determining which habits will be congruent with your keystone habits.

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Why you might have problems reading longer articles


What you “see” is not simply up to your eyes
The sensory input must be interpreted correctly by the brain

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another Sensory Integration post

“What if you’re receiving the same sensory information as everyone else, but your brain is interpreting it differently?

Then your experience of the world around you will be radically different from everyone else, maybe even painfully so.” ~ Temple Grandin, Autistic Brain

And sometimes not

In my last article on Sensory Sensitivies, [Turtlenecks and Wool – Yea or Nay?] I explained a bit about temperature and tactile sensitivites that most of us probably believe are simply our own little quirks and preferences.

With examples and stories, I hoped to illustrate that sensory integration issues are not nearly as rare as you might believe, even though we hear most about them in the Autism Spectrum population.

“Studies of nonautistic children have shown that more than half have a sensory symptom, that one in six has a sensory problem significant enough to affect his daily life; and that one in twenty should be formally diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, meaning that the sensory problems are chronic and disruptive.” ~ Temple Grandin, Autistic Brain

Sensory Scrambling at the far end

Most people “can’t imagine a world where scratchy clothes make you feel like you’re on fire or where a siren sounds ‘like someone drilling a hole in [their] skull.’ ” ~ Temple Grandin. Autistic Brain

“The world isn’t coming in right. So autistic children end up looking wild.”
~ Temple Grandin. Animals in Transition, p. 192

But most people never dream that struggles with concentration or reading could possibly be the result of a sensory integration issue.

The Paul Revere of Sensory Integration

Dr. Temple Grandin was born in Boston in 1947, diagnosed autistic in 1950. She was four years old before she began to speak. Her mother, advised to institutionalize Temple as a child, fought instead to educate her.

Despite the fact that Temple was misunderstood and bullied for most of her life, and despite the fact that she was dismissed as “impossible to educate,” she went on to receive a Ph.D. in Animal Husbandry.  Her ideas and designs have revolutionized that particular industry.

Autism understanding and awareness took off, thanks in no small part to her books and speaking engagements. She is now a leading expert on Autistic Spectrum disorders and Sensory Integration issues [SI].

As the result of a wonderful movie about her life, more people are aware of Temple and her story than ever, able to understand that scrambled sensory processing is a huge problem for individuals on the autistic spectrum.

Few people are aware, however, that scrambled sensory processing affects many people who are otherwise considered “neurotypical” (i.e., brain “normal”) – to various degrees and in various sensory modalities. More than a few have been misdiagnosed with “learning disabilities” or other cognitive problems.

Even fewer people are aware of Helen Irlen, who has been working successfully with VISUAL scrambles for decades now – in many of those different population samples otherwise considered “neurotypical.”

I’ve been ringing the Irlen bell since I included Irlen Syndrome/scotopic sensitivity in the Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions module in my manual for the world’s first ADD-specific coach training (the only one for eight years) – over 20 years ago now.

Her method is still considered somewhat controversial, despite the fact that we now have functional brain scans that could be used to underscore her claims “scientifically,” and despite the fact that it is supported by experts in the fields of education, psychology, medicine, ophthalmology, and neuroscience around the world.

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Head Injuries – Acquired ADD?


Head Injuries Affect Attention & Focus
whether the injury was mild or severe

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

Boing-oing-oing-oing . . . OUCH!

As long as there have been humans, there have been hits to the head. Some of them were a actually caused by those humans!

Much attention has been paid to sports-concussions and severe forms of traumatic brain injury (TBI), especially those resulting in concussions and coma.

The milder impacts, such as those from falling off a bicycle or a ladder, the jolt from a low-speed car accident or taking a weak punch in a fistfight are far more common.

These milder injuries may not entail losing consciousness — more likely to result in a slightly dazed feeling or a brief lack in responsiveness before recovering — have gotten the attention they deserve only relatively recently

They ALL damage the brain, however.

“New data suggests blows to the head are on the rise among U.S. adults and kids, but definitive diagnosis remains elusive.” ~ Scientific American Mind

Questions remain as to how long it takes to recover, to what degree and how quickly each piece of the cognitive puzzle comes back on line reliably, as well as how to identify which brain injuries are likely to recover and why some never do.

Part of the challenge in understanding these injuries is how varied they can be.  But it is no small problem.

Making things worse still, suffering even one concussion elevates the risk of suffering another and may make it all the more challenging to recover from future damage.

Here’s a scary statistic: According to an article found on the Scientific American blogsite, the average a 10-year old can experience as many as 240 hits to the head in a single football season.

Related Post: How Do Brains Get Damaged?  Is YOURS?

