Marielle Smith & LifePath Designs
Who am I? And how did I get here?


Sitting in her client’s office with a baby on her breast was the moment that she realized it – oh my god – I am a mother!  And a wife….and sister….and daughter…. and business owner… and…

The list went on and overwhelm came in like a slow morning fog.  Marielle had always been someone who took action. All her friends knew her as the one to commit to an idea until it was birthed.  But in this moment, she was reeling from the hormones of breastfeeding a new baby, the many projects on the go and the commitment to her clients.  How do we get to that point in life when we ask ourselves, “How did I get here?”



Imagine being eleven years old, sitting at the piano, feeling alone, waiting for someone to waltz through the door.  This was a common occurrence for Marielle growing up in her Chinese Canadian family of seven.  Not much was openly discussed – it wasn’t something that they did.  She never felt like she fit in with the neighbourhood kids.  Through high school and college, there wasn’t a clique that she clicked with - she got along with the math wizards, the geeks, the jocks, boys and girls - and that was fine with her.  In truth, she adored them all.  It felt odd at times, that she didn’t have a place to vent, but it was the ability to listen and get along with almost everyone that ended up being the gifts she valued most.

Over the years, she moved from job to job, following the flow.  From bank teller to jewelry salesperson to Executive Assistant, where she enjoyed pulling strings behind the scenes for not one, but three Partners at the firm.  She loved the social aspect of being an EA and knew she was good with the new, impressive IBM computers.  Actually, it was more fun than she admitted to anyone.  After years of playing ‘secretary’ she was head hunted by the owner of a computer company.  He wanted her to be their Software Specialist and Trainer.  Surprised but intrigued, she decided to meet him.   

The Interview – a new perspective of Self

Marielle:  “I don’t have a lot of experience training people or trouble-shooting software or computers.”

Owner:  “Well, from what I’ve heard about you and the conversation we’ve had today, I’m putting my money on you.  You have something I admire – the ability to talk to people, the desire to help people and the openness to learn or ask about what you don’t know.”

This was a critical moment in her life.  Someone acknowledged what she had thought – but it was never validated.  Now, the trick was to do something with that knowledge. 

She learned more than she could have imagined during her time with the company.  To her surprise, a certain contact relationship management (CRM) database program really turned her on.  After a while she recognized that she did more than help people with software.  She helped people with people. 

In 1996, the world cracked open.  She was let go from the computer company, was planning a wedding (subsequently got married!) and decided to take a leap towards a new kind of life.  Marielle started a CRM database consulting business with a friend/partner.  The freedom and excitement of being an entrepreneur ignited her soul.


Professional issue


Starting a business with her partner was a life choice that came deep from within.  Marielle knew her ‘gut’ was the decision maker and this choice was proof.  At the time, she was the only ACT! Certified Consultant in the Vancouver and Lower Mainland area and her client base grew quickly.  She gained a reputation for focused brainstorming with clients, helping build their own client relationships and teaching the nuts and bolts of contact relationship management software. 

This went on for three years and when she became pregnant, she thought nothing would change.  Her baby girl arrived in ’99 and the transition into motherhood was met with ups and downs.  She took her new born to client offices, thinking that it was the normal thing to do.  A couple years later, now without a partner in the picture, she realized there was more to balance than she imagined.  It was time to take a look at her life.  Her days consisted of juggling the care of her daughter at home with calling in a part-time nanny to work while she went to client sites, and maintaining focus on the complex database projects.  This is when the wheels on the bus begin to wobble.  Then came the news of number two.  Nine months till baby would arrive.   What would she do now?  Panic was not a choice.

Once again, a door opened.  She was invited to explore the adventure of life coaching.  Life what?  She had not heard of it and it sounded intriguing.  Indeed it was.  For a year, Marielle engaged in deep, intimate conversations with her life coach who helped her determine her true vocation and life purpose.  Then, serendipity brought her a client that solved her ‘work/life’ balance dilemma.  He wanted to buy her company! 


Upon reflection, business coaching was a natural talent and she was already doing this with her clients.  Paired with her experience leading women’s programs in a volunteer organization, training to be a Life Coach was her next move.  It would give her the freedom to take care of her family as well as satisfy her passion to serve and help others.  She jumped in with her heart, got training and by the time her son turned one, she was back in the saddle, galloping at full tilt.

Marielle loved her work helping clients reveal their passions and values resulting in find a conscious connection to life.  However, something was building inside.   Her temper flared when the house was messy. She felt frustrated by the disconnect in her marriage.  Overwhelmed was her word of choice most days.  The coaching practice wasn’t growing, her stomach had more than the usual number of butterflies when talking about ‘money and success’ with family and friends.   She loved her “Soul Coaching/Life Coaching” work, yet she couldn’t understand why it had stalled. Time, once again, to take a look inside.


Personal issue


Sometimes, being married, raising a family and growing a business is nothing compared to challenges that are undetected and unwanted.   The test of her life began when a big white elephant surfaced.   It was an addiction issue in her marriage that had remained hidden for several years.  Completely knocked off balance, she then hid her self.  Marielle felt uneasy and uncomfortable with the situation, and walked on eggshells much of the time.  All the while, she continued to keep working, finding solace in helping others.  Her Young Women’s Discovery Society project inspired her to keep things in perspective.

Not long after, another hammer dropped.  Her daughter was assessed with not one, but three learning 'disabilities'. She never liked that word and it struck a cord because she had been homeschooling her kids - maybe it was her fault?  At this point, the word balance had no bearing on the matter.  It came down to choices.  She could choose to be brutally honest with herself and all those around her by embracing the entire situation, or she could hide the elephants under the carpet a little longer.  Addictions and learning difficulties was not something she had previous experience with.  So it came as a surprise when she began to share the truth.  Mentors and support came at her with fierce love and compassion.  The hard part was to accept this was in her life.  The pressure she felt now was how to decide what was right versus what was easy - for everyone involved.