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Mari: From Near Disability to Tranformative Coach – EP021

Mari Shofner - Transformational Life CoachMari Shofner was once told that there really was no help for her illness and that she should consider applying for disability. And she wasn’t even forty! Mari shares how she healed on her own and in turn became a Transformational Life Coach and helps others heal.

About Mari: 

Mari Shofner is a transformational life coach. She partners with people who what to organize their life so they can have more joy, more time and more energy to do what matters most. Rather than experience life happening to us, we can learn the life skills to create a fulfilled life.

Website: Mari Shofner’s Transformational Life Coaching
Facebook: @marishofner

References: 

(I get small commissions for purchases made through the Amazon affiliate links on this post.)

The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT – Affiliate Link

Where to find Self Powered Healing:

Transcript

BARBARA: So today I’m talking with Mari Shofner, who is a Transformational Life Coach with a story of her own healing journey. Hi, Mari!

MARI: Hi there. How are you?

BARBARA: I’m good. How are you?

MARI: I’m good. I’m very grateful to be here today.

BARBARA: I’m glad you’re here.
Why don’t we start with a little of your story, of your health journey?

MARI: That’s a huge question. Let’s see here.
I am in my early 40s, just so we can get an idea of the journey that this healing journey was like. And I remember feeling tired just before graduating from high school. And I just thought I was, I was aware, I was pushing myself hard. I was a track runner. And I was a huge in my grades. So I slept very little. And I was looking for that one day when I would have rest, one day when it was always looking forward to my Sundays when I could sleep in. However, when I went to college, I got even more tired. And I caught mono and bronchitis at the same time. And I would say at that point, I could say I never felt the same again.

I was told that I might have an autoimmune disease, and I got tested, it came out negative.

But then years passed, and I was still tired, and I knew something was wrong.

We can fast forward about 10 years and now I’m in my I would say late 20s and at this point I’ve been diagnosed with IBS. I’ve been diagnosed with depression. And I was taking medication for both. I had three specialists working on my body that included a therapist, well, a psychiatrist that prescribed medicine coupled with a therapist. I had a gastroenterologist and I had an internist. I also had issues with my eyes at the time, now that I’m remembering and had been diagnosed with a very rare eye disease that has resolved.

BARBARA: It has resolved?

MARI: Yeah, it has resolved. I was told by the specialist that in his expertise with a rare disease, that it resolved around age 40. For me it resolved earlier than that, but I was still having eye issues. So I had those things going on. But the exhaustion just worsened every year. And by the time I was in my early 30s, I started to develop migraines. And they were getting quite horrendous and the worst migraine I had was over 30 days, 34 days. At the time, I was married to a doctor who’s able to fill me in with an MRI with a neurologist, which is kind of a big deal. It’s kind of hard to get a neurologist appointment right away. But everything came out normal and I couldn’t believe it. At the time it was extremely painful. I remember by that time of my life, I remember saying very often. I’m tired of being tired. That was like, I think I thought that 1000 times a day. I was so exhausted.

And then I just thought part of me thought it was kind of normal. Like I knew it was not normal but I didn’t realize how much pain I was in or how not normal that was until later. And I finally, in 2013… Well, let me rephrase that. When the happened I finally started looking outside of the medical field and I started seeing an acupuncturist. Because I was desperate, I was like anything to get this headache to go away. And the acupuncture helped. The headache didn’t go away, but it felt like a like a veil was lifted. The feeling that it would go away, came into the body, and it did. She helped me significantly with headaches.

The fatigue however, did not. I went with her for two years and in that two years it was fatigue and IBS I would have experiences what I called at the time bouts. Where I didn’t know when, I didn’t know what would cause it, but I would have an experience that could last anywhere from two to six hours of dry heaving and diarrhea and stomach pains that felt like intestinal contractions. Contractions meaning equivalent to the pain of delivery type of contractions. Yeah, they were very painful. And when I went to the hospital for those types of pain, after all the tests and everything, I would come out like, oh, you’re normal. Everything’s fine. Minor inflammation goes to your IBS, you know, your gastroenterologist and I would see him I would get the endoscopy, the colonoscopy and everything would come back normal with minor inflammation.