Troubles Often Persist

Even when a brain-scan cannot pinpoint specific areas of damage, months after a concussion patients may still have lingering symptoms, including an inability to concentrate as well as headaches — even when initial brain scans reveal nothing amiss.

Dr. Jennifer Marin, a Pediatric emergency physician at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh says, “Explaining the concept of cognitive rest [for recovering from injury] is difficult when you can’t show an image of how the brain has been injured.”

At the hospital, she says, “we stabilize patients but then they go home and a lot of them will experience complications down the line.”

What KIND of “complications?”

Attentional deficits and reduced speed of information processing have been found consistently, in even mild head injuries, despite lack of gross deficits in intelligence or memory (Bohnen, Jolles, Twijnstra, Mellink, & Wijnen, 1995).

These deficits are frequently the most persisting cognitive complaints (Chan, 2001).

From an article on ScienceDirect from the Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology (Volume 21, Issue 4, May 2006, Pages 293-296):

Head injury typically results in diffuse damage (not in one specific spot) that produces a reduction in information processing capacity.

This processing capacity has been broadly described as the number of operations the brain can carry out at the same time.

Individuals with mild head injury demonstrate problems when they are required to analyze or process more information than they can handle simultaneously (Gronwall, 1989).

Decreased information processing has been posited to be primarily due to problems with attention (Kay, Newman, Cavallo, Ezrachi, & Resnick, 1992; Szymanski & Linn, 1992)

In addition, fatigue and/or stress, common following head injuries, have been shown to further compromise the processing speed of those who have incurred even a mild head injury (Ewing, McCarthy, Gronwall, & Wrightson, 1980; Wood, Novack, & Long, 1984).

Related Post: ABOUT Processing Speed

Or perhaps it’s because of slowed processing speed?

Research conducted by Ponsford and Kinsella (1992) demonstrated that the difficulty in performing a sustained attention task experienced by individuals who have suffered even a mild head injury may result more from a slowed speed of processing than from attentional deficits.

Fortunately, even though the speed of performance is reduced for head-injured participants, no significant reduction exists in terms of accuracy of performance (Stuss et al., 1985).

Related Posts:
Processing slower or more to think about?
Processing Efficiency is all about Juggling

REGARDLESS of the underlying problem, the effects on behavior are very much the same as the struggles of those with a particular Executive Functioning Disorder known as Attention Deficit Disorder.

Let’s take a look at what that means.

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D.G. Kaye on growing self-esteem


Working through the past
to live powerfully in the present

Guest Blogger:  © Debby Gies (author D.G. Kaye)

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

Returning the favor

In mid-August I was honored by a request to write an article for blogger Debby Gies, (author D.G. Kaye), so that she could spend her time getting her latest book ready for publication.

I chose to focus on the brain-based benefits to those of us who take frequent vacations between the pages of a book.

(CLICK HERE to read the entire article on her site)

I had a wonderful time putting something together for the writing/reading followers of Debby’s blog.  However, I made her promise that she would write something suitable for the readers of ADDandSoMuchMORE.com — as soon as she had a bit of that illusive free-time that seems to be in short supply for most of us.

And so she deliberately set aside time in her super-busy life to return the favor. I was thrilled when I discovered that she decided to feature self-esteem, one of the topics she covers in “Words We Carry,” a wonderfully heartfelt book I devoured on my Kindle and recently reviewed.

Because so many of us in Alphabet City have heard so many times that “we’re not doing it right,” we frequently develop low self-esteem as a result. A few of us struggle with it still.  I’ll let Debby explain a bit about how she battled that particular demon below.

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Developing those habits


How are you coming
with your new habits?
Did you take my advice to take advantage of
the context change of September?

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

Autumn Attempts tend to stick

In my last Habits article I talked about taking advantage of context change to jump start the habit-change and habit-building process.

I also disclosed that September is one of the best times to begin the year anew.

Since most of us have 12 to 18 years of school-starts in our background, we are primed for change and growth as the leaves begin to turn.

By understanding the process of habit formation, it is possible to develop systems in your life BEFORE you reach the point where you flake out on yourself, jettison the attempt to build a new habit or three, and conclude that nothing you try will ever work for you.

  • I hope you took the time to answer the questions at the end of the prior post (repeated below for those of you who did not) because that information will be helpful as we move forward.
  • If you follow along as the Series continues to develop — and actually DO the exercises suggested — by next September you just might have a brand new life.

October is not too late!

It’s still fall, and the crisp weather will still promote the ease of change if you start now — before winter arrives, signaling your brain that you blew it again, making change more difficult than it needs to be.

