Before coaching with Melissa I was exhausted, with low energy and no motivation to do my work. Procrastination had ruled my life, I was doing things at the last minute when panic took over and then crashing because of the stressful days. Also, writing was overwhelming.  

What’s changed as a result of coaching with Melissa is that I can now understand why I procrastinate, and then work on fixing the root cause. I learned what drains my energy and what I can do to make the writing process easier. For example, I made progress in my writing projects, and I also scheduled and completed an exam that I had previously put off for 2 years, and I’ve been following through on cooking more often and eating better, which I used to procrastinate about.

The program is individualized, and I had Melissa’s full attention on helping me go deeper inside my feelings and my relationship with work. She provided support to get back on track when things go out of control.

The program is a self-discovery process with Melissa holding my hand and guiding me.

She listens to our concerns and provides individual guidance on moving towards the goal. And she is always there to help us get back on track.

Nizia, Graduate Student

Before coaching, I was experiencing high anxiety and a lot of resistance to writing. This not only affected my academic productivity, but also had a deeper impact on my sense of well-being overall. 

Now I find writing to be a much more positive experience. I find I am actually energized by the challenge of writing, and I no longer see writing as a barrier to pursuing my career aspirations. 

Melissa helped me overcome the barriers that were keeping me from accomplishing what I am capable of, and establish a consistent writing practice to write my dissertation. She also helped me shift my perspective on writing, and develop specific strategies to continue to support myself to progress towards my academic goals.

The program has been a consistent, supportive, safe space to explore my challenges with writing and find effective strategies to address these challenges. 

Melissa helps clients to find the underlying issues with writing, establish an action plan to effectively address these challenges, and develop an ongoing, positive relationship with writing.

Chantelle

I’m a molecular virologist and epidemiologist with multiple national and international projects.  Before I was coached by Melissa I was drowning in unfinished manuscripts making it hard to focus on the task at hand and remain focussed to wrap up and submit manuscripts.  It’s also difficult dealing with the rejected papers as it’s a constant fight against the imposter syndrome.

The way I saw myself has shifted.  I was reaffirmed that I am a good scientist, I write well and my research is worth publishing, and to accomplish my goals I need to be patient and forgiving with myself, but persistent.  I don’t need to take complete responsibility with the entirety of my publications but have learned to focus my research and writing on the message that I want to convey.  Melissa helped to maintain the focus and positive reinforcement of the good that I wanted to achieve.

The coaching program helped me to reflect honestly on who I am, face the past demons and make a plan to move forward. 

Being a researcher can be a lonely journey as you wrestle with scientific knowledge.  Being in the program reinforced that I am well supported and have all the help that I need to push forward meaningful science.

All too often it’s easy to slip back into old routines and bad habits.  Whilst it wasn’t always easy to make the time and focus on the priorities having regular meetings reinforced the importance to maintain focus and keep moving forward.  Having a coach has been essential for me to maintain my scientific endeavours.

David

Before coaching with Melissa, I was struggling to support my graduate students, often micro-managing their writing rather than focusing on the science. In my own writing, I was continually seeking perfection rather than working through the writing process.

Since coaching began, I have seen positive improvements in my writing, in my interactions with graduate students, and in the quality of research. I now feel that I have more energy to be present during meetings and have gained confidence in myself and my work.  

The powerful connection with Melissa has supported me tremendously in creating positive change in my professional and personal life. She has provided me with invaluable coaching that has helped me succeed in a new academic leadership role while continuing to support my graduate students to the benefit of everyone involved. The structured coaching program means that I can identify what’s going right, and where attention needs to be paid, on a regular basis.

I find that having dedicated me-time to discuss my writing and my personal and professional interactions is very powerful for me finding balance in my life. Melissa helped me to reflect on my goals and to find my definition of success. As I enter the second-half of life, this has helped me to become more true to myself thus putting me on the right path for great work/life balance.

Andre

I love my work, all dimensions of it, but I could never fit it into a constant, organized, everyday routine. I have always regarded this as a weakness, something that worked against my productivity, and, for several occasions, tried to push myself to be different, more constant, more respectful for the eating-sleeping-working hours, but it just wasn’t working. The pandemic “confinement” period made me feel lost because the exterior sources of structuring (working with others in an organized environment) were gone, and I was “left alone” with my “disorganization”.

