Class Details

 1020152032_HDR Hey friends!  Have you ever started something, that at the time, felt like it was exactly the right thing, and it was exciting, motivating, and made you feel super charged?  And then something comes up in your life and all of a sudden that thing gets pushed to the side?  Okay, I am going to admit that my upcoming class became a temporary victim to this process.  I was super pumped and about to get ready… and my in-laws came to visit.  Now, this was not bad news.  I happen to love my in-laws.  They are supportive and loving and when they got here we had a great time.  We tried out some local restaurants, saw part of NC we hadn’t visited before, and had an excuse to ride the ferry!

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The only problem came about because I have two jobs.  I have my day job, where I work at a school doing counseling with elementary school kids and their families, and I have my coaching job, which I am more passionate about, but which doesn’t yet, pay all of my bills.  My office for my coaching is in my spare bedroom and the time I spend on my coaching is technically my “free” time.  If you are an entrepreneur you may know about this part of the process.  I am making more money coaching, but I haven’t gotten to the tipping point yet.

So part of this post is to announce to the world that in the next year and a half, at this time next year, (By January 2017) these two jobs will switch.  I may continue to provide mental health counseling to military families, who I also have a passion for, but in a more fitting and more part-time type of way.  I am looking into being a provider for Tri-Care and hopefully for Military One Source (a fantastic source if you are attached to the military in any way!).

The other half of this post is to announce that I have moved the dates of the class, but that it is still happening!  I wanted to be able to give you my 100% and now that things are back to semi-routine and my office is set back up I am ready to rock and roll with the Jumpstart Your Life Class.

It might not be as full of a class, since the holidays will be rolling around and some people feel that it gets to be too much. However, this means that you will get more of my attention.

Classes start November 30. We will meet 6 times, skipping the Monday right after Christmas.

The dates are:
November 30
December 7, 14, 21
January 4, and 11

The classes meet in a Google Hangout and are scheduled for Mondays at 6pm Eastern Standard Time.

If you can’t make that time of the day, send me a message about better times during the week and if I have enough interest I’ll put together a second class at another time.

Message me on facebook, give me a call or shoot me an email to confirm your spot.

marypreston.oasisforchange@outlook.com

Squirrels

I am currently 10 days in to a 30 day blog challenge.  I was sitting here trying to think about all of the ideas I have had for the last couple of days.  I generally jot them down in a little notebook that I carry with me, but that is all the way across the room, and here I am, comfortable on my couch, with my Gizmo snuggled next to me.  I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of something clever or deep to say.  But what I keep thinking about is squirrels. 

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In Hawaii, we didn’t have squirrels.  I guess some people don’t like them because they move into your attic and set up towns and hold circuses and probably bring food in and poop all over the place.  Then you have to live trap them and bring them to a park across town.  But, for me, I missed squirrels.  I think they are too cute.  They are super smart, have fluffy tails and have adorable little hands that they use to pull apart nuts and eat the insides.  What’s not to love?

Recently I went to Walmart and got one of these cone spiral corn feeder things.  We are waiting for the rain to go away so we can put it on the tree outside of Nathan’s office.  He is a little concerned that it is going to start Squirrel War 3, since he’s already witnessed a pretty badass fight between two of our little friends, but I have faith that with enough food they will be ok.

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Squirrel Feeder

We also got a squirrel house that is supposed to challenge them a little because they have to figure out that they have to lift up the lid.  I’m hoping I have very clever little squirrels so eventually I can come up with an obstacle course for them to complete in order to reach the squirrel food.  Enjoy this video that a friend shared with me recently of a squirrel in an obstacle course:

Allowing Yourself to Let Go

This weekend I visited my sister in Charleston, SC.  It was an amazing, super fun, last minute trip and I’ll write about that another day.  My dogs also had a fabulous time.  They love a good road trip and they got so excited to see their Anna, Nick and Jackson.  On the way home in the car, they were still pretty excited.  I think they wanted to stay awake to be a part of all of the action.  My small dog, Gizmo, was really tired, but kept moving around on my lap, and standing up so he wouldn’t go to sleep.  He kept shifting and moving and going back and forth between my lap and the back seat.  Then, finally, there was a moment when he got on my lap and his whole body relaxed.  He gave in.  He let go, and fell asleep.  And then he snoozed for a few hours.  You could see his whole body go from tensed to relaxed in a matter of moments and as he fell deeper asleep his legs and head just splayed out and drooped.  0630151300

I told my husband how touching it is to be with someone when they finally let go.  It is a beautiful thing to be a part of that process.  For my dog to feel safe enough in a moving vehicle, to trust that I would keep him safe and he could let us take over.  And he could just relax.  And as I was thinking about this, I realized that this is something I love about life coaching and therapy as well.

