About Mary Ann Johnstone

Mary Ann Johnstone is a Master Certified Life Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and working world wide.

The Power Of Play & How To Do It!

A few years ago, I was lying crumpled up on the couch after having a gigantic tumor removed from my brain, my beloved horse had recently died, and I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.

Only one thing was clear: I was seriously in need of being a lot less serious and had no clue how to go about it.

I used to think that the idea of “play” was ridiculous for an adult. And I noticed other earnest, hardworking, middle-aged women spending their weekends with a laundry list of joyless chores while their partners jogged out the door with surfboards and tennis rackets.

Sound familiar?

Learning to play was the key to rebuilding my happy life and I’d like to share some tips for those who are also feeling play-challenged and need some help out of drudgery, boredom or the blues.

#1 Permission To […]

How to Love Being Wrong

Lots of folks brag about their amazing intuition. Me too. But I also love being wrong. Like the time I thought a blind date would last 15 minutes and Eric turned out to be the love of my life. We have been happily married for 7 years.

Or when I thought I would just lease a horse till I found the one I wanted, and Bucky turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. Or the other day what happened when I scared myself to death on the beach….

Most people love to be right. I am no different except I also love being wrong.

Last week I was running on the beach as it was starting to get dark. As I came upon the last secluded stretch, I noticed two “shady” looking guys hovering around something on the ground.

My heart was already pounding from the run, […]

How To Procrastinate Without Feeling Guilty.


“It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.” — Gertrude Stein


I always know I am on the edge of something big when I want to overhaul my entire website.

I slip down rabbit hole, spending days in a hazy Web search of new themes, artistic fonts, bold colors and innovative plugins.

I used to hate this period. The period of not doing the thing I need to do. It usually involves a big, creative endeavor that is calling to me. Something I’ve never done.

Years ago, when I was first working in the film business, I had the great fortune of being an assistant for the most brilliant editor, Jan.

We often worked 80-hour weeks in a dark, little editing room in Hollywood.

In the beginning of a project we’d screen the film, cut out the shots we liked […]

The Secret Reason We Stay Stuck and How to Fix it.

One typically frantic yet tedious day, I found myself running around, exhausted and unhappy when suddenly it occurred to me that I was waiting for someone to get me out of this mess.

I was hoping that some kind of permission slip would magically arrive with fancy, embossed lettering that read, “I give you permission to stop doing what you hate right now, and go for what you want.”

Do you ever feel like you’re gritting your teeth and subconsciously waiting for the “okay” so you can finally do what you want with your precious life?

To walk out of the door and slam it behind you?

To say, “No, thanks! Not me!”

To hand in your resignation?

To leave it all behind?

To say, “Yes please, more delicious freedom, quiet, time, peace, passion, love, excitement or fun!”

To create that business, go back to school, change careers, or leave that mean-spirited partner?

What is holding you back?

Are […]

You Don’t Have To Read This Blog.

Thank you for reading this blog post, I appreciate it. Especially because you didn’t have to.

I was chopping scallions last night, muttering to myself and thinking “I can’t believe I have to cook dinner again!”

Ridiculous, I know.

It’s great to notice how automatic this kind of thinking is, “I have to…” comes out of our mouths all day long.

Is it true?

Well, for me I realized I didn’t have to make dinner. I could set down the knife, open a box of frozen pizza, and sit on the couch with a book. But I wanted a healthy dinner so I did what any self respecting life coach would do. I coached myself.

REALLY? “I have to cook dinner again?” I asked. “Nope” I replied to myself, “I choose to make dinner because I want this healthy delicious pasta with farmer market vegetables I picked up this morning, and lots of fresh basil I […]

When the Sh*t Hits the Fan.

So we’re going along peacefully, minding our own business and whammo.

We get the test result, or the pink slip at work, or see the weird text on our beloved’s phone.

When the unthinkable actually happens to us, it may be helpful to know it has a name. Martha Beck calls it “Square 1”, and it comes with a few simple steps to help us survive our perfectly awful storm.

Step 1


2.Lay down.


We often resist the idea of crying or resting and attempt to push through the pain regardless of how awful we feel. Resisting the sadness or anger can lead to a slowly simmering, overall depression, and often causes all of our feelings to be dampened, even the more pleasant ones.

When we actually give ourselves permission to cry, rage, sleep, and cry some more, we […]

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