You Are Complex: Meet Parent & Life Coach Marisa O’Brien
Here at Vibrant Health, we believe health is an inside job, unique to you. After all, you’re one-of-a-kind and your needs are complex – that’s why your supplements should be too.
To celebrate all of the beautiful complexities of our lives, each month we’ve been highlighting individuals in our community – taking a peek into the behind-the-scenes of their work life, wellness routines, and all the wonderful things that make them who they are.
In honor of National Parenting Week kicking off October 16th, we got to chat with Connecticut-based Parent Coach Marisa O’Brien. Through her business Parent Breakthrough, she helps parents break through their challenges so they can feel more empowered and connected to their children.
In this insightful interview, Marisa shares how her own parenting and relationship struggles inspired her business, why getting curious is the best place to start when it comes to navigating tricky situations and her go-to morning ritual to set herself up for success. We hope you enjoy our series…and remember, keep being you!
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Kind, passionate, supportive and optimistic. It's hard to describe oneself in three words. I'm kind of a rule bender anyways, so here are four!
What does a typical day in the life running your business look like for you?
A typical day running my business starts with checking my calendar. I live by my calendar! I set my intention for the day, will do some energy work to ensure that I am grounded and present for clients. I usually sip on my chai tea latte with my first client of the day.
When I'm not with clients, I’m working on a new course or project. Then I’ll wrap up the day with any emails that need to be sent out or recaps for clients. If there's something that has inspired me, I’ll post on social media and I'll end the day checking my calendar for tomorrow and prepping anything I need for the next day.
October 16th kicks off National Parenting Week, celebrating parents while recognizing the importance of developing parenting skills. What sparked you to launch Parent Breakthrough, focusing your work on parents?
When my son was about two I started to recognize that there was something off. I was working really long days in corporate America and my husband and I were both stressed out to the max with our jobs on top of parenting disagreements and challenges that were causing a lot of tension in our marriage. Neither of us had the capacity to do things differently and were in a state of blaming each other. We were on the verge of divorce and knew something had to change.
We reached out for support and started to make changes. Once we were in a stable place, my mission over the course of the next five years was to figure out what was going on with my son and heal his challenges. I quit my job and started a small local business with a dear friend. With the ability to make my own schedule I was able to really tune in to the struggles he was having. I reached out to all kinds of doctors and professionals, did surveys, asked questions and tuned into my own intuition. That mama intuition is seriously powerful!
The thing is, traditional parenting was not working with our son…like, not at all! I needed parenting strategies that worked with neurodivergent children. (I didn't even know he was neurodivergent and on the spectrum then.) Conscious parenting helped a lot, but it wasn't enough. Once I learned more about brain science and how to regulate his neurology and system then things started to click. As I continued to research, learn and try new methods that actually worked I started to share them with other parents. I became obsessed with learning about the brain, sensory processing, emotional regulation and meltdown management.
Then, COVID hit and I did some major soul searching. I realized my calling was to help other parents like me. The beautiful thing was that as I was getting my certifications I was introduced to seemingly magical modalities that allowed me to be present for my son during his most intense and heartbreaking meltdowns. I no longer took on the intense emotions and was literally able to find the calm within the storm and his safe space. While it can seem a bit woo-woo, which I'm all about anyway, the reality is that these modalities are rooted in quantum physics, cellular biology, and predicate calculus. On top of that, they are very light, gentle, joyful processes that release negative emotions like guilt, anger, sadness, fear, frustration and limiting beliefs too. It's really powerful.
Having these tools to be able to release these things that keep us stuck and instead allow us to step into a place where we can thrive has been the most impactful thing that I've ever experienced in my life. It’s so heartwarming to help parents and their children thrive. I get goosebumps every day supporting clients in overcoming their biggest challenges.
Every parent deserves to feel hopeful, capable, and more than good enough. Parents are raising the next generation and that role is so important!
What are the most common challenges you see parents experience when they first come to you?
