Barb's Story


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Barb's Story Barb's Story Barb's Story

"It is very important that you do only what you love to do. You may be poor, you may go hungry, you may live in a shabby place, but you will totally live. And at the end of your days, you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do." 
- Elisabeth Kübler-Ross "The Wheel of Life"

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 at the old Memorial Stadium (or in later years I believe the finish line was 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 this chapter in my life and work.  If you're like me you've practiced in a career you've enjoyed, even loved.  You have worked long and hard for many years, bringing all of yourself to your work.  

However, compared to many of our moms we are working harder than ever post 50, even as we hit more of our physical and emotional 'walls'. Many of our moms, if they were lucky enough to have a supportive spouse with a good job and pension, in their 50's were in their 'empty nest' phase, helping with the grand kids and now, in their 70's and 80's, are doting over the great grand kids.

The key difference between our generation and our moms is that we are finding we need to run a marathon when it comes to income generation. Often on our own. Today, we live at a unique time in history where women have earned their freedom, which as you know is never 'free'. And lucky us: we will most likely live longer than our moms, again begging the question: we don't want to 'outlive our money'. LOL....


As you move into the later years of your career or working life during midlife and past age 50 you find...

  • You are emotionally and mentally 'sick and tired' of working in inauthentic, 'too sterile/corpora-tized' dysfunctional workplaces (you know ones where there are one too many what I call 'bureaucratic landmines' and where people seem to have a 'Game of Thrones' mentality which management often ignores or even encourages).

  • You have developed one or more chronic health issues (some no doubt created by the stresses and strains of your labors of love).

  • You need more time to rest and recover physically and mentally from your very unique and important 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.

  • You need to continue to earn a living (but you aren't willing to sell your soul to do so).

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 no more than 40 hours a week and less than that if you could) AND create enough income to be able to continue to live the life you are living (or even maintain a more simple one).  Or find a way to stop trading more of your time for money (more on that one later...)

Because you are single, the sole breadwinner of a family or couple or you are a member of a dual income couple and you still need to make a reliable income.

You are facing that proverbial marathon runner's wall...and yet you can't just quit.

So, how do you survive the wall and find a new pace that helps you finish the race strong?  

The truth is...We're still great workers, but most likely not as able to focus for as many hours consecutively as we used to. Many of us are facing new levels of ageism out in the work world.  After all, business places are mostly about who can get the most done, the most inexpensively.  We are efficient and effective, but we don't come cheap!

We expect more from employers and contractors and they don't always like that. Today's workplaces prefer to expect more from us and give less. Therefore, we are in a position of needing to be savvy about what we do and who we do business with, and adapting so we can find places we can go both where our contributions are valued and we sustain the work/life balance we need to remain healthy physically and emotionally!

Many of us have also had a variety of issues happen during our careers - serious illness, family illness, child rearing, divorce(s), death of a spouse, 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 'so-called' 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 professional, I 'feel you', as I am too. We have to run our households and our careers, without help. It's not easy. This obviously sexist's comment also ignored the pressures on the middle class that most of us find ourselves in: where we don't have strong unions and wages have stagnated for quite sometime now, not keeping up with the costs of living.

And this man didn't even factor in the fact we do labors of love, often traditionally called 'women's work', where the pay is never equal to that of what a man earns!

Chances are if you've found your way here, I understand what you crave at this time in your life. And it's not just chocolate!  Perhaps you haven't figured it out yet (only because you're too busy to slow down and connect with yourself), we most likely share the same needs and desires for a simpler, less hectic and more balanced life. In fact a simpler, more nourishing life is what we need, if we are to continue to survive, much less than thrive.

But that doesn't mean that you or I are any less capable of working and living to our fullest potentials NOW, personally and professionally.

And I don't know about you but I have no role models for this life stage. My mom and her relatives and friends were mostly housewives.  So too were many of my peers.  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!

I have been supporting myself financially all of my adult life. I've not had the benefit of dual income (or a man's income where I've been paid my true worth) 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.

Some would then say: why don't you just get married, Barb, or, couple up?

Well inherent in that question is a number of biases. Number one: that I haven't considered that or that I'm not trying to achieve that again. I was coupled at various points in my life, but I - like many - can't always control that outcome. It takes two. As I age, I find it more challenging to find someone I could form a healthy bond with, which, don't you think is just as important (if not more) than coupling, just for the sake of finances!?!

Another bias inherent in the above question is that I should have to 'couple up' in order to make ends meet or have a higher quality of life. As one of my favorite activists Dr. Bella DePaulo would say: the system is rigged against singles economically and in favor of couples. And it's not really fair, but that's why you and I need to do more to nourish ourselves!  And a deeper truth is this: the system is rigged against EVERYONE who isn't super wealthy in today's world!

But I can help you because I'm right here with you...

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 too high, health care is pricey, and you worry how you will keep up. The workplace has continued in many corners to become leaner and meaner, speeding up, thus leading us to a higher risk of burnout. The so-called invention of technology hasn't made our lives easier in this respect.

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.

BOTTOM LINE: 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.  Don't give up on this work that you love and that you are talented at, please. The world needs you. You need you.

Don't continue to let today's marketplace commodi-tize you!

Sound familiar?

So like other times in our lives of courage, we are 'in transition'. Each transition in our lives has been challenging, and each we'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. And I know yours has been too.

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.

And so can you!

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More about me and my story...I work with individuals, couples and groups who are seeking realistic, workable solutions to their lives, by finding a better work/life balance.  I help anyone who is courageously dealing with adversity, whether that be physical, life change and/or grief-related, stigma-related, etc.

I understand the challenge of staying fit - mentally and physically - when one is heavily engrossed in today's expected level of engagement in one's education and/or career. Many professions today require such a focus, time commitment, and sitting on one's butt that I encounter a lot healers who are struggling with issues like obesity, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, heart disease, diabetes and the resulting relationship issues, depression and anxiety. I deal a lot with healers whose families don't understand and fully appreciate all they do and all they are. With healers who try to educate their families as to their value in the workplace, when families don't 'get it'.

For example, there is a term that the health care industry now recognizes as a big issue: care giving syndrome. You are no doubt experiencing some level of this syndrome, which is a form of imbalance which you must 'right' if you are to stay healthy.

I've helped many 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 work you are doing now or transition into a job or self employment that is healthier and happier for you, take heart. Because today's marketplace could always be more flexible, I help individuals change now, by helping them create a work life that bends to their will versus the opposite. Having made this career transition myself, perhaps I can offer my experiences to you in a manner that will help you create a healthier, happier and yes, financially success life too!

Having lived and worked in Florida for a decade, I have a great deal of experience working with the active adult 55 and up population - those folks who are...

  • still working full time but starting to think about transitioning into a less hectic full time work life
  • looking to build a more flexible full time or 'almost full time' work schedule free of the commitments of a traditional 'job'
  • building a financially prosperous work life while enjoying semi-retirement
  • already semi-retired because they burned out mentally and/or physically and now need to find ways to replace/increase their income.
Ready to make your life A LOT better?  Are you ready to make work, work around you, rather than you around it?  Dream of working less and enjoying a less stressful life?  Give me a call at 410-967-3848.