Infertility issues strained Maritza Parra’s marriage and gave her such bad panic attacks that she was unable to continue running her brick and mortar business. One day after divorce court, she had an epiphany, and she started using creativity to remember the simple truths she needed to hear. Soon, she was teaching this life-changing technique to others, and the resulting momentum led her to become a life coach.
Now, at Heartwork Journaling University, she teaches her students how to coach themselves THROUGH anything or TO anything. She provides tools for serious personal growth and rediscovery through creativity and play.
Today, Maritza joins the podcast to share the story of how her traumatic loss naturally led to the next chapter of her life and career, the power of reframing, and why the answers are inside you right now, just waiting to be discovered.
- How listening to other people left Maritza divorced and devastated – and how she overcame this trauma.
- Why Maritza always thought she wasn’t ready to launch a membership site – and why she was wrong.
- Maritza’s advice for anyone thinking about launching a membership site – and how she tested the waters using Facebook Live.
- The power of keeping promises to yourself.
- How Maritza uses social media, but doesn’t let it use her.
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- “You’ve got to turn every single failure into fertilizer.” – Maritza Parra
- Heartwork Journaling
- Heartwork Journaling University
- Maritza Parra’s Website
- Maritza Parra’s Live Your Life in Full Color Facebook Page
TranscriptRead The Transcript
Shelli Varela: Maritza Parra, welcome to the It’s a TRIBE Thing podcast. How are you?
Maritza Parra: I’m great. I’m so happy to be here.
Shelli Varela: I’m so happy to have you. Your story warms my heart. And I know that it’s going to be super helpful for many, many people, specifically, many women when they hear it. So, would you be so kind to start with who you are, what you do, and who you serve?
Maritza Parra: Well, I am the creator of something called Heartwork Journaling, and that’s a super simple way of accessing your thoughts and your emotions, and seeing how you’re kind of creating your results in your life. And we use simple creativity to bring such gentle self-compassion to personal development work. And I founded Heartwork Journaling University, which has184 amazing students, who are like learning how to do hard work journaling, to learn how to coach themselves to anything or through anything. And it’s amazing women who want to get different results in their lives.
Shelli Varela: So powerful. I’m sure there’s a lot of undoing as well as doing.
Maritza Parra: Yes.
Shelli Varela: How did you get to be the person who’s running this? Because I know we talked a little bit about your backstory and the road to how you got here is actually quite interesting and probably going to sound a little bit familiar to many people who are listening.
Maritza Parra: Yes, totally. It’s one of those stories where failure is the seed to the success and the growth that you didn’t even know that you were paid for. So, I had kind of done all the right things in life, I had a business, I had a husband. I was checking all the boxes of…
Shelli Varela: The shoulds.
Maritza Parra: Yeah, I got married because my grandfather said, “Isn’t it about time you get married?” So, I chose the next very nice man, and we started trying to have babies. And I had infertility issues, and we had miscarriages. And it was just not happening, in vitro and everything. And then, I found myself getting divorced. And I was having panic attacks, I’d had to shut down my business because of trying to have a baby.
Shelli Varela: Just for context, can you share with everybody what the business was that you were doing? So, you had an actual like, brick-and-mortar-type business.
Maritza Parra: Yes. So, it was a brick and mortar, I owned a stable and I raised and bred and Andalusian horses and I trained in classical dressage, I trained horses. And I had a show that I would do for corporate and tour group events for event planners, and it was so fun, it was really fun. And I bred the horses and everything, but my doctor told me, you need to stop riding so much because that might be affecting your ability to get and stay pregnant. So, I did.
And I found myself devastated when, like no business, no husband, no baby. And I realized, I came back from divorce court and I had an epiphany, one of those moments of kind of hearing yourself for the first time. The first time I listened to myself, I was like, “What is that voice? Oh, it’s me.” And the voice said, “No one’s coming to save you. You’re going to have to do this.” So, I did, I kind of dove into all kinds of personal development work and things like meditation and simple creativity. I started using, like doodling to kind of embed and remember simple truths and kind of keep that in the forefront.