Everyone has unique parenting experiences and children so everything is tailored to the specific challenges that are the most disruptive. The most common things for parents who come to me are anxiety, overwhelm, and behavioral struggles with their child. They often feel alone and unsure of what to do next and are using every last ounce of energy they have trying to help their child/children. And even with all the self-sacrifice they still feel like they are not doing enough.
What is the #1 piece of advice would you give to a parent who is struggling with their marriage or relationship with their children? What's a good place to start?
Getting curious! Getting curious about the situation helps to open the door to opportunities to overcome these struggles.
The interesting thing that happens in relationships is that our partners and our children can act like mirrors. Sometimes those mirrors show us the parts of ourselves that we adore and love; when that happens we are happy and feel good. And controversially, those mirrors can show us the parts of ourselves that we are embarrassed about, shameful of, try to hide or just don't like. When they show us something we don't like it is like shining a flashlight on what's not working in our life. And that can feel very uncomfortable.
Now, I want to be clear, this is all done in our subconscious so this is nothing anyone is doing intentionally. This is where curiosity comes in. We can ask ourselves “What does this have to do with me?” That simple question opens up our mind to solutions.
Oftentimes, the stress caused by our children or spouses' behaviors can trigger us into a state of blame. It can sound like, "Well, if my child would just listen" or "If my spouse would recognize I can’t do it all and need help" or "If they just did this or that, then things would be better." Now, there are likely things that do need to change, however, that mode of thinking actually puts all of the power outside of ourselves which can lead to feeling helpless or powerless and keep us stuck in the same unhealthy pattern. When we shift into curiosity and looking within, that gives us our power back. It gives us the power to say, I have a choice. I have the power to do something differently that can help the situation that we're in now. The key question to ask here is "What can I be doing or not doing differently than I am now?"
The way we think about things matters. Every challenge or struggle has a solution and shifting into curiosity opens the doors to opportunities and awareness that wasn’t there before. Sometimes awareness gives us the shift we need and other times we need to reach out for some support.
Einstein said, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” So we need to get curious and ask for support when needed so we can shift our thinking and find a solution to our problem.
What are your go-to family-friendly meals or healthy snacks?
I’m a bit of a foodie so I like yummy recipes and it also depends on the season. Regardless of the time of year, I make salmon with rice and broccoli, roasted veggies, and grilled chicken or avocado and feta salsa over quinoa. In a pinch, we grab sushi or pop a frozen pizza in the oven. We eat a lot of fruit, cucumbers, cheese and crackers and pirates booty for snacks.
Do you have any self-care rituals you want to share with our readers?
Every single morning I tune into myself first thing when I wake up. I tune into what I’m thinking and feeling. I ask myself, “How is my body feeling?” “What is my mind thinking about?” “What emotions are present?” Then I shift and get curious about what it is that I need to do for myself today based on those responses.
Lastly, I write down three things I’m grateful for. Gratitude is one of the highest vibrating emotions that we can experience. So after I check in and validate what is going on in my mind and body, I’ll always end with gratitude.
It’s easy for the day to be about my family, clients, and business so starting off with a self-check-in is a huge win and sets up my day. Plus it's super simple and only takes five minutes.
Before bed I take a few conscious deep breaths, do a short meditation or visualization, and tell myself I’m going to get the exact amount of rest I need to wake up feeling energized and refreshed for the day.
What does wellness look like for you?
Wellness for me is a healthy mind, body and spirit. I used to practice a lot of toxic positivity and took everything on myself. It did not serve me well. Now I honor my experience, and with my daily self-check in, I can easily recognize when there is something misaligned. When it is, I reach out for support. Asking for support when I need it was something I had to learn how to do and has been a game changer in my wellness journey. Making healthy food choices more often than not, listening to music and moving my body by hiking, doing yoga or dancing are definitely a part of my wellness.
I am in the process of creating harmony and balancing being a mom, housework, marriage, clients and running a business while also creating space for me too. We get to choose where we put our attention. Since energy flows where our attention goes, making time for my self-care routine is paramount in keeping my energy up through the day.