Listen, I know how it goes.
Officially, you’re a mom, wife, friend, worker and queen bee…a proud wearer of many hats. Unofficially, you’re a master juggler whose talents have reached circus levels. On any given day, you’re juggling a to-do list, a schedule, your family, your job, and all the other “high-priority tasks” you’ve agreed to take on.
You’ve learned to smile gracefully while performing your routine. But, underneath, you’re exhausted and wondering how much more you can take. You know you can’t do it all. You feel so guilty saying “no” when someone asks for your help, but, you know you can’t do it all. How do you find this elusive work-life balance you’ve heard so much about?
You’re not alone.
Like most busy women, you’ve been so busy trying to make everyone else happy, and forgot about yourself.
But enough’s enough! You’re ready to make changes because you know life can be better! You’re ready to rediscover the more calm, fearless, joyful version of yourself! You know she exists because you catch glimpses of her when you let yourself relax. You see her when you look at old photos. As adulthood crept in and you began prioritizing yourself less, she’s had to find a hiding place, deep inside of you. She’s been playing this game of hide-and-seek for a while now.
But now, she’s calling out to you again! She’s ready to come out for good. And, I’d love to help you seek her out.
Hi! I’m Marisa
I’m the Mary Poppins for stressed-out women looking to release the weight of the world they’ve been carrying on their shoulders. I help them find elements of fun so they feel calmer, more in-control, and more engaged at home and at work. So that -SNAP- life begins to feel more like the game they want to play again!
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 loved and found rewarding. We set off for the land of baguettes and vineyards, where I became a stay-at-home mom to our then 20-month-old son.
My life has so much to be grateful for. Now I have two sweet, funny, energetic, fully bilingual sons. I have a husband who is respected in his profession, and helps out immeasurably at home. Within an hour’s drive, I can go to the beach, eat freshly harvested oysters, or homemade foie gras. I can sip on wine while lounging on a picnic blanket in the vineyards.
But life isn’t Instagram perfect.
When we arrived, I knew that I was lucky. But I felt miserable. Just because Icould do all those things, didn’t mean that I was. My day-to-day life was pretty average: get up, get the kids off to school, get some work done, pick up the kids, eat dinner, do some more work, go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. Don’t get me wrong, we loved to venture out–but picnics in the vineyards are rare occurrences and oysters are expensive! To look at my social media, my life looked like one extended vacation. But trust me, most of the spills, sighs, laundry, and merde hitting the fan rarely made it onto my news feeds.
Here’s the truth: We’d moved between cities in the US before, but, moving to a new country, especially a non-anglophone one felt, for me, like moving to a different planet! Not only did I have to get used to a new city and find new friends, new places to shop, and new work, but I also also had to adapt to a whole new set of cultural norms and bureaucratic BS and learn to do it in a whole new language.
When we arrived, I was alone at home with my son in the suburbs, struggling to create a new identity as a stay-at-home mom and meet new people. I also had to learn how to drive a car with manual transmission! Thanks to Facebook, I was able to stay in touch with family and friends who were 5,000 miles away but it was exhausting and overwhelming and I was severely lonely.
At first, in an effort to stay positive and connect, I took the “fake it until I make it” approach. I said “oui” to every invitation and job request I was offered (none in the profession I had trained – and was still paying off student loans – for. ). I took on a lot of responsibilities and made a lot of commitments that helped others but left little time for myself.
I was a HOT MESS! One day, I literally started crying in the middle of the supermarket because I couldn’t decide which one of the (what felt like) 600 types of mustard to choose while an older lady scolded me because I was letting my son eat potato chips at 10am (they were helping him to sit calmly in the shopping cart)!
My ego took a huge beating but that wasn’t the only part of me that suffered.
First, I experienced a miscarriage in early 2010, followed by irregular and painful periods. It took almost a full year to get pregnant again. And, after the birth of my second son in 2011 (for some reason, being pregnant gave me permission to prioritize myself – or maybe I was just prioritizing the baby growing inside), the stress and anxiety returned and with it came severe, painful reflux. Food is supposed to be nourishment, but every time I’d take a bite, my body screamed for me to stop. I literally couldn’t get comfort from food.
I was exhausted to my very core. I had two kids to look after, volunteer activities I had taken on, and my teaching work. Not to mention, I was still trying to make friends in Bordeaux, learn French, and feel connected to the community. I knew that I needed to take care of myself, but I couldn’t figure out how be consistent with a self-care routine. So many people and things were vying for my time, and somehow I always wound up last on the priority totem-pole.
The rational and emotional parts of my brain were at war. I didn’t know how to break the cycle.
I believe in the mind-body connection. The physical symptoms I suffered were my body’s way of protecting myself from a full breakdown. Our bodies are clever this way. By developing a tangible pain, I could focus on healing something other than my debilitating thoughts.
The pain gave me an excuse to stop trying to DO IT ALL MYSELF. I reached out for help and was happy to find that it was usually there. I asked my husband to cook dinner and pick up the kids from school. I started saying no to invitations and requests for my time. We hired a housekeeper to come once a week to help with the vacuuming and laundry (how is there always so much laundry, am I right?!)
The irony is that, I had become a genetic counselor because I was passionate about supporting families who were adapting to life with a rare, inherited, life-altering disease; to helping them identify coping strategies and support networks so they wouldn’t feel so isolated. But, I really struggled to do this for myself, amidst my own health crisis. I was the proverbial plumber who doesn’t invite people over because his house is filled with leaky pipes.
So many of us share the same story: we feel guilty if we don’t prioritize the needs of others, even if it’s at the expense of fulfilling our own needs.
In order to heal ourselves, we need to stop beating ourselves up all the time.
We all have a little child within us and we spend at a lot of time yelling at her. Once I started treating my inner child with as much nurturing and acceptance as I do my own children, not only did my physical symptoms resolve but my mental state greatly improved. I became more empathetic towards myself. More forgiving. I have more energy to play with my boys, to share with my clients, to put out into the world. But, I also know how to set better boundaries and when I need to take time for myself. And when those terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad days inevitably pop up, I trust my toolbox of coping strategies and the incredible network of people who have my back. I know that I’m not alone and I don’t have to go it alone. I feel more calm, confident, and free. More happy.
And you can too.
Sometimes, we have to take baby steps to make giant leaps.
I love working with busy women who are ready to take better care of themselves. While we may share the same frustrations, there’s no one-size-fits-all solutions so I approach each client as the individual that they are. By combining my training in life coaching and yoga, I help clients to embrace their uniqueness and identify stress-reducing strategies best aligned with their personality and goals. I think that Mary Poppins was right: when you find the fun in your tasks, your jobs become more enjoyable and life becomes more rewarding. I take this belief about the power of play into my work with my clients. Society has taught us to be “responsible adults” but that doesn’t mean we have to be serious all the time. I encourage my clients to get out the highlighters and markers when brainstorming, to come up with a personal theme song, or do a superhero-themed yoga practice.
You’ll feel excited to do the work as you watch the care-free, energetic child within you thrive. My clients tell me that they feel less guilty about prioritizing themselves and feel more joyful in their lives. They also feel more connected to their families and friends and less overwhelmed by their to-do lists (even if the lists aren’t shrinking). They have more patience, energy and feel more in-control to handle stressful moments at work and at home.
There will always be times when we have to deal with sh*t hitting the fan.
There will always be stressful moments and even whole days that make you wish life came with a pause button. My clients and I have found simple, fun, and effective strategies for adjusting in these moments. Life becomes more of a game, an experiment. One filled with more fun and calm! And you can feel this way too!
If you’re ready, let’s get started!!