The New Year - Need a Boost?

My goodness - already! We are almost a month into the new year.  Maybe you made some resolutions, maybe you didn’t, as so many of us have read that “resolutions don’t work”.  You’ve probably at least had a thought or two (or a 5-page manifesto) about how you’d like to improve your life in the new year.

If you’ve implemented those changes and are sticking to them, congratulations - that is awesome!  

If not, here are 7 steps to getting rolling again, right now, regardless of what day it is.  It does not have to be January 1, or a Monday, or the beginning of any month to begin again.  Today is a perfect time.

1. Seek help.  You don’t have to do this alone.  Even if you started great on your own, if you’re finding yourself flagging, get some help.  Hire someone to help - with personal training, housecleaning, wellness coaching, writing, etc.  Find a friend to join you and work on your goals together.  Create or join a group. Set up a text message system with a buddy where you support each other through the tough spots.

2. Master and embrace the small step.  This is the hardest thing for me and for my clients. Why? Because you really want to do your new thing for 30 minutes a day or an hour a day.  You envision a future with all kinds of wide-open time to be able to do this.  You don’t want to start doing a new habit for only ten minutes a day.  How do you write a book in ten minutes a day?  However, the best steps are very small ones taken consistently.  If you had planned to spend an hour a day writing and have only done that twice in the past 14 days, you would have been ahead by 20 minutes of time invested had you just spent 10 minutes each day.  Crazy but true.  And wouldn’t 10 minutes a day have seemed easy?  And then you wouldn’t have had to berate yourself the other 12 days, which leads us to…

3. Have compassion for yourself. Nothing kills a goal-setting program faster than meanness toward yourself.  Just stop it.  Direct all that energy back toward your goal.  See above and take the tiniest little step.  Then do it again tomorrow.  And remind yourself you are awesome.

4. Return to the big picture.  Ask yourself why?  Why did you decide this shift in the new year was important?  Why are you doing this?  What is your long term goal or outcome?  How will your life be fabulously better as you embrace this new routine, goal or habit?  Remember to imagine the long term result of what you are working on and why it is important to you. Imagine it as you drift off to sleep.  Come back to your why.

5. Prioritize your feelings. It is much much much easier to make change from a positive feeling state.  Focusing on your big why can help you get back to that warm feeling of why you were making this change in the first place, and give you some energy to keep going.  Allow yourself to be in a positive emotional place now, while you work toward your goal.  You don’t have to postpone your happiness.

6. Wrangle your thinking.  Your mind has a terrible habit of ballooning any missed day as the end of the world.  It will then throw every other failure in your face.  It will remind you that you are not worthy or capable.  That is OK.  Minds are just like that.  Be gentle with your mind.  It is trying to help you and protect you with these thoughts and keep you safe in “no-change land”.  Soothe your mind with a gentle word or two and then keep going.  

7. Tell the truth.  Your mind also loves to twist around circumstances and blame something else.  The weather.  Another person . An unforeseen circumstance.  Gently stick with the truth.  You can run when it’s 30 degrees.  You can write when it’s dark.  You can stay off social media between 10 pm and 7:30 a.m.  even when you’d prefer to stay up all night watching David Bowie tribute videos. (This one is mine- call me out if you see me on social media after 10 p.m. central!)  Be gently truthful with yourself.  You are capable of making these changes, big or small. You do have what it takes. You are worthy. You are amazing!  

Need a little boost? Email me your tiny daily step (try for something 10 minutes or less), then go do it, then email me when you complete it.  I will be thrilled to cheer you on!

If You Feel Frantic Because It's Already January 4, You Need To Read This.

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Do you get a nervous sensation around the new year? I used to write practically the same list every year of all the ways I would be a better person this year. More patient, kinder, fitter, with way more willpower.  Less distractable. More focused. More driven. More goal-oriented.  

And less than a week in, when I'd been impatient, distracted, unfocused and lacking willpower, I would sigh with disappointment and frustration.   

What I always ignored were all the amazing things I was simultaneously doing. All the ways I was focusing or achieving. All the ways I was kind and all the ways I was living a beautiful life every day. Both sides exist. There's always more I could do. I have more ideas and plans than will ever fit into a day. That is ok.  

So, I encourage you to BREATHE RIGHT NOW. Look out the window, or even better go outside and take in the sky and the trees. Stop being unkind and frustrated with yourself on the fourth day of the new year. That is not part of the plan. 

Here's the truth: it is always easier to make change from a place of love and acceptance of where you are right now than from a place of berating your current self. It's called the paradoxical theory of change and you can look it up. Begin from a place of amazement and encouragement and see what happens.

10 signs you need to change your relationship with your money

Money.  It's great to have money.  It lets us do what we want to do.  And it's no fun when there's not enough. Are you feeling financially overwhelmed, even though you have a pretty steady income of some sort? 