Since science now believes they know why habits develop, how they change, and how to build and rebuild them to our exact specifications, we can use that information to change just about anything we want.

We can, that is, as long as we understand what they know about how it all works — how patterns and pattern-recognition impact the the human brain.

If we work WITH our brain instead of against it, it is possible for any one of us to transform our entire lives through the power of brain-based habit formation.

  • What might be possible in YOUR life if you understood the neurology as well as the psychology of habits and the way patterns work within our lives, businesses, and social groups?
  • What if you understood how to apply the brain-based information you’ve read here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com (to counter some of the old-school, out of date, “standard” advice about motivation and habit formation that’s been around for decades) — so that you could tweak the information that dominates the info-market to make it all work for YOU?

Take a moment to really think about it:

What might your life look like one short year from now if you actually applied what you learned here, step by step?

  • Would you be healthier?  Wealthier?  Happier with your marriage and family life?
  • Would you finally find the time to write that novel, or start that new business, or to take the necessary steps to move into that lakeside house you’ve always dreamed about?
  • What WOULD you do, tweaking the old expression slightly, if you understood how to set it up so that you could not fail?

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Turtlenecks & Wool: Yea or Nay?


Are YOU “sensory defensive”
Do YOUR little quirks & preferences (or those of a loved one)
have a brain-based explanation?

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

Sensory sensitivities

Regular readers already know of my intense disregard for summer. I can’t deal with heat.  Not only am I extremely uncomfortable, practically on the verge of passing out from heatstroke, I seem to lose the ability to think.  My brain wilts.

As October is a week old already – Indian Summer begone! – I am practically giddy as I begin to dig out my woolly turtleneck sweaters and the boots last seen before the weather turned beastly hot.

I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of the day when I can put away ALL my summer clothes and start wearing coats and gloves, swaddling my neck in long wool scarves – venturing out once again, in real clothes designed for grown-up bodies!

Seriously, have you ever really looked at summer clothing?

  • Limp and tattered rags of sweat-drenched cotton passing for tops;
  • Belly-button baring pants, whacked off at fanny level;
  • And shoes that are barely more than soles with straps exposing far too many toes in serious need of some grooming attention.

On the other hand . . .

More than a few people I know are practically in mourning, dreading the coming of the “bone-chilling” season that, for them, has absolutely nothing to recommend it.

  • They hate wearing shoes at all, and boots make them feel like a Budweiser Clydesdale.
  • They can barely breath in turtlenecks and neck scarves.
  • Wool makes them scratch themselves practically bloody.

You might be tempted to believe that we have little in common – but you’d be WRONG.  We are each members of the Sensory Defensive club – at the far ends of the spectrum: heat, for me, and cold for them.

But sensory defensiveness is not confined to temperature.
It can show up in any number of arenas, including:
sound, sight, touch, smell and taste —
as well as vestibular/proprioceptive (position, balance & movement)

What most people don’t understand is that these sensory sensitivities are usually the result of “faulty brain-wiring” — a sensory integration issue.

In addition to many individuals born with ADD, anywhere along the autistic-spectrum, or other individuals with attentional challenges, sensory sensitivities can also be a consequence of brain damage [TBI/ABI], and often accompanies PTSD.

Even some professionals who work with PTSD misunderstand the loud noise/startle response. It may well have a psychologically-based component that triggers flashbacks but, at base, it’s frequently a neurological issue. The sensory integration pathways have often been scrambled and must be healed or reconstructed.

But back to my friends and our clothing preferences

In addition to our shared inability to tolerate certain temperatures (comfortably, or at all), some of my summer-loving buddies seem to have an additional issue to contend with: tactile defensiveness – and that is what this particular article is going to address.

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Friday Fun: “Managing” Time?


Too much to do & not enough time?
Take a little break from the stress and . . .
Let’s laugh the whole thing off

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

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

My recent articles about Time and Time Management have been very well received, but surely we deserve goof-off time in our lives, don’t we?

After all, we are ALL more than our To-Do Lists, right?

And, since the science guys tell us that laughter is great for our mental and physical health, who are we to argue?

Let’s get the weekend started with a few chuckles.

Take a look at a few time-related funnies that I tripped across,
mostly on Pinterest.

How many of the situations below make YOU nod your head?

YOU PLAY TOO

If you have something on your website or blog that relates to the theme, especially if it’s humorous, please feel free to leave a link in a comment.

Keep it to one link per comment or you’ll be auto-spammed, but multiple comments are just fine and most welcome.

AND NOW for some more humor TODAY . . .