 Melissa guided me through several moments of auto-analysis where we planned small changes in my daily life to try to bring the structure I wanted for my days. At the same time, I started to understand some phrases that Melissa used to say often, such as “It is OK, there is nothing wrong with your way” and, at the same time, most of the changes I was trying to implement were not working for me. It was near the end of our sessions that I understood that not having a well-defined/constant routine was “my way”, I worked better that way but, for that to work, it was crucial to recognize it and accept it.

With her supportive way, without judgement, Melissa brought that clarity to me. So, the most significant change was, definitely, being able to transform a weakness, a source of frustration and demotivation, into a strength. I feel motivated and more productive and actually enjoy the flexibility that this brings to me.

The process itself, through Melissa’s intervention, provides us with self-knowledge that is pivotal for us to better adapt ourselves to life. From a personal point of view, it was crucial for me to feel supported throughout these particularly difficult times.

Coaching with Melissa means: No judgements, no pressure, just support and clarity. Sometimes, simple things that are in us but we can’t reach them are brought to light and they change our way. In the end, I feel that Melissa creates a supportive process where we actively recognize our strengths and sources of motivation.

Joana

Before coaching with Melissa  I found it hard to balance my time between work and off-time. This meant that I often tended to over-work and then crash afterwards, which led to having to rest for a long time after, during which I did not get much done.

What’s changed for me is that I have learned to pay more attention to why this happens and received several techniques and exercises. Practicing these have increased my awareness of when I start overworking and I am currently working on mastering how to transition away from this behavior and get into a more sustainable work/rest cycle. I have also learned how to appreciate small steps forward as success and frame challenging tasks as opportunities to improve, which has been highly helpful.

For my learning it was very helpful that Melissa provided both theoretical foundations for the key concepts as well as direct practical advice and action items to work on. We revisited the same topics several times from different angles and this repetition helped me become more aware and pay more attention to what was happening in my day to day work.

Setting aside time to work on a personal or professional skill without a deadline is hard. This program gave me an opportunity to work on my skills on a regular schedule with professional coaching along the way, which has led me to develop these skills at a higher pace and effectiveness than what I have experienced when doing similar work on my own.

During the program, it really became clear to me that Melissa genuinely cared about my progress from more than just a business perspective. We worked on aspects that I wanted to improve at a pace that was tailored to my schedule rather than a one-size fits all program. With her experience, knowledge, care, and empathy, Melissa was an ideal accountability partner for me in this journey, and I am grateful to her for helping me improve in the area I cared about.

Joel

Before coaching with Melissa, I found it very difficult to get started in my writing. I was a very clever procrastinator, and found things to do to take away from my writing time. It filled me with anxiety and always provided moments of self doubt.

The negative cycle I had with starting to write is officially over! I find I am so much more excited and relaxed about writing, and I finally feel I have something meaningful to contribute. The opportunity to write gives me a sense of ease and I find myself in tune with what I need to do without having to experience the painful process I once did.

Melissa has brought order to my life in more ways than I could imagine. I found working with her has really helped me examine other aspects of my life, not only writing, and gave me a sense of control that I longed for. I now feel that I can get things accomplished in a timely manner and it is so uplifting.

The program has been a tremendous help – it improved my working and personal relationships, since it made me realize that I can define what it is that I need and what I need from other people to be an effective writer. This program has taught me to be an effective communicator not only in my writing, but in my relationships and it is sincerely life changing.

It is so important to coach with Melissa because it got me out of a “hole” I had placed myself in for so many years. I appreciated Melissa for helping me uncover my repetitious “negative self talk” and replaced it into one that is more positive and uplifting. I cannot express how much my sessions with Melissa have changed multiple areas of my life, especially writing.

Nicole

Before coaching with Melissa I felt I was at a crossroads in my career but I could not figure out what the path forward would look like for me. I was unsatisfied with the options I could come up with, and I was confused and afraid to begin tackling the question of my own career advancement.

