Managing Your Mind
3975 Waldenwood • Ann Arbor, MI 48105 • tel/fax (734)761-6498 •
Geraldine A. Markel, Ph.D. •
Geri Markel
Managing Your Mind Newsletter
December 2008

Welcome to the Managing Your Mind Newsletter, where you can find information and strategies to help you manage your mind and enhance your work, life, and/or school performance.

Feel free to contact me with your questions, concerns, and suggestions. Previous issues are archived in our Newsletter Archive. Sample checklists and diagrams are archived there under The Geri Checklists.

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You'll find the following sections in this issue:



Goofs and Glitches

A friend writes, "What do paprika, cinnamon, and nutmeg have in common? Not flavor, that's for sure. But there certainly are a lot of reddish-brown powders living in the spice rack. While preparing a pan of vegetables for roasting, my eyes began tearing as I cut the last of the onions. Naturally, I removed my glasses to wipe my eyes. After sprinkling the salt, pepper, oregano, and parsley over the lightly olive-oiled veggies, I snatched the paprika for the final artistic touch. As I put the pan in the oven, the sweet smell of cinnamon wafted around me. Of course, without my glasses, I had sprinkled the wrong spice. OK. Relax. It happens. I washed all the veggies and began again. (Did I put my glasses on? No, of course not. My hands were all greasy and dirty.) With the contents newly besprinkled and ready for the oven, I again lifted the pan, only to sniff and realize that now nutmeg was on the veggies rather than the paprika..."

While our intrepid chef might claim the serendipitous invention of a new recipe, the safer approach might be to lay out the needed ingredients at the outset of a cooking session, before those Demons of Distraction or onion fumes get the better of you.

Funny or inconvenient, let's share our experiences. If you have one to share, send it to


Strategies for Success:

As if winter weather and holiday expectations aren't stressful enough, many people have the additional burden this season of coping with economic hard times and looking for new employment. It takes some soul-searching and courage to recognize and cope with the deeper issues related to unexpected, long term unemployment. Laura O'Connor describes her journey over the past few months: "When I got the news last August that I was being laid off from my job as a practice manager because of 'financial constraints' (the consolation was an awesome referral letter), I was initially able to keep a calm head and see it as an opportunity to explore other options. I'm jumping ahead... but all I can say is 'options, shmoptions!' I was smart, college educated, fashion forward, savvy and resourceful. After all, I was the 'go to' girl for most of my friends when it came to where to get just about anything from a flu shot to a discounted Coach handbag." To read Laura's story, click here.

Job hunting is a full-time job - one that requires you to structure your time wisely so that you can persevere without burning out. The following suggestions from Geri's Mem-Cards: Defeating the Demons of Distraction may help you balance your job-search tasks with refreshing breaks that lift your spirits and give you the positive attitude needed to shine in interviews and networking activities.

Mem card


"It Worked for Me" - Bill's Story

By the time his junior year in high school rolled around, Bill realized that he needed a more mature attitude toward school and achieving good grades. However, he was still rather cavalier about completing his homework. His academic coach finally helped him structure his study schedule by using a full semester timeline like the one below. On this chart, Bill could picture the entire four months leading up to the school's Christmas vacation. It included time/activity markers like Halloween and the half-week off at Thanksgiving. Lines on the chart represented the pattern of workload given by his teachers, plus the level of his own efforts to complete his assignments.

Bill reviewed the semester schedule with the following questions in mind: where am I with respect to the two lines, and if I keep studying the way I'm studying, which line will best represent me at the end of the semester? If I start getting a lot of projects and papers in October, but I'm not putting in much effort until after Thanksgiving, what will my life feel like in December? How successful will I be at that point?

As many of us have experienced, it's easy to slough off when things are relatively quiet--but the pace of life always quickens as we move into the holiday season. Indeed, Halloween often marks the appearance of the Demons of Distraction as well as the goblins and ghouls. Outside pressures like family obligations or extracurricular activities can demand more of our attention just as our workload intensifies. Once Bill saw where he was and where he needed to be, he and his parents took the following steps to ensure consistent progress:

  1. It became apparent that one of the extra-curricular activities had to be dropped because Bill was spending so much time after school on this activity that he was not able to begin studying until too late in the day.
  2. Bill was particularly behind in his science class, so he arranged for extra help from his science teacher.
  3. His parents had to become more involved in making sure that Bill stuck to a specific homework schedule, and used his time for studying rather than fooling around on the computer.
  4. Bill made a commitment to hand in all incompletes well before the Thanksgiving break

Bill was glad he kept his commitment when the two stressful weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas hit. Although it was somewhat anxiety-provoking back in October to face the situation he was in, it provided him and his family with the necessary information and perspective to tackle the issues and avoid last-minute disaster.

Semester Cycles


Work/Life Corner

As Laura's story, above, or any evening news report will tell you, many segments of the economy are experiencing formidable challenges right now. Small business owners are often the first to feel the pinch, and frequently bear the full burden of the consequences without a large support network to encourage them. In a recent article for, Geri tackled the topic "How to Keep Yourself Up When Business is Down": "When a serious economic downturn does occur, even the highest performers experience doubts and difficulties. Those who work on commission or own small businesses, for example, real estate and insurance agents, financial services providers and other entrepreneurs, are especially vulnerable. Bleak times notwithstanding, however, some independent professionals survive and thrive. They stay the steady course by keeping the negativity down and the productivity up. They enhance the processes they employ rather than ruminating about the profits they miss..." To read the full article, click here.