When someone makes a decision to come into your office for the first time, or make that first phone call, generally they have let the stress and frustration and anxiety and anger build up for a long time.  American humans have a tendency to hold on to what is bothering them for a really long time.  We don’t ask for help.  We don’t want anyone to see how weak we are.  We want everyone to think that our lives our perfect, that everything is great, that we have got it all together.  Sowhen someone has gotten to the point to finally tell me their story, to admit that things have gotten tough, that they could use a little guidance, or a little motivation, or just a little nudge in the right direction, I always get this amazing experience.  Someone starts out talking fast, or in spurts, there are high emotions, there is a story about how they got to where they are now.  And at some point in the conversation, there is always a release.  There is a moment when they pause, take a breath, and let go.  That moment in an interaction with others is something I absolutely love.  It’s a necessary process, a turning point, when someone can let go of the story they’ve been telling, and start to build a new one.

I have the pleasure of being a catalyst for that process, I am there in the moment, I offer someone the space to relax, but it is not about me.  If you are feeling that kind of stress that knots up your whole body, that you feel like you can’t relax, you can’t sleep, you can’t breathe really deeply, then find someone to talk to who will just listen.  It can be a friend, your partner, your parent, a sibling.  Or maybe it’s a therapist, a life coach, a masseuse, your crossfit coach, a psychic, a doctor.  It’s such a healing experience.  Find someone who you feel comfortable telling that you are having a hard time.  When you can release that story, when you can finally pause, and take that deep breath, it allows room for you to start something new.

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Adulting

1029151915a_HDRToday was a new day.  If you read yesterday’s blog you know that I had a temporary meltdown.  I think that’s par for the course, that everyone has days like that.  I was tired, hungry, and spent the day trying to look busy.  So the follow-up of a dead battery and a car that wouldn’t start pushed me over the edge.  I’m pretty sure everyone has days like this every once in a while.

Today was a much different kind of day and it’s the reason I can tell that all of the hard work I’ve been doing over the years is working.  Rewind back just 7 years and this type of incident might have set off days or weeks of feeling down.  For me that usually looks just fine, maybe slightly frazzled or a little tired at work.  I would hold it in and put on a happy face for my professional colleagues and then I would drive straight home to crash.  I would watch tv, read a book, or just sleep.  I would definitely eat like crap and isolate myself.

Today it’s a different story.  This morning I knew that I was going to wake up feeling junky.  That’s expected after a day like yesterday.  Especially since I replayed the incident over and over in my head over night instead of getting a good night’s rest.  But, I’ve been here before, and I know what to expect.  So this morning my alarm went off and I angrily jumped out of bed to silence it.  I got straight into the shower, then turned on all of the lights, turned on some music and made coffee.  I took the time to sit in my sunroom to meditate this morning.  I listened to the crickets chirp, the jets flying over head and the birds.  I took the time to center myself for the day.

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When I got to work I wrote down my Core Desired Feelings.  If you’ve never heard of Danielle Laporte and her Core Desired Feelings, you’re missing out.  The very, very basic of it is to identify not what you want to do, but how you want to feel.  I put “supported, connected, joy, freedom.”  I took the time to seek out friendly faces, to smile and chat for a moment.  And as the morning went on I started to feel very good.  This afternoon I texted my friend to go for a walk around the track.  We did 2 miles, talked, and then did some random plyometric moves and had a good laugh about it.

When I got home I decided to take this thing all the way, so I made dinner on an actual plate (courtesy of my in-laws) and set the table for myself.  I ate looking out the window at my front yard and listened to the crickets chirp again.

This wasn’t easy.  It took a lot of work to continue to take actions to make myself feel better and dig myself out of the hole.  But it was worth it.  Tomorrow I know I’m going to wake up in a better mood and hopefully I can enjoy my weekend instead of curling up in my jammies.

Now that I’ve adulted all day I’m going to search for last night’s Criminal Minds episode, and hit the sack early.

A Difficult Day

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There are some days when you just want to fold into yourself.  When little challenges feel like enormous boulders blocking your path.  And even though the intelligent part of yourself knows that there is an easy answer, that it isn’t actually too hard, it feels like it would take the strength of ten giants to complete your task and you have nothing.  You have gritty eyes and a drooping head and the sound of whimpering and wailing is just a breath away.  Your arms won’t lift and your whole skeleton rounds so your shoulders turn in and your head falls to your chest.  All you can do is kneel and wait.