Since coaching with Melissa, there’s been a complete shift in my understanding of my value which allowed me to negotiate a new role and a raise. It’s a new holistic feeling of value, distilled into hard dollars… so it’s less about the raise but more about what it signifies.

Through Melissa’s coaching and programs, I have gained so much clarity about what I actually want and need. That clarity has been crucial to guiding my career planning and decision-making. Melissa’s coaching has also helped me build self-confidence, not only in my abilities but also in my new identity. That confidence has supported my own growth, allowing me to seek and create new opportunities for myself.

The program has been so important to me. It guided me through a really disorienting time, and I came out the other end feeling renewed and excited about all the opportunities that lie ahead.

Melissa’s extensive experience with academic professionals means that she understands the nature of academic work and, especially, the culture of the academic workplace. She provides me with support tailored to my context, which is really important since the challenges in the academic environment are often so unique.

Kelly Shen, Senior Program Manager, Simon Fraser University

As a result of my relocation to another country, and the changes that came along with it,  I was not able to adjust to the new commitments at work and at home. I was feeling overwhelmed with my time and tasks I needed to do.

Melissa helped me realize that I needed to change my relationship with my time-managing skills. Through that process I was able to prioritize my time, negotiate and communicate my availability with others. I feel that the coaching experience impacts not only my relationship with my time, but also to myself and others.

I feel more confident and I have a better understanding of who I am and where I am at. Those were key parts of improving my time-managing skills.

Melissa created a safe place to grow. She helped me shift all my mistakes into learning experiences and see the change as a process.

The program has been very important as it has given me the opportunity to create meaningful space to think and plan and to avoid overbooking my agenda with commitments. 

As a mom-scientist, it is easy to lose ourselves in a full agenda and never-ending commitments. The coaching has helped me gain focus again, prioritize and better enjoy my time as a mom and as a scientist.

One of the key aspects of Melissa is that she relates very well to both sides, she has worked in the academic environment for many years and she is a mom herself.

Eugenia Flores-Figueroa, Scientific Associate II, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Before coaching with Melissa, I was always delaying/avoiding the moment of sitting down and working on the writing of my scientific manuscript. I always thought that it would be a complicated task for me and I was feeling overwhelmed every time I thought about doing it. 

Thanks to Melissa’s coaching I realized why I was feeling that way and how I could overcome those barriers. Today I have been able to successfully finish the writing of the manuscript, enjoying the process and improving my work-life balance. 

Melissa’s coaching taught me to analyze the reasons why I was not being successful in the writing process. Then she gave the tools/exercises that helped me to work on those opportunities for growth and improve my efficiency and skills. 

It is important to me because it improved my performance at work but also impacted positively on my personal life and happiness. 

I think Melissa is very professional and knowledgeable and gives me the confidence to open up and be frank to her and myself, which I think is very critical to get results.   

Laura

The powerful connection with Melissa has supported me tremendously to create the changes I would like to see and experience in my life. She has an art of skills-set to train you in the right direction towards your career goals. In the beginning or before the coaching with Melissa, my inner confidence levels with writing projects are very poor because of higher anxiety levels associated with it. She has provided invaluable coaching that helps me to self-realize, create awareness and understand the origin of my problem or weakness when it comes to writing. Further, I have learned an effective set of strategies and tools to identify the problems and how to acknowledge them, and how to overcome them by leveraging with my strengths. 

It was an incredible experience to work with Melissa. I’m feeling prouder that my inner-confidence levels are increased more than ever before.  Also, when I applied the learned strategies/tools in my ongoing writing projects such as fellowship applications and grants, I could see the improving my confidence, reducing the anxiety and fear, and experience positive results by applying them correctly. I really valued the structure of the program that provided the freedom and stimulation to express the fear/anxiety, share my thoughts freely without any hesitations, cherish the celebrations, and discuss what is still feeling incomplete on each session of the coaching. 

Melissa has an amazing encouraging gesture; provides an insightful discussion with live examples. She has helped me to surpass the non-supportive habits to overcome from the procrastination, distraction, and helps me to focus my energy levels to reach my short-term and long-term goals. This included writing and submitting a postdoctoral fellowship application and receiving the award!

