Another chance to get the message


About a week ago I hosted a walk in the park.  It was a perfect morning. The sky couldn’t have been more blue, with gorgeous puffy white clouds. The green of spring was deep and the sun was making everything sparkle.


And no one came.  I don’t know why – it may have been post-Jazz Fest quietness, it may have been odd timing, because this particular walk is usually well attended unless it’s raining or freezing.

However, there was no one.  There had been six, then five, then three, then two, and now none.  Some changes of plans, some last-minute cancellations.

I had no worries about it.  I actually started to get excited.  I exhaled.  A big relaxed sigh.  No one to introduce.  No agenda.  Nothing to do for anyone but me.  What a wonderful opportunity!  I began the most delicious most leisurely walk around the park that I had taken in a long time.  I didn’t need to do anything but what I wanted and that felt fantastic.

My angels almost always take care of me when I’ve over-scheduled myself.   And I gratefully accepted this gift.

A triplet of squirrels perched coyly atop cypress knees.  The last of the purple irises showed off their perfect blooms.


Crows and jays called across the treetops. Turtles plopped quickly into the water or sunned languorously on the fallen logs.  I’d seen it all before, but it was still glorious.

Then I made a big request.  I asked for an unusual animal with a message for me.  I didn’t have much hope- I’ve probably been to this park hundreds of times.  I’ve seen everything. I couldn’t imagine what could possibly appear to surprise me.

I was wrong. I walked over to the edge of the lagoon. And there, almost close enough for me to reach down and touch it, was a three-foot long spotted gar.  It rested in the dappled sunlight, in less than a foot of water, sitting as still as possible on the leafy bottom.  It took me a long time to notice its gills moving ever so slightly.  Otherwise, there was no way to even know it was alive.  All it was doing was breathing.


Me and the gar spent some time looking at each other.  Actually, I’m not sure if the gar noticed me or not.  I had trouble distinguishing its eye from the spattering of spots on its head.   I listened for its message, which to me seemed something like this: “All you have to do is be.  All this running around you humans do, it’s not necessary. It's a choice.  If you crave stillness, take it.  Do it.  Be still.  All is well.  Look how long I am still.  I have nowhere to rush to.  It’s always ok to relax.  Especially when it feels good and peaceful.”

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know this is the message I struggle to receive over and over, even though it’s what I desire.  I love to watch and listen.  To wait.  To perceive.  To notice.  I love it as much or more than creating or moving or doing.  There’s so much already created.  I like to slow down to appreciate it.  I could spend every day watching the sky and the leaves moving in the breeze.  Just breathing.  Andmy message from the gar was, "That's cool.  That's enough." 

I am so glad I could make time to bond with an ancient fish.  And that it what I did.  I made time.  I have time for anything I want to make time for.  I’m believing that more and more.  I just got a little help this time from the angels in clearing some space on my calendar!


If you need some permission to be still, take the message from my friend the spotted gar.  It’s been working for him and his species for 100 million years.  Step away from your screens and rest your eyes on something beautiful.  Grass, leaves, flowers, clouds, water, branches, rocks.  Just be. It's enough.


And if you’re local and want to learn more about how giving yourself quiet time in nature will provide you with the energy and creativity to do what you want in the rest of your life, come to my book chat – outside! – where we’ll discuss Martha Beck’s book Finding your Way in a Wild New World.   May 24.  Details here.  RSVP via the Meetup or contact me at

On butterflies, manure and being real


This summer we were on a day hike in the Smoky Mountains.  We came across a beautiful group of yellow tiger swallowtail butterflies.  As we got closer, we could see why they were so tightly gathered.  They were all feeding off of the salts and minerals in a big pile of horse manure.  These beautiful creatures were getting sustenance from something we’d rather not see, and certainly not step in.  The butterflies were benefiting from the poop.  It was important.  It wasn’t just gross or wasteful or ugly.  It had a purpose. It’s interesting.  We know not to judge a book by its cover, we have been taught not to assume, we’ve been encouraged to be ourselves, follow our passions, stay true to our dreams, that we’re allowed to get messy in the process.  I don’t think there’s one of us who hasn’t heard this advice.

And this is also what I see.  I see images everywhere that have been “cleaned up” to make people look more conventionally beautiful.  I see people afraid to let others know what they really like or care about, afraid to share their creations, afraid to share their real selves.  Afraid to share the messiness.

And who might blame them?  We live in a snarky world, full of people (many anonymous) ready to make a snippy comment or cutting remark.  Ready to judge, judge, judge and find us coming up short.

Here’s the thing – we can’t make that potential for judgment go away.  We can simply stay in our business, living our lives.  And when we’re honest about ourselves and take the unnecessary judgment off ourselves (and others), we’re leading the way for others to do the same.  Then we can enjoy simply being alive.

Here’s a recent photo I took and shared:


Those beautiful night-blooming flowers by the outdoor tub?  They are also popular with the giant roaches (lovingly called palmetto bugs) who also live outside.  The tub has duct tape over the overflow hole and a rust-stained bottom.