So at this point, I was basically told that I was never going to heal. I was told that I was finally diagnosed at that point with chronic fatigue. So I had now the diagnosis of chronic fatigue, depression and irritable bowel syndrome and I was told that I should probably apply for disability, and that I would most likely develop an autoimmune disease and we’ll just kind of watch you till you get that.

That was 2013. And I remember leaving the office realizing at that point that this was more serious than I had thought because I was at a point where the professionals were telling me that there was no solution, ever.

I would say that was the turning point for my journey, where I definitively decided that I would never stop trying to find a way to live a life I loved.

BARBARA: Yeah. It’s either that or give up.

MARI: I knew if I gave up it would, it would probably worsen. It something in me like I did it. I know it now, especially with this journey. This journey has become not just a healing journey physically, but emotionally, I’m happier. Mentally, I’m more at peace. And spiritually, I feel so certain that I can trust that I’m exactly where I need to be in the world. And that part of me has always been with me, that part of me was with me that day.

BARBARA: Wow.
And so, do you want to talk about what your turning point, what you did?

MARI: Sure. I proclaimed 2014 the year of health. And that was also the year I divorced so and it was a big deal because at that point, with the stress of the divorce, I had lost a 20 extra pounds which I did not afford to lose. And it also exacerbated the ability to eat. I came to a point where I wasn’t just experiencing bouts, but I was also experiencing the inability to eat without extreme pain. And that was the hard part because how can you eat when you’re afraid to eat? It’s almost as if the fear itself was making it not able to.

So I proclaimed it the year of health and I decided that I would do whatever it took to try whatever I could right now. And I started with diet because I thought well, it wasn’t too hard because I couldn’t eat much. I was like, well, I know, from what I hear in the world that gluten could be tough for my stomach and dairy and coffee, which were all my favorite things. And so I took them out of my diet right away. And I dove into articles about, you know, thyroid dysfunction, which was a possibility and other things that might be possibilities and I was basically just falling down rabbit holes of what might be a solution. And I came to the conclusion that I was going to hire a functional medicine doctor.

The idea that I could see a professional who could go to the root cause rather than giving medication to help with symptoms, I was what I wanted. So I couldn’t find one at first in San Antonio, or even nearby, like even a day trip to you know, the near area that resonated with me at this point, I was already listening to my intuition without realizing it. One day I was at the grocery store and I saw this gentleman know his groceries I could see he was on a paleo diet. My research had gotten me into thinking about what kind of foods I wanted to be eating. So I asked him, Hey, are you on a paleo diet and he started telling me about his wife started seeing this functional medicine doctor, I got the contact and I went to see him.

And he basically, our work together in two and a half years took more and more food out of my diet. So I was really eating very few things: vegetables, fish, chicken, coconut water, coconut oil, and that’s about it. And not all vegetables because we were removing lectins from my diet, so no peppers, no tomatoes, and oh, and I was also eating eggs. So despite that, even though that helped at first, it plateaued again. I called those the boss days; his name was Dr. Boss.

And the good news about that was I was able to really listen to my body at that point. I could tell when I ate something my body was accepting or rejecting. I could tell, I could hear, I could feel digestion rather than fear, digestion. And around this time, when it plateaued, two things were introduced into my life. One, I had seen a therapist to get help with a dynamic with my son, and I told him my story, the divorce and the health and the dynamic with my son, and he says, you know, you’re doing pretty good. Except, all you gotta do is work on a little bit about how you’re thinking and how you’re managing your mind. I was like, What are you talking about?