Today was one of those days.  Brought on by what?  Who knows.  Poor sleep, a loud alarm, hunger, a long day.  I seemed to pull myself through the mud in the air and bring myself to the moment I was looking forward to.  Lunch and maybe a nap.  I sat down in my car in the rain, turned the key and my car wouldn’t start.  I had one of those moments when I was just so tired and hungry and cranky already that I couldn’t think of what to do.  I sat there in the driver’s seat, listening to the rain for a full 10 minutes.  I tried the key again and again, but it wouldn’t turn over.  And I felt utterly defeated.

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Pouring Rain

Have I had car problems before?  Sure.  In fact, not too long ago I wrote this post about driving down the road with my husband and having the car stall completely going 55 miles per hour.  That was as big of a deal, there was no one around to help us then.  And here I was in the packed parking lot of the school, feeling like I was the only one on the planet.  Devastated.  Parents and children walked by in their raincoats, piled into their cars, and I just sat there behind the wheel.  Telling myself that no one wanted to help me.

Finally, I pulled myself together and called my husband.  He couldn’t do much to help, but he lifted me up and recommended that I call the car shop.  And, as if I needed someone to tell me what to do, I called them.  And they were awesome.  They said they’d send somebody over.  So I got out of the car and lifted the hood of the car.  And a split second later a super nice parent said, “Do you need a jump?”  And I said, “Yeah!”  He pulled his car around, I called to cancel the tow truck and in about 5 minutes flat my devastating scenario came to an end.  My car was running, I had met a nice person, and I was sitting back in my car behind the wheel, free to go wherever I wanted.  I took the car to get the battery checked and ultimately replaced and then headed home.

Sitting here, writing this down, it amazes me how sensitive and fragile we can feel at times.  And the only difference between this dead battery and the last time it happened is the story I was telling myself about my situation.  Here, today, it was the end of the world.  I was all alone, no one wanted to help me.  We have only one car, so there was nothing my husband could do.  It was raining and cold and I was done as opposed to the last time when I had a great time, enjoyed the situation and took everything in stride.

Is there a lesson in this?  Probably.  I could have taken several deep breaths, changed my story, and pulled myself together to ask for help.  I have to admit that a small part of me was swept away by my story, the intoxication of being in distress, of being helpless and wanting to just lay down on the pavement and bang my fists in the puddles.  I’ve had practice now, I can look at myself in those situations and see that it is a fleeting moment, a temporary situation, but there was a time that this could have engulfed me completely, possibly for days.  Here, sitting on my couch, typing these words, I am still exhausted, my eyes tired from the tears, but I had the sense to ask my husband to take care of me when I got home.  I told him I was not making dinner and that he was in charge and I didn’t care if it was take out.  I sat on the couch with my dogs and snuggled them and we watched an episode of Star Trek, Deep Space Nine.  Now, I’m writing this for you, and I’m releasing the tension in my shoulders, neck, and back.  I’m letting go of the story that I had a horrible day.  I’m taking the time to breathe deep and smile and stretch and appreciate the breathtaking amount of good fortune that I do have.

So, thank you for listening.  And thank you for this blogging challenge that made me write when all I wanted to do was go to bed.

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A Bonfire

Today, when I got home from work, I had the pleasure of using my favorite feature of my new home.  Today was a long day.  I work in the school system again, and while I love it, and the school I’m in is fantastic with warm, inviting teachers, great administration and kids with great attitudes, I always feel like I am judged for any free time I take.  Those who work in the school system know how valuable free time is.  With less and less money going to the education system these days, teachers are asked to step up more and more with their expectations during the day.  Right now most teachers and school staff I know rarely get a minute alone.  They are teaching the kids, at recess with the kids, at lunch with the kids, handing most of the kids off to their parents, but then staying late for activities.  After that they plan for the next day.  Even though my graduate schooling and my license qualify me for much more complicated activities, one of the best things I can do for a teacher is to be in the lunchroom when they need to use the restroom.  Because this is precious time that they have to negotiate for.  As part of my job I can’t be alone with the kids or be responsible, but I can help another teacher watch 40 kids.  And give a hard working teacher 5 minutes of respite from her class.

So when I have 10 or more minutes of time in between my groups and I have a chance to sit down at my desk, there is this pervasive feeling of guilt that seeps in.  I can’t help it.  I know that I have every right to sit down and take a break.  Every human has that right.  The fact that teachers don’t get it is appalling.  So I get swept up into the momentum of everybody doing something all the time.  Nonstop, all day long.

