October 2017 Oasis Odyssey

by Leslie Ackles

Lean into Your Fear

“Lean into Your Fear.” – Luke M.


Years ago my husband and I went to Paris with our children. We took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower only to be greeted by lines looping endlessly for the elevators up each leg.  One line was shorter so of course we chose that line. We got up to the entrance only to find out that the reason that line was shorter was because it was not an elevator but metal stairs – the kind where you can see through to the ground all the way up!  I am so terrified of heights…so do I walk away? Do I walk up with my family? Do I lean into my fear or succumb to my fear?


This past summer my husband and I took a white water rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho. It was the trip of a lifetime.  I learned so much about myself through the decisions and choices we all needed to make each day.


Early on, the rafting leader was instructing the guests on how to paddle the small rubber kayaks called ‘duckies’. He explained that in the “duckie” when you are in the rapids you “Lean into Your Fear”. In other words, you head right for the rapids and hit them head on.  Otherwise you will get tipped over and you will be swimming  through the churning water.


I thought that this sounded like life. How often do we shy away from facing our fears? It is too scary to face some of those fears head on. We would rather pull back and we end up “swimming’ in our fears - churning, being tossed around, out of control.


What if we had the courage to face those fears head on?  What if we had the courage to lean into our fears?


What if we leaned in and felt the fear, let is wash over and around us? Became aware of what was in the fear? Came to an understanding and acceptance of  the fear?


Then, what if we made choices on the other side of the fear – in the lazy river of our life? After the rapids, after the terror?


What if we choose the next steps of our life, not based on fear, but based on our understanding of ourselves, what we value, and who we want to be?


“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.

You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'"

-Eleanor Roosevelt

September 2017 Oasis Odyssey

by Leslie Ackles

On the River, Thank you Comes in a Can!

“On the river, thank you comes in a can.” – Joey H.

How do you say thank you?


We recently went on a rafting trip with Sun Valley Adventures on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho.


The trip of a lifetime!


On our second day on the river we came across a private river rafter who was horribly stuck on a huge boulder and could not break loose. One of the other adventure rafting companies observed, and then chose to drift past. I was so proud of our guides. They stopped and rigged up ropes to pull the private rafter off the rock. It took almost an hour and huge amounts of ingenuity and muscle.


This private rafter announced, when our guides arrived, that this same thing had happened to him last year, so this year he brought a gun! If he couldn’t get off the rock he would shoot the raft!  My response?  Maybe blasting away a problem that keeps coming back isn’t the way to go?  Maybe:

  • asking for help….
  • considering another path….
  • learning from past mistakes might be the answer?


Several days later, the man from the stuck raft came up to our guides handing each a can of beer to say thank you. Our guide, Joey, accepted one even though he was a Mormon, saying “on the river, a thank you comes in a can.” He planned to use that beer in the future as a thank you  - he would pass on the thank you.


It got me to wondering. How do we say thank you? What are all the ways we can say thank you?

  • A hug
  • A meal
  • A thank you note
  • Flowers
  • Saying a heartfelt “thank you”


Is there someone in your life that you have neglected to thank? Someone who helped you get unstuck? Someone who helped you to get off that boulder in your life and on your way?


What does your thank you look like? Why not, say thank you now?


August 2017 Oasis Odyssey

by Leslie Ackles

Sweet Dreams?

How many of you have trouble getting to sleep at night?


How many of you wake up in the middle of the night with worries or thoughts flooding in and sleep becomes a distant memory?


OK – How many of you couldn’t sleep so got up with your partner to test drive your current car (the old Altima from last month!) to see if he can assess what is wrong? Oh, did I forget to mention that this was in the middle of the night (2am!), in your pajamas?


This has all happened to me. I notice it especially when my life is crazy busy and stressful. It seems as if I can’t sort things out during the day so when it gets quiet at night my brain decides to take that opportunity to gnaw through issues – over and over again – as if that will solve everything.


