Heather Paris is sort of like the Dear Abby of the Auburn area.
After dispensing advice in personal sessions and online posts for several years, the Port Byron life coach has written a book: "Live Inspired Now: A Field Guide for Happiness." It not only collects Paris' insights on everything from relationships to common courtesy, it tells how she came upon her career in self-help.
"It was after years of being a single mom and just doing it," said Paris, who has three biological children, three stepchildren and three children she's taken in from homelessness.
That instinct toward helping others emerged long before motherhood, though. Paris wasn't just the girl who brought home stray animals — she "literally kidnapped" another student when Paris found out she wasn't being fed at home, Paris said.
About six years ago, after working multiple jobs to raise her children, Paris felt she'd fashioned the kind of resolve and focus that she could pass on to others.
"I'd always say, 'What are my options? Climb in bed and cry about it? I have to work. I have to feed my kids,'" she said. "The book is very much about that: Take control of your life, take control of your happiness, and we can start choosing better options for our lives."
It's not just personal experience Paris speaks from. Since entering the self-help field she's become a certified neuro-linguistic programmer, strategic interventionist and marriage educator, trained with Anthony Robbins and formed a network of fellow coaches.
The book is actually an old-world complement to Paris' new-age outreach. Not only does Paris blog several times a week, but many of her clients find her through Facebook — such as Mike Rosin, of Montrose, Pa.
Still stinging from the infidelity of his ex-wife, Rosin had carried paranoia into a new relationship — and it cost him, he said. After talking to Paris, he found peace in the reality that he couldn't change anything but himself. She even helped him realize he'd resented his girlfriend because of her closeness with her parents — his had both died in a car accident.
"She's been very helpful. I can text or email her any time," Rosin said. "She tries to put a positive spin on everything."
Like Rosin, many of Paris' clients come to her with problems of communication. Anger is sometimes the first and only stop for people, which keeps them from arriving at their true feelings — let alone expressing them, she said.
To help people get in touch with their inner selves, Paris doesn't just preach. She may assign her clients homework or show them videos — whatever she can do to provide a practical component to her advice.
"Cheering and rah-rah is great, but if you don't know how to do it, what are you going to do?" Paris said.
Client Chris Serignese Lawrence, of Newington, Conn., has been seeking Paris' help for the past few months with professional focus.
"She always comes back with the thing I need to keep in mind," Serignese Lawrence said.
Like Rosin, she finds the most use in Paris' reminder that other people cannot be controlled. Nor should their opinions weigh on one's personal decisions, Serignese Lawrence said.
Not only is Paris' new client excited to buy "Live Inspired Now," Serignese Lawrence also wants to share it with her teenage daughter.
"I haven't known (Paris) that long and I love her," she said. "She's my life coach."