Thursday, September 28, 2017

"Life doesn't get easier or more forgiving; we get stronger and more resilient." --Dr. Steve Maraboli

Why Resilience? 
As you've likely noticed, I have just completed publishing a series of articles on the topic of building resilience. "Why resilience," you may ask? That's an excellent question.
In the ten years that I have had the pleasure and great fortune to be in private practice as an AD/HD Life Coach, I have observed and learned many things. For one, there are several aspects to coaching people dealing with AD/HD, other executive function skill challenges, learning disabilities and just simply brilliant, creative and sensitive folks who are outside-the-box thinkers and learners. All of these can, in some ways, be seen as or create dysregulations in one's system.
The Importance of Managing Stress through Building Resilience
Though we do the best we are able in order to create lives of meaning, ones that we can sustain and that sustain us, life is often challenging. Curve balls come our way. Modern life is not always easy and most of us experience stress. At the very least, we are pretty consistently asked to manage stressors.
Our vulnerabilities "act out" when we are under stress. So, if you already experience challenges organizing your time and projects, prioritizing tasks or focusing on the essential but less interesting requirements of daily life such as paying the bills or doing the laundry, or if procrastination is one of your go to methods of functioning, these will all be exacerbated when you're under stress.
I find again and again that when my clients and I take some up-front time working on the steps and implementing practices necessary to build resilience into their systems, everything else goes much more smoothly for them from there. Whether we are working on finishing novels or screenplays, starting or expanding businesses, finding jobs or changing careers, finishing degrees or even high school, managing children and families or reaching other particular life goals, everyone is much more easily and fluidly able to create, implement and follow through on the steps necessary to create the lives of their choosing, once we have devoted time to building resilience.
Though each person's needs are unique, each of us and each of our lives run more smoothly when our physiological systems have everything they need. Hence, the focus and the series on building resilience has been about learning what each of our particular needs are and creating ways to meet our needs in the realms of sleep, nutrition, exercise, meditation, medication (sometimes) and, in all cases, relationships. If you have missed any part of the series, you may read the blog posts on my website:
There are so many other practical and beautiful aspects of coaching, all of which will be so much more easily learned, implemented and sustained once we understand and meet our basic needs.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Build Resilience with Medication

Taking medicine can sometimes be viewed as a sign of weakness because of the stigma a lot of people associate with treatment. However, some studies have demonstrated the true value that medication can have for patients with anxiety disorders -amongst other things.
If you struggle with an anxiety disorder yourself, the world probably feels like an insurmountable challenge with no way out. Your resilience will either be low or nonexistent and confronting life’s difficulties head-on may feel impossible.
Experiencing such emotions is definitely overwhelming, and this is where receiving medical prescriptions may come in handy for you. However, the decision doesn’t lie solely in your hands: consult your physician and find the right treatment together!

How do you research the right medication to help you manage your mental health?

With all the different treatment possibilities out there, there seem to be more questions than answers. How do you find the right possibilities for you?
First and foremost, consult with your medical doctor -or psychiatrist- when considering any kind of medication. These are professionals, and psychiatrists are trained to listen deeply to the issues and symptoms you may be experiencing.
With a doctor’s support, you can clearly identify the areas in which you need help -from initiating tasks and focusing, to managing anxiety and/or depression, or sleeping. You’ll be able to determine the right medication(s) for you.
If you decide to take medication, it is incredibly important to track its effects on you. There are several different options for this, such as:
  • An app: Medisafe is the best-known app, free to download and used both by medical professionals and pill-takers alike.
  • A spreadsheet: you have several options out there, but here’s one from the Free Medical Forms. The spreadsheet will also allow you to go more in depth when tracking your prescription and its effects.
There are several elements you need to stay attentive to when tracking the medication’s effects on you:
  1. Is this medication having the desired effect?
  2. What, if any, side effects are you noticing?
  3. Does it interfere with your sleep or your appetite?
  4. Does it wear off after a number of hours?
Follow-up with your physician and share your results, the good and the bad alike, especially if you experience any other side effects. This will help your doctor know if the medication is having the desired effect, or if the prescription should be changed in any way.
If you don’t know where to start, contact your doctor! And if you want any support in finding out whether medication might be the right resilience-building tool for you, I am always available for an appointment, booked at

