Years ago I was a quirky kid sitting in school, getting in trouble for not paying attention. The teacher yelled at me in front of the whole class, "Marisa, why can't you do what everyone else is doing?"

I remember pausing, looking up at her big brown eyes, and wanting to shout back at her, "BECAUSE NOBODY IS SHOWING ME HOW!"

Age-wise, I should have known to do better, but for whatever reason my body refused to work for me.

This moment repeated itself either directly or indirectly in many areas of my life. Any type of social gather was rough, every day tasks felt like they were harder than they should be, and any time the least amount of stress came my way I would spin out.

I felt as though my abilities were trapped inside of me, like I was a gold mine of value but the rock, dirt, and debris that had calcified on top of me kept my gold concealed.

I was determined to 1.) find out WHY my gold seemed to be stolen by inability, and 2.) HOW to get access to what was rightfully mine.


My parents enforced a particular mindset in our home. They never allowed me to use my challenges as excuses, I always had to find an alternative route to solve the issues in front of me. This value made me into a creative problem-solver.

After college I was determined to help other children not live in the overwhelming fear that I felt every day. I got on the first fight I could to Africa and I started working with the hardest of the hard kind of boys--totally abandoned street kids. Very quickly I realized that I had no better resources than I had as a kid to truly release them from deeply-rooted, opportunity-destroying behaviors.

I decided to abandon the text books that I so-often felt looked at us quirky kids as projects to be fixed, and I started looking to a few specific institutions who were doing never-before seen research with quirky kids. For a decade I became a self-titled "guinea pig" for Dr. Dan Siegel, Dr. Ross Greene, Dr. Daniel Amen, and my beloved, Dr. Karyn Purvis's work.


I'm not sure why some people are afraid of advancement. Science is made to be discovered and it is constantly progressing whether we like it or not.

Throughout my time overseas, massive scientific breakthroughs emerged from laboratories across the world. When we finally learned that the gut and the brain are connected, that our food + environment can cause our genes for hard things to turn on like a light switch, and lastly, how we actually learn new behaviors, my own personal breakthroughs reached shocking levels.

At 36 years of age, I finally learned the exact culprit that gave me OCD-like fears, ADHD symptoms, learning delays, and way too many awful, humbling, awkward, social moments.

I was chronically low in two vital vitamins and some of the necessary processes of my body had kinks in their intricately designed gears.

For almost 40 years, before my feet could even touch the ground, my body was living as if a mountain lion were in every room I walked into. My Central Nervous System worked on overdrive, non-stop, every day.

With the right nutrient support and an elimination of foods that cause my body to inflame, I had an overnight, POSITIVE, mid-life identity crisis. I went to sleep with a brain lit up like the Griswold's house at Christmas, and I woke up to nothing--absolute silence and peace. As day 1 turned into day 31, we quickly realized I had access to abilities that I didn't even know I had.

I could think clearly, recognize stress in levels, and I now had a keen awareness that I could make tempered decisions. But I also felt real emotions not laced with anxiety for the first time in my life, and I didn't know what to do with them. The shock of all of this sent me into a few months of clinical depression.


At this point in my life I had been speaking non-step to families across the states about how to improve "lagging skills" in their quirky kids. Using all the courage I had, I turned that teaching on myself and in a humbling sushi date with my husband, through tears, I articulated to him that I was no different than all of the kids who we helped heal over the years. I needed him to look at me in a way that the teacher in grade school didn't.

In a nutshell I had to say to him, "I'm a girl who has coping skills way below my age level, and I need you to allow me to be messy as I "try on" new skills in the heat of the moment."

It worked. Just like in kids, I would work on a lagging skill of mine and within a few days to 3 months, I no longer needed any help. The process became, dare I say, fun. All-in-all, my husband and I would say it took me about a year to feel totally FREE and ABLE no matter if it was a good or hard day.


I've seen this process transform families. Children with very complicated quirks have made significant breakthroughs that have confounded their pediatricians, changed their diagnoses, and enabled them to make friends. I've also seen less severe kids become more flexible and be able to real in their emotions. Many of our parents raising these kids have found a refreshing and SAFE environment to deal with their own quirks, anxiety, or clinical depression.

As a small kid I could have never guessed that all of the gold that I felt was stolen from me would be returned ten-fold as I watch quirky kids and adults get free from their challenges.

My role is simple. I am a gold digger. And I coach parents how to dig.

Marisa Rodriguez is a Certified Brain Health Coach through Amen Clinics and has completed several other certificates, programs, mentorships and ongoing education in the fields of parent training, health coaching, occupational therapy, play therapy, child development, and brain integration. Here are some of the programs that have resourced her well: