Archive for July, 2010


I love mnemonics and acronyms; they make it easy to remember useful information.  We tend to use them frequently in medicine (ie, RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation) and in mental health (ie, screening for alcohol dependence, CAGE: cut down, annoyed, guilty, eye opener).  I was reminded of a particularly useful one this week: HALT.  While HALT is primarily used for individuals in recovery for substance abuse issues, I find it useful to apply to any automatic, problematic behaviors in which people engage (including emotional eating).

HALT refers to the possible responses to the question “Why am I doing this? How am I really feeling? Am I really…?”

  • H- Hungry
  • A- Angry
  • L- Lonely
  • T- Tired

By asking oneself these questions, it enables the individual to be more mindful of the situation and more accurately meet his or her needs at that moment instead of engaging in emotion-led, automatic behaviors.  So the next time you find yourself grabbing for a cookie or glass of wine, try asking yourself if you need to HALT and be certain of your motivations at that moment.

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Lost in Time

Review: Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern

One of my favorite lectures from residency was on “Unchangeables.” This list of core characteristics, thought to be unalterable, included such things as empathy, sense of aesthetics, sense of direction, being a “reader”, organizational ability, and sense of time.  With the permission afforded me by this list, I have spend many years indulging in “tardiness.”  I would tell myself, “I can’t help being late, I have an imperfect sense of time.”   I routinely get lost in activities and lose track of time, or miscalculate how much time a particular activity will take, and I am always late.  This defect in my “sense of time” has caused a great deal of consternation in our family as I am married to a man with a perfect sense of both time and organization. Needless-to-say, he doesn’t buy into my excuse nor does he care about “timeliness” being an unchangeable.  So in an attempt to maintain peace and harmony in our home, I went in search for the seemingly impossible: a way to become aware of time.

What I found was a book: Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern. Ms. Morgenstern promises a “foolproof system for taking control of your schedule and your life.”  What she delivers is a system of time organization that takes into account the individual’s quirks and shortcomings.  She begins by having the individual do a “three level diagnostic” looking for particular obstacles, then teaches several pneumonic driven “take-charge” programs (WADE: write it down, Add it Up, Decide, Execute your plan; the 4 D’s: Delete, Delay, Diminish, Delegate).  Ms. Morgenstern’s strength lies in her organizational expertise and she applies her strategies adeptly to “time.”  While I will likely always struggle with accurately predicting how long it will take me to do a particular thing, it’s encouraging to learn and implement some strategies to prevent my particular time management challenges from derailing my entire day.  If you find yourself frustrated at the end of the day, asking where the time went, this may be the book to help you “Analyze, Strategize, & Attack” your way into better time management.

Are you always searching for “something more?”  Do you identify with any of the following drives or characteristics:

  • Extreme Confidence
  • Constant Need for New Challenges
  • Need for Recognition based on Performance, not gender
  • Greatest pleasures come from work place achievements
  • Learn best from Experience

Have you been frustrated by managers or situations that don’t challenge you to grow, provide opportunities for connecting, or sufficient validation?  This may be the book for you.

Always searching for tools, tricks, and tips to share with my girlfriends and patients, I was thrilled when presented with the opportunity to review Marcia Reynolds’Wander Woman. (obligatory disclosure: I received a review copy of the book at no cost with no obligation to provide a positive review) Going beyond the traditional call for finding “balance”, Wander Woman presents as a self-help book for “high-achieving women who are confident, ambitious, driven yet anxious, discontented, and above all, restless.”  This book succeeds in this endeavor and is a fascinating character study as well.

Dr. Reynolds begins by defining what constitutes a “Wander Woman” and explores the conditions that have contributed to the formation of such persons.  She then describes the process of “intentional transformation” and does a beautiful job of elucidating the many archetypes that characterize the various aspects of one’s personality: the Victim, the Saboteur, the Rebel, and so on…  Dr. Reynolds utilizes her masterful coaching expertise to provide specific exercises to aid in the discovery and development of these aspects of personality, provides instruction on correcting distortions of thoughts (“debunking your assumptions”), as well as gives specific directions on how to gain useful insight through the technique of “Appreciative Dialogue.”

Although I initially was interested in this book as it would apply to others, I quickly found myself relating to this Wander Woman phenomenon…with one exception: I no longer feel the need to “wander.”  I was fortunate enough to find and create the conditions I needed for contentment and fulfillment in my personal and professional life by becoming self-employed.  This solution, while appropriate in my situation, is not an option for many.  Fortunately, this book guides women through the process of self-discovery and provides specific resources for developing a “conscious strategy to find your direction and plan for your future.”

I recommend this book to any woman interested in introspection, not just those who set out to become “high-achievers.”  Wander Woman is full of great insights and is a wonderful exercise in personal development and transformation for any woman who wants “to know what they can accomplish in this lifetime without feeling exhausted and lonely in the end.”

(from the publisher)

Dr. Marcia Reynolds is fascinated by the brain, especially the nuances of the female brain. She is a master certified coach with a doctorate in organizational psychology, focusing on the needs and challenges of smart, strong women in the workplace. She travels around the world speaking at conferences and teaching classes in leadership, emotional intelligence and organizational change. Her book Wander Woman: How High Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction was released this summer.

You can read more about the book at wanderwomanbook.com and follow the author on Facebookand Twitter.