How has medication helped you manage your anxiety disorders or any other executive functioning challenge you have? Leave a comment or send me an email! Your story matters to me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Build Resilience with Meditation

Meditation is one of the most powerful tools available in the service of building resilience into our systems. And, as is so often said about mediation, it is “simple, but not easy.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living, defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” This is quite the task and a beautiful place to strive for and be.
Our minds will always wander. As AdditudeMag puts it, “it’s the nature of the mind to be distracted.”
Among many other health benefits (Science), meditation is a tool that teaches and nourishes our abilities to recognize the moments our minds wander from our designated focal point, i.e., the breath, particular sensations, etc., as well as to and gently and lovingly return our attention to the places we choose.
Over time and with support, this skill of returning one’s attention to the present moment can be generalized to all areas of our lives.
For example, if you are working on a creative project and you somehow just happen to find yourself playing around on social media, over time you will have strengthened your neurological muscles enough to be able to choose returning your attention to your creative project. Voila!
I love to find and create meditation practices that work specifically for each person. Just as with exercise and nutrition, there are a variety of approaches to meditation. Sitting isn’t the only meditation practice. You can meditate in movement as we do in yoga, tai chi and other physical practices. You may meditate while brushing your teeth, eating, or create a loving-kindness practice. The options are many!
A plethora of resources exist to help us find and create the right meditation for you. Here are just a few:
- The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult AD/HD by Lidia Zylowska, MD
- Mindful Parenting for AD/HD by Mark Bertin, MD
- Headspace
- Evenflow
I would love to help you create a meditation practice that works specifically for you. Please send me an email at to book an appointment.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Build Resilience Through Exercise

Exercise is known to be important. You’ve probably heard about the benefits of exercise for cardiovascular health as well as building and maintaining physical strength and flexibility. But exercise has also recently been found to have far reaching and very positive effects on our brains. It’s something that we can, and should, use to our advantage.
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of exercise for cardiovascular health as well as building and maintaining physical strength and flexibility. But exercise has also recently been found to have far reaching and very positive effects on our brains. It’s something that we can, and should, use to our advantage.
In a wonderful book called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John J. Ratey, M.D., the literal effects of exercise on the human brain are beautifully demonstrated. They show our abilities to be more and more self-directed in all things we pursue, especially in relation to our focus, mood, memory or when dealing with stress.
Essentially, exercise has been proven to help build resilience.
The beauty of exercise lies in its variety; there is something for everyone. In working with my clients it is apparent that each person needs to decide what form/s of exercise appeal to them. Yes, you can actually enjoy exercise!
The key is finding what works for you.
It might be team sports, such as basketball, baseball, lacrosse, football, etc. Or it might be playing against a single person, as in tennis. Or you may just enjoy your own company or that of others while bike riding, walking, running, practicing yoga, etc. Perhaps it’s working out at the gym, or taking a dance class.
Try it out. Mix it up. Give a chance to any kind of exercise that appeals to you. Play around with the amount of time you exercise, be it a daily 10-minute session or a weekly 2-hour one.
Once you find an exercise routine that works for you, begin tracking its effects on your body, your mind, and your life. I’m sure you’ll begin seeing a change very quickly. Take note of your mood before and after you exercise, as well as your overall mood a day prior and after your workout.
Are you uninspired by any of my suggestions? Check out this article by the NYTimes to find inspiration!
How has exercise changed your mood and resilience? Share your story with me in the comments or at!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Build Resilience Through Diet