-Ranga

Ranga

Before my coaching I was experiencing an inability to overcome a barrier to begin my proposal writing. In addition, times I was able to push forward, I had difficulty maintaining focus and remaining in a productive state. Writing had become a chore for me and I wanted to change this perspective.

Since my coaching with Melissa, I have been able to identify methods that are conducive to consistently achieving my writing goals on a daily basis. In addition, I have been able to identify appropriate writing environments that promote productive writing and I have established techniques that help me maintain my productivity over defined periods of time.

I am in the process of preparing project proposals for my future career and it was through Melissa’s coaching that I was able to progress in the writing process. Specifically, I have new-found confidence in my idea development and writing which has led to tangible documents I can use for project proposals. Additionally, I have taken the same tools and applied them to the successful preparation of a manuscript for publication! 

This program has been indispensable and invaluable for the development of successful writing habits. The program has assisted in my workplace success and subsequently my personal life because I can live less stressed about my work and focus on those aspects which hold significant importance to my happiness and well-being.

Melissa has an excellent ability to see what you can’t. On several occasions during my coaching, she revealed to me her observations regarding my challenges that altered my perspectives and changed my approaches to the challenges which ultimately led to successful results.

Nick

I had a lot of anxiety around my progress in my PhD program. I would use “productive procrastination” to avoid working directly on my thesis while still soothing my anxieties. Overtime, it got to the point where I simply became avoidant and would allow my negative self-talk to get in my way preventing me from completing my PhD and even living a contented life.

Although I am very much still in process, I have begun noticing how negative self-talk and high personal expectations no longer motivate me or serve me as they had in my previous degree programs. Before working with Melissa, I wouldn’t have even been able to identify these as some of the key issues that inhibited my work. I have also begun thinking about my PhD program more broadly, seeing it as an opportunity for personal growth and development not just another milestone degree.

Although initially uncomfortable, Melissa’s encouragement and focus on celebrating achievements has broken the negative cycle of constant striving that had led to many of my anxieties around my PhD. I now see that allowing myself to participate in this coaching is an act of self-compassion; it has shown me that I deserve positive reinforcement and support. I feel like Melissa’s coaching has opened me to seeking help, and I now see that learning how and when to seek help has been a crucial step in my journey.

The program has allowed me to create a space where I put my needs at the forefront. Melissa’s positive support has reinforced the notion that self-compassionate reflection on my journey and progress is more effective and sustainable than using negative consequences to increase productivity

Having someone to break the negative spell I was under has been invaluable. I have started to actively evaluate what works for me. Through Melissa’s encouragement, I have been able to give myself permission to begin listening to and trusting my inner voice for guidance.

Jennifer

I was experiencing “a whole lot of things I did not want to” before I started coaching with Melissa. At work/graduate school for example it seemed impossible for me to get much momentum built towards the writing of a sizeable writing task to which I was assigned (6000-word review paper in my field of research). I would find myself extremely anxious as soon as I would sit behind my computer to write. I would question every line of reasoning I would come up with, thinking it was not good enough – in fact thinking I was not good enough. Back then, more generally speaking, many facets of my life felt as loud reminders of the concept that: “You, Farshad are just not good enough. You may be good in general, but not good enough to really get it all together”. My major issue back then, now i I have come to appreciate, was a poorly self-evaluated self-image, hidden underneath the busy nature of the days of my life since the very first day I became an immigrant in Canada.  

It all started when I had to write a major review paper in my field in spring 2019. Having failed to get much done, I started my coaching experience with Melissa in April and in a span of 3 months, I went from being told (by my supervisor) to be a bad writer and feeling cowardly towards writing, to submitting the first “accepted-as-is” manuscript in the history of my supervisor’s laboratory. I just could not believe how that happened, but it did!

Now, I find writing actually quite enjoyable, since I see how it allows me to materialize a lot of thoughts and ideas that I had long held onto only in my head. More critically, my significantly improved confidence in writing has allowed me to more confidently communicate verbally, which has proven extremely transformative in my relationship with my supervisor – but also with family, friends and even with myself (i.e. my inner voice/conversations are more clear now!)