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HELP needed and offered #Flash4Storms


Every Little Bit Helps
Why do we discount our efforts when we can’t make a larger splash?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the What Kind of World do YOU Want Series

A human tendency?

I am often daunted as much as impressed by the generous offers of help that follow in the wake of a tragedy:

  • sending their personal planes to Puerto Rico to bring those who need chemotherapy to hospitals where they can be taken care of, like Rapper Pitbull;
  • delivering multiple cartons of food and flying down to prepare 8,000 meals a day to those in need, like Chef José Andrés;
  • over-the-top donations that amount to more than I make in a decade donated by more than a few celebrities.

What help could I possibly be?

It seems endemic

I have a similar reaction when a friend is ill and needs some cheering up.  If I can’t give them an entire afternoon, I am reluctant to make even a ten minute phone call.

Never mind why, I even feel guilty when I can’t take my puppy on the l-o-n-g walk I know he prefers on rain-threatening days when I waited too long to get him outside and have to rush him along to get us both safely inside while we’re still relatively dry!

And I KNOW I’m not the only one with that kind of limited-thinking reaction.  I even see it in the more than generous blogging community.

What about taking a few moments each to read the posts of our virtual friends, letting them know our reaction in a comment, when time itself is in short supply for all of us?

How many of us simply “like” them all from the Reader when we we lack the minutes that turn to hours to read and comment on more than one or two – instead of doing whatever little we can and giving ourselves a pat on the back for doing at least that much?

I almost did it again


Reading a post by D. Wallace Peach,  Help: Flash Fiction #Flash4Storms, I learned that another writer, Sarah Brentyn is donating $1 for every flash fiction story written around the theme of Help.

Diana [Myths of the Mirror] has pledged to match that amount.

Before I give you the details of the challenge, I have to ‘fess up to my first reaction:

  • I don’t write fiction.  And my second:
  • Even if I did, I’m sure I could never be brief enough to write flash fiction with a limited word count. (Regular readers will be happy to second that thought, I’m sure!)

I’m patting myself on the back that I decided that there was, after all, some little something I could do anyway.  I could help spread the word to all the writers who follow ADDandSoMuchMORE.com in a post explaining WHY we tend to do nothing when we can only do less than we’d like to be able to do.

But FIRST, the details of the challenge . . .

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Sleep Timing and Time Tangles


Thoughts about TIME,
Attention Management and Focus

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

TangledPyramid

TANGLES . . .

Piecing together all of the elements impacting our ability to live a life on purpose is a complex puzzle that is often little more than a mass of tangles.

Something as seemingly simple as SLEEP, for example, seems especially tangled when we are looking at the impact of chronorhythms (brain/body-timing, relative to earth timing cues).

Understanding is further complicated when we lack familiarity with certain words – especially scientific terminology.

We have to call objects and concepts something, of course — and each piece of the what-we-call-things puzzle has a mitigating effect on every other.

Unfortunately, new vocabulary often delays the aha! response, perhaps obfuscating recognition of relationships entirely – in other words, those times when we can’t see the forest for the leaves, never mind the trees!

The need to become familiar with the new lingo is also what I call one of those tiered tasks. It pushes short-term memory to its limit until the new terms become familiar. That, in turn, creates complexities from a myriad of “in-order-to” objectives inherent in the interrelationships of what is, after all, a distributed process.

See also: The Importance of Closing Open Loops:
Open Loops, Distractions and Attentional Dysregulation

Connections

There is something slippery in this sleep-timing interweaving I can’t quite put my finger on; something that no one else is looking at – at least no one published anyplace I have been able to find!!

Melatonin + corticosteroid release + light cues + core body temperature + gene expression + protein synthesis (and more!) combine to produce individual chronorhythms.

Individual chronorhythms influence not only sleep timing, but ALSO one’s internal “sense of time” — each of which further influences the effectiveness of other domains.

They do not operate in isolation — even though we usually focus on them in isolation, hoping to fully understand their individual contributions.

Here’s the kicker: prior associations

Whether we like it or not, the underlying, less conscious interpretations we associate with whatever words we use “ride along” with the denotative (dictionary) meaning of every single word.

In addition, the moment the terms become integrated into our understanding of the topic, they boundary the conversation — in other words, tethering it to old territory rather than opening new vistas. (See the linguistic portion of What’s in a Name?  for a bit about how and why).

Where we begin biases our understanding of new concepts we move on to study, which skews the inter-relationship.  Not only that, the relationship between the extent of our understanding of each piece unbalances our understanding of the whole.  Or so it seems to me.

Ask Any Mechanic

mechanicUnderHood

Setting automobile spark-plug firing efficiently affects engine performance which, in turn, affects a number of other things — gas mileage and tire wear among them.

