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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.


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.  I see you in my coaching practice, I see you in the world, and I see you, here too, in the mirror.

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 picking up and moving my coaching practice from California 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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Feeling the Unfeelable: Freeing Yourself to Love

Marina Smerling

We humans are so precious.

Loving light beings with aches and bruises and owies galore.

Doing our best to love each other.  Doing our best to be kind.  Doing our best to get the dang laundry done, the kids in bed, our teeth and theirs brushed quickly and on time, without hurting anyone or anything in the process.

We try.

And yet those feelings arise in us, the ones we would rather do anything than feel, the ones that have us lash out, say things we don’t mean, pull away when we actually want help, go quiet when there is actually so much to say.


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New Strength Emerging: Love Poem for the Weak

Marina Smerling

A dear mentor of mine recently shared about Mercury Retrograde being an invitation to review and repair relationships long broken.  Soon thereafter, an old friend whom I haven’t heard from in years reached out to me, wanting to reconnect.

This particular friend was someone who had said some very painful things in the past, thus leading me to distance myself from them for some time.  When they reached out during this current retrograde season (December 19th to January 8th), I should-ed all over myself.

“You should hang out with them.”
“You should forgive them.”
“You should be the big one, the enlightened one, the healed one sprouting her Popeye arms and third eye chakra galore.”

Those thoughts didn’t last long.  About 23 hours, to be precise, before I remembered something about what the heck true strength is.

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Reclaiming Your "No"

Marina Smerling

This message is for those of you who struggle with a two-letter word:


I’ve been in the Just-Trying-to-Say-No club most of my life.  I know all too well the challenges of mustering a “no” from these lips when my pulse is rising, my chest contracting, and I’m breaking a light sweat, all telling me that death awaits on the other side of “no.” The death of likeability, wantability, love, approval.

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