All these years, I think therapist or, or any, you know, blog post on it, read it never. I never got the connection that I could watch my thoughts rather than be my thoughts. And he sent me home with a book called “The Happiness Trap” by Russ Harris. And I read that book and two weeks later I showed up with a visual aid. And I was like, the world needs to know what this book is teaching. And that led me into a journey of learning about mindfulness, identifying my values, knowing how to take action that serves me, and that supports me. And that’s where it led to me becoming a life coach, deciding that would be my career, but at that time in my life, it was more about what is this thing about my mind and how I can use it as a tool. So that was one thing that got introduced to me at that point in my life.

The second thing that got introduced to me. I met a woman at my my massage therapists office, and she told me a story about how she got healed by an energy worker. And at the time, I did not believe in anything like that. I thought it was nonsense. And yet, I was so desperate that I was willing to try it out. Especially because of testimony. She had a daughter who is rail thin, unable to eat and in pain, as she showed me before and after pictures of a woman who was vibrant, who had meat on her bones. And I was like, I’m going to try this. I at the time was already dating my now husband. So glad he’s been part of this journey. And he was like, what do we have to lose? Let’s try it.

I even consulted a spiritual leader in my church because I wanted to make sure that I was within, it triggered in me is this even in my belief systems. So this started to be more of a spiritual journey now, not just a health journey. And because I was on such a strict diet when she started treating me quote, unquote, for foods that I knew would cause excruciating pain, and then I was able to eat them. I was thinking, Okay, what is this? Now here’s something really Important: She never saw me, and it was done over the phone across state lines. So I didn’t even… I couldn’t believe this. And so you can imagine all the rabbit holes and I became a Reiki Master. I started studying like, what is spirituality? what is reality? What is remote healing? You know, you could imagine all those Google searches and then some of them can be really fishy and so kind of discerning what was more.

With those two things introduced to my life, not knowing it at the time, it changed everything. And you kind of wonder, was it the chicken or the egg and I would like to say it was both. The remote healing that that woman was doing led me on a spiritual path to believe in the power of thought and prayer, greater than anything we give it credit for. In the study of like quantum healing as well as you know, works like the work of Joe Dispenza right inside, that was where I was starting to root myself into connecting the two. And the work from Joe Dispenza has a lot of what we’re learning from modern neuroscience. So then I was studying the work of Richard Davidson with Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction all the way to the Joe Dispenza. That kind of bridges the spiritual gap between what we’ve been told is reality and what is, for the lack of a better word, Woo Woo.

BARBARA: Right.

MARI: You know, that’s where now I would say there wasn’t a day that I woke up and said, I am healthy now. today. It just happened. It wasn’t quite like that for me. But I will say I remember one day I was standing in front of the office with my husband, my husband’s office, and I said, you know what happened today? He goes What? I didn’t need a nap today. I actually forgot to even think about planning my nap.

And then of course, then fear hit. When is this gonna happen again for me?

That level of energy had not been experienced for over 15 years.

And it took a while for me to be in a place of consistency without needing a nap. But for me, it was a reality that this is working. And this is my new life.

BARBARA: Yeah, that’s a remarkable story. I can relate to parts of it. But yeah. That feeling when you sit back and go, Oh, I haven’t had that problem in a while. And so that turned into what you do today. Do you want to talk a little about that?

MARI: Sure. In that timeframe, I was thinking, This is amazing. I want to teach this to the world. This is changing my life. And not was I only feeling better in my, in my health, not that it was fully there yet as far as being healthy, but I was better. And I showed up better. I wasn’t so snappy, I wasn’t so agitated. And when I felt pain, I learned that I could be, I could relax into the pain and not suffer because of it. And all of that really changed how I showed up in the world. And I started to see that my relationships were getting better too. My sons were more receptive and love. Love grew not just with the people I loved but with myself.

And so I started thinking, well, do I want to go to mindful schools? And you know, or do I want to be a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teacher? Do I want to be a meditation teacher. And I was looking and looking and therapy, going back to school to be a therapist didn’t resonate with me and one day I fell into this career, called life coaching. I’m like, what, what is life coaching? So I thought, I’ll hire one and figure out if I want to do that. And I hired a life coach here in San Antonio. And I was in love with after my procession, I was absolutely in love.

