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Why we're so stressed today


Why are human stress rates skyrocketing today? 

I believe we are the 'victims of our success'. Do you recall hearing years ago that 'computers would make our lives easier'?  Or that it was a plus getting our food from anywhere and on the cheap?  Perhaps these successes at their root contain the same error: a lack of consciousness in creating that leads to un-sustainability.

I believe we could be using some of the same error in creation when it comes to technology.  Technology has led us into a trance of sorts.  What is the trance? Moving rapidly forward into a new version of society where we are increasingly being made in the image of the machines.  You may think that statement silly but I believe there is a great deal of truth to it.

No matter how much technology helps us, there is a cost.  The cost? Simply put...we are not machines.  Let me say that again.

You are not a machine...

But life will push you in that direction if you let it.  In fact, it already is.  Not only are machines threatening to take our jobs, our environment - especially government and businesses - are inculcating 'machine-like' processing into the ways we live and work more and more every day.  And I LOVE technology.  But after burning out on the fast-pace of life today, I've discovered the key for me - and it will likely be for you too - is to be in charge of YOUR relationship with the machines. And to ONLY engage with the machines when they ENHANCE your relationship with other flesh and blood humans, not DETRACT from them.

And at times, differentiating when technology adds to not takes from our lives is difficult.

We, not the machines, get to decide how we want to spend the minutes of our lives.  

And, when I say machines, that includes social media as well.  

MY MISSION FOR YOU IF YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT: I see my mission as helping you reflect and redraw those lines.  Create healthy boundaries between you and the machines.  For example: I will help you 'make life and career - work for you - not you for it'. I will assist you in making technology your slave, not you a slave to it!

This, my friend, is the grand design of what I now do. Yes, there was a time when I full time toiled in the world of traditional mental health care.  My education as a social worker and my almost 30 years of experience of helping people, as a psychotherapist, addictions counselor, love coach and matchmaker (yes) and life and career coach, have led me to this point and I am honored to share the sweet wine of years of wisdom with you.

For example: one experience that truly informs how I work with my clients is my understanding of the dynamic interplay between each person and his or her environment (thank you social work!).  Yes, you are responsible for your every action, you are not a hapless victim of your circumstances but you also are not 100% responsible for everything that you are impacted by.  This is why when someone becomes a crime victim, it is never okay to blame them for 'something they did to cause the crime'.  And, when you are new in a job, it isn't good practice for a boss to berate you and say it's one hundred percent your fault until they first take stock of how effective they've been in training you as well.  

One of the pushes with the digital way of approaching life and work is to make you fit into certain boxes and, as quickly as you can. Envision yourself trying to climb into a tiny box and see how that might feel.  Now if that box is a bit larger and cushioned with some soft, lovely fur, I might like it!  But only then. 

I don't know about you but there is a limit to how much of this I can take without stress, frustration and anxiety.  Bottom line: technology is trying to take our self efficacy away, more and more, even as we're told: technology will save us stress, frustration and anxiety.  Yes, it does, but only to a point.  This is the nexus of where you and I will work: defining where tech hurts and where tech helps and helping you design your life to use tech only when it flows with who you are and what you want and need.

Ready to learn more? I've got a blog forthcoming and if you'd like to talk to me right away about how I might help you design your life more to your liking call me 410-967-3848.

And congratulations!  You are at least aware what I am referring to above IS occurring.  Some after all have become unconsciously a part OF the machines and don't realize the peril!

50+ & hitting a 'wall' in your work/career?


Growing up in Baltimore, I remember the Maryland Marathon, whose original route came very close to my childhood home. Experienced marathon runners say there is a point in every race where they hit physical and/or emotional feelings of fatigue so strong they threaten to prematurely end their run. Runners affectionately call this point in most races 'the wall'.

The wall hits many runners even those with advanced training. The wall on the original Maryland Marathon route occurred right after the half way mark. It was the result of a long, slowly rising and winding hilly monster called Satyr Hill Road. Today Satyr Hill Road hasn't changed one bit, other than I wouldn't dare try to ride a bike up it like I did as a teen.

After Satyr Hill, the runners headed back to Perring Parkway, a flat road that led to the finishing line in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Runners knew that if they could get through Satyr Hill, chances are they could finish the race.

Does this story remind you of yourself?  I know it reminds me of times in my life and work.

Just like me, you have worked long and hard for many years, providing a very high level of service to your clients, and likely your co-workers and/or staff as well. We're known as great bosses to work for and you probably treat your co-workers whoever they are as family.

Now however, as you move into the later years of your career after age 50 you find...

  • you have developed one or more chronic health issues (some no doubt created by the stresses and strains of your work) 
  • you need more time to rest and recover physically and mentally from your work
  • you recognize you need to pay more attention to self care.  You can't drive yourself as much as you did when you were young.
All of the above leads you to find yourself at a crossroads: you need to find ways to both work at the level you can (likely less than 40 hours a week) AND create enough income to be able to continue to live the life you are living.  You are single, the sole breadwinner or are a member of a dual income couple and need to make a reliable income.