And so, after a year of this, I started a meetup group. And I had committed to doing this meetup for a year because I wanted to teach what I’d learned about myself and about using these tools to befriend yourself again. And the first meetup, one person came. So, it was me, my ex-husband who came for support and this person, and I remember thinking, well, nobody cares, but I said, you know what, I want to teach this. This has changed my life. I can help people.
So, I kept doing it once every Wednesday night for a year. And it was around the time of the movie The Secret, and people were coming and it grew. It grew little by little each week, more people, I had to find different places to hold it because it was getting so big. And it was fun. It was like a Petri dish where I did experimenting with, let’s do this creativity and let’s do this journal prompt in great discussions.
And because of the movie, The Secret, Oprah and her producers were looking for somebody who’s kind of, they had already interviewed the people in the movie, like the experts and they wanted to talk to somebody who kind of had the pulse of regular people. And they identified me because I had this giant meetup group and we’re talking about law of attraction and creativity and journaling. So, I was interviewed, I was called by Courtney Cole, one of her producers, and they ended up interviewing me, which was crazy, and showed, like, it was such an example and confirmation for me of following your heart.
And so, then I became a life coach because some of the people in the meetup group were like, can you coach me? Can you coach me? And I was like, No, I’m not a coach. No, I can’t. And I had to get a regular job at the time. And I remember at one point, I was like, well, maybe I can coach them. So, I put an offer out there to my meetup people, and some people paid for coaching with me. It was very inexpensive because I was so scared. And since it was, like, in person, this woman who had signed up was like driving up the driveway of my house, I got on my knees in my kitchen, and I was like, God, you got to help me help this woman because I don’t know what I’m doing. So, you’re going to have to help me, give me the words, like, please, for the love of all, you help me help her. And I did.
So, I was like, oh, maybe I am a coach. And I started like learning about coaching and I ended up getting certified years later, but that’s what I’ve been doing for like, over a decade, being a coach and doing some products and small group coaching. And it was really fantastic. I still have a few one-on-one coaching clients, but now I’m really happy because I have Heartwork Journaling University. And it allows me to impact a lot more people and make money in a leverage way, which is so fun.
Shelli Varela: It’s so amazing. So, there’s so much to unpack here, but I’m just curious, how did the idea of having a membership site first come to you?
Maritza Parra: So, I had thought of it many years ago and I had thought of, in the future, I’m going to sign up for TRIBE, someday. That’s like totally what I want to do, but I always kept thinking, well, I’m not ready, I’m not ready, I’m not ready. And then, last summer, in the middle of the whole pandemic, I was talking to a friend of mine, who’s also an entrepreneur and knows TRIBE and was like, you need to do that, like, your stuff would be perfect. And I was talking to her. I was like, yeah, in two years. She’s like, people need you now. Dammit. Like, what are you talking about waiting two years? And I was like, Oh, yeah, maybe you’re right.
So, I ended up signing up for TRIBE during, like they had the TRIBE live experience. So, I didn’t actually go through the course with anyone, I did it on my own. So, I signed up in September. So, we’re like four and a half months ago, I signed up, and I just got to work, watching the videos and doing all of it and like, really mad at Stu because he kept saying success path, success path. And I was like, I got to like really focus on and go back, go back. And I did exactly what he said. And I launched and I had to close down my cart early because people were so crazy rabid, and I’m like, I don’t have a team.
So, I was juggling everything. I was like, okay, yeah, it would have been over 200 people for sure because I was going to keep it open for two more days, but then I was like, all the customer service and I can’t handle this. And I was sending out boxes for the yearly subscribers. So, I closed it down early. I was like, this is all I can handle until I get a team. And yeah, I mean, it was crazy amazing. I’m so grateful to have done TRIBE and found it and gotten to work.
Shelli Varela: What a great story. So, I just want to circle back on a couple things because I know there are people listening right now at various stages of their call to success path. Some are hearing about membership sites for the first time and going, wow, you’re telling me that my gift, my skill, my experience could be a thing, the thing that lights me up could be my recurring revenue and my job.
Maritza Parra: I know. So crazy.
Shelli Varela: And I can leave home and just go do the thing that I love. What?
Maritza Parra: Yes.