But more importantly than all the above, has been my improved self-evaluated self-image. These days, I feel at peace in my life, and as I have learned from Melissa, “I am exactly where I need to be. In fact, I have always been exactly where I needed to be!”


Melissa’s coaching style is focused on self-discovery, rather than technical writing lessons. Her guidance allowed me to find answers to my own problems, even when those problems are emotionally overwhelming. Melissa has coached me to implement a few major skills in my professional and personal life, including journaling my daily intentions first thing in the morning, journaling emotionally burdening and distracting thoughts so that they would not take away my focus, systematic calendaring of my many commitments (which had overwhelmed me for years), and many more tips and skills. Of note has been her T charting technique which has allowed me to quickly deal with writing/decision making blocks. 

To sum it all up, Melissa is that voice of reason and wisdom that we all would love to have in our head – helping us with making decisions in life. How badly we need such a voice has to do with the number and the complexity of our choices in life. Melissa helped me and also helped me guide myself though the writing of a scientific review paper whose production required literally thousands of such choices to be made. 

This may sound cheesy, but Melissa’s program resuscitated my long-gone happy self. It has brought back the love of science and scientific investigation in me, and has taught me how to process complex (and oftentimes anxious) feelings I feel on a daily basis around different aspects of my graduate education. In short, the program has brought me a level clarity and self-awareness that I had never known before and this clarity has allowed me to become and stay happier more frequently.  

The program means a lot to me! Just simply “a lot”. Melissa is that person you probably never see in person, but will always consider as the closest friendly voice in your head – helping you not only pick between the paths in your life (or writing tasks) but also feeling confident and good about your choices. 

Since I immigrated to Canada (I was 20 years old), I had been so hung-up and anxious on what good (or bad) comes off of any decision I make in my personal and professional lives, and in so doing missed out a whole lot on “really feeling my life”, a skill that was my strength before. The program helped me to start transforming myself to a more mindful person. I feel a lot of good change in me, but i have a feeling this is only the beginning of even a more wonderful intentional life. 

I have had many phone conversations with Melissa so far and almost invariably she showed up with complete focus on and knowledge of my concerns (as communicated to her in the form of progress reports, and so forth). Her assertive yet objective voice has allowed me to find respect and trust in her, which I believe is crucial to a coach-pupil relationship.  
If you have ever had something in your life that you needed to transform (and i mean truly transform not just surface-level change), go coach with Melissa.


Farshad

Before working with Melissa, I was experiencing chronic anxiety and self-doubt about my ability to finish my PhD. At the time, I was struggling to bounce back after a year and a half of parental/medical leave and, now expecting my second child, I felt a ‘real’ deadline to finish. I was especially struggling with perfectionism, motivation, and momentum because my pre-parenthood writing habits and strategies (long, uninterrupted blocks of time) were no longer available to me.

Melissa’s bi-weekly coaching helped me completely transform my writing habits, my attitude toward work/writing, and my self-confidence. She helped me develop and practise techniques to get into and stay in the ‘flow’ of writing (despite many life distractions!); protect and manage my writing time; enjoy the writing process; and acknowledge all of my lessons and achievements along the way. As a working parent, the most profound change has been achieving a comfortable, low-stress pace of productivity and feeling a sense of more quality time in my personal life.

Melissa designed a coaching program that was tailor-fit to who I was and what I needed. Underpinning everything was her genuine “whole person” approach, where she dedicated time to understanding me as a person and then customized concrete strategies and techniques (writing, time management, self-reflection) to support me. Her exceptionally structured approach, insistence on mutual accountability, and encouraging nature were a perfect trio that ultimately led me to complete my dissertation on time and in a low-stress/high-gratification way.

For me, working through Melissa’s program meant complete transformation – professionally and personally. Her support extends far beyond the domains of writing and work – she truly helped me grow as a person toward greater contentment in the rest of my life.

I am confident that anyone, at any stage of their writing/career, can benefit from Melissa’s support. Investing in her program will truly be a lifelong investment in yourself!  