Have you ever noticed that if you eat something “unhealthy,” you don’t feel great? For example, if you’re eating gluten when your body is sensitive to it, you may experience exhaustion. Or, if you’re unused to consuming dairy, you might get bloated.
Even more than feeling tired or bloated, your diet has a huge impact on your entire body, including your mental health. Research has shown a direct relationship between the gut and the brain. In fact, the gut is now being called the second brain. Eating has been proven to affect your mood and executive functions.
When you don’t eat well, you don’t deal with life’s curveballs well either. Your resilience takes a hit.
Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the food you eat and your overall mental health including your propensity towards depression.
The eating options available to us today are mind-boggling. You can be a vegetarian, a vegan, eat paleo, keto, raw, gluten-free or, basically, anything under the sun.
How do you determine what is best for you? What can you do when you have so many choices?
Finding what’s right for you.
I don’t have the answer to that question, but here are some options people have tried:
  • Track your food & mood! No one has a better answer to what makes you tick than you. In order to understand how various ingredients you ingest affect you. It is very useful to track yourself.Keep a food & mood journal. As you eat, jot down what foods you ingest, your mood before eating, perhaps your mood after eating, any physical symptoms, emotional responses, etc.Don’t know where to start? Here are two printable food & mood trackers that you may use: check out the journal from the Personal Nutrition Guide or from Medi Health.
  • The Whole 30 The Whole 30 is an elimination diet that, as its name indicates, lasts all of 30 days. During this time, you’re eliminating what are considered to be “inflammation-causing” foods, such as processed foods, refined sugar (and all alternative sweeteners), gluten, and dairy, while ingesting mainly “whole” foods. What this means is that, instead of having a smoothie, you’re encouraged to eat the fruits that would be used for the smoothie.This diet will allow you to actively observe both the impact of such a radical shift in eating habits as well as your body’s true reaction to eating the foods that are normally part of your diet.
  • Change your eating schedule Intermittent Fasting is a current dietary fad, but one that has had proven results on both the physical and mental health of many of its converts. Many intermittent fasters have reported increased mental focus at the height of their fast, as well as normalized sleeping schedules and more overall energy.The fasting schedule can vary greatly for each person, from eating every day within a 6-, 8-, or 10-hour window to fasting 24 hours and eating normally the rest of the time.Be careful! Fasting might be a proven path to good health, but it involves eating the right foods to succeed.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. Keep in mind that these are suggestions and that if you have any health issues, you should consult with your doctor before experimenting with your diet. However, if you want help and support in exploring these options, feel free to reach out to me to book a consultation at

On that note, here are 2 things that have helped my clients in the past, and that you can do today:
  • Drink more water Did you know that the average healthy intake of water is anywhere between and 3 liters per day? Now, ask yourself: how much water have you been drinking? Dehydration, caused by a lack of water intake, has been proven to cause “unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overheat, constipation, and kidney stones.” So start downing some more of that liquid clarity! It’ll make an almost immediate difference if you don’t usually drink enough.
  • Eat less sugar Studies have shown that processed or added sugars increase the risk of health issues, namely heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Much of the excess caloric intake in the average American comes from added sugars. In fact, about one in ten people get their caloric intake from added (or processed) sugars!Cutting back on your sugar intake can make a huge difference on both your physical and your mental health. If you’re craving something sweet, have a fruit!
   Bon app├ętit!
Has this advice helped you regain focus and resilience? If so, I want to hear from you! Leave a comment or send me an email at to share your story.

Build Resilience Through Sleep

AD/HD and other executive functioning skill challenges can be seen as dysregulations in our systems. In addition to each of our innate challenges, we live in a complex and fast-paced world that can also be seen as dysregulated and is often further dysregulating. Together, these present unique circumstances for each of us.
It is easy to react to the things happening in and around us and difficult to learn to respond with more awareness and sensitivity. In coaching, we often work on learning to be more and more proactive in our lives as we look for places where, and ways in which we have input into the systems that we are.
How may we intervene? What might we create? What can we do to have an impact on the ways we feel, or in the manners in which we function? How may we help ourselves succeed?
The good news is that there are many ways and places where each of us can intervene to create more ease, happiness, creativity, success, fun, etc., in our lives and the lives of those we love.
In working with people over the past decade, I have come to see that it is extremely useful for people to build resilience into their systems so they may face and manage the inevitable challenges of life in addition to teaching and working on strengthening the executive functioning skills.
So, how do we “build resilience” into our systems? The areas we address in this effort are sleep, nutrition, exercise, meditation and/or medication and relationships.


I call sleep the kingpin, or the cornerstone in terms of building resilience into our systems. Everything begins with, and is much better when we have had a good night’s sleep. One of my favorite talks on this topic is a Ted Talk by Russel Foster, a circadian neuroscientist. He details the importance of sleep and exemplifies what happens when we lack the sleep necessary for our systems.

