Tell half the story.

Tell half the story.  

Sometimes, "you're telling half the story" has negative connotations - like you're leaving out something important, or someone else's viewpoint, or some part that needs telling.  

That's not what I mean today. Today I mean tell the story when it's not completely formed - not completely finished.  You don't have to have it all figured out before you share. You don't have to know the ending before you begin to let yourself be seen.

I've been on such a fascinating journey since 2009 when I quit full-time salaried employment and trekked off to walk 2200 miles from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. Since then I've been carving my own path, peeking down side trails, choosing routes that pique my curiosity, and learning so much about what is most important to me while I help others do the same.  But it's not always a clarity-filled journey full of ease and contentment.  Sometimes it's downright confusing and scary.

One thing I know for sure is that it's always better to connect, even when I'm not feeling completely sure. It's so hard to be seen when you're less clear. It's so appealing to hide.  But we all benefit from letting ourselves be seen in all our perfect imperfection.

Right now I'm en route to Austin, Texas to hang out with my coaching mentor, Martha Beck, and a whole slew of life coaches. One of the main themes is Bewilderment.  Allowing ourselves to be bewildered. And in the process to "be wilder". To reconnect with our knowing wise wild selves. Funny - bewilderment is the path to knowing.

So-- tell half your story.  Be willing to contradict yourself.  Be willing to be in the middle of your journey. Feel safe knowing that it's ok to be you just as you are, even if you're not sure what's next. Even if you're a little bewildered.

Have you fed your snail lately?

My life is full of distractions- I'm wondering if you feel the same.  My phone is never far from me and I’m semi-dangerously addicted to looking at everything from friends’ updates to kitty cat memes to fascinating lengthy articles in The Atlantic, all served up so easily and endlessly refreshed with new content every second.

Sometimes my body and mind, exhausted and overwhelmed, cry for a break.

So I go to the woods for a couple of nights.  I unplug, sleep under the stars, and sit and watch the trees and sky. 

As I sink back into my body, shoes off, toes digging into the sand at the creek’s edge, ears tuned in to the burbling of the water and the wind in the pines, time shifts and expands. 

My eyes relax and I start to notice tiny details around me that I initially missed.

I indulged in one of my escapes to the woods this past weekend. On the first morning, after a starry night of firefly watching and owl listening, I took an early morning walk while the air was still cool and the sun was just beginning to warm the treetops.  I sat down on a bluff overlooking the creek and listened to the water.  As I focused on the fallen oak and holly leaves around me, I noticed a snailcrawling along in its slow but merry snail way.  

How wonderful to have the time to watch a snail, I thought.

There was absolutely nothing else I needed to be doing in that moment. I watched the snailexploring the leaves around it, testing each new millimeter with its adorable snail antennae (or are they eye stalks? I am a science-y person but don’t want to stop this writing to look up mollusk anatomy.  It is not important for now.) 

I looked to my left and a bright green slightly-chewed fruit, smaller than a marble, caught my eye.  What was this?  I had no idea.  Some type of tiny gooseberry?  An unripe baby muscadine?  I didn’t know but it looked like it might be a delicious treat for a snail.  So I picked it up and dropped it just in front of the snail and waited patiently to see what would happen.

Hooray, the snail noticed it!  And then began eating it!  In my mind it wasn’t only eating, it was savoring, relishing.

How observing something so simple could feel so deeply exquisite continues to mystify me.

I wonder if you’ll feel the same way. I captured part of the moment on video. Turn up your sound and you can actually hear the snail chewing - or more scientifically scraping its radula - its sandpapery “teeth” - along the fruit.  You’ll hear the distant birds and the creek too.  Click the image below to watch.

When is the last time you “fed your snail?” 

Are you giving yourself permission for tiny moments of wonder in nature?  Do you long for something intangible that you might receive from an outdoor adventure that requires no special equipment or skills, only the willingness to sit and pay attention?

If you crave some “snail feeding” time - time to slow down to the pace of a languidly feasting invertebrate, I hope you will give it to yourself. 

If you’d like a guide to point out the tiny magnificences and exclaim along with you, or someone to whisk you away to a magical overnight under the stars, I’m at your service.  I have everything you need.  All you have to do is make the time and show up.  Spring is perfect for this. 

Want to play?  Contact me if you’d like to be part of some beta testing I’ll be doing in the upcoming weeks of woodland forest escapes, both day trips and overnights. 

Nature-y coachy goodness.  Lots of stillness.  Deep immersion.  Maybe it's time to feed your snail.

Magical thinking messed with my finances

Photo by fergregory/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by fergregory/iStock / Getty Images

Long before I ever became a life coach, I discovered a book called Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.  Reading that book and others and creating steps for myself based on those readings completely transformed my relationship with money and it's what allowed me and my husband to pay off our house, accumulate a really hefty savings on two teachers' salaries and have what felt to us like a very indulgent life at the same time.  It also allowed me to live my dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail.  I basically quit my job and went off to hike for six months, which was one of the most fantastic life experiences of all.

When I came back, I worked as a consultant for educational organizations and set up my own tutoring business, still using the money strategies we'd perfected before I left for my hike and still doing quite well.  

Then I enrolled in life coach training, about four years ago. Along with the absolutely amazing training I received that has been instrumental in making me a great coach, I found myself interacting with a whole new group of people, many not from my particular coach training organization, in this coach-y world, many who had a very different approach to finances - something more along the lines of: spend large amounts of money on spiritual teachings and training after training, and then trust the UNIVERSE to provide. Law of Attraction and all.  

I'd been doing really well with my common-sense approach.  Pay attention to your money. Spend it on what you need. Indulge in what really feels good rather than what you think is going to feel good. Save for big purchases or for emergencies.

