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 2009

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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please add to your address book so you'll be sure to receive every issue. "Spam" filters may place future editions of this newsletter in your "junk" or "deleted" folder unless it is a recognized address.

You'll find the following sections in this issue:



Upcoming Events

  • Coming January, 2010: look for changes to the Managing Your Mind Newsletter! Are there topics that you would like to see addressed? Send them to Geri.
  • On December 7, 2009, the Huron PTSO will feature the rescheduled talk by Dr. Seth Warschausky on "Attention, Organization, and AD/HD." This presentation will take place from 8 – 9 pm in the Huron High School Media Center, 2727 Fuller Rd., Ann Arbor, MI. (PTSO meetings begin at 7 pm but featured speakers come later in the program.) All are welcome to attend; for more information, contact Michelle Machiele, Co-President,
  • Geri will be appearing on Lisa Pasbjerg's Blog Talk Radio segment, The Leadership Focus Radio Show, on December 9, 2009 from 6-6:30 pm. The topic is "Five Steps to Ensure the Downward Spiral of Fatigue—and How to Avoid Them." Lisa is an executive coach specializing in leadership as it applies to career and life. Geri will discuss the effects of fatigue in the workplace and will provide strategies to help employees keep fit, alert, and vital in order to be effective. To hear the show live, dial in at (917) 889-2033. A taped version will be available after the broadcast on Lisa's website and on


Photo Gallery

John Boshoven, Debbie Merion, and Geri at College Night, Ann Arbor District Library, October, ‘09

John Boshoven, Debbie Merion, and Geri at College Night, Ann Arbor District Library, October, ‘09

Geri presents at the November, ‘09 meeting of the Western Wayne (MI) Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals, an organization for secretarial, support, and administrative staff.

Geri presents at the November, ‘09 meeting of the Western Wayne (MI) Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals, an organization for secretarial, support, and administrative staff.


Goofs and Glitches

From the holiday cooking trenches comes this report of a brave newlywed who took on the preparation of a Thanksgiving feast for her large family: in her first trimester of pregnancy, Mara was in the throes of constant morning sickness, but was determined to fix all the recipes her family loves. She was relieved when everyone heaped praise on her turkey and side dishes, especially since she had been too queasy to taste anything during the cooking process. However, when the dessert course was served, strange looks began to circulate around the table as people took their first bites of pumpkin pie. Indeed, when Mara sampled a small chunk of crust, it tasted absolutely awful!

The family was extremely understanding, but Mara was compelled to retrace her steps and figure out what had gone wrong. She remembered that she had a terrible time working the dough, particularly when she couldn't get the shortening off her hands. It turned out that quite a long time ago, Mara had used an empty Crisco can to dispose of rendered bacon fat from another meal. Distracted at the time, she had replaced the can on the shelf next to a new can of shortening instead of tossing it. Her "delicate condition" at Thanksgiving added further distraction, so she wasn't paying close attention when she grabbed the wrong can and dumped the nasty contents into her dough. Ew!! Mara learned the hard way that pregnancy--a joyous condition full of happy anticipation--can nonetheless invite the Illness/Medication and Stress Demons into our lives.

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


Strategies for Success

MYM Newsletter contributor Laura O.Connor sends this inspirational end-of-year update on her Strategies for Success:

"In June of 2008, my father gave me a birthday card and his sentiment read, ‘ '07-'08 = a year of great progress; '08-'09 = a year of great promise.' My father has always been gifted in the written word. Reading his words at the time was poetic and also empowering. Little did I know that 2 months after my 2008 birthday, I was going to be laid off. Unbeknownst to me, these words would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

My first contribution to this newsletter occurred in December, 2008: I was in the thick of the emotional and financial upheaval that goes along with unemployment and searching for a new job. Later, I updated readers on the arduous process of landing a wonderful new job, only to be informed a few weeks in that my department was going to be ‘re-organized.' This meant that I had to apply to ‘keep' my job 90 days after I got it—naturally, when my benefits had just kicked in. It was important for me to remain focused and grounded. I decided to take a positive approach. I figured that I could come out of this in a much better position than I started. I had the opportunity to apply and get a better position. Of course, there was also the possibility that I could end up out of a job, too….but I choose to ignore that option. The whole experience was terrible, frightening, humiliating, and created a very competitive work environment; it also included an awful plane trip to Pittsburgh, Spanx, and an unexpected overnight in a cheap hotel (August 2009 Newsletter).

