What do you do when you are literally hit by a train?

This week, my husband was hit by a train.  Not a metaphorical train. A real one. 

He was simply on his way home from Lowe's.  It was late, after 9:30.  He crossed at an unmarked railroad crossing, having looked and not seen the train.  Apparently the train was so darn close it was invisible in the dark.  

One second earlier and I would have been a widow, as the slow moving train would have plowed right into the driver side and crushed my dear husband as it dragged the car along the tracks. Instead, the train just clipped the back of the car, tore off the rear bumper and made a mess of the back quarter panel.  

I've tried to puzzle out the meaning of this.  I don't come up with much except wow, I am very grateful, and wow - death really can happen at any time.  We've seen that this week with tragedies of epic proportions in the news, and that doesn't include all the regular people dying all over the planet from disease, accidents, old age, etc. who don't make it into the endless media cycle.

We so want to believe we have time. Lots of time. Plenty of time. Maybe we do, maybe we don't.  

So what's the answer?

For me, it is to get as present as I can. Not later, but now. 

Especially with those I love. Put down the phone.  Look in their eyes.  Really listen.  Be awake and amazed at this wonder of being human together.

Go outside, even when it's uncomfortable.

I have seven (at least) whopping chigger bites. Three clustered under one arm, two on my back, one behind my knee and one right where my leg attaches to my body. They itch like the dickens. I'm relieved to know that there are no chiggers embedded in me, contrary to popular tales, so therefore I do not need to "suffocate" them with clear nail polish or other home remedies. They'll heal on their own in another day or two.

My legs are also scratched up from running into blackberry brambles and cat claw vines. And you know what? It's really not a big deal.

I've learned that sometimes it's worth experiencing a little discomfort for what I gain visiting wild places. Nature brings us so many benefits to body and soul, even when it includes some sweating or bug bites.

I call it the Heidi effect. Heidi lived in the fresh mountain meadows and was a happy healthy little girl. When sickly Clara came to visit her from the sooty big city, Clara grew stronger and became well- just from eating the fresh foods from the farm and drinking in the clear mountain air. Modern research confirms this for us. Nature is so important for our well-being.  

I've been in nature a lot the past week: camping on a sandy beach by a creek under the stars listening to coyotes - I even saw two drift nearly silently through the woods on the other side of the creek - mysterious beautiful creatures! I spent a day exploring a small taste of the Florida Trail, enjoyed jumping in the waves in the Gulf of Mexico, and I loved christening the spring-fed pond on a friend's new land with the first swim of the season.

I've met turtles and snakes, watched the almost-full moon drift over and above the oak trees, and spontaneously danced in a morning rain shower. I've put my toes in clear-blue springs where Ponce de Leon once searched for youth.

In the evenings, we've set intentions, played with paints, talked, feasted and dreamed. For the second part of this beautiful week in nature, I've had a cozy bed to retire to instead of my sleeping bag under the sky. Both are wonderful. Inside is nice when there are thunderstorms, or when you want to stay up late creating or watching back episodes of Alone, a show where people REALLY spend time in nature, surviving in the elements far beyond the discomfort of a chigger bite or two.

Anyway, it's a perfect time to go outside. To explore. To notice. Don't let a little rain or the possibility of an insect bite keep you away from the magic of what you might discover.Grab your bug repellent and an umbrella and go forth. 

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