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  • Writer's pictureLizy Maratea

Why I Coach

I am Lizy Maratea and I am a collector of skills. Diagnosed at the age of three with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (a degenerative connective tissue disorder), I grew up being told I had limits physically. As a survivor of early childhood trauma with PTSD, I found that I often defied those limits most recklessly, showing little to no regard for my own well-being. I took my fragile form and I tore shingles off roofs, unloaded trucks, welded signs together, landscaped lawns... You name it, I probably tried it on for size. I have always been of the mind that if someone can teach me how to do something, I'll be able to do it. I’ve fixed my car many a time by YouTube instruction. For all the skills and trades and hobbies, I have always jumped in with an eagerness to learn and a readiness to rock as best I could because I wouldn’t be told what I could and could not do, dammit. It’s for that reason that I believe I was always so very scared to try yoga and mindfulness. It wasn’t something I was going to be able to learn quickly, with someone explaining the basic principle and boom, I got it. It was going to require patience (I had none) and quite a bit of compassion for myself (less than none) in order for me to do something that was actually going to be good for me. I did quite a bit of damage to myself in those so-called rebellious years, and it all caught up to me two-fold after pregnancy. I’d get down to the floor to play with my baby daughter and would be stuck there for hours until my husband returned home from work. A tailbone injury I had sustained during a brief stint in the roller derby – You see what I mean about rebelling? – was worsened by a slip and fall down stairs while pregnant, and the resulting agony had multiple doctors explaining that I’d likely be in a wheelchair by 40 at the rate my body was giving up on itself. Then they would prescribe more opiates because that was the option available to them, and they'd tell me not to do yoga because their limited understanding of EDS inclined them to advise against almost any physical activity.

Finally, I'd had enough. For years I'd found relief in cannabis, be it from anxiety, chronic pain, sleeplessness, or lethargy. I always studied and shared the science freely, eager to educate away the stigma associated with a most natural medicine. I was ready to match that effort with the same in mindful movement and meditation. Within a few days of practicing yoga along to videos online and pairing those flows with cannabis, I was able to spring up from the floor with ease! Slowly, I began tending all sorts of aspects of my life by opening up to the possibilities that come with loving myself more and exploring what served me most…what did I need…why did I need it... Mindful movement and cannabis were the first steps on a long road toward autonomy and homeostasis. From there I found a beloved mentor who guided me in healing my mind-body connection. I’m many a mile down that road now, with quite a few new practiced skills and experiences in instruction, cannabis protocol, and more for my collection. What’s not on this road with me is the wheelchair I was once promised, and I have no intention of breaking it out any time soon. Instead, I have committed to fostering the same growth and change in others that I have found in my own life, and to helping as many people as I can to overcome physical, mental, and emotional barriers with cannabis, mindfulness, and movement. Taking care of my Self wasn't something I could be taught to do in the same way I could be taught to swap out an alternator. I had to be ready to take action for change. The folks I have the joy of working with are ready to take that action, and when they do, I have the even greater joy of seeing that change for the better happen in them. Jessica's testimonial below summarizes that change more beautifully than I can describe, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to have helped foster such development in her life.

During a Zoom call, just by watching THE WAY I STOOD UP, Liz unofficially diagnosed me with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, the same syndrome she suffers from. After 3 painful years of not finding answers to many health issues, everything finally started to make sense. Liz encouraged me to go to a rheumatologist to get an official diagnosis. Months later I was diagnosed with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Because of Liz, I have been validated that I am not a hypochondriac. More exciting than having a name to my illness, I know how to manage it and advocate for myself and my needs. Liz and I began to meet on zoom every week for 12 sessions. She guided me conversationally, in meditation and yoga, and she encouraged me to change some habits and incorporate new ones. The biggest change has been realizing how certain daily checks like nutrition, hydration, rest, exercise and cannabis play a major role in my pain and energy levels. Liz is very knowledgeable and passionate about cannabis. I now have my medical card and Liz helped guide me on all of the many unknowns of using cannabis properly and effectively for my personal needs. I avoid prescribed medications whenever possible due to their side effects. If there is a life change or a natural remedy I can adopt, I do that. In the fall of 2020 I was also diagnosed with stomach erosions due to overuse of ibuprofen. I was using it daily for pain and inflammation. This being said, cannabis will forever be my number one medicine for pain, inflammation and anxiety, with no worry of side effects. I had used cannabis for years for anxiety and migraines, but only a few times a week. Once I started using cannabis daily I could not BELIEVE the changes. I started having more stamina in every part of my life. I had less joint pain, inflammation and shorter recovery time after activities. My stress and anxiety levels are almost gone. Pairing all of this with Physical Therapy, and seeing many different doctors at University of Penn Hospital, I have learned SO much and I feel like I understand and respect myself and my body now. Everything Liz does is with love, respect, compassion and knowledge. My husband constantly raves about the positive changes he sees in me and it's usually paired with "Thank God for Liz." Being in the presence of Liz is being in a safe place. I trust her entirely and I feel like I can tell her anything without ever being judged. She is a profound and empathetic listener. She always meets me where I am, and is extremely excellent at reading my needs for that day, often rearranging plans for that session. I feel in debt to Liz for teaching me that I am a rockstar who has put in the work to be where I am, which is still nowhere near where I need or want to be, but I am undaunted by the challenge. I am excited to see how much stronger I will continue to become. - Jessica

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