Coaches Corner

  • Geri recently presented a teleseminar entitled "The Use of Card Decks to Enhance Client Progress and Coaching Profits" for the ADHD Coaches Organization. She notes that the use of flash cards as learning and memory aids is accepted practice during the elementary school years, but fades as students get older. She argues that content-oriented card decks provide a novel and valuable approach to adult learning situations, as well. For example, many adults appreciate that the cards are tactile and visually pleasing, containing manageable chunks of information on each card. Using her Mem-Cards as an example during the teleseminar, Geri discussed the ways in which flashcard decks can be used as learning tools by professional coaches, teachers, tutors, and parents. For more information on booking a seminar about the educational and marketing benefits of using card decks, click here.
  • Michigan coaches may be interested in joining Geri as members of the Professional Coaches Association of Michigan. PCAM was organized in 2004 to serve the broad spectrum of coaches who live and work in Michigan, and to work for the advancement of professional coaching. PCAM's state conference was held in Lansing in September, and there are monthly coaching cafes for collaboration and networking held in Lansing, Kalamazoo, Detroit, and Ann Arbor. For more information about PCAM, call (248) 320-6637 or visit their website. In the Ann Arbor area, interested coaches are invited to attend the third Friday of the month, 9:00 am, at Panera Bread, 3205 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor. Contact Julie Kassalow Norris for more info, (734) 332-7871.


Featured Resources

Previous generations of parents may have been able to send their children down the block to the neighborhood school without a second thought, but the modern educational landscape has become much more complicated. Public schools, magnet programs, charter schools, parochial schools, and private institutions abound - and advertise a bewildering variety of curriculum options. Brandi Roth, Ph.D. and Fay Van Der Kar-Levinson, Ph.D. help parents sort it all out in their newly revised edition of Choosing the Right School for Your Child. Dr.'s Roth and Van Der Kar-Levinson break down the basic characteristics that distinguish these types of programs, and help parents ask critical questions about their child's learning style in order to find the situation that best suits individual and family needs. This acclaimed handbook provides checklists for evaluating elementary and secondary schools, as well as advice on the application process that many programs require. For more information on the authors and on Choosing The Right School for Your Child, click here.



  • Searching for a more practical and meaningful present for someone this holiday season? Give the life-changing gift of professional coaching: help your child or grandchild deal with the tyranny of standardized testing, or provide the support your significant other needs to achieve his or her dreams! Geri is offering a special Holiday Rate of 20% off coaching sessions booked before March, 2009. Simply mention this newsletter item when you contact her, tel. (734) 761-6498.
  • New book! Three experts provide their best college admissions advice in the latest publication from Managing Your Mind: College Admissions: From Chaos to Control by John Boshoven, M.A., M.S.W., Debbie E. Merion, M.S.W., and Geraldine Markel, Ph.D. Decide on the right schools for you, find your unique voice to write a compelling application essay, and score your best on high-stakes tests such as the ACT and SAT. John, Debbie, and Geri help families fit together the pieces of the college admissions process. Available from the authors, email for more information at,, or $12.95, digital download $10.00.
  • Attention! The second edition of Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress has now been published by iUniverse. New price, $15.95! Copies can be ordered from the publisher's website,, from, and from Books can be special-ordered at Borders and Barnes & Noble, and are on the shelf in Ann Arbor at Nicola's Books. Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction can be purchased in e-book format from iUniverse or as a download through
  • Holiday gifts and stocking stuffers! Are you a speaker, consultant, coach, or business owner? If you need memorable and useful holiday gifts for your clients, consider the products below. The tips and strategies to help people accomplish more in the New Year are available in several handy formats: paperback, pocket-sized deck of cards, and 16-page concise booklet. Check out all of the "Defeating the Demons of Distraction" products.
Defeating the Demons of Distracton Book Defeating the Demons of Distration Cards Defeating the Demons of Distraction Brochure


Cooking: A Positive Distraction

Cooking can be a positive and creative distraction. If you are one of the many people who find that cooking is relaxing, you may enjoy the recipes that we sometimes feature. If you have a favorite recipe, feel free to send it in to be shared. Here's one you may enjoy.

Recipe: Insalata di Pomodori (Tomato Salad)

Here is a Time/Life Foods of the World classic that will look fresh and festive on your holiday table.

  • 5 medium-sized firm ripe tomatoes, slice 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbs. wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 tbs. finely cut fresh basil, or 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs. thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley, preferably the flat-leaf Italian type

Arrange the tomato slices in slightly overlapping concentric circles on a deep, round plate or platter. For the dressing, thoroughly mix the oil, vinegar, basil, garlic, salt and a few grindings of pepper, and spoon or pour this over the tomatoes. Combine the scallions and parsley and sprinkle the mixture evenly on top. Serve as part of an antipasto or as a salad course. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Geri says that you can add marinated artichoke hearts, green Sicilian olives, or calamari to this salad. You can also lay the tomato slices over slices of fresh mozzarella.

Take a photo of your creation and share your success: mail photos and comments to


Best wishes for the holiday season and the coming New Year!

Feel free to forward this newsletter to someone else who might be interested.