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INTERVIEW: Marisa Striano On Leaning Into Grief, Embracing Self-Love And Wellness, And More

Nicole Barylski

Marisa Striano with Joker. (Photo: Sharon Hallman Photography)

For the past decade, Marisa Striano has provided a safe space for abused, neglected, and unwanted horses at Spirit's Promise Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation in Riverhead. Now, she is turning her focus to helping humans love themselves again through Marisa's, a lifestyle brand dedicated to wellness, education and hospitality through grief retreats, virtual coaching and equus coaching certifications.

"The pandemic has forced people to really look at their personal and professional lives, including myself," Striano stated. "I want to do my part to do more for the world. While adhering to all of the mandated public health requirements, we plan to provide services that align with the demands of today's environment."

We caught up with Striano about her new venture, leaning into grief, embracing self-love and wellness, and more.

What led to you founding the wellness, education, and hospitality brand - Marisa's?

MS: For the last ten years, I've volunteered as Founder & Board President of Spirit's Promise Equine Rescue in Riverhead, NY. We have a great team in place and we have such beautiful plans for the next ten years at Spirit's Promise. With that said, looking back at my journey and with the support of my friends and family; starting my own woman-owned business centered around education and wellness has always been a dream of mine.

Over the years, my career has spanned from Special Education, construction company, garment industry-leading into my first business to own a clothing store named after my daughter called Jessie's Closet.

Marisa's is a culmination of all of my experiences together. Over the last few years, I went to school to increase the tools in my toolbox to help others. This led me to become certified in EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth And Learning Association). Besides this, I completed a certification program as an Equus Life Coach through the Koelle Institute for Equus Coaching.

In my continuing self-discovery during this time, I realized that I needed to specialize in grief counseling because everyone is in grief of some sort.

Why is it important to lean into grief?

MS: A friend once told me that "loss" is like an earthquake. This statement is very true. Grief shatters everything around you. Some pieces have crumbled into a million little pieces; others are heavy concrete columns.

This earthquake happens whether you have lost a person dear to you, a pet, or a separation from a person you once loved that is still walking this earth, living down the block. (I call them the "Walking Dead.") However hard it may be, we must continue to put the pieces back together of a life we once knew but no longer exists. With that loved one gone, your life will look and feel different. We have to rebuild with the understanding that the pieces will never go back into the same places or fit the same way.

No stranger to watching the grief process occur, with coming from a passionate, cultured Italian family, with roots linked to cities in Italy, Calabria, Sicily, and Naples, watching my family mourn was my first exposure to what grief does to a person. I can remember one particular aunt on my mother's side of the family who always wore a black dress for every occasion. She wanted everyone to know how sad she was. Society puts time limits on grief. "You should be over this by now," "or why are you still sad?" or "come on; it's Christmas, do it for the children!" are some of the comments my clients have heard from other people after a major loss in their lives. It is not a time to give to others; it is a time for self-care.

Grief is selfish, with no expiration date, and it feels as if you have a giant void inside of you. You need to fill that void with self-love, self-compassion, understanding, and self-awareness.

Some days, grief feels like a backpack or a purse. Other days it feels as if you were hauling a steamer trunk. Feel your grief and decide if you can carry it with you or lay beside it. You always have to acknowledge it. It is the only way to navigate through grief.

Marisa's will be holding retreats that focus on wellness, anxiety, depression, and grief throughout the year. What will those entail?

MS: We are here to help you navigate through your grief, healing, and steps towards creating your new life, what you need, and practicing self-love by leaning into grief.

Clients will have the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone in a safe space, recognize and learn something about themselves, and utilize this newfound tool to bring positivity and kindness to their current life.

We'll facilitate retreats focused on various themes and different locations through the region.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

MS: This is only the beginning of our journey at Marisa's on the road to embracing self-love and wellness to offer the local community, people who struggle with grief every day, experienced a traumatic event, or who lost themselves along the way. Marisa's is here to help our community, and help we will.

For more information, visit www.marisastriano.com.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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