Amy

I was experiencing overwhelming stress that I had not made enough progress toward my thesis publishing goals. I was struggling to create time for writing and was not meeting my writing expectations when I did set time aside.

I am much more confident in my ability to write well. I have learned to be patient with the writing process and really focus during the times I schedule to write. This has helped me write better quality articles faster and with less anxiety.

Through Melissa’s coaching I learned a number of useful strategies for leveraging my capabilities, strengths and weaknesses to move through the writing process.  I learned to make decisions with more conviction, view my project challenges from new angles and understand the value in what I have learned and created already. Melissa’s coaching has really helped bring success to my PhD research.

The coaching program created structure for reflecting on my efforts, knowledge, decisions and learn from them to continually improve myself and my productivity.

Melissa’s skills in uncovering and addressing barriers to my research priorities were an essential part of getting me back on the track to completing my PhD.

Aaron

Before coaching with Melissa, I felt like I could never write something I truly wanted to write and actually put it out in the world. Sharing my work with people other than my inner circle felt impossible and nerve-wracking.

I have a totally different perspective and attitude toward writing now since coaching with Melissa. I am more adventurous, truthful, and self-compassionate. Also, I’ve taken steps toward being braver and more truthful in my personal relationships, to mirror my approach to writing.


Melissa’s coaching helped me to see the connection between my fears around writing and the challenges in my personal relationships. I have achieved what felt impossible before: I wrote something and published it online and I have strengthened a personal relationship that had been strained for several years.

The program has been healing for me. It has helped me embrace my truth.

Melissa asks just the right questions at the right time and gently but firmly guides me to realizations and actions that may be challenging but always rewarding.

She approaches me as a whole person and understands that my relationship to writing is  deeply connected to my relationship with myself and with others in my life.

Helen

Melissa’s coaching has helped me recognize some of the barriers I had set up for myself that were preventing me from achieving professional (and personal) success.

Her coaching has been instrumental in providing me with the awarenessand strength to recognize goals/aspirations that I would like to achieve while being true to myself.

Working with Melissa, I am now much more aware of what I want in life and present during my decision-making. This has helped remind me that my decisions each and every day coalesce to help me reach these goals or importantly, when and how directions may need to change.

Melissa has an extraordinary ability to help others tap into an awareness that helps shape a happier, more fulfilling life – an awareness of how the small things can affect the much bigger picture of our lives.

Katherine

Before coaching with Melissa, I was stressed about writing projects and the fact that writing will be a huge part of my new role as Principal Investigator. I did not enjoy writing and I wanted to find ways to make this a more joyful process.

Since coaching with Melissa, I feel more confident about my writing and therefore started enjoying it more. I have more awareness about the writing process and what it entails, e.g. that background research is a huge and important part that counts towards the writing project which should be accounted for in planning out the timeline of writing projects and having planned time for that  will make the actual write up much easier.

Melissa provided me with several tools to address my issues with writing. Some of them are directly related to the writing process, others not so much, but ended up being key in making progress with my attitude to writing.

A key step for me is to grow confident in my own style of writing and in believing in my own way – this is still a work in progress but I can see how the coaching with Melissa is helping me to achieve this goal.  Another key step was to realize how I am actually operating and what parts of science I enjoy to harness my strength and incorporate it into the writing process.

I started the program with a very open attitude and just wanted to see what it is about. The coaching program became very important to me because I realized the progress I have made after the first few months.

I decided to continue the coaching with Melissa because I can also see that I can accomplish even more if I stay in process with it.

Melissa is a great coach because she is able to listen and read between the lines to make you realize what your actual roadblocks are. Melissa has this great ability to provide that second person viewpoint and guide you towards seeing the forest for the trees. I also really appreciate that I never feel judged by her and that she has a very kind personality.

Stephanie

Melissa has a way of stimulating my thinking and extracting my thoughts that has helped me to create the structures that become central for preparing directions for grant proposals, scientific papers, and strategic initiatives. She has a way of helping me to see the glimmer of an idea in my mind and expand it into a textured, meaningful and focussed direction.

John

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