I’m Marisa. Like most of you, I wear many hats. I’m a mom, wife, daughter, sister and friend. I’m also a certified genetic counselor, active listener, life coach, teacher, entrepreneur, and expat. I enjoy yoga, kickboxing, arts & crafts, and sleep (when I can get it!). And big glasses of wine!
They say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
In that case, my life began in November 2009 when 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 (I 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 have 2 sweet, funny, energetic, bilingual sons (we had another child in 2011). I have a husband who is well-known 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.
Living an expat life sometimes feels like living on a different planet. You have to adapt to a new city and a new culture. I was also caring for two children, learning a new language, and creating 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, like many empaths, I had a hard time saying “no.” In the end, I took on a lot of responsibilities and commitments that helped others, but did not make enough time for myself.
And it took a toll on my health. First, it was a miscarriage in 2010, following by irregular and painful periods. Then, after the birth of my second son (for some reason, being pregnant gave me permission to prioritize myself), the stress returned and I developed severe reflux. Food can be nourishing but it hurt to eat. I literally couldn’t take comfort in food. The doctor prescribed medications and told me to practice self-care. But I was too depressed to be consistent with a routine (which made me more depressed which made me fall out of the routine even faster the next time and the cycle continued).
Two things changed my life.
- I read a book called, The Hormone Cure, by Dr. Sara Gottfried. She describes how overwhelm and burn-out impact your body by throwing off your hormones. (The book is geared towards women but, on her website, Dr. Gottfried says many of the principles apply to men as well). With the confidence that comes with knowing I was not alone, (I wasn’t and YOU AREN’T!), as well as a toolbox of self-care tips and supplements that have been scientifically proven to help get your hormones back on track, I was able to make a few small but necessary changes. Sometimes, we have to take those baby steps in order to make giant leaps.
- I discovered Life Coaching as a profession. I was fortunate enough to find my own Life Coach who shares a passion for helping others and an understanding of the pressures of the expat life. Through talking with her, starting to uncover my limiting beliefs, and reevaluating my priorities, I have become more empathetic towards myself. My balance has shifted. I still have bad moments and stresses, but I have found ways that work for me to handle them more effectively. And, in sharing my experience, it became clear that I could help others. With my training as a genetic counselor and active listener, becoming a certified Life Coach felt like a natural progression.
I know this section is probably longer than you expected to read (and certainly longer than I intended to write). But, it is important for me to share my story with you. If any of this resonates with you, I encourage you to seek support.
Thanks for reading!