Hiya, Friend!

I’m so excited to have you in the Soul Sunshine tribe! I’ve been passionate about working with kids & families for as long as I can remember & I’m super excited to share some of the my favorite tools and strategies with you and your kiddos through our work together. 

Over the last 20+ years I’ve worked with hundreds of kiddos and their families in some fun & gritty experiences. You name it & I’ve done it! I’ve wiped baby butts, choreographed Christmas shows, driven carpool, taught long-division, and soothed a scared kid before the big test. Starting with my first nannying gig at age 12, to preschool aide, summer camp counselor and director, youth yoga instructor, academic tutor, and eventually to elementary classroom teacher I’ve gleaned years of experience from the kiddos and amazing families I’ve worked with. It’s been an honor to be welcomed into the hearts, lives, and homes of these families. 

I was 23 when I taught my first class of 3rd graders at a funky, bohemian art & language school in Laguna Beach. As an Anneliese’s Schools teacher I learned how to marry creativity & self-direction with student learning. We sang songs in German, Spanish, French, and Japanese, took nature walks, and spent the day learning from the world around us and figuring out how it all related to the content in our course books. The kids played their way into learning about life and I was in awe of such an out-of-the-box approach to learning. But teaching in a foreign language and learning to bhatik were only a small part of my training in my first 5 years of teaching. What I learned most from the magic of the Anneliese’s philosophy was how to read and honor the emotional world of each child. 

I learned that when the adults in their lives truly cared about how they felt and put their kid’s feelings first the kids grew stronger and faster.

I saw kids flourish when you asked them how a story made them feel or shrink when they were asked how their friend must be feeling after being pushed by them in the garden. I started to care more about how they were feeling in the moment and how that moment would affect the rest of their day. I built relationships based on connection & trust & shared intimate emotional conversations with my young teachers. My students started to teach me how to value & honor my own emotions.

And then I fell in love with counseling their parents. Parent teacher conferences would come around and I’d watch as parents would drag their feet into the classroom, eyes brimmed with worry & panic. What was I about to tell them about their child? How bad was it this time? What were they not doing enough of at home to support? How long was this going to take? So I talked to them like their children had taught me to. I started by asking them how they were feeling & listening to their concerns about their kids. I grew to love these bi-yearly meetings because they created a safe space for parents to voice their struggles & concerns & feel supported in their efforts with their kiddos. 

Fast forward to a few years ago, after I had returned to California from three years of teaching abroad in Switzerland. (Interesting phenomenon here: different countries and different cultural values still found scared parents who were afraid of mucking up their kids & praying they were doing an ok job.) My passion for counseling people led me to start working as a free-lance Life Coach & I coached clients through major transitions in their lives. I supported their goals and beliefs with mental & spiritual tools of self-empowerment and affirmative living. I continued teaching kids too, but my coaching work was slowly becoming more inspiring and meaningful. Then I read a book that changed my life. How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman confirmed what I had been practicing with kids and their families for years; listen for the emotional need and you’ll address the root of the behavioral problem. 

Recently, getting pregnant with baby #1 fast-tracked my hunger and need to uncover the world of emotional connection with our kids. I fell head over heels into the Conscious Parenting movement (spear headed by the phenomenal work of Dr. Shefali Tsabary) and began training to become a certified Parent Coach. I began to co-teach Conscious Parenting classes with my partner, Mary Menninger, and create workshop experiences for parents to bring their real-life family challenges to the table and learn how to create connection with their kids and experience relief within themselves and their homes.

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The playful & creative energy of kids has always been so intriguing to me. Their ability to move effortlessly from one emotional state to another with no regrets is inspiring. Now my Parent Coaching practice focuses on helping parents appreciate and value these emotional assets within their kids, by first exploring their own emotions and becoming comfortable with them.

I’m really looking forward to the chance to work and grow together with you & family. Cheers, Love! [glyph_icon type=”general” icon=”heart” style=”color:#CB4686″] [/glyph_icon]

Vanessa is a certified Parent Coach through the Jai Institute for Parenting, elementary school teacher, yoga instructor, and trained metaphysical prayer partner. She coaches parents who are seeking to take responsibility and creative control for living their best life by exploring their journey in parenting. Vanessa believes that we each create the thoughts that create our lives and that life is supposed to be fun!