You are facing that proverbial marathon runner's wall.

How do you survive the wall and find a new pace that helps you finish the race well?

While most of us aren't disabled, most of us are contending with one or more physical and/or emotional health problems that sap our energy, our concentration and other abilities we need to do our work well. We are stuck in the middle in that way.  We aren't burned out either, other than the fatigue factor, which is probably more a function of the specific medical problem(s) we have, such as thyroid, overweight, auto-immune, etc. problems.  We are careful to NOT be so imbalanced in our work like some of our medical peers (who are so status quo they don't realize their burnout or compassion fatigue).  We prevent our burnout without ever getting that low.

The truth is...We're still able to work, but not as many hours as we used to. We are still as compassionate and empathic and effective as ever, we just have less energy due to the changes illness and aging have wrought. Unlike many of our peers, who we can't respect given their ignorance to the toll their ways are taking on themselves and their patients or clients. They don't 'get' how much they've sold their souls to those 'golden handcuffs' at the price of my respect at least (not that they care!).

We are suffering because the system of care is itself suffering...

Today's health care system isn't welcoming to our needs as workers in that system. Heck, we aren't supposed to have needs, we're supposed to totally subsume ours. And, we know all of this is creating a 'system of care' that is barely functional for it's patients. I've worked for private practices that wanted you to come in and stare straight ahead and work, work, work without a healthy work environment. And with no time to do all the documentation required so we end up typing during sessions with a computer between us and the client. How wonderful!

Whether we are doctors, nurses, mental health professionals or respiratory therapists, we feel the pressure to be invincible, to never share a weakness. To run like a machine!  However, let's not ever forget that the machine is churning us up - all the time expecting more of us and giving less back. Thus, in a time when various business costs are rising rapidly, we often find our income in the traditional private practice setting isn't keeping pace.

Many of us have also had a variety of issues happen during our careers - family illness, child rearing, the great recession, a failed business, layoff(s) and on and on - that has led us to have very little saved for retirement, even after the age of 50.

Perhaps you haven't had an opportunity to do much saving for retirement.

I was reading an online article the other day by a financial expert.  He was talking about those who never had children and remarked that perhaps those who didn't never got 'serious' about saving money.  To me that was an insult: especially as a single income household.  There is a discrimination common in our culture called singlism: where people think single people have it easier.  Not so.  If you are a single health care professional, I 'feel you', as I am too.  We have to run our households and our careers, without help.  It's not easy.

Chances are if you've found your way here, I understand what you crave at this time in your life.  We share the same desire for a simpler, less hectic and more balanced life now.  In fact it's not just a want, simpler, more nourishing life is what we need, if we are to continue to survive, much less than thrive.

In fact, having a healthier-for-me, more balanced life is not just a want, it's become a need as my body has been telling me I must pay attention more to it and slow down, take better care, recharge, etc.  My body, whether I want it to or not, is not a machine.  It's flesh and blood.  My body doesn't bounce back as quickly as it once did.  But that doesn't mean I am any less capable of working and living to my fullest potential, including still giving lots back to my work and loved ones.

And I don't know about you but I have no role models for this life stage.  My mom is/was a housewife. Me on the other hand?  I am one of those women who never married.  In fact, integral to my story is that I realized in my teens - in the late 1970's - that I was gay. That decision has shaped so much about my challenges in living my life, most specifically that I've always had to depend on myself for the most part.  I have no spousal health insurance or other support to lean on!

To be totally transparent, I had two sometimes - and in some ways - supportive girlfriends earlier on in my adulthood, but ultimately where the rubber met the road was me!   Both relationships taught me so much by also taking so much away from me LOL!  To date I've been single over a decade now and for me, in that decade, it's become easier creating a life that works for me.  I do want to share a my life with someone else again some day,  but I won't settle.  We must be compatible enough.

I am also not like some of my lesbian sisters. I am not psychologically 'wired' to compete in the work world like those who are good at business or science or math. My brain is more feminine in what I am good at career-wise: I'm a healer. I am a caretaker. Meaning: not valued enough leading to lower salaries. I have a straight sister, for example, who I kid and say 'you are like dad' because she is a hard driving physician.

And now the impact of technology. I note in my field some of the younger therapists find creating a practice that utilizes technology easier. Those folks I like. And there are those using tech to beat others over the head.  Those practitioners I stay away from as much s I can.

And no one else understands this like we do. 

Look at me: I have worked since I was 12 when I had a paper route!  Compared to my stress-filled life, my mom in her 50's was in her 'empty nest' phase, helping one of my sisters with the grand kids.  Me, it was work 40 or more hours a week, year after year, more traditionally like the men in my family.

