You wear many hats.
You’re a mom, wife, daughter, sister. You spend your days running around trying to stay on top of your to-do list, juggling your schedule, your family, your job, your life like a pro.
Except you don’t feel like a pro. You’re exhausted. Frustrated. Overwhelmed. You can’t do it all. And, to be honest, when you really think about it you don’t want to.
But you feel guilty when you say no. You don’t want to let anyone down. While you’re trying to make everyone around you happy, you’re barely holding yourself together.
I totally get it.
I’m Marisa, an American mom living with my husband and 2 young sons in Bordeaux, France. I’m a certified genetic counselor, active listener, and yoga teacher. I’m also a life coach for busy moms who are stressed out from juggling never-ending to-do lists. I help them let go of overwhelm so they so they can feel more calm, enjoy more energy, and have more patience at home and at work.
If life begins at the end of your comfort zone, my life began in November 2009.
My husband was offered a job in Bordeaux, France. It was an opportunity we couldn’t turn down so I left my job as a pediatric genetic counselor and research coordinator at a large hospital (a job that, while stressful at times, I found rewarding and enjoyable) and became a stay-at-home mom to our then 20 month old son.
My life has so much to be grateful for. I now have 2 sweet, funny, energetic, bilingual sons. I have a husband who is respected in his profession and helps out immeasurably at home. Within an hour drive, I can go to the beach, eat freshly harvested oysters or homemade fois gras. I can sip on wine from hundreds of vineyards. I know I am lucky.
But life isn’t postcard perfect.
Just because I can do all those things, doesn’t mean that I am.
Living an expat life sometimes feels like living on a different planet. You have to adapt to a new city, new culture and new language. When we arrived, I was alone at home with my son in the suburbs. I struggled to find a new community of friends and network of support all the while, trying not to lose touch with my family and friends so many (many) miles away.
In my effort to stay positive and connected, I said “yes” to every invitation and job request I was offered. In the end, I took on a lot of responsibilities and made a lot of commitments that helped others. But I did not make enough time for myself.
And it took a toll on my health.
First, it was a miscarriage in 2010, followed by irregular and painful periods. Then, after the birth of my second son in 2011 (for some reason, being pregnant gave me permission to prioritize myself), the stress returned and I developed severe, painful, reflux. Food is supposed to be nourishing. But, every time I’d take a bite, my body screamed for me to stop. I literally couldn’t get comfort in food.
I was exhausted! I had 2 kids to look after, volunteer activities I had taken on, plus some teaching work. Not to mention still trying to make friends and feel connected to the community. I knew I needed to take care of myself but I couldn’t figure out how be consistent with a self-care routine when so many people and things were vying for my time.
The rational and emotional parts of my brain were at war. I didn’t know how to break the cycle.
Then, two things happened that changed my life:
I read the book The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried. In it, she describes how hormones regulate everything within our body so issues like reflux, depression, abnormal periods can all be symptoms of hormonal imbalances and she provides a step-by-step, easy-to-follow guide to taking back control. With the help of this book, I was able to stop taking the medications for reflux and start getting my digestive health back on track through diet and lifestyle changes.
I started working with a Life Coach. I followed blogs and Facebook pages of a lot of Life Coaches online before I was introduced to Terri Hofstetter. Beginning with our first session, it felt like Terri, who is a longtime expat, could read my mind! Her intuition and support helped me begin to uncover the limiting beliefs that were blocking my healing, reevaluate my priorities, and identify tools for feeling comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Through these two experiences, I am more empathetic towards myself. More forgiving. I have made the small but necessary changes to reclaim my physical and mental health.
I became a genetic counselor because I was passionate about support people who were adapting to being diagnosed with a chronic disease. I help my clients create effective care plans and identify coping strategies. Yet, I really struggled to do this for myself when I was facing a mental health crisis. And I know I am not alone. So many of us share this same story: we feel drawn to prioritize the needs of others over our own.
Sometimes, we have to take those baby steps in order to make giant leaps.
As a result of my professional experiences and personal journey, I became more motivated to support not only those who are diagnosed with a chronic disease but also those who are struggling with chronic stress and overwhelm. Getting certified in life coaching and as a yoga teacher allows me to do that.
I still see clients as a genetic counselor. In addition, as a life coach, I specialize in helping busy moms take care of themselves. I provide my clients with a safe and non-judgemental environment in which to explore their priorities and create their personalized sanity-saving tools for reducing overwhelm. After working with me, my clients feel calmer and more in control of their roles and responsibilities. And, because they feel less guilty about making time for themselves, they have more patience and energy to handle stressful moments at work and at home.
Because life will never be postcard perfect.
There will always be stressful moments and even whole days that freaking suck! My clients and I have found simple, fun, and effective strategies for adjusting. And, you can too.
Learn more about working with me:
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