This came up for me today because I was sitting at my desk, eating my lunch, and doing my encounter forms on my phone.  So I wasn’t even actually taking a break, I was still working.  And someone came into the room and I heard myself telling her that I wasn’t sitting here texting, haha, I was actually doing work.  What the hell?  I don’t have to explain myself to her.  I don’t have to make excuses to put my feet up.  In fact, every fiber of my being believes that mindfulness and meditation are important.  I’ve been completely abandoning that at work.

So, today, when I got home from work I did not go inside and get on the computer and continue the go, go, go mindset from school.  Instead I did something that always brings me back to the present.  I lit a fire.  Lol.  My husband and I collect all of the cardboard boxes when we get something shipped from amazon and we pile up all of the magazines that arrive at our house.  Today I took a huge box full of papers to the firepit in the backyard of my house, piled on some sticks and branches that have fallen around the yard recently and lit a big bonfire.  I stood there and watched the flames. When it started to die down I got a stick and poked at the magazines that always have just a little more fight in them, opening up the pages to start new little fires.  I poked it and prodded it and threw on some leaves and altogether left the school day behind me.  And it felt really, really good.  The primal heat and edge of danger that a huge fire brings keeps your concentration on the present moment and is a meditation like no other.

I am making a commitment today to figuring out how to be an example for the kids and the staff.  I am not sure how, but I need to stand true to my values.  I don’t need to be a busy bee, bouncing from activity to activity making busy work so that I’m not sitting still.  I believe in stillness and I am going to somehow pass that along.  It’s going to be a challenge, but screw it, I’m done with pretending.  So tomorrow I’m going to sit at my desk and do absolutely nothing.  And see what happens.

A Great Sullivan Bonfire
A Great Sullivan Bonfire

 

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www.oasisforchange.com

 

Today is the Only Day

What if today was the last day?  What if today was the only day?

Recently I was asked the question:

“What do you want your legacy to be?”

Wow.  What a question, right?  But, it’s an important question.  When you ask yourself this question, it makes you dig deep about what you want to leave behind.  What would you want family and friends to remember about you?  What would you want your children to know if you could only pass on a short message in a letter or a video?  It makes you clear away the clutter and get to the heart of what your message in this world is.

I had a few ideas.  I’m sure this is a list that will grow, expand, and change as I continue to live my life.  Today, here is what I want you to know:

I want  you to know how incredibly essential and significant you are.  Yes, you.  Right there, reading this.  You.  This world needs you.  Your actions and words and thoughts and energy are an integral part of this universe.  And knowing that, I want you to believe in yourself and the potential that is in you.  That thing you want?  That you tell yourself is too big or expensive or grand or improbable.  You can have that.  The barriers are an illusion.  They are not real.  There are obstacles, but they are conquerable.  Every single one of them.  

That’s what I want you to know.

What I want you to do is test this.  Stop believing what you read or see on tv.  Try with something small that you’ve been putting off.  Figure out what the obstacles are and figure out how to get through and over and under and around.  Have fun, be creative, ask for help, get messy and laugh.  And then all of a sudden you’ll see you have or have done the thing.  Congratulations!  Now do something bigger.

 

That’s what I want you to know.  Believe in yourself.  Do cool shit.  In the great words of L’Oreal “You’re worth it.”So now it’s your turn.  What’s the legacy you want to leave?

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Oasis at Night

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30 Day Blog Challenge

 

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Hello my dear friends! As a member of the Easily Distracted crowd, I have probably mentioned before that I have a tendency to get an idea, start an activity, and then forget about it before I finish.  That is why, even though I love crafting, I have to pick projects that can be finished in a few hours, otherwise it might end up incomplete in the Land of Unfinished Toys.  When I moved from Hawaii to North Carolina I was forced to finish or give away many eyeless and earless elephants, unstuffed monster pillows, and cut, but not sewn bags.  The vault of half-finished ventures includes a list of about 20 blog post drafts, carefully thought out, started and abandoned.

Other than limiting myself to projects that can be complete in one day, it helps if I can find a group of folks that can motivate me.  So, in the name of those abandoned posts, my friends and I have begun a 30 day blog challenge.  I am hoping that this will light a fire under me to get in the habit of completing posts and publishing them rather than banishing them.

This post counts as Day Number 1.

My goal for this challenge is to create habits.  Hopefully along the way you will be entertained and informed.  My hope as always is for you to feel empowered, brave, and free.