I doubt that anyone has ever studied it “scientifically,” but every good mechanic has observed the effect in a number of arenas.  What we can “prove” is that the engine runs raggedly before spark-plug gapping and smoothly afterwards.

I doubt the entire inter-relationship has been quantified to metrics, so The Skeptics may still scoff at our definition of proof, even while the car-obsessed among them will take their engines to be “buffed.”

It makes me crazy!

To my mind, the overfocus on quantification has become its own problem.  Yes, co-occurance does not prove causation, but I prefer a more observational approach day to day.  At least, I do not discount it.

“Doctor, it hurts when I do this/don’t do that! is ignoring deeper problems, no doubt, but at least it avoids a prescription for pain medication that may well create a problem somewhere else.

But back to sleep timing and inner time sense — problematic for most of us here in Alphabet City.

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Oct. 2017 Mental Health Awareness


October is ADD/ADHD Awareness Month

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for many other mental health issues —
this month especially

World Mental Health Day is October 10th

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

Mark your blogging calendar

Each year is peppered with a great many special dates dedicated to raising awareness about important emotional, physical and psychological health issues. Scroll down for a list highlighting important days and weeks that impact mental health.

Also included on the list below are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create problems with cognition, mood and attention management.

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

Attention Bloggers: If you write (or have written) an article that adds content to any of these categories, feel free to leave a link in the comment section and I will move it into its appropriate category.

(Keep it to one link/comment or you’ll be auto-spammed and I’ll never see it TO approve)


Increase your ADD/ADHD Awareness

Many attentional challenges are NOT genetic

The attentional challenges you will most frequently hear or read about are experienced by individuals diagnosed with one of the ADD/ADHD varietals, usually associated with a genetic component today — at least by those who do their research before ringing in.

Related Post: ADD Overview-101

However, NOT ALL attentional & cognitive deficits are present from birth, waiting for manifestations of a genetic propensity to show up as an infant grows oldernot by a long shot!

Almost everyone experiences situational deficits of attention and cognition any time the number of events requiring our attention and focus exceeds our ability to attend.

Situational challenges are those transitory lapses that occur whenever our ability to attend is temporarily impairedwhen there are too many items competing for focus at the same time.

As I began in Types of Attentional Deficits, regardless of origin or age of onset, problems with attention and cognition are accompanied by specific brain based bio-markers, the following in particular:

  • neuro-atypical changes in the pattern of brain waves,
  • the location of the area doing the work of attention and cognition, and
  • the neural highways and byways traveled to get the work done.

In addition to the challenges that accompany neuropsychiatric issues and age-related cognitive decline, a currently unknown percentage of attentional deficits are those that are the result of damage to the brain.

Many ways brains can be damaged

  • Some types of damage occur during gestation and birth
    (for example, the result of substances taken or falls sustained during pregnancy, or an interruption of the delivery of oxygen in the birth process);
  • Others are the result of a subsequent head injury caused by an accident or contact sports
    (since TBIs often involve damage to the tips of the frontal lobes or shearing of white-matter tracts associated with diagnostic AD(h)D);
  • Still others result from the absorption or ingestion of neurotoxic substances; and
  • A great many are riding the wake of damage caused by stroke, physical illnesses and their treatment protocols and medications.

Still More Examples:

Cognitive lapses and attentional struggles frequently occur when the brain is temporarily impaired or underfunctioning due to:

  • Medication, alcohol or other substances
  • Grief or other strong emotional responses
  • Stress, especially prolonged stress
  • Sleep deprivation

Stay tuned for more articles about attentional struggles and attention management throughout October.

NOW let’s take a look at what else for which October is noted.

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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 (Part I) and Chris Graham’s blog (Part II) — although everything you need to enjoy this story is complete right here, on the page below.

  1. Guest poet and raconteur: Tallis Steelyard – A Family Saga
  2. Playing the Game – Guest Post by, Tallis Steelyard…

I added a bit of formatting to the third part of the story here — 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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The Laziest Exercise Tactic Believed to Work


Passive Heating:
The lazy-person’s way to get the benefits of exercise?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Source: iflscience site (augmented reblog)

Exercise is essential for body and brain health

I know that,
you
know that,
he, she and it knows that!! 

I doubt that there is anyone reading these words who does NOT know that.

  • How many books and blogs and gurus tout the importance of a regular exercise routine?
  • And how many times have how many of us sworn that we were gonna’ start tomorrow?
  • And do we DO that?  Not so much.

According to a study by Nuffield Health, 18% of us never exercise while 40% exercise less than once a month.