Check out this list and see how many of these apply to you:

1. You have no idea how much money is really coming in. You hope it’s enough. That’s all you know.

2. When you receive an unexpected cash gift, you go out right away and spend it on something impulsive. After all, you deserve a treat!

3. You feel great when you have $60-$100 in your wallet, and then can’t figure out where it went a day and a half later, when all that remains are some ones and a five.  Or if you only use your debit card, you feel flush after you’ve been paid and then wonder why you can’t make your money last until the next payday.

4. You find yourself often saying or thinking, “I can’t afford that!”

5. You have some debt, but you don’t really know how much.  If you added it all up you might start to cry.

6. You go into a store for a few things and come out with five additional cool items that were such a bargain you couldn’t pass them up.

7. You have fights or disagreements about money with your significant other.

8. You feel like managing your money is too complicated and you hate math and accounting and all of that calculating stuff.

9. You feel like if you had more money, all of your problems would be solved.

10. You feel like you don’t earn as much as you’re worth, but you have trouble asking for raises or raising your rates, or being paid fairly for your time and energy.

How many of these signs are true for you?  If you agreed with more than five of these statements, you’ll love my upcoming class, The Indulgent Path to Money Management, offered locally in New Orleans beginning October 22, 2014 and hosted by Audubon Yoga Studio on Octavia Street.

We’ll use the bright, clear space of the yoga studio to inspire us to turn our attention toward our finances in a simple yet effective way.

We’ll meet on four Wednesday evenings from 7:45 -9:00 p.m.October 22, November 5, November 12, and November 19. We’ll also have a private online group for support between classes.  Class investment: $157- with a guarantee that you'll come out ahead at the end of the course by more than that!

I've hosted this course multiple times over the phone, and by popular demand I'm offering an in-person version for locals who want more face-to-face interaction.

Want to learn more about the course and hear my story? click here for waay more details.

If you’re ready to make a shift and want some accountability and inspiration while you take action to turn towards your money in a fun and indulgent way that doesn’t feel like deprivation, you’ll want to join this course!  Also, if you've been "meaning to get around to this" for ages and have been stuck financially for a while, it may be worth it to invest some time and $$ into turning things around.  Learn to undo your unhealthy money habits.  Get some expert support.  Make a change that will last.  I did this with clutter recently, and it was so worth my investment!

Email carla@livingwildandprecious.com to enroll or to ask questions.  Put "money class" in the subject line.  Class size is limited and class starts soon, so if you are interested, sign up now!

Not local? I'll teach an online version in January - so make sure you're on my mailing list to be the first to know when enrollment opens!

Spinning, Sauntering, Stuck, Still: How to tell if you're doing enough.

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Are you doing enough? Recently I've heard so many people - clients, fellow coaches, friends, me sometimes - despairing that they aren't doing enough.  They aren't as awesome as their peers.  Or as some internal ideal. Everyone else is so much more PRODUCTIVE. I've been reading books like Today Matters and Die Empty, which are inspiring and motivating and remind us to get off our butts and do something - to stop hemming and hawing and just go... But these books don't actually tell you to "just go." Because just going isn't necessarily what you need to do.  There are two kinds of "just going".  The first is desperate going so you can say you're moving.  So you don't have to feel like you're being too much of a lump.  So you can jog along and say, "See?  I'm doing something!"  It feels jangly.  It feels electric, but in an uncomfortable, static-y way.  It feels like too much caffeine.  It feels like an out of control spring, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing.  It feels frantic.  Sometimes it feels aimless - either like a hamster running in a wheel or like a pinball ricocheting off of lots of light-up bumpers, racking up "points" but getting nowhere.  Let's call this kind "spinning." Spinning can feel exhilarating at first, but it quickly devolves into unfulfilled exhaustion.

The second kind of "just going" feels fresh and adventurous.  Maybe there's a slight tinge of fear, but it's more like anticipation.  It feels solid and grounded but light at the same time.  Like setting out on a hike on a sparkling summer morning. Or picking up a paintbrush and beginning to cover a canvas with color. It feels like possibility.  It feels creative and it feels fun. It's connected to something bigger. Let's call this kind "Sauntering".  Sauntering is moving forward but without hurry or stress - in a relaxed, but purposeful manner.  Not frantic and fast, but at a comfortable pace.

What about not going, you ask?  When does that make sense? Is it always time to move?

Not necessarily.  There are two kinds of "not going" too. The first kind is fear-based.  It feels frozen, heavy and scared. It feels cut off.  It feels like peanut butter on the roof of your mouth, or tires mired in mud.  It wants to climb back under the covers. Maybe watch some TV.  Let's call this kind "Stuck."  Stuck is just how it sounds.  And it feels awful, even when we try to avoid the feeling by snacking, napping, hiding, or distracting ourselves.

The second kind of not going is peaceful and restful.  It feels clear and conscious. Being present and not doing makes more sense for the time being.  It's sometimes paired with planning or visioning.  It's sometimes gearing up for something big.  Let's call this kind "Still."  Still is quiet on purpose.  It's realizing that some of the best ideas only happen when we give ourselves time to percolate, marinate, meditate - time to relax and dream.