Do you find yourself doing this as well? Believing that you can solve something by going over and over it?


When I am ruminating instead of sleeping I believe that:


“Maybe if I could just figure out why this person did what they did I would understand and could respond?”


“Maybe if I could just figure out a solution where I don’t have to hurt anyone it will be okay?”


What to do?


I came up with this ‘brilliant’ idea: “What if I allowed quiet time during the day for these issues to percolate instead of waiting until bedtime?”


This idea was followed by some trial and error and culminated in my

Sleep Formula:

  • Write three pages in my journal (Morning Pages) each morning
  • Allow quiet time (even if only for 10 minutes) during the day
  • No computer/ no email after dinner
  • No “scream worthy” TV shows at night
  • Read a book before turning off the light
  • Calming breath


What do you do that works already or has worked in the past? What can you add to this list? What would you like to try?  How badly do you want to sleep and what are you willing to try in order to get that sleep?


“Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.”

William Black



Other Possible Sleep Suggestions:

I recently co-taught a workshop series with a woman who created a segment on sleep. Here are a few of her recommendations:

  • Set a sleep schedule and stick with it
  • Exercise but not within 4 hours of sleeping
  • Cut caffeine after 2pm
  • Write down your woes
  • Take time to wind down
  • Do not drink alcohol within 2 hours of going to bed
  • Listen to relaxing music or meditations before bed
  • Take a hot bath or shower before bed
  • Stop watching TV or engaging in screen technology at least an hour before bed
  • Breathe deeply
  • Consider kicking our furry bedmates
  • Drink tart cherry juice or eat tart dried cherries or pumpkin seeds before bed
  • Aromatherapy: spritz lavender on your pillow

July 2017 Oasis Odyssey

by Leslie Ackles

A 'Good' Good-Bye


I found myself crying as I followed my car on its last trip. The memories started to flood in. It hit me hard. I felt as if I was saying good-bye to a friend who had faithfully stood by me for the past 13 years during life’s joys and trials.


My Nissan Altima, with 175,000 miles on it, had finally let go.


So I needed a new car, a year earlier than anticipated. I knew what I wanted. My husband and I test drove several cars and I loved one of them.  I couldn’t sign on the dotted line though. I needed the evening to think about it. Something didn’t feel right to me.


What I didn’t realize at the time was what was…. I hadn’t honored and said good-bye to my Altima.  Sounds crazy as I write these words.  The realization hit me as I followed my Altima on that final journey.  Seeing my car ahead of me is when the tears started to flow and the memories flooded in.  I pictured all of the monumental events in my life witnessed by this car. I pictured all of the places my family had been safely transported by this Altima.  This car was a part of huge changes in my life. I felt as if I was losing the memories and saying good-bye to a whole phase of my life. Who knew a car could bring up so much emotion!?


Monumental Events During this Time:


  • Dropping our kids off at college as they grew into the adults they were meant to be
  • Wandering and struggling in the wilderness to find new meaning within the empty nest
  • Lovingly carrying us to the joyous weddings of our children
  • Safely transporting my daughter to and from her doctor’s appointments for her first child
  • Carrying a shaky me to witness the births of two of my grandchildren
  • Folding me into a cocoon on Route 495 for the final six years at UMass through rain, snow and sleet
  • Accepting the Installation of a car seat for when I babysat our grandchildren
  • Launching me through the dream of my new business


What I realized is that sometimes we are drawn to an exciting new phase in our lives and we don’t always honor and say a ‘good’ good-bye to the place we are leaving. Whether it is:

  • A new car
  • A new home
  • A new stage for a child
  • A new business venture
  • A declining parent
  • A new, healthier you


There is a loss…..a loss that is crying out to be felt and acknowledged….


Consider taking the time to say good-bye and honor the phase of your life that you are leaving. Clear the path to step fully and openly into your next adventure.


“Memory…is the diary that we all carry about with us.”

-Oscar Wilde