In an ideal world, says Grant Tosner, personal trainer and ambassador for Bio-Synergy: “We would follow government guidelines and exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week.”

A mere 16% say they meet the guidelines.

Well guess what?

Some of us may have already been exercising 30 minutes practically every day — and we didn’t even know it!

We may have been exercising passively.

At least that’s what a recent study seems to indicate!

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Ageism cuts both ways: Don’t Discount the Kids


Gen-Xers to Millenials
Sharper than WE were?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the What Kind of World do YOU Want? Series

Eavesdropping on an interesting discussion

Shortly after calling for an end to Stigma in my 2017 September Awareness Days article, I had the occasion to revisit the topic through another lens.

Coming across a couple of “kids” in the nearby park where my puppy TinkerToy and I sometimes wander, I was reminded yet again of the need to guard against our knee-jerk assessments.

By looks alone, it would have been all too easy to dismiss the pair as yet another Blonde Barbie and an over-eager lad who wanted nothing so much as to get her alone and in private.

Since we seemed to be wandering the same paths, Tink and I just a bit behind them, I had an opportunity to eavesdrop on their lively conversation.

BOOKS! They were discussing classic novels, comparing and contrasting them in a manner that would have done any geek-level book club proud.

Their vocabulary was certainly equal to my own, and their knowledge of the books they were discussing was superior.  They looked to be no older than 18 –  freshmen or sophomores, most likely, attending one of the many nearby colleges.

When they turned around to head back my way, apparently reaching a dead-end on one of the paths that Tinker wanted to investigate, I asked them how well they knew the park and if they knew where a different trail led.

I discovered, in the lengthy conversation that followed, that they were both not only intelligent but delightful – and very kind to Tink.  It turned out they were just beginning their senior year in High School!

I hope they discovered that whatever they initially thought about me was inaccurate as well — especially since I am probably at least as old as their grandparents.

How many times do we assume a “generation gap” that doesn’t really exist?  And how many opportunities to populate our world with friends of all ages pass us by because we do?

Have you ever actually talked with a couple of dark-skinned dread-locked young men — or a few of those “kids” with spiky purple and green hair, belly-baring tee shirts with confrontational sayings — and nose rings? (I mean, about more than who does their hair and what happens when they have a cold and need to blow their nose.)

Respect goes both ways. Some of them have equally “out of the box” views on drug abuse, politics and life itself that just might save us all.

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Emergency Prep for lives that have A LOT of them!


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

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

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

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

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

THIS one’s a little different.

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

Lots to learn from the Survivalists

©Phillip Martin – artist/educator Found HERE

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

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

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

They’ve lost faith in the system.

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

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

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

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

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

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Moving Past PTSD triggers


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

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

Responding to a comment

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

Do you ever recover fully from PTSD?

Chuck went on to add some context to his question:

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

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

They are not debilitating, just very annoying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forgetting is part of the process of memory too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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September 2017: Focus on Suicide Prevention


Awareness Day Articles ’round the ‘net
Depression, PTSD, Chronic Pain and more
– the importance of kindness & understanding
(and maybe an email to your legislators for MORE research funding?)

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

World Suicide Prevention Day – Monday, September 10, 2017 – every year, since 2003.

The introduction and Suicide Awareness section of this article is an edited reblog of the one I posted in September 2016.  Unfortunately, not much has changed in the past year.

Notice that my usual calendar is missing this month, to underscore the reality that those who commit suicide no longer have use for one.

Onward and upward?

“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” ~ Helen Keller

The extent of the mental health problem

Every single year approximately 44 million American adults alone — along with millions more children and adults around the world — struggle with “mental health” conditions.

They range from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ASD, OCD, PTSD, TBI/ABI to ADD/EFD and so-much-MORE.

Many of those struggling with depression and anxiety developed these conditions as a result of chronic pain, fighting cancer (and the after-effects of chemo), diabetes, and other illnesses and diseases thought of primarily for their physical effects.

DID YOU KNOW that one in FIVE of those of us living in first-world countries will be diagnosed with a mental illness during our lifetimes.  More than double that number will continue to suffer undiagnosed, according to the projections from the World Health Organization and others.

Many of those individuals will teeter on the brink of the idea that the pain of remaining alive has finally become too difficult to continue to endure.


One kind comment can literally be life-saving, just as a single shaming, cruel, unthinking remark can be enough to push somebody over the suicide edge.

It is PAST time we ended mental health stigma

Far too many people suffering from even “common” mental health diagnoses have been shamed into silence because of their supposed mental “shortcomings.”