 So, what can you do if sleep is a challenge?

  1. Set specific and consistent sleep and wake-up times that you adhere to daily. Be sure that these times encompass the number of hours you need to sleep, usually at least eight hours.
  2. If you use electronic devices after dark, install flux on your computer and Night Shift on your phone to dim the blue light on the screen in order not to interfere with the melatonin production in your brain.
  3. Turn off all technology 60 to 90 minutes before going to bed.
  4. Establish a soothing nighttime routine that does not include technology, i.e., read a book, write in a journal, meditate, take a hot bath, listen to calming music or whatever else feels right for you.
  5. Set an alarm and get out of bed when it goes off. Don’t snooze!
Establishing and maintaining a sleep routine is challenging, so give yourself time. Play around with your routine until you find what works for you. Hopefully, sooner than later you will be waking up refreshed on a daily basis.

What kind of routine has worked for you? I’d love to hear your take on this, whether in the comments or by email at

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

It's Summer... AGAIN! :)

3 tips for seasonal transitions

Summer can be an amazing time to rest and relax without having to worry about the myriad details of busier times of the year. 
Summer is also a time of disrupted routines, changes in responsibilities, school vacations, travels and the like. 
Summer and the leisure it brings, can also be a time of stress. We often think, "What am I supposed to do with myself?!" And, panic ensues.

Instead of panicking, try any of these 3 tips to help tackle your summer transitions head-on: 

  1. Start (and finish!) a personal project. Downtime during the summer is the perfect opportunity to focus on you. Is there something that you've wanted to do but just haven't had the time? Well, now you do! Go write, paint, draw, create, design, decorate, clean, play or any other project you've been putting off for lack of time.
  2. Establish a daily routine. With less things than in a normally full schedule, summer is the perfect time to develop new habits! A daily routine can be something as small as a 5-minute meditation session every morning upon waking. It can also be more elaborate, such as a detailed workout or morning routine. Just make it daily!
  3. Build resilience through rest and nutrition. With greater resilience, you'll have greater adaptability to life's challenges. Having a good night's sleep and eating healthy food have been proven to help with your mood. What does that look like for you? Explore that over the summer.  
Do you feel like you can't go it alone? I'm here to help!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What a Summer!

We have certainly had an interesting summer.  Thanks to our two political conventions and the Olympics in Rio, there was plenty to keep our attentions occupied and our emotions reeling.  Though this happens every four years, I never get used to the excitement of it all, the highs and lows are continually mesmerizing.  Whether you paid particular attention to any of these things or they were simply background fodder, fall is nearly upon us.  Kids are returning to school and families and individuals are making their ways back to some semblance of schedules and more consistent routines.  Hopefully, it will be a smooth transition for all.
Though most of us have grand plans for transitioning seamlessly, it is most useful to take things one step at a time and establish small, concrete achievable steps to get where we desire.  In this age of information overload, multi-tasking and demands coming at us from a variety of directions, here are some simple things to help as we make our ways to an autumn worth remembering.
1.    Take time out for self care every day.
Whether this means sitting quietly, meditating, reading or taking a walk, it’s important to schedule time to give your system an opportunity to settle and integrate the daily goings on.  Put this on your calendar as you do everything else.
2.    UNPLUG!

Turn off your cell phone, tablet and computer on a regular basis daily.  You choose the length of time.  You choose the time of day.  Enough said.

3.    Be grateful.

Each night, write down three things you are grateful for and three things you did well that day.  This will help shift you into being able to see all you DO, instead of maintaining your focus on the things you have not yet accomplished.

4.    Take a few minutes at the end of every day to reorganize yourself and your things –calendar, brief case, back pack, etc.-- in preparation for the next day.  Taking these few minutes every night will insure a smooth start each morning and will set you up for continuing success.

I wish you well in the weeks and months ahead.  Please let me know if I may help.

Barbara. :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Trusting Towards a Meaningful New Year! January 2016

Now that the dust is settling, and we are able to look towards 2016 with more equanimity and less through the lens of the highs and lows of holiday emotion, it’s a good time to contemplate what you would like to affect in the coming year.

