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PHONE      1.855.EMPATHY or 1.855.367.2849
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Gainesville, FL

1 (855) EMPATHY

Life and communication coaching for women.


Hurricane Irma: In the Throes of Uncertainty

Marina Smerling

I write to you today from the middle of Iowa, where my partner and I have come for a wedding, and – unintentionally - to escape the hurricane in Florida.  We are reading the news by the hour, following the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma over the Caribbean Islands, and awaiting updates of how close this hurricane is likely to be to our home when it lands in Gainesville, Florida this evening.

So much uncertainty.  And I am practicing, relearning in every moment, how to be with that uncertainty – indeed, how to relax in the midst of it.

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Love Awakening: Template for a New Day

Marina Smerling

A couple months back, I sent out a questionnaire asking for your biggest “trouble spots” in this wild and bumpy road called Life, and the areas in which you most want support.  An astounding 57% of you said, “Relationship with my very own precious self – self-love and kindness.” So today, I share this template for a new day as part of a series of three bite-sized messages for ye seekers of self-love and kindness, with a related offer at the end.

The journey toward self-love begins with noticing the ways and the habits by which we have left ourselves.  Left being our own allies, our own best friends, and instead, succumbed to the lure of the disapproving judge.

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Getting Un-Stuck Around Self-Love

Marina Smerling

Tonight, I was walking through the evening darkness, enjoying the rich smell of algae and earth and all things humid here in this Floridian summer, and yet feeling lonely.  Wanting connection, I had called each of my best friends back "home" in California, to no avail.  No one answered.  Alas, I was alone with my aloneness, heart achy amidst the chorus of croaking frogs and cricket song.

And then I remembered this simple practice from Nonviolent Communication: noticing and naming my oh-so-frickin'-human need: in this case, connection.


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Ode to the "Sensitive" Ones

Marina Smerling

I write today to the “sensitive” ones.  The ones among you who try to hide your sensitivity, to talk not-too-much about it, to seek help without burdening those around you.

Hello dear hearts.

Yes, I know, believing you are too sensitive can feel horrible.  Over the years, I, too, have received this label, as well as messages variously telling me: “You get swept away in your emotions.”  “You feel too much.”  “Pull yourself together.”

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Mercy When It’s Hard

Marina Smerling

The times that we feel the most alone are the times we need support the most.

The times we feel shame are the times we need support the most.

The times we want to pull ourselves up and out of our dark hole to resemble our notions of decency and respectability are the times we need support the most.

We humans do this funny thing.  Something difficult happens, our nervous systems respond – with lashing out (fight), or pulling away (flight), or shutting down (freeze) or getting really nice and accommodating (appease) – but rather than tend to our bodies, we get moving.


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Beyond Blame

Marina Smerling


The blessed attempt to get our needs met by pointing the finger at another.  The semi-conscious belief that, “If I can just shun and punish this person enough for their bad behavior, they will do what I want."

I am no stranger to blame.  Truth: I fall into its alluring trap all the time.  The grooves are well worn in this brain – “The source of your suffering is out there, Marina, and that other person is doing it *to* you.”

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Saying Yes to the Mess

Marina Smerling

I write today on a personal note.  Since I moved across Turtle Island in December to this strange new world called “Florida,” I’ve been struggling.

Nearly every day, I awake and ask, "Is this place enough?  Is it progressive/open-minded/activist/diverse/happening-enough for me to stay?  To say a full 'yes' in my heart to being here?"

Indeed, the land is altogether different – not layered and textured like the beauty of the Bay Area, but flat, with nary a hill in sight.  Lacking the gazillion personal growth workshops-per-week that abound in San Francisco.  The ten yoga studios per square mile that reside in Berkeley.  The progressive activists of every creed, with their cutting edge analyses and deconstructions of systems of power and oppression on every street corner in Oakland. (Or so it seems, in retrospect.)

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The Ungiven Gift

Marina Smerling

A confession: I struggle, big time, with projections of “the enemy” on all kinds of political faces.  Around healthcare, immigration, Standing Rock, police accountability – oy – I shut my heart’s door faster than you can say “empathy,” and indeed, that closed door, drenched in right-ness, wins out.

The door is justified.  It contains briefcases full, shelves full, hard drives full of evidence: the actions of the enemy are simply reprehensible, unconscionable, inconceivable.  The enemy appears to be – but clearly is not – human.  Clearly, they need to relinquish their flesh-like costume and evaporate back into the lower dimensions from whence they came.

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Crossing the Bridge

Marina Smerling

My partner and I recently took a trip to Savannah, Georgia, which, you might not know -- as I hadn’t a clue myself until we were approaching from 100 yards away -- is home to the world’s most frighteningly steep bridge.

The kind of bridge that you have nightmares about – where you’re driving along, thinking all is well, when suddenly the bridge turns into a roller coaster, and then your car is spiraling out of control, off the tracks of the so-called bridge and plunging rapidly toward the sea… at which moment you likely wake up, grateful to be in bed, not on the world’s scariest bridge.

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Reclaiming Your "Love Dork"

Marina Smerling

It's in there.  I know it is.

The fool in you.

The dancer-in-the-dark in you.

The wild lover in you emerging in the board room with wisps of hay in her hair.

The one that doesn't have all the answers... but who loves anyway.

Who doesn't know where she's going... but shines anyway.

Who is clueless about loving and having the relationship of her dreams ... but who sings through the hills and valleys of this life anyway, no map in hand.

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