Sadly, every single person who passes on mental health stigma, makes fun of mental health problems, or lets it slide without comment when they witness unkind behavior or are in the presence of unkind words – online or anywhere else – has contributed to their incarceration in prisons of despair.

Related Post: What’s my beef with Sir Ken Robinson?

We can do better – and I am going to firmly hold the thought that we WILL.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO’s primary role is to direct international health within the United Nations’ system and to lead partners in global health responses), suicide kills over 800,000 people each yearONE PERSON EVERY 40 SECONDS.

STILL there are many too many people who believe that mental health issues are not real – or that those who suffer are simply “not trying hard enough.”

That is STIGMA, and it is past time for this to change.

I’m calling out mental health stigma for what it is:
SMALL MINDED IGNORANCE!

(unless, of course, you want to label it outright BULLY behavior)

NOW, let’s all focus our thoughts in a more positive direction: on universal acceptance, and appropriate mental health care for every single person on the planet.

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Impulsivity & Anger: Don’t Believe Everything You Think


Cognitive/Emotional Impulsivity

Managing the gap between impulse and reaction,
on the way
to putting a lid on “Response Hyperactivity”

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of The Challenges Inventory™ Series

Driving Lessons

One of nine areas of concern measured by The Challenges Inventory™, the Impulsivity category measures impulse control, in many ways the indication of our ability to contain (or at least tolerate) the frustration of waiting.

In other words, the condition of our emotional brakes.

  • Individuals who are relatively balanced where impulsivity is concerned manage risk and drive behavior by weighing possible rewards against possible losses — which implies a brief moment of reflection between impulse and action.
  • Some individuals who say they prefer staying with what’s comfortably familiar, avoiding risks and risky behavior are ABLE to make that choice because they have what I like to call a relatively “low idle.”

In other words, activation takes more energy than the norm, so they often spend more time in the gap between impulse and action than the rest of us — the opposite end of the impulse control dynamic.

While I’m sure they’re grateful for small favors, avoiding a ready-fire-aim-oops situation, their lack of decisiveness costs them dearly in some arenas. Same tune, different verse.

  • At the other end of the impulsivity scale are individuals frequently described as “risk takers,” supposedly because they are strongly attracted to and excited by what’s new and different, lured into action by the call of the wild. These are the folks who are normally labeled IMPULSIVE!

I have observed that individuals who are repeatedly reckless have emotional brakes that have never been connected or, in the presence of the excitement of the moment, brakes that fail.

Good news/bad news

Impulsivity, while certainly a nuisance at times, is an important personality characteristic.

Giving in to impulse without pause for reflection can result in some fairly unfortunate outcomes, of course, but it would be just as unfortunate if that trait had been bred out of our species entirely.

We’d probably all be dead!

The trait of impulsivity is believed to have evolved as part of our fight or fight mechanism that kicks in automatically when our lives are in danger.

The survival of our genetic ancestors depended upon their biological ability to respond effectively to circumstances where strength and action needed to be marshaled immediately.

Since our cave ancestors who did not stop to reflect during life-threatening situations were the only ones left alive to pass their genes on to us, it would seem as if impulsivity is “hard-wired” into the human brain.

In appropriate doses and situations, it is actually a good thing. Not only does it help save our bacon when we find in ourselves dangerous situations, it’s what gives life those moments of spontaneity that make it fun to be alive.

Still, depending on its intensity, a tendency toward action with little to no thought or planning can get us in a heap of trouble. That’s usually when others refer to our behavior as impulsive – and it’s usually when life is suddenly not so much fun (for us or anyone around us!)

Impulsivity in the Emotional Arena

Most of us who have an impulsivity component to whatever else is going on with us have a pretty good idea of where our problems with impulsivity are likely to show up.  If not, we can always ask our loved ones – believe me, they know!

But the most troubling manifestations are internal – what we think about what’s going on around us.

A balanced degree of impulse control implies that we are ABLE to take a moment to control observable behavior, of course – and that we DO that – but there’s more to the story.

It also implies that we are able to monitor and moderate our thoughts and emotions with a moment of reflection between impulse and reaction.

That’s where things get tricky.

When our thoughts jump from item to item (often referred to as cognitive hyperactivity – a mind in overdrive or a “busy brain”), many of those thoughts quickly lead to emotional reactions.

As clinical psychologist Ari Tuckman, PsyD, and author of More Attention, Less Deficit: Successful Strategies for Adults with ADHD reminds everybody, some individuals  “tend to feel and express their emotions more strongly.”

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August 26th is National Dog Day


Happy Dog Day to all my Friends!
and all the ones I haven’t met yet too!