As a coach, I have the pleasure of working with and witnessing people as they learn to self-regulate and move their lives in directions of their choosing.  This is a challenge for many of us, and especially for people dealing with AD/HD and/or issues of executive functioning.  The ability to make changes to affect future outcomes happens slowly, over time and with support.  It is moving and informative to observe people throughout the process of coaching and to aid and be a part of each individual’s growth.  At any time I have the pleasure of working with people who are just beginning the coaching process (brave and hopeful), people who are in the thick of it, so to speak(frustrated, yet tenacious), and others who are completing projects and/or the coaching process itself (satisfied and proud).

It takes a lot of courage to truly engage in a coaching relationship.  It also takes strength, tenacity, patience and a lot of trust in the process: trust in your coach, trust in yourself and trust in the unique relationship we will develop to be able to affect change in your life.

Coaching is a highly individualized process.  Following are stories of a few of the clients who I have had the great fortune and pleasure to work with as a coach:

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2016!
Barbara. :) 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Give a woman a fish and you feed her for a day; teach a woman to fish and you feed her for a lifetime."

Samantha left the security of home to find her way in the world.  Her parents understood and believed in her.  Like so many people with ADHD, she was smart and artistically gifted, but she needed assistance in pulling it all together.  Even though they were thousands of miles away, they recommended and sponsored coaching.

Samantha’s daily life had fallen apart in the year-and-a-half prior to our meeting.  She had moved 2,000 miles from where she had grown up, leaving her parents and immediate support network.  Samantha was trying to establish her independent, adult life for the first time.

We began meeting when she was thirty-four years old.  Samantha is intellectually gifted, has a Bachelor’s Degree and, as she described it, a “nearly completed” Master’s Degree.  It’s not unusual for people dealing with AD/HD and other executive functioning challenges to have “nearly completed” many of the things they set out to do and truly want to accomplish.

When we met, Samantha was living in a tiny, roach-infested apartment in a less-than-desirable part of Los Angeles.  It was all she was able to afford.  In truth, she could not even afford that.  Her parents were paying her bills so that she would not end up on the streets.  Samantha and her parents had the foresight to understand that she needed to develop skills if she was to become independent.  They sought coaching as a way to address Samantha’s needs.

Samantha is a gifted designer.  Her goal was, and remains, to have her own, very successful business.  Early in our relationship, Samantha realized she needed to pay her day-to-day bills before she could set up her own company.  She understood that “food on the table and a roof over her head” were essential foundations upon which to build her business and her life.

 Samantha had one big obstacle to getting, in her words, “a full time job.”  “I can not get a full time job because as much as I try, I can not work forty hours a week or be somewhere at 9:00 every morning.”  I told Sam about shift work, “Many businesses have flexible and/or changing schedules, many people work 2-10, 3-11, and other shifts that begin later in the day, many people do not work forty hours a week.”  She lit up; Samantha had never known about anything other than the standard 9-5 workdays and forty-hour workweek.

Once aware of the possibility of finding a job in which she could work hours in harmony with her physical and mental alertness, we set about defining Samantha’s strengths, those things she gravitated to, enjoyed, was good at, and wanted to utilize and offer in her work.

In addition to her keen intelligence and flair for design, Samantha had strong skills in everything related to building and repairing houses.  Yes, her skills ran the gamut!  Initially, she considered having her own business as a handywoman, but realized early on that this presented her with the same challenges of beginning her design business.  It lacked structure, a sense of community and steady income.

Though the idea initially took getting used to, Samantha decided to look for a job, something she had not previously considered with any seriousness.  At first, locating jobs that utilized the skill set she wanted to offer and a schedule she was able to meet presented challenges.  Though it took time, tenacity and courage, she set up and attended a series of job interviews.  Some went better than others.  She learned things about herself and the world of work with each experience.  A few months down the road, Samantha found an excellent retail position using her skills.

Samantha has been at her job for over a year.  She lives in a beautiful house with two roommates, works 36 hours a week and does work exchange for studio space where she works on her design business three nights every week.
With the support of her parents and her amazing tenacity, Samantha has firmly established her independent, adult life.