Shelli Varela: And then there are other people who have smaller membership sites who are looking to grow them and so on, but the thing that I often hear is people who just like you, the very first time you try to meet up, before you’ve ever done a thing, you’ve not done the thing and I know that that sounds obvious and ridiculous, but until you dip your toe in the water or until you try it, what advice would you give to the people who are in a position just like you were to either try the first thing, whether it be a meetup or starting a membership for the first time, because you never know and you always have that trepidation and you don’t know what it’d be like, but then, amazing successes like you, and then the ripple effect of what you’re doing can’t ever happen until you say, yes, so what advice would you give to those people?
Maritza Parra: So, I actually have in between the meetup and Heartwork Journaling University, in 2017, I decided I was going to share more of this work. So, I started doing live streams on my Facebook page and I was scared out of my mind. I was scared of Facebook, I was scared of people being like trolling and all. I was really scared, but I did it anyway. And it’s not until you start sharing. And you say, “Yes,” like you’re saying, like, you start the meetup, you start sharing your content, you start sharing your gifts, that it’s going to evolve into what it needs to be because you can’t create in a frickin cave and expect to change the world.
So, for me, it’s always like the meetup, doing that Petri dish, like evolved, like, what I was going to be Heartwork Journaling light years, and then doing the showing up on Facebook consistently. I actually had my first eight live streams transcribed, it became a book, I took that to a best seller. Yeah, I’ve done like, but.
Shelli Varela: What?
Maritza Parra: And then the Heartwork Journaling University, I could have totally waited two years, but I think about the people who are benefiting now and I’m like, Oh, my gosh, their lives are changing. And if I would have been waiting, their lives would have been the same. And so, I think it is scary because you don’t know what’s going to happen. And you just have to, like, be okay, when you’re on a live stream and you’re screaming in the wind and nobody can hear you. And it’s your mom and your best friend, they’re the only ones who are showing up, you just gotta keep showing up. And then, when that one person shows up, you celebrate every tiny thing. So, I would say, start immediately.
Shelli Varela: Well, and sometimes the leverage is just keeping a promise to yourself. And when I heard you say you would promise yourself that you were going to do it every single week for a year, that is a hefty commitment.
Maritza Parra: Yeah.
Shelli Varela: And so, how did you feel the first day when only one person showed up? Were you…
Maritza Parra: Disappointed, for sure. Disappointed, but I kept thinking people need this. This is going to help people, people need this. And that’s kind of what kept me going. And honoring myself promises is like one of the things that I think makes me a hero to myself. Like remember, when I was saying like, I had that moment, like, honoring myself promises is so incredibly important. So, I do what I tell myself I’m going to do every single time. That’s part of being my own best friend.
And with Heartwork Journaling University, that’s also like a commitment. I’m like, I made a commitment, I’m going to show up every, well, three weeks out of the month because I have one month off, I mean, one week off every month, I plan that in, but I’m going to show up for these subscribers week in, week out for the rest of time, it’s a commitment.
Shelli Varela: I love the part where you were talking about you were thinking about coaching and you thought, Well, I’m not a coach. And you have these people showing up week after week after week, and it’s growing, and you have to get bigger venues. And you’re still working a job which is preventing you from being fully immersed in the thing that you clearly are meant to do. Can you say more about that for those who are in that same situation? One of my best friends, she’s a spiritualist, she’s a medium, she works in palliative care, she’s a teacher, and she is working a job that she doesn’t like because she is, I don’t know if she doesn’t feel worthy or she just doesn’t believe that it could happen for her, what would you say to her and all of the people out there like her that are working a job, which is taking them away from potentially making exponentially more money, recurring revenue with a membership site?
Maritza Parra: Two things, like keep it simple. Keep it as simple as possible. And then, the second thing would be to, you’ve got to turn every single failure into fertilizer. That’s like one of my guidelines of Heartwork Journaling, and we do a doodle with a piece of a little poop with flowers growing out of it. It’s a whole journaling exercise. What happens with most people is they get to the first failure and they’re like, Well, that didn’t work. So, I need to go find the other thing.