I’m not sure what’s in store for tomorrow!

P.S.  If you’d like to join our facebook group and get motivated to blog with us, comment here or message me on my facebook page.

What and who do I stand for?

I stand for:

The helpers and healers in the world.

I stand for teachers who are raising our next generation.

I stand for mental health workers – our psychotherapists, our social workers, our probation and parole officers.

I stand for our police officers who have the almost impossible job of protecting us despite our fear and sometimes outright hatred for them.

I stand for our military service members who are on the ground fighting to keep us safe from harm and to defend our freedom. (Despite not always believing in or understanding the war they are fighting).

I stand for our non-profit workers, creating massive change in their organizations.

I stand for our nurses, our medical doctors, our dietitians, our physical therapists, all of those in the medical fields.

I stand for you, who are undervalued, underpaid, who work to help others often working harder than your clients or those you are trying to help to the point of mental and physical exhaustion. I stand for you.

I believe that we need to take care of ourselves. We need to stop believing that everyone else is more important than we are.

I believe that we need a strong team of individuals who are going to stand up and say that the systems we are working in are broken. But we are not just going to complain. We are going to make significant changes that will begin to heal our society as a whole.

I believe that we CAN do this. That we do not need to keep running the rat race. That we don’t need to continue to work in jobs that keep people sick. We do not need to be a part of the systems that generate and proliferate fear.

I believe that we can change the school systems, the health care systems, the prison systems.

And I believe that when we stop living as if there is not enough, when we recognize the abundance this universe has to offer we will see that we already have the tools and resources to do it, we already have the people, we already know how. We just need to work together and stop accepting the status quo.

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Stalling Out and Waking Up

Not too long ago, my husband and I were driving down the road.  Just a routine trip to the grocery store and halfway there the car just stops.  Pfft.  Done.  We were going 55 miles per hour and then we weren’t.  We were pulled onto the side of the road at the driveway to a Walmart.  We made a few phone calls to local tow companies, found one and then sat back to wait.  And it was kind of FUN.  All of a sudden I noticed things about this road I had been up and down many times before.  I had a chance to look at all of the trash cluttering the roadside.  I saw the trees in the Croatan National Forest.  I noticed that this Walmart wasn’t a full Walmart, just what’s called a “Neighborhood Market” whatever that means.  We sat there long enough to really take it all in and think, how did we get here?

broken-down-car Our stalled car is a great metaphor for life.  So often we get caught up in the routine and the mundane.  The wake up, go to work, come home, dinner and bed routine.  And over and over again.  About 10 years ago I remember having a feeling not too different from sitting in our stalled car on the side of the road.  One day I woke up and thought, how the hell did I get here?  From the outside everything probably looked great.  I lived in Hawaii, I was with my fiance, I had a great job doing what I had gone to school for.  I had just bought a new apartment in beautiful Kailua, we had our new puppy, Titus.  I was meeting new people.  But inside I was falling apart.  The routine had brought me to a place of being extremely overweight, I was drinking several beer every evening while I watched TV and made a crappy dinner.  Nathan and I weren’t leaving the house much.  And my job in a non-profit company was slowly sucking away my soul.  Too much work for too little appreciation, monetarily or otherwise.

I looked around me and it was like I had finally taken a minute to really look around.  I started to notice things that I hadn’t before.  Things that had become so routine that I had missed them.  Little things, like the fact that the crumb catcher under the toaster needed to be cleaned, or that I didn’t have to keep putting my coffee maker in that same corner.  I started to hone in on the present moment and notice a lot of things that I had essentially been ignoring.  I had to admit to myself that I was unhappy.

I look back at the person I was then, and I give her a lot of love and a lot of credit.  There was so much unseen stress that she was dealing with.  I wish I could reach back and give her a huge hug.  A lot has changed since then.  If I hadn’t taken the time to start looking at my life, at the reality of the world, I might not be where I am today.  I might still be at that non-profit job, because they always said they needed me.  I might never have started to get supervision for my license.  I might have let myself stay very, very small.

When was the last time you took a look around?  Took the time to see the things you love and notice the things that you would change if you had the energy for it?  I encourage you to take the time right now.  Take a deep breath or two.  Look away from your screen.  Look around you.  Do you like what you see?  If not, don’t wait, now is the time for change.  Pick one thing that you can do right now, get off the computer or phone and do it.

If you’d like a little help, there’s a group of motivated individuals in the same spot you are right now.  Let’s make some changes together.

Jumpstart Your Life