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Napa woman navigates motherhood 'MAZE' with new course

Napa woman navigates motherhood 'MAZE' with new course

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Gabrielle Cole says she knows firsthand that motherhood can be a challenge, and developed the Mindset Analyzing Zeroing-in Executing (M.A.Z.E.) course to help.

M.A.Z.E. is Cole’s four-step plan to help moms struggling under the weight of motherhood to rediscover who they are as individuals, not just as moms and wives, the 38-year-old 15-year Napa resident said.

“M.A.Z.E is a four-week virtual course designed specifically for busy moms who are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, inadequate, and guilty, take control of their time and evaluate their emotions,” the mother of 9-year-old twin girls wrote.

“Guiding them on a path to rediscover who they are and how to satisfy their needs. Regaining a sense of normalcy while learning to thrive in motherhood instead of being weighed down by it. I’m trying to help them thrive instead of just survive.”

Originally from Antioch, Cole has been married for a decade to a winemaker and has been working through the challenges of maintaining self-awareness in motherhood, but her issues go back further. To her childhood.

“As a child, I was diagnosed with ADD, dyslexia, anxiety, and a severe stutter, and I never received treatment for it,” Cole said. “For me, it felt like being trapped in a mental maze, hence the origin of the name.”

Overcoming the stutter involved “navigating and manipulating my voice,” but it’s taken 30 years, she said.

“I bought a tape recorder and studied how to change the cadence and speed of my voice, and figured out that if I spoke prepared words, and was aware of my speed and cadence, and other elements, that worked. I found that certain words and letters were problematic and learned that enunciating helped with that. Now I speak for a living.”

Cole credits the determination with which she was born, with helping her overcome her challenges.

“I was born with perseverance. 'No' was not in my vocabulary. It’s part of who I am,” she said.

And it turned out she needed it after her children came along.

“I was in pharmaceutical sales for years, but when I became a mother, my priorities shifted,” she said.

“These little people depend on me. I had a hard time leaving my babies to go to my job which wasn’t as important as my mom job. So for the past nine years, I’ve been wrestling with this. My anxiety returned. I started having panic attacks thinking about having to go to work.”

Taking time for herself seemed to help.

“I was surprised to find that just the process of spending time with myself made my anxiety go away,” Cole said. “I took that concept, and my experience as a child, and developed a course for moms to help them do the same.”

Cole said she spent much of the 2020 pandemic doing market research and found that many moms “don’t believe they deserve the time for themselves,” she said. “They feel guilty taking time for themselves because we’ve been conditioned to believe that that’s what moms do – they give up themselves for their children.”

This is where M.A.Z.E. comes in, she said.

“The course guides them through how to overcome that problem and still be a good mom,” she said. “Action is where you really make a change, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is where change happens. The mommy burnout cycle is not healthy, and that’s what the course addresses.”

While the full course has not yet launched, it will be tied to a show she’s producing through Clubhouse, an audio-based social media app. It’s a live podcast with an audience, and will serve as the starting point for the course, Cole said.

Classes are designed to fit into moms’ busy lifestyle, consisting of one live call each week with a group to discuss the material sent in advance.

“It’s a group session, because there is strength in numbers, but there is also self-reflection,” she said.

While Cole considers her own improved condition her first success story, she has also “helped others in the pharmaceutical sales industry. This issue is not a foreign one. A lot of moms struggle with this.”

One such client is friend, Emily Longhurst, 44, of San Diego, and the married mother of two.

“She’s brought me on to this program and it’s been helpful,” Longhurst said. “As a mom of young kids we get to talking about how we can't have it all, and we laugh and we feel we have to apologize for wanting more. The whole thing gives me warm fuzzies.”

Longhurst said that Cole’s collection of data from moms all over has helped her “create a program that empowers women. So moms will know they’re not alone, no matter what it is the individual wants to do, and still be a good mom, and still be good at the other things you want to do.”

That, Longhurst said, is the basic message – you can have it all, as long as you figure out what “all” means to you. She’s watched Cole “figure out what makes her happy,” in the decade the two have known each other, “and it was awesome to watch.”

“People feel fulfilled in different ways,” she said. “It’s individual and not based on being a woman, a wife or a mom—and everyone has a specific label – stay-at-home mom, working mom, career woman—she’s going to help you find the tools and the formula to find the space that gets you there. Who we are and what we want — get to that place. I think some of us will be surprised at what the outcome is. She’s a great person and I’m really proud of her. It's a big project.”

Longhurst said that what resonated most with her was the rejection of “judging each other when we have so much in common. We should be encouraging each other. I think she’s on to something that will really put that in action. I wanted to be understood, and I feel like Gaby is so relatable and just the fact that she’s trying to do what she’s doing, helps me feel understood. I want to be understood and I want it to be in writing. She’s trying to put it into action, and it’s going to be eye-opening.”

Cole said she hopes to officially launch her course in August, and that a waitlist is being assembled at mazemodel.com, and the Clubhouse show called “Maze Runnerz,” is available.

You can also follow Cole @mazemodel on Instagram.

Five years from now, Cole said she hopes to have this virtual course established and be “helping as many moms as I can to rediscover themselves and find a harmonious balance between giving to themselves and giving to others.”

This Napa kitten is lucky to be alive. She was discovered hiding inside the engine compartment of a car that had just driven about 30 miles from Vacaville to Napa. A woman passing by helped rescue the kitten and ended up taking her home. Her name is Lemon.

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