I am a life coach, a positive psychology expert, a yoga teacher and a lover, a meditation practitioner and a lifetime student, but if there is something that defines me is being a truth seeker. I was born and bred in Barcelona, Spain, and by the age of 25 I had lived in three different continents, Barcelona, the US, London, Paris, Singapore you name it. I have traveled the world and savor every bit of it. I am married to a man I adore, together we have the most wonderful child (of course) and two Greek rescue dogs, all of them fill the house with both madness and warmth. I love my life, it is not perfect, but I embrace the whole lot, the highs and downfalls, the uncertainty and the accomplishments, and everything in between. I feel I have been given this wining ticket to be here, to experience this circus from the front row. I get to co-create this life every day with work, persistence, passion, and loads of hope, humor and support, and for that I am eternally grateful.

The beginnings were not easy, I come from what some would call a “good family” , my mum’s side are aristocrats and my father’s very comfortable bourgeois. But I also grew up in the midst of addiction, both my parents suffered from it, my father dropped dead when I was 5, leaving my mother alone with four children, one of them special needs. These were the 70s, in Spain, after almost 40 years of dictatorship, there were not many options for special kids, specially in my family. So what followed was chaos, confusion, survival, but somehow each of us had an angel sent which held us tight, so the structure would not collapse. These angels saved us, together with the love of our mother, great schools, and I guess, destiny, at the end of the day, was always on our side.

My mother admitted her addiction when I was eighteen as we were getting up the lift to go to our fancy apartment, she finally said: I think I am an alcoholic. Good grieve! I said, she is not crazy! as Cohen’s Hallelujah resonated loud in my head… and off she went, this brave lady onto a never ending journey of rehab and AA meetings.

I am the youngest, if you think about it, a lifetime had passed in which we had lived under the roof of addiction and lunacy, the crucial years some say, where character is built, and I agree, but I also disagree that those years need to be an immutable influence that will determine your fate (negatively) for the rest of your life. I tell you this: Nothing is final, only if you choose so.

I was not quite ready to go down misery lane, challenge had been brought my way and I intended to overcome and hopefully make something useful out of it. Easier said than done, the path ahead was a bit steeper than expected, I had covered my wounds with so many layers that some had become numb, something was dying inside and it was now time to re-open and give them some honest attention.

A person with addictions has his own afflictions, but a child does not know that, the only thing I knew was that I wanted my mother happy, but she wasn’t, so I did everything I could, every day, to make her happy, and still, she wasn’t. You have us, I used to think, we love you so much, and we can help, but we couldn’t, if only I knew then that she was her only savior.

If I was not enough to make my mother happy, how could I be enough for anything else in life? and so my quest for perfection and seeking conditional love from the world began. If I was pretty, a great student, had a cool job, was the family fixer, helped everyone all the time before tending to myself, the world would like me, because that is what we are told, if you put others’ needs ahead, you are good, and if you are good you go to heaven. Amen.

I learnt the hard way quite the opposite. This inner betrayal, this hunt fueled by keeping up with the pressure (which I was completely unaware at the time) started showing up in the most bizarre ways (or so I thought since I was doing everything I was supposed to, right?). I lost long term friendships, I clung onto the wrong relationships, attracted incredible jobs which I would let go off very quickly and so on.

Now the thing is, when one is obsessed with truth, it only takes a certain amount of time to become aware of the internal cracks, I knew I was selling my soul for comfort, for the comfort of being accepted and having finally a “normal” life, and the trade was painful.

So after a series of unfortunate events, I decided to break free. I knew at that moment that if I didn’t create physical distance with my present and past, I might not ever find the strength and courage to become me. Some said, you can’t run away, you will face the same challenges wherever you go…. and partly is true, but afar and with perspective, I found the tools to rebuild myself. As it turns out, following my instinct was the best decision of my life.

Moving to Asia changed everything, if there’s some serious info laid out in the stars, I am pretty sure there is a clear line that marks that move. I became acquainted with the East, with a different way of doing, thinking, being, it opened the door to new friendships, relationships, religions, cultures, I discovered yoga, or maybe yoga found me, who knows. I could finally be me without the distraction of all the labels.

