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
May 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: Complimentary Seminar (There are still a few available spaces)

  • How much is distraction costing your business in missed opportunities, needless mistakes, late fees, or neglect of management chores or professional commitments? On Tuesday, May 19, 2009, Geri is inviting small business owners for a complimentary seminar: "Defeat the Demons of Distraction and Increase Productivity and Profits." This session will provide practical, research-based strategies to help you deal with procrastination, messy or incomplete record keeping, and neglect of marketing, networking or writing activities. Meet from 6-7:30 p.m. at the delightful Primo Coffee House Conference Room, 301 E. Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, MI, 48104. Limited enrollment: to reserve your place, contact Geri at (734) 761-6498 or email
  • Geri will speak at the Ann Arbor Book Festival Writer's Conference, which takes place Friday, May 15, 2009, at the Palmer Commons on the University of Michigan Central Campus. Her presentation, "Actions against Distractions: How to Increase Writing Productivity and Decrease Stress," will provide strategies to help authors self-manage time and tasks, and deal with issues such as procrastination, perfectionism, writer's block, technology, interruptions, and unbridled creativity. Geri's session is from 11:15 a.m. -12:15 p.m.; to register for this day-long conference, click here.
  • Save the date for the 10th Annual Michael Golds Memorial AD/HD Conference: Friday, October 2, 2009 on the Orchard Ridge Campus of Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills, Michigan. This gathering of experts from around the world will include a keynote address by Michael Ginsberg, MD, on his AD/HD success story. It will also feature Sari Solden on women's issues, and Denslow Brown on LGBT issues. For more information, click here.


Goofs and Glitches

You don't have to be a Bridezilla to know that there are hundreds of hassles to deal with when staging a large wedding. The pressure peaks on the Big Day, when everyone is trying to "make it to the church on time!" A guest at a lavish extravaganza sends the following story: on the morning of the nuptials, the bride, parents, and wedding party pile into a giant limousine and head for the chapel. Other guests and family members are to arrive separately. As the jittery group heads into town on the main drag, they pass a metro transit authority stop at the side of the road. It takes a moment for all to realize that the carefully attired, elderly woman standing there--waiting for a public bus--is the bride's 85-year-old great-aunt! In the chaos of arranging rides for the many out-of-town relatives attending the wedding, no one had remembered to swing by and pick up poor Auntie Gertrude! Screams alert the limo driver to pull over, and a groomsman hastily helps stuff Gertrude into the packed vehicle. Fortunately, the sting of being forgotten is erased by the chance to nestle in next to the lovely bride and arrive at the event in grand style. It just goes to show that the Stress Demon is on hand to attack even at the happiest of events. Make sure to compile a list of who's getting rides with whom to avoid nasty slipups and hurt feelings.

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


Strategies for Success:

Stress is a natural part of many important life events. Whether positive or negative, expected or unexpected, life changes and transitions bring on stress and increase your vulnerability to distraction. Don't let stress catch you unaware. Consider Tip #55 from Geri's booklet, Defeating the Demons of Distraction: 111 Ways To Increase Work/Life Performance and Decrease Stress: watch for physical symptoms of stress such as headaches, stomach upset, insomnia, sweating palms, changes in appetite or rapid heart beat. Aware of the symptoms, you can take action. Identify a set of activities or strategies that you can employ to prevent or reduce stress reactions.


"It Worked for Me" - Dara's Story

The recession has cut into Dara's family income and her husband's job is under threat. Feeling the stress, both Dara and John have hesitated to spend money on "extras" or to take time away from the office. However, when John receives an invitation to a daylong conference followed by a job-networking event, Dara thinks it's especially important for him to go despite his shyness. She offers her moral support by agreeing to attend the networking dinner with him. Faced with time to kill in the big city, she decides to spend a couple of hours and some of that precious discretionary income at a museum. She is shocked to find when she emerges that she has spent over four hours in complete and enjoyable focus on the exhibits. "It was worth every penny of my eight bucks to feel that relaxed and refreshed," she tells everyone.