And I was like, I want to do this and I want you to coach me on not being afraid to work. Because of course, how can I ever work if I’ve never been able to go from nine to four without a four hour nap? How am I going to be able to show up for people and be accountable if I could barely be accountable for dinner, you know? And so, I in that journey, I discerned which coaching program I was going to be a part of, and then in being able to incorporate what I learned in my healing journey, in my coaching is now what is my specialty. And this includes universal spiritual principles, meeting people where they’re at when it’s something or if it’s something they want. it’s about whatever it is their struggle is and using the mind as a tool. So that we can direct our thoughts in a way that serves us. And process our emotions in a way of not being afraid of them. Like even feeling joy can be fearful, especially if it’s something we’re not used to. Practicing joy is something that we can do, rather than expecting it outside of us, before the event. So these are the things, the tools that I’ve learned and that I incorporate into the coaching and that’s where the journey has led me to today in being able to be at a place where it wasn’t just like a light switch one day and the next I was healthy.

But the journey and in these five years I’ve been… Has it has been five years? This will be the fifth year that I’ve been applying mindset skills, and mindfulness and meditation. And with these five years I actually stopped seeing that healer. And I’ll tell you why, this is important. How can I help people believe that they can heal whatever they want to heal in their life, whether it be relationships or health or wealth, if I relied on somebody else for my own? And how can I believe that I am a healing source of energy if I rely on someone else to heal me, like if I needed her, I could never heal.

So, last year said, Thank you for everything you’ve taught me and all the healing you’ve brought me through and now it’s time for me to try myself. And I was too scared because I wasn’t fully healed then, I would still get symptomatic. And then at that point, I learned to listen to my body and to pay attention to the thought patterns. And to to notice, rather than to be a victim of those symptoms and thought pattern and in the noticing being able to have a new truth and a new reality and create a new Mind-Body connection leading through the neuroscience that this is going to work. So it’s living by example right now that I had chosen career.

BARBARA: So those are the things you work with with your clients? Work through with your clients?

MARI: Absolutely.

BARBARA: So your IBS is gone?

MARI: I can eat anything. Now I choose not to eat certain things now. And I’m not saying I don’t eat gluten like I love bread. I make homemade bread. I love bread.

But yeah, I eat… I guess it really comes down to knowing not to eat with guilt. Knowing to listen to the body when it’s full. Knowing that if I decide I’m going to eat a twizzler, that the body is like, all right, don’t eat more than two. Listening to where the body says stop. And then if there’s urges when it comes to eating, and paying attention to the body and not the urge, like flexing those muscles, so that it trains the body to stop the urge and then eventually… It doesn’t necessarily go away but the urges aren’t as intense.

And maybe with time urges do absolutely go away. In some cases for me, I do have absolute urges that have gone away and others I still work through when it comes to food. But there is great gratitude in being able to eat anything. But I will say let me share a story real quick about what that looks like.

Recently, I remember having a dinner; recent meaning like the last three months. And after dinner, my husband I were sitting, we were watching we were on a we were watching Star Trek Voyagers, the series. It was our little pattern at the time. And we would sit in front of TV and watch a show. And I remember getting a stomach ache and I started feeling really bad. Like, oh my gosh, I started cramping and then of course, I started to get scared because cramping was always the precursor of a bout, right? Being in the bathroom and dry heaving it. So then with the cramping became a little nausea. I started to feel nauseous. And then I was worrying and all of a sudden I was like {deep exhale}. I started, you know, one of the practices of being able to be present with pain is conscious breathing. And being in the moment with the pain. So I started to relax in the pain. Notice the sensation and give myself an opportunity to allow relaxation around the pain and talked myself. I was literally having a dialogue with my body like hey, it’s okay, you have a little stomach ache. It’s not what it used to be. And then I had a burp like literally I burped, and it was a hefty one. And I thought, whoa, I feel better. And it was gone

And I wondered all those years, how much of it was just digestion, natural digestion trying to be had.
And rather my mind body was creating havoc. And how much of me being able to relax into it, that one moment months ago, allow for the natural process, which will state meaning not trigger that part of our nervous system of fight or flight. So I remained in a natural state with my mindful practices, and the body was able to do what it naturally does.