Guest blogger: TinkerToy

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

My turn to blog again – yippee!

Tink here – and no jokes about yippy little dogs, okay?

I am trying to convince Mom to let me guest blog on more regular days – so help me out here and tell her you always love my posts (even if you actually like all that boring stuff she blogs about, okay?)

I mean what could be BETTER for mental health than cuddling up with an adorable dog who loves you bunches?  What could be more fun than a game of frisbee or fetch?  You have to admit that a walk in nature is a lot better when you take us along, right? WE find things you don’t even notice.

Did you know we’re co-evolved?

Mom says that those science guys she writes about say that since we’ve been domesticated for thousands of years, we’ve evolved to be part of your pack.  (Actually, you’ve evolved to be part of ours, but why kibble quibble over details.)

We really do feel your emotions, and we do our very best to make you feel really great.

Check THIS out:
Your dog really can read your emotions
Study: Dogs recognize dog and human emotions

Our VERY best — every single day

We try really hard to understand what we do that makes you happy and what you don’t like us to do, even when you’re mean to us when you haven’t communicated clearly and consistently enough for us to get it right.

Don’t get me wrong. Mom’s never mean to me, and she’s a pretty good communicator (for us 4-legses and everybody else) – but there are some 2-legses who need a bit of boundary training about how they treat their furry friends, and today is a great day to remind them to get some.

It’s best for us when you don’t ever use your mean voice – and hitting or shaming us is never necessary. We don’t ask for much in return (except maybe for a chance to guest blog a bit more often, Mom).

And, of course, we hope you’ll make sure that we know that you love us too by the patient way you treat us, and because you do things for us that we can’t do without you (like giving us fresh water every day, a comfortable place to get warm and stay cool, feeding us the right amount of healthy food — including lots of healthy TREATS — and giving us toys to play with while you’re busy!!)

We do our best barking to protect you, but today is a very good day to remind you that sometimes we need you to protect us too.


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Putting things on autopilot gets more DONE


Systems Development puts things on Autopilot
and supercharges your Executive Functioning

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
From the Brain-based Coaching Series

My usual Friday post is posting a day early this week, to give you time to read it before Tinkertoy‘s post on National Dog Day – this Saturday, August 26, 2017

Don’t strain your brain!

Some things take a lot of “cognitive bandwidth” — which is a fancy way to say that your brain needs to work especially hard to do them.

Other things are so “automatic” we often say we can do them in our sleep.

The more things you can do without conscious thought, the more brain cells you make available for the areas where they are really needed.

  • Almost everything takes a lot of cognitive bandwidth at first introduction.  Nothing is automatic when we’re beginners — every piece of the puzzle takes concentration.
  • There are multiple decisions to be made – or recalled – at every step along the path of learning anything.  That’s HARD work for a brain. It’s an expensive process, in brain currency.
  • However, once a task becomes familiar it’s sometimes difficult to recall why we ever struggled with it to begin with. It’s become automatic – a habit – a system.
  • BUT systems development will never happen unless you follow its rules.  And that’s where systems development coaching is pure gold.

Let’s start at the very beginning with a bit of review . . .

What IS systems development coaching?

Systems Development Coaching is a way of working that focuses on helping a client discover the underlying concepts that will help them develop systems targeted to what works best for them. I’m about to share some of the ways we go about it for those of you taking the Lone Ranger approach.

But FIRST, let’s define our terms

system is a set or arrangement of things
so related as to form an organic whole.

Whenever you activate a system you are freed from having to burn up cognitive resources remembering each individual step — less likely to get distracted in the middle of a task, or stopped cold by the need to make one of those “expensive” pre-frontal cortex intensive decisions in the moment.

Most people are a little fuzzy about systems, probably because the last systems development training most of us received was potty-training.

How many of you have to actively remember what-comes-next when you’re going to the bathroom? (Except for putting down the toilet seat of course!) I’m sure you rarely think about it at all.

Unless the toilet paper is missing or the toilet overflows, or the doorknob comes off in your hand, I’ll bet you barely recall the trip once you get back to what you were doing.

Have you ever looked “everywhere” for a pen or something until you finally find it in the bathroom – yet you didn’t remember going INTO the bathroom?  (Hey, here’s that little notepad too!)

Exactly!

Systems vs Solutions

When we focus on solutions, we are generally focused on “fixing” – because we hope to come up with something that will solve a particular problem.

When we focus on systems, we develop templates that can be picked apart
to solve all sorts of problems —
some of which we are then able to avoid altogether from that point on.

While solutions tend to be more specific, templates are modular. We can port pieces of working systems to new situations to propagate new systems.

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