And add to that the fact others often have no empathy for our struggles. If we share them we are told "well it was your choice to not marry" or "it was your choice to choose the career you did". All the while, many don't get that women make less than men and that many didn't choose not to be married either. And that we choose a career based on what we are naturally good at and like, it just so happens society has decided to undervalue that career because traditionally it was 'women's work'.

I have been supporting myself financially most of my adult life. I've not had the benefit of dual income and girl, in my fifties, the stress on my body has caught up. The dual income thing has become increasingly important as prices for things like housing and health insurance have literally skyrocketed. While more of us are living alone, the price of doing so is higher than ever.

In addition we are naturally become a bit less active than we were say, 15-20 years ago. And yet, the workplace has continued in many corners to become leaner and meaner, leading to a higher risk of burnout.

So, even if you never retire fully, one thing you have recently discovered about yourself is that your priorities and energy levels have changed.  While you engage fully in work when you do it, it's easier to leave it behind and engage fully outside of work as well.  

Next thing you know however, you're no longer in that stage of life. You feel the transition, it's here. You can't go all day and night like you used to, without consequence. You find you need to take more care of your mental and physical health. And, yet, you still need to generate a decent income and save for retirement. Whether you are never married/choosing to be single, divorced, widowed, single or LGBTQ, you can't rest on your laurels of past success.

Additionally, social and economic forces in today's world mean housing is high, health care is high, and you worry how you will keep up.

All of this makes you realize you aren't willing and shouldn't if you want to maintain your level of health, succumb to the pressure of today's inflexible work schedules, unreasonable bosses and terrible traffic jams. And yet, that is what it takes in today's world to just survive in the corporate world, let alone thrive. Luckily with advances in technology there are other options. I know there are, because I've been in your shoes and felt the pressure to conform. And yet, I can't. My health won't let me.

Sound familiar?

So like other times in my life I'm 'in transition'. Each transition in my life has been challenging, and each I've survived. Whether it was leaving home at 18 prematurely before finishing college or making it through the trials of grad school or grieving both of my long term relationships and a failing business, or adjusting to living the single life in a new state, my life has truly been an adventure.

This time is different in that I don't have the endless amounts of energy and drive I once had. Which of course concerns me. But heck, I trust I can recreate myself again.

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Barb works with individuals, couples and groups who are seeking solutions to the current cognitive, emotional and social challenges they are facing. This includes a career or personal focus (or both). She works with anyone who is dealing with adversity, whether that be physical, life change and/or grief-related, stigma-related, etc.

Barb understands the challenge of staying fit - mentally and physically - when one is heavily engrossed in one's education and/or career.  Many professions today require such a focus, time commitment, and sitting on one's butt that she works a lot with folks who are struggling with issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and the resulting relationship issues, depression and anxiety.  She helps those who are ready (or are being nudged by a spouse, partner, employer, adult child, etc.) to become healthier by adding more of what's been missing - physical activity, improving marriage or parenting skills, attention to one's emotional self care, etc.

As a fellow health care professional, Barb is sought out by education and healing professionals - teachers, doctors, nurses, psychotherapists, counselors, social workers - who are at increasingly higher risk of burnout and compassion fatigue.  If you are ready to either transform the job you are doing now or transition into work that is healthier and happier for you, take heart.  Because changes in the environment take longer, Barb helps individuals change now, by helping them create a work life that bends to their will versus the opposite.  Having made this career transition herself, she is now an expert who can advise you.

Life today is a recipe for fatigue and burnout for all of us, unless we learn to take back control of our lives. Barb works with men and women to regularly practice skills like laughter, relaxation, values clarification and simplifying one's life in unison with what one most values.  You know, living the authentic life you say you want to live, without the endless materialism and 'stuff'.  Barb has discovered the value in living with greater simplicity and 'slowness' and she can help you to make that shift.  You will be glad you did.

Barb works frequently in the gender differences space such as with women seeking to up their confidence and self esteem (find their voice and be supported for courageously sharing it) and with men learning to be calmer and better communicators (approach life less from a status, dominance and competition mindset).  Barb works with pickleball athletes - both amateur and pro - to bring a more conscious, fun and caring approach to the sport while still being competitive. She also works with professional and up-and-coming football, baseball and softball athletes to manage and/or resolve whatever personal challenges threaten to derail them doing the best in their sport.

Barb also specializes in working with the active adult 55 and up population - those folks who are either still working full time but starting to think about having more of a life to those who want to become semi-retired but struggle to make the life changes enabling them to do so and those who are already semi-retired because they burned out and now need to find ways to increase their income.  She also works with those who are figuring out how to stay active in their career into their 70's and even 80's but gear down and those retired looking for new adventures.