And like goals are containers to grow, they’re not something to beat the crap out of yourself with. And like, getting to a goal is going to require so much more failure than you ever thought. And every failure, it’s like, you got to evaluate, like, what worked? What didn’t? What am I going to do differently to get over the hurdle and keep going towards that thing that I want? Like a lot of people look at me and like, Oh, of course, everybody was going to sign up for this thing. I’m like, you have zero idea how many times I fell flat on my frickin face and then I just got up and I was like, somebody needs my help. Somebody needs my help.
And I think also, of course, money is so fun and it’s so great, but somebody needs your help. Somebody needs your help. And I think about doing a doodle about my tombstone, like, what do I want on my tombstone?
Shelli Varela: And what did you decide?
Maritza Parra: I want to positively affect millions of people with Heartwork Journaling. She created the Chicken Soup for the Soul of the century. That’s what’s on my tombstone.
Shelli Varela: Profound. Wow, I love it. You were talking about how when you were in that transition when you were going through the really rough spell, you decided to delve into personal development, and you decided to turn off the TV and turn off your cable and turn off all of the outside messaging. So, just based on the fact that you have such incredible expertise in this area and also a membership site for the people who are listening, what would you suggest for them, if they’re going through something similar? And they have a vision and they want it and they can see it, but there’s something inside them that doesn’t believe it, and maybe that’s from their precognitive commitment or their childhood, or just things that they’ve assigned meaning to throughout their life about what is possible and what isn’t possible, and what they’re worth and what they’re not worth. For somebody who had to completely reframe that for themselves and tune out the noise so that you could tune into what you were choosing to impregnate your brain with, what would you tell those people?
Maritza Parra: To practice believing, and then turn off the noise. So, practice believing is like I actually live in the future now. So, I’m already at the place where I have the Heartwork Journaling, Rocky Mountain Retreat. I live, I visualize, like, people at these retreats, I visualize what it’s going to be like going with my husband to buy that property. I live in the now and I live in the future. Always. So, practice believing. If you see somebody who’s doing what you want to do, like, if it’s possible for them, it’s possible for you. That’s like, I think such an amazing thought to practice and practice believing and growing your comfort zone. Most of us are looking backwards and into the past to see what’s possible for ourselves instead of looking into the future and living in the future. And then, this is so important. You’ve got to turn off the noise. We are actually living in the matrix. And there’s so much noise distracting you from what you came to do in the world. I actually live in my life as if I live in the 80s. I graduated high school in 1986. And so, I am not on the internet on my phone, on Facebook, on Instagram. That is like the biggest time suck. And most people get on those social media sites and it hijacks their emotions, they get in rage or they feel jealous, and it’s down the rabbit hole. I turned off the news and all of that when I was kind of going through my growth, but still, in our house, we look at it a little bit from time to time, but most of it we’re like living in the 80s in our house. We don’t have like ding ding ding, all the social media stuff going on.
I use social media, like Facebook ad is my ATM machine and I love it, it brings me all the people, it’s the greatest thing invention ever, but I don’t let it use me. So, many people are letting those sites hijack their emotions, hijack their thoughts, and waste so much time. And I think that is one of the biggest things that I wish people would get off of and get to work on making their dreams happen.
Shelli Varela: Yeah, your dreams are happening inside you, not on a social media platform.
Maritza Parra: Yes. I’d like to add for sure, when I’m like on my deathbed, I’m not going to be like, I should have spent more time on Facebook. Like, nah.
Shelli Varela: Well, I mean, there were a couple things here that I just want to circle back on and wrap up with. Success is built on a foundation of failure and the answers are inside you. And we appreciate your time. I am so excited to watch you grow and to affect the world in the way that I know you’re going to and we so appreciate you coming by and sharing your story.
Maritza Parra: Thank you so much. It was awesome to meet you. I feel like I already know you. This is so fun.
Shelli Varela: If people are looking for you online, where’s the best place to find you?
Maritza Parra: The best place is at maritzaparra.com, that’s M-A-R-I-T-Z-A-P-A-R-R-A.com or my Facebook page where I still live stream a little bit which is Live Your Life in Full Color.
Shelli Varela: Amazing.
Maritza Parra: Thank you.
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