All of that doesn’t discount the beauty of the flowers, just like the horse manure doesn’t discount the beauty of the butterflies.

Oh, also.  There’s dust on the twinkly Christmas lights in our bathroom.  There are crumbs in our car.  Sometimes I don’t do the dishes.  Sometimes we eat popcorn for dinner.

That doesn’t discount the pretty meals I make with farmers’ market tomatoes or the laughter in the kitchen or the love in our house.

I think we all need to give ourselves a little bit of a break.  And be ourselves.

You know these picture on this website?  The photos are waay natural.  They are me.   When you meet me, that’s what I look like.  I’m wearing hardly any makeup, which is normal for me (unless it’s WIGS and WIGS night or Mardi Gras!) I have wrinkles around my eyes.  My hair is not really “done” – it never is!   My teeth are not blindingly white, or particularly straight.

That doesn’t discount the light in my eyes, or the love I have of working with people to help them find their right life.

Sometimes I feel like more butterfly, less manure, and sometimes the other way around, but either way, it’s the being real that makes me who I truly am.

What can you put in these blanks?  I ______________________, but that doesn’t discount _________________________ Email me your answers or put them in the comments!

Why go out in the rain?

You plan a walk or a hike and then it rains.  So you stay inside and postpone the walk until the weather's better. I've done it plenty - I've stayed inside because of rain.  I like dry weather and blue skies and long views.  But I've also learned to like fog and mist and rain and even a downpour here and there.  I've learned to love raindrops dripping from flowers and leaves all shiny and wet.

While I've never been a fan of hiking in the mud- in fact walking in mud for fourteen miles on my first day on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont made me cry - I realize that a walk in the rain can often be lovely. It shifts the perspective closer- to the moss on the trail side, or a bark-darkened tree, or a puddle adorned with fallen leaves.  Rain puts up a curtain around the long views so you notice what's right in front of you.  Sometimes its a box turtle in the trail.  Or a squirrel fixing up a nest for the evening.

Last night I hosted a wordless walk - it was supposed to be to enjoy the sunset and moonrise, but clouds and rain all day made visibility of the sunset unlikely.  So people who'd planned to attend the walk mostly stayed away  - rain tends to do that.

I learned from six months hiking the Appalachian Trail that if I only hiked when it wasn't raining, I would never finish the journey. It rains a lot in the eastern woodlands. Yesterday I had nowhere I needed to be and I could have easily stayed home and canceled the walk, knowing that people understand that you don't go out walking in the rain.

But I'd been inside too much this week.  So I went. And I'm so glad I did.  The quality of light as day shifted to night was magical.

The rain was only a sprinkle here and there.  I really did watch a squirrel prepare its nighttime cozy spot.


And the moon peeked out from the clouds for a moment!

The breeze was the absolute perfect temperature, and I got what I'd come out for - stillness for my soul.

Here's one more wordless video for you - raindrops on the bayou.  Watch the ripples.  So calming.


So what are your thoughts? Will you go walking in the rain?  What do you love about rain?


Wordless Wednesday - summertime at Crane Creek

[youtube=] I haven't gone to bed, so it's still Wednesday to me!  I think this may be one of my favorite one minute wordless videos so far.  Can you hear the cicadas?  Enjoy!

And if you have wordless photos or videos to share, please email them to me and I'll share them on Wordless Wednesdays!  carla at livingwildandprecious dot com.

30 Day Challenge: Day 25 - room for everything

How is it that I never had room before for 30 minutes of drawing?  Have I really created a habit?  Can I keep this up when my schedule becomes fuller during the school year?  Can I become braver about not over-scheduling? Can I keep prioritizing what really matters to me? These are the kinds of questions my clients begin to ask themselves when they start making changes, and the answers are, of course, up to them.   And for my challenge, the answers are totally up to me.

I'm getting excited about taking one more deliberate step toward having a life I love.  Things have been fantastic overall for years and years, but the time piece and the over-scheduling piece and the paper clutter piece have been tougher nuts to crack for me, unless I do something completely different from the regular routine, like go hike on the Appalachian Trail for 6 months.

I can really feel the space opening.  I can see that there is room for everything I love, if I'm more thoughtful about what decisions I make.

Have you started your own 30 Day Challenge?  If not, is it time to begin?  What might shift for you in 30 days?

And speaking of shifting, did you know that I loved my Clarity and Connection retreat so much that I'm offering it again in September?  The early bird special ends August 7, so click here to see if it's right for you.  I just checked in with a retreat participant today and she's still feeling the positive effects four days later - she's incorporating what she gained from the retreat into her daily life, and that makes me SOOO excited!

Today I came close to finishing up my turtle drawing- just a little bit more detail and cleaning up to do -here's the current drawing:

and here's the photo that inspired it:

And best of all, I spent the morning in the swamp with a couple visiting from Italy - we host international visitors through an organization called SERVAS - so cool! Here's one of four alligators we saw this morning:

Yeah - wow - there's room for everything!

What are you doing differently to make room for what you love?