Suddenly I was surrounded by people throwing large sums of money around in ways I was not used to at all.  Once you get into "coach land" there are folks out there promising a "six-figure" this and that. Give them a lot of money and they'll help you "manifest" a lot of money, via the new skills you'll learn about building your business along with all that alignment with the universe stuff.    

General skeptic that I am, I was careful with my money and stuck to my original plan, seeking only a few trainings from people I had vetted and who I thought offered something valuable in return for my investment.  I tried not to be distracted by others I saw who signed up for a new course, product or training for hundreds or even thousands of dollars every couple of months or so.

Overall, my strategy worked out pretty well.  Even beginning a brand-new business, we stayed out of debt and I took the time to grow slowly.  But as a new business owner, completely responsible for all of my business expenses and with no real sense of what things should cost or what I needed, I made spending errors too-- either on over-priced services or on things I simply didn't need.  

You know when I would spend the most money?  When I was afraid.  And money spent in fear is often not well-spent.  You can embroider that on a pillow, for sure.  

I also tried a bit of magical thinking around money.  If I simply believed, would the universe provide?? 

Not necessarily.

Here's when magical thinking works.  It works when it inspires you to get to work creating, or to pay attention to opportunities you didn't think you were worthy of. It works when it gives you the confidence to show up and be seen.

Here's when magical thinking doesn't work: when you take no action. When you start counting a $500 windfall more than once - counting that money to pay for $500 worth of expenses three different ways.  

Magical thinking doesn't work when you focus on income without considering expenses. When you have no idea how to account for your time. Magical thinking doesn't work when you hide from the reality of your financial situation.

In my Indulgent Path to Money Management Class that starts in two days, I'll be teaching only the most practical magic.  The magic of paying attention. The magic of learning not to need more than you really need.  Of learning to spend in alignment with your values.  Of learning to note what is coming in and what is going out.  Of the complete energy shift that will happen for you when you have plenty saved either for a trip, an emergency, or some other important project. The magic of honoring the worth of your own work.  

Whether you're salaried, hourly, or own your own business, the steps I teach, common-sense though they are, really work. They are not made of fairy dust. They require you to look closely. To truly see.  

Happily, the results can be quite magical.

If you're in need of practical support in a small group to focus on your finances in a way that you've been putting off, this course is perfect.  If you're ready to pay attention, this course is perfect. 

Have questions? Click here to listen to a Q&A call about the class. Or email me with questions about whether it's a good fit for you.

Four weeks beginning March 1, 2016.  Call in to the live class at 1 p.m Central or 6:30 p.m. Central each Tuesday.

There will be handouts, daily actions, inspiration, a private group, and more!

$99 with a guarantee that you come out ahead at least that much by the end of the course.

Ready to sign up?  Click here

Have questions?  Shoot me an email!  carla@livingwildandprecious.com

What Do You Love That's Already Free?

For many of us, today is simply the day after the Super Bowl, but if you're in New Orleans, it's Lundi Gras, the day before Mardi Gras Day - one of the biggest parties in the world - and it's totally free!  

I've been teaching about money lately, and I'm fascinated how much we miss out on appreciating a million free things every day.

Sometimes we feel cash-poor and forget the abundance that surrounds us. And sometimes our cash-poor feeling causes us to take even worse care of the money we do have.  It's a vicious cycle.

Here are five things I needed to realize to bring my own relationship with money into alignment - and what I love to teach others.

1. The things I care about most don't cost a thing. Love. Friendship. Nature. Smiles. Health.  Sure, it can cost some $$ to maintain these things, but not nearly as much as all the crazy stuff we buy when we're emotionally disconnected or confused about what matters to us.

2. Enough is not "too little". Enough is more than just what you need to scrape by. It's the peak of enjoyment without going into excess. Enough is a sweet spot that takes practice to reach--  most of us regularly swing either into deprivation or excess in at least one area of our lives.

3. Paying attention feels better than being clueless. Not knowing what's happening with your money is stressful. It's sometimes dangerous. It can cost you more-- in late fees or other penalties. It can lead to stress and lost sleep. Paying attention instead brings freedom. Once you are deeply clear, you reach an incredible peace that feels much better than hiding from the reality of your money situation.

4. It takes a mindset shift to truly welcome money into your life. Many of us have been taught that either we don't deserve wealth or that money is a bad thing.  We've been taught that if it's easy for us, we should give it away. We've been taught that it's not ok to ask for what we're worth, especially if we're women raised to be generous and to put ourselves last.  Our mindset needs to change before our money situation will.

5. Learning what you really want is the smartest money decision of all.  You may think you know what you want.  But I challenge you to keep asking.  Really asking. It's surprisingly easy to find yourself caught up in something that someone else wants for you, or what seems socially desirable, or what feels safe. When you focus on what you really want, you spend your money on what's important, and you save your money for what's important. And that is all money is for. 

Join me beginning March 1 for The Indulgent Path to Money Management

The Indulgent Path to Money Management will help you get clarity with your money without feeling deprived and miserable.  If you're frustrated with your current relationship with money, you'll want to check this out.

This was the first course I created as a coach, and I love it so much!  I have watched this program transform participants' relationship with money in amazing and lasting ways-- I just wrapped up a live version in NOLA and it was fantastic! It's simple and it works.  If you've missed it in the past and you're tired of worrying about money, you'll want to sign up. 

We'll begin our four-week course on Tuesday March 1, and there are options to dial in at 1 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. CST each Tuesday. And of course classes are always recorded! 

Learn more about The Indulgent Path to Money Management by clicking here.

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!