When times are tough, it's easy to think of music, art, and cultural appreciation as expendable. In fact, the opposite is true: no matter how difficult their circumstances, humans have always turned to the arts for comfort, stress relief, self-expression, and a greater sense of community. If you feel disheartened by life's challenges, try finding free or reasonably priced ways to soothe your soul. Check with museums for no-admission charge days or optional-donation admission. Look for free concerts on college campuses or at religious institutions. Take an hour or two per week to sing, dance, or create artwork with people in your community. You need arts institutions as much as they need you right now. Dr. Karl Paulnack, Director of the Music Division of the Boston Conservatory, has written a moving essay on the importance of the arts in our lives; to read, click here.



Student/Parent Corner

"You just don't understand!" Those are fighting words to the parents of a teenager—and they often evoke a defensive or dismissive response such as, "We had the same problems and we suffered through it—why shouldn't you?" While adolescence has never been easy, parents do need to recognize that some aspects of the high school experience really are more intense now than they were in the past. Some of the Stress Demons advancing upon your high schooler are:

  • High stakes standardized testing in every year of high school, including pre-ACT and SAT assessments, state assessments, and multiple Advanced Placement exams in addition to the ACT and SAT.
  • More rigorous graduation requirements in many states, plus extreme pressure to maintain high grades in all courses, including advanced or accelerated courses.
  • "Professionalized" extracurricular activities such as sports and music, requiring year-round private instruction and participation, as well as at-school involvement.
  • Mandatory volunteer work (yes, that is an oxymoron) for required community service hours, and school or community club involvement for leadership requirements.
  • At the 11th and 12th grade levels, college admissions preparation such as recruiting visits, campus visits, financial aid planning, obtaining recommendations, completing essays and application forms, weighing decisions, and obtaining campus housing.
  • Vacation periods that are not treated as breaks. Many teens have cited lengthy summer reading lists for next year's courses, Advanced Placement teachers emailing additional assignments during breaks, and major projects due right after holidays.

Some of these practices are even filtering down to the middle school level. Parents and their children are faced with a situation in which administrators, teachers, and coaches pay lip service to the idea of balancing children's lives, but refuse to compromise or cooperate with each other or with families in order to do so. As Rosemarie, a 10th grader, lamented, "In school, there is a constant mental battering."  

Parents need to listen sympathetically when teens vent about stresses and strains in their lives. They should be prepared to advocate for their high school students when competing requirements become unreasonable. Provided their child is using his or her time wisely, no high school student should be regularly short of sleep (up past midnight, for example) to finish regular homework. If your adolescent complains of the physical symptoms of stress listed above, you should discuss the situation with your pediatrician and with the guidance counselor at school.



  • 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.
  • Want to make sure that those New Year's resolutions turn from intention to action? Give the life-changing gift of professional coaching to yourself or to others: help your child or grandchild deal with the tyranny of standardized testing, or obtain the support you or your significant other need to achieve big dreams! It's easy to get off track when confronted by the enormous changes and challenges of 2009; even one or two sessions per month can ensure that you move forward despite winter and economic gloom. Geri is offering a New Year's Resolution Special Rate of 20% off coaching sessions booked before March, 2009. Simply mention this newsletter item when you contact her, tel. (734) 761-6498.
  • Finish-that-Book Coaching Package! Geri is offering on-site or telephone coaching with fees starting from $750 for a three month package. Contact twice per month with fax or email feedback.
    • Organizing material
    • Sequencing sections
    • Managing references
    • Integrating material within and between chapters
    • Scheduling writing
    • Monitoring progress
    • Revising
    • Editing Scheduling promotional activities
    • Book signings
    For more term and pricing information, 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
  • 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: Harry's Coffee Cake
It's May and Mother's Day is coming. Why not bring a coffee cake to a mom or person who should be recognized on Mother's Day. Try this fabulous never-fail recipe.

Cooking time: 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 350° F.

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup dairy sour cream (or yogurt)
2 cups sifted flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup sugar plus 1 tbs. cinnamon, combined


  1. Cream butter, add sugar gradually.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each.
  3. Blend in vanilla.
  4. Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream.
  6. Spread half of batter into greased and lightly floured 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle half of topping on batter, then spread remaining batter on top and sprinkle with remaining topping.
  7. Bake 40 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before turning out.

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


Honor the love and hard work of all of the mothers you know, and enjoy the blossoms of May!

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