Barb discovered during the course of her almost 30 year career in mental health so far, that she has a knack for and enjoyment of counseling family members looking to resolve problems and/or improve their relationship with an adult sibling or parent.  As such she's pursued additional training in the subject to hone her skills.

Ready to make your life a bit better?  Just give Barb a call at 410-967-3848.

Seeking a licensed, Maryland therapist/counselor?


While most of Barb's offerings these days are online or workshops-style in webinar and coaching fashion, she also maintains a part time mental health practice for residents of Maryland, with a few in office/in person openings as well as some video therapy openings.  

TO LEARN MORE: If you are a resident of Maryland and have routine (not urgent or emergent*) concerns, give her a call at 410-967-3848 to discuss.

She accepts self pay and some insurances.


* Barb does NOT provide crisis counseling at this time.  If you having an urgent or emergent mental health issue, call 911 or go to your nearest ER.

Who Barb Helps


Barb offers coaching and consulting for individuals and groups seeking PRACTICAL and EFFECTIVE solutions to the most common life and work situations causing stress today, including...

  • COMMUNICATION - Improve your most important work and personal relationships.
  • LIFE & CAREER DESIGN - Set up your life to be much less stressful and become a 'burnout free' zone.
  • SPIRITUAL BUT NOT RELIGIOUS - Create a spiritual life you resonate with instead of just following your parent's religion, being feared into something you aren't sure is true or doing nothing. Barb is on a very intriguing path to new spirituality and she wants you to join her.  It will be fun too - since when is any religion fun, by the way!?!
  • SPEAKING PROUDLY FOR POLITICAL SANITY - Find your 'people'/support for your political self (as in if you are tired of those on extreme ends of any political party but you love comedians like Bill Maher and Steve Colbert, bright, fact-based shows like Rachel Maddow, Smerconish and Don Lemon, you will love being a part of this group). There is strength in numbers my friends so don't go this one alone!
  • PETS - Deal more successfully with the myriad of stresses - and celebrate the joys - of pet ownership.
  • BETTER HEALTH - Thrive in spite of today's stressful environments, chronic illness and aging-based changes.

Barb understands the challenge of staying fit - mentally and physically - in today's fast-paced world. Perhaps you - like Barb - find yourself in a career you love but one that is changing, requiring you to shift in order to manage your stress and avoid burnout.

Many if not most professions today require such a focus, time commitment, and sitting on one's butt that she works a lot with folks who are struggling with issues like aging, obesity, arthritis and chronic pain.  If you've been in a career for many years, you probably need support to address these and other related concerns.

Barb is sought out by education and healing professionals - teachers, doctors, nurses, psychotherapists, counselors, social workers - who are at increasingly higher risk of burnout and compassion fatigue. If you are ready to either transform the job you are doing now or transition into work that is healthier and happier for you, take heart. Because changes in the environment take longer, Barb helps individuals change now, by helping them create a work life that bends to their will versus the opposite.  Having made this career transition herself, she is now an expert who can advise you.

Life today is a recipe for fatigue and burnout for all of us, unless we learn to take back control of our lives. Barb works with men and women to regularly practice skills like laughter, relaxation, values clarification and simplifying one's life in unison with what one most values.  You know, living the authentic life you say you want to live, without the endless materialism and 'stuff', and without being tied to the larger systems you are dependent on to lead this joy-less life!  Barb has discovered the value in living with greater simplicity and 'slowness' and she can help you to make that shift.  You will be glad you did.

Barb works frequently in the gender differences space such as with women seeking to up their confidence and self esteem (find their voice and be supported for courageously sharing it) and with men learning to be calmer and better communicators (approach life less from a status, dominance and competition mindset).  

Barb works with pickleball athletes - both amateur and pro - to bring a more conscious, fun and caring approach to the sport while still being competitive. She also works with professional and up-and-coming football, golf, racquetball, baseball and softball athletes to manage and/or resolve whatever personal challenges threaten to derail them doing the best in their sport.

Barb specializes in working with the active adult 55 and up population - those folks who are either still working full time but starting to think about having more of a life to those who want to become semi-retired but struggle to make the life changes enabling them to do so and those who are already semi-retired because they burned out and now need to find ways to increase their income.  She also works with those who are figuring out how to stay active in their career into their 70's and even 80's but gear down and those retired looking for new adventures.

Barb discovered during the course of her almost 30 year career of helping others that she has a knack for and enjoyment of counseling family members looking to resolve problems and/or improve their relationship with an adult sibling or parent.  As such she's pursued additional training in the subject to hone her skills.

Does it sound like Barb can help you?  Just give Barb a call at 410-967-3848 and together you'll create a plan that works for you!


PLEASE NOTE: Coaching and consulting are NOT therapy.  Barb does not provide crisis services.  She does provide some limited video therapy services to residents of Maryland for routine concerns only, which you can ask her about when you call.  If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest ER.

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