And so that was an epiphany for me that evening. And I remember journaling on it, specifically because I wanted to remember that moment. To know the impact that a thought could have and that we can be gentle with ourselves as we learn into our new thoughts and our new way of being. Because it is a new way of being. Healing isn’t just about our physical ability; it’s also who we become when we’re able. Once we now have that vitality and that energy, how do we show up in the world, what opportunities present themselves. And that’s where our mind might be addicted to being sick because then we would have to be in the self. And that’s scary.

It can be. It was for me, and it can be for many. So that’s where this learning process, I see it as using our mind as a tool so we can create a life we love. And it’s not that you’re going to be loving life all the time. But then it will be fulfilled. That we can have it fulfilled regardless of the the spectrum of emotions and the array of experiences that occur in life.

BARBARA: It’s amazing. And so the chronic fatigue and the depression are gone, as well.

MARI: Mm hmm. The chronic fatigue at this point is gone. Absolutely. Every now and then, when my schedule gets really tight, I’ll notice I’ll get sleepy. My head gets heavy. I was like, Oh, you’re just, you know, passed out. It’s okay. And usually what I’ll do at that moment is give myself time to go into a either a meditation or a writing so that I can get back into that natural state or that space of calm. And it doesn’t necessarily feel calm, but what it does do is the meditation will help the shift my brainwaves and kind of helped me They helped me reset. For me it’s a valuable tool. My mind will be frazzled by noon. If I don’t do a meditation in the morning, it is now part of my lifestyle. So, yes, the fatigue I would say is gone. And when it feels like it’s creeping in a little bit, I listen to the body. I sometimes still nap in yet now it’s without the guilt. And it’s without the fear. It’s more like a luxury. And I allow it.

BARBARA: Naps are allowed.

MARI: And you think of the greats, you know, like, Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein. They napped and as a matter of fact, it may be part of the human experience to take a nap every day or at least have a moment like 20 minutes where we step back from the work and then then go back to it.

And the depression if it’s gone away. Your question on that will be sometimes they’ll notice patterns of thoughts. I’ll start to feel, I’ll feel it before I noticed the thoughts I’ll feel really demotivated, or in a rut, and sometimes it’ll happen more than it’ll take a more than a day. And once it’s more than a day, I’m like, okay, what’s going on here? And this is where it’s using the skills and either it’s, you know, writing it out, or coming back to my new truth. Revisualizing my why. And using those tools to be okay with where I’m at, but yet redirecting the mind to where I want to be in the now.

And, also learning that it’s not always going to be happy, right? There’s this thing that “I just want to be happy.” And if that is our goal, it’s the unachievable goal. The human experience is to not always be happy. So when we’re not, knowing that that’s just part of the the human experience. And when we’re not if it turns into a pattern, then discover where are my thoughts in these spaces so that I can see if it’s a pattern that’s not serving me, or it’s a sign. Our emotions are our guides. Is it a sign that I’m misaligned with something important to me? A value? And then we can use that as a tool to help shift out of those emotional patterns that may not serve us, in a way that is believable, relatable and doable.

BARBARA: So how would someone… Do you work with people only locally or distance?

MARI: Yes. So I do coaching and I can do coaching internationally. Currently, I have coach I coach people in the United States and locally and people can reach me at MariShofner.com.

BARBARA: And I will add that in the show notes as well.

MARI: Oh, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

BARBARA: Okay. Well, I thank you for being here today.

MARI: Oh, you’re absolutely welcome. Thank you for the interview.

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