Culturally I was lucky enough (ha!) to be exposed to the different manifestations of not being enough. In Europe when one is an achiever, the subversive question is: Who do you think you are? That is why most people in creating new ventures go about very discreetly and only once they make it, they come out to the world. In the US everything has to be big, big, bigger… we are never enough, do enough, have enough, people work endless hours with barely any vacation time, competition is fierce since early childhood choosing kindergartens that will ensure entrance to Harvard and have rarely any play time, and the list goes on and on. So see, the subliminal message, whatever the influence, is: You Are Not Enough and Never Will Be, no matter what you do, don’t do, or overdo. Lucky me I had the privilege to deal with both.

So this brings us to the key of this story: Courage. In order to break free from any selflimiting belief that impacts your ability to thrive and show the world your spectacular gifts, which are unique and exclusive to you, you must choose to dare. Don’t fool yourself, crafting a meaningful life requires full commitment to the work that is required in each scenario. This is about choosing a path of transformation & transcendence over easier routes, it is not for the faint of heart, you will need all your tools, and be willing to fall and get up a hundred times, until you know it has settled, that the structure is now solid and from there riding the waves becomes much easier.

So what is the cost of not daring? A silent death, it is like having a dog you never walk out, the first days he’ll be so excited to see the outside world through the window, every time you move he’ll think, this is it! this is the time, but it’s not, then hyper activity and rage follows, and when nothing changes, he gives up, just lays and waits, getting number and number by the day. But the difference is, if by some stroke of luck, someone lets the door open, he’s outta of here! to never look back, knowing that this is his chance, he will set himself free. Humans, we are harder to break, too attached to the past, afraid of living in the now, blah blah blah, we find endless excuses not to go out through that door. You must understand something crucial: This is your Chance to Do It, to Be It, This is basically It.

Which brings me to the second key of this story: Find Your Way. After studying, searching, experimenting, I had to find out what worked for me and only me, the amount of information out there became overwhelmingly confusing, shall I be vegan, Paleo, sign up for a triathlon or take a nap? is one child enough, maybe, yes, no? am I too old/young? for what? should I stuff my face with fillers or let my hair go grey??


..was followed by shhhhhh…

Silence took over

So I stopped.

I press paused…and while having the privilege of taking care of our child I also took the time to think and re-design what success meant to me (a process that is not static by the way, as we evolve so does the meaning of success), and in that journey I found out that these tools eased the way and opened the gateways to my most inner layers so I could become more acquainted with my fabulous, sweet, fierce Self. This is what works for me, usually in such order:

  • STOP. Be still and breath naturally. Listen, pay attention to the noises inside that manifest in the form of feelings, thoughts, sensations, conditions, without judgement.
  • BREATH. Learn breath work, pranayama. This is the easiest way to increase awareness, vitality and become calmer. It is truly the panacea.
  • MOVE. In whatever way or form, the more you move the less mental clutter and more space for clarity and opportunity.
  • MEDITATE. Find a practice that works for you
  • NATURE. Go out, every day, 10 minutes is more than nothing. Just do it. Combinable with 3
  • WRITE. Download your thoughts on paper to create space for clean & clear energy to come in.
  • SEARCH. Look for anything that might call you in order to find & heal your Self. Read, listen, watch, go to workshops, get a coach, ask for help. Keep what resonates with you, discard the rest.
  • SIMPLIFY everything, your wardrobe, spirituality, relationships, nutrition…
  • PRACTICE. Every day. Intentions without commitment are fruitless. If you do one thing a day to move forward that equals 7/week, 365/year, imagine what can be achieved!

And finally, find your spirituality (whatever helps you connect to your own spirit) you need to find meaning to keep living. Abandon the victim’s seat, and take responsibility for your life. Claim your space on this earth. Stop talking about others. Surrender to the mystery as part of the mastery, and appreciate as it might well happen that the Universe will appreciate back.

My angel, the one that saved me, died last year at the age of 87. I had the privilege to say goodbye, I stayed with her overnight and witness her life force gently and slowly leaving her frail body, I was in awe at the gift, and at that precise moment I knew that : When a life has been well-lived is easy to let go.

The difference between engaged and vital people and the rest is: They Do The Work, mostly every day, until they become the WORK.

How you live your life matters.

Mariona Riera
Life & Business Coach