I've felt the effects of Spinning, Sauntering, Stuck and Still in recent weeks, and what I know is that I'm so much happier when I'm shifting between sauntering and still.  When I'm spinning and stuck, not so much.  Here are four simple steps to help you recognize spinning and stuck and move toward sauntering and still.

1. Pay attention. Look closely at exactly what you're doing.  Keep a log of your actions (or inactions) - in 15 minute increments, just for a day or two. Be honest!  I can get stuck in a Facebook vortex faster than you can say, "kitten video!" And if there's printed matter in front of me, I can read until an hour or two has drifted past.  It takes brutal honesty to confront where your time is actually going.

2. Ask yourself if you can align enough of your actions with your larger vision or purpose.  If not, then you're probably spinning or stuck.  If you don't even know what your larger vision or purpose is, it's probably time to get still and focus on that first.

3. Check in with your body and your emotions.  If your feelings are positive and your body feels light, you're more likely sauntering or still.  If your feelings are negative and your body feels heavy, you're more likely spinning or stuck.  *Warning:  Sometimes stuck and spinning can feel positive at first - kind of like the initial sugar high before the crash.  Be attentive to your overall emotional state, and the feeling in your body.

4. Reflect at the end of the day, each day for a week.  Are you content with the way you spent the day?  Can you point to some action or some experience that feels like it's connected with your big picture goals? (Back to #2!)  Do you have a nice mix of happy action (Sauntering) and relaxed recharging (Stillness)?

Just having these four categories helps me be honest with what I'm doing.  Once I'm aware, I can choose to make a change.  It feels great to climb into bed after a day of engaging Sauntering mixed with restorative and reflective Stillness. And it feels like enough.  Days like that remind me of the quote I used to have on the wall of my classroom: "Vision without action is only a dream.  Action without vision just passes the time.  Vision with action can change the world."

How about you?  Where do you find yourself spending more time - spinning, sauntering, stuck or still?  When you're spinning or stuck, what strategies do you like to use to move back into sauntering or stillness?  How do you like to address the voice that says you haven't done enough?  Share your ideas in the comments, or email me, and let's continue the conversation!

What? You can fall down twice and still receive a gold medal??

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My husband and I were playing Bananagrams and watching the Olympics on Valentine's Day. It was very romantic, really! (And we did the fancy cocktails and treats and assorted other romantic things too. Just so you know.) Anyway, we were watching Mens' Figure Skating. The long program. And this young man in a white and sparkly outfit (19 year old Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan) fell down. Twice. He also leaped and jumped and spun around and did all kinds of things on skates that I couldn't come close to doing, even with no skates and the aid of a very bouncy trampoline.

He received the Mens' Figure Skating gold medal. That's right, he fell down twice and got the gold. My friend Deborah and I were chatting about this the other night and talking about how we both have an old belief system in our heads that "gold medal means perfect". As in flawless. No errors, no mistakes - nothing that anyone can point to as wrong.

But that's not true.  Instead, it's about risking a lot.  Making big moves that earn points. Falling down loses fewer points than one might imagine.  It's so much more about what you actually do accomplish.

Just like life.

We forget this.  We are so afraid to risk.  Afraid to fall down if we try that big jump.  Afraid it will get in our way of the gold medal.  But we can't possibly earn a gold medal if we're not willing to fall down. Imagine how many times Yuzuru has fallen as he's learned to skate so well?  A thousand?  Ten thousand? A hundred thousand?  I'm sure it's a lot.

If we're not willing to fall, then we end up in the sidelines watching.  We don't engage fully in our lives, afraid to make a mistake that will impact our "score".

Except that it's not the Olympics, and no one is keeping score, and even if they were, we could fall down twice and still get a GOLD MEDAL!

You have to make some mistakes on the road to amazing.

For those of us who got some idea in our heads (probably at school) that mistakes were not ok, this is a revelation we have over and over.  I think it needs to be embroidered on a pillow. In pretty script.  You can fall down twice and still get a GOLD MEDAL! In the OLYMPICS!

Where can you let yourself do this in your life? Where can you try something new or challenging and allow yourself to fall down?

I've been doing it in dance class with The NOLA Chorus Girl Project. I am learning dances that I can intellectually understand, count out, practice, and sometimes get right, but I regularly mess up.  A lot.  And I've been practicing and practicing and not actually falling down, but missing steps, counts, whole phrases while I try to catch up.  It's fantastic!  I practiced enough (a LOT!) to almost get it right at our performance.  I missed some steps (ones I'd gotten right dozens of times), but the world did not end.  And I kept smiling! (I think!) so I'm giving myself a mental gold medal for that.

I'd love to hear your stories of taking risks or receiving metaphorical gold medals despite "falling".  Let's keep the conversation going in the comments!