Now, exactly a year later, things have truly come full circle: I lost a job, got a job, survived the company downsizing, and got a promotion. WHEW! I've lived it and still find it hard to believe—it's amazing to realize what a difference a year makes. So my advice to those still struggling in this tough job market: don't lose your faith, don't lose your head, and don't lose your sense of humor. Family and friends will get you through…and then you can commit to ‘pay it forward' to those who may be in need of a laugh, a hug or a shoulder to cry on."


Student/Parent Corner

While the media report that the economic recession may be ending, most of us still have to pinch pennies this holiday season. There couldn't be a better time to focus as a family on what is truly meaningful and important in our lives: respecting traditions, honoring friends and relatives, and giving of ourselves to those we know and those we don't. Canadian mom Teresa de Grosbois watched the marketing of children's toys get completely out of hand with her own family, and wrote "The Presents' Presents!" to inspire children to say enough to dolls, stuffed animals, and action figures that "need" an endless progression of outfits, accessories, and even toys for the toys! Grosbois' daughters eventually started using birthdays and holidays as occasions to ask for donations to worthy causes. Have a conversation about the kind of holiday--and year—that your family really values. Demonstrate that gifts from the heart are often the most memorable; one classic is a "What I love about you" letter or collage that includes magazine text and images. Find "The Presents' Presents!" at Small Shifts Books & Media, Inc.


Work/Life Corner

When you do need to buy a useful item or gift certificate from a commercial establishment, remember the interrelationship between work, life, and community. During this season (and beyond), please think about supporting the entrepreneurial friends and neighbors in your area. So many of them provide outstanding goods and services but are the first to be hurt by difficult economic times and competition from big chain stores. Here in Ann Arbor, several shopping areas are full of unique stores run by innovative local merchants; for example, the Nickels Arcade shops include Bivouac indoor/outdoor travel and adventure gear, Van Boven men's fashions, (734) 665-7228, and Arcadian Antiques (734) 994-3433. Around the corner at 607 E. William St. is College Shoe Repair Shop, (734) 662-0400, a necessity these days. And local authors like Geri have received invaluable support from independent bookseller Nicola Rooney, whose cozy store on the West Side is a literary hub. To learn more about local establishments in Washtenaw County, click here.



  • Coaching is now only a computer screen away! Using Mac's iChat or Skype, you can have audio and/or video coaching sessions with simultaneous text-based instant messaging. Skype is a free, downloadable service that provides free calls, video calls, and instant messaging over the internet (; for information about iChat, search for your particular model. Moderately priced computer webcams and microphones are readily available. Both domestic and international clients are taking advantage of this convenient and effective way to improve productivity and reduce stress levels. To inquire, contact Geri, or 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 on the website. $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. 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
  • Recognize and reward progress! Are you a speaker, consultant, coach, or business owner? If you need memorable and useful gifts or incentives 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: Snow Balls

Geri's father, Charlie Ponte, contributed many Italian holiday recipes to their multiethnic household. Anne Ponte, Geri's mother, spent many hours making various kinds of holiday cookies with Grandmother Cissie, and these sweet treats easily crossed all cultural boundaries. Snow Balls go as well with potato pancakes for Hanukkah as they do with lasagna for Christmas!

Ingredients, Dough Instructions:

  • Mix:
    • 1 cup soft butter
    • 1/2 cup sifted confectioners sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Sift separately and then stir in:
    • 2 1/4 cups sifted flour
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Mix in:
    • 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts

(Additional confectioners sugar needed to roll the Snow Balls in.)

Chill above dough until firm. Preheat oven to 400° F. Roll dough into 1" balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until set, 10-12 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the middle of the snowball; if it comes out clean, it is done. While warm, roll in confectioners sugar, cool, then roll once more.


Best wishes for the Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

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