What do you want in life?

I love crafting and making pretty things.

I love working with girls…teens…young women…moms.  

I love the outdoors, sunshine, the birds and squirrels that call my backyard their home…my trees and the flowers in my garden. I am grateful to the Clarno’s – the people that owned this house before me – and their love of gardening. 

I love helping girls discover how unique and beautiful they are…

I love creating new ways of sharing this information with them…new ways that spark their creativity, foster trust in their Self, belief that they matter.

I want to teach them about sisterhood and why it is so important that we cheer each other on.

I want to support them and their mothers as they become young women- women all – in what can sometimes be a difficult, confusing, anxiety-provoking, less-than-confident journey through life.

So this IS what I do and is pretty much all I have done for the last seven years. It is my passion and mission to support girls and women become the women they want to become. Have the lives they want to have.

I make my dream reality by providing  transformative life coaching,  soul-enriching summer camps & playshops that are alive with magic, and nourishing, creative mother/daughter events.

What do you want in life?

Join me – become part of this tribe.

For more about Summer Camps, click here.

For more about Life Coaching with Candace, click here.

For upcoming Special Events, click here.






Mothering & Daughtering with Art & Soul Workshop

I’ve been wanting to revamp my Mothering & Daughtering workshops for a long time.  I finally got around to it and hosted the first one a couple of weeks ago with the help of Denise Dews, artist/teacher/soul sister and owner of  Sacred Arts Studio in Austin, TX.

Sign up for the next Mothering & Daughtering Workshop HERE.


The workshop itself was magical…Imagine an art studio full of mothers talking about the dreams they hold for their daughters. Daughters telling the group all the reasons why they admire their mothers and how they wished their mothers could stop being so hard on themselves.  Then I led them through a series of exercises to help them create the kind of relationship they want to have now and in the future. The room was filled with connection, sharing and love.

Mothers learned how to stay close and connected to their daughters, especially through the pre-teen and teen years, when girls tend to pull away. Daughters were surprised to learn that their mothers could be their life-guide. All they have to do is listen.

Look at these beautiful collages the Mothers & Daughters made together…




Redefining Sexy for Your Daughter

The question: How can you raise your daughter to have a healthy self image in a world that is bombarding her with sexy images and messages that seem to value beauty over substance?

If you want to raise a daughter who loves herself exactly as she is, and not a media influenced, sexualized version of herself, this is for you.

Click here to learn more about my upcoming Mothering & Daughtering with Art & Soul classes. They are starting soon!



On Being a Truth Teller

I recently listened to an interview with Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Love Warrior. I can’t comment on  the book as I haven’t read it yet, (Amazon should be delivering it to my doorstep any day now), but Glennon said many things in that interview that caught my attention. She spoke about being the mom who was brave enough to say things other moms wouldn’t. The mom who would speak the truth about how being a mom can really suck sometimes, how marriage can suck sometimes, how life is both beautiful and brutal – and how you can’t have one without the other. She calls life brutiful, and herself, a truth teller.

I fell in love with Glennon during that interview.  I’ve been that mom. The one that says what is really going on in  my life, or my honest opinions, to the other moms in the playgroup only to be met with silence, and I imagine, judgement.

Like Glennon, that is when I realized that the truth isn’t welcome in some circles. Pretending things are perfect, keeping up our guard – or a facade – is far more important. Being real, owning the truth, and letting people see the real you (or me) would mean that we are less than perfect in a culture that values perfection, beauty, and material goods above all else.

Being a truth teller is scary. It requires that we admit our imperfections and the imperfections of our lives. That we expose our underbelly. Being a truth teller is beautiful because opens doors to support, healing, deep connection with others. Authenticity. 

Here are some of my truths:

  1. I am twice divorced. There. I said it. Twice. (I generally prefer to pretend my first marriage never happened.)
  2. In the depths of my dispair over the disintegration of my second marriage, alcohol became my best friend. (Thank goodness that phase of my life is over.)
  3. Most of the time I am totally confident I can do single-momhood. Other days, like when I forgot about  Parent/Teacher night even though I had reminded my ex about it earlier in the day, I feel like a total loser. (He was there. I wasn’t.)
  4. I avoid helping my kids with their homework and volunteering at school much as possible…and am totally okay with it. 

Today I just want to tell you not to be afraid of being a truth teller.  There is no shame in sharing the real you. You are beautiful and amazing, in all of your glorious imperfection. Pressure to be perfect is killing our daughters, literally and figuratively. The truth is nothing to be ashamed of. The truth is filled with acts of bravery that you and others can draw strength from and learn from. 

Truth tellers light the way for others….and show our girls what it means to live a brave, authentic life.

Registration is NOW OPEN for my upcoming Mothering & Daughtering with Art & Soul workshop series. Don’t Delay – Space is limited – REGISTER TODAY





Full of Herself: How to Raise a Confident Daughter

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-6-56-03-amAmong the top reasons parents hire me to work with their daughters is a desire for their daughters to have more confidence. It an issue of concern for many parents, and rightly so.  A lack of self-confidence shows up in many different ways. Generally speaking, your daughter might view life from a glass half-full perspective, missing out on joy found in everyday life. She may avoid trying new things, especially when a learning curve is involved, or become overly concerned about being liked by her peers.  At its worst, a lack of self-confidence. can lead your daughter down a path of under-achievement, unhealthy relationships, depression, anxiety, and a long list of risky behaviors.

So what is a concerned parent to do? The list below is by no means exhaustive, but does contain my top tips on how to raise a daughter who is full of herself  in the most wonderful kind-of-way. The first thing to know is that confidence-building is a life-long process.  Confidence is something you will want to cultivate in her for as long as you are her parent.  It doesn’t stop when she goes off to college, gets her first job, or has her first child.  With this understanding, start finding ways you can implement the following tips into your parenting-repertoire.

1. Cultivate an Mastery Mentality.

Q: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

A: “Practice!”

This old joke is actually sage advice. , In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, author and renowned Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck, Ph.D., explains

“Just because some people can do something with little or no training, (those we often refer to as “Naturals” or being “naturally gifted”)  it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training. “

In a nutshell, confidence comes from confidence building acts. Playing it safe and sticking to only doing those things that come easily may protect your daughter’s ego, but they do little to build confidence. Taking on a challenge and seeing it through to completion is one of the best things you can do to build your daughter’s confidence.

2. Cultivate Confidence Building Communication.

The absolute best place for your daughter to learn how to speak up for herself is at home. The problem is that when she does, parents often see this as “talking back” and thus, squelch her attempts to assert herself. Don’t get me wrong – there is a right way and a wrong way for her to assert herself. Rather than shutting her down or viewing this as disrespectful, use these moments to teach her how to express herself (and her emotions) in a calm, mature way. Let her know that it is okay for her to disagree with you, express her anger, or her disappointment, and then show her HOW to go about it in the right way. If’ you allow her to practice this skill in the safety of your home, she will naturally begin to speak up for herself in other settings as well. You are always her first and best teacher.

3. Cultivate a Growth Mindset.

As a new parent, the best piece of advice I ever received was from a mother of seven. She was a total stranger; we met in a hotel lobby. Me with my toddler, her with her seven children in tow. Looking at this new mom before her, she said, “Give her all the love you can. It’s never too much. Don’t listen to those who tell you it is.”  Let her know how valuable she is, just as she is, by saying things like  “I am so lucky to have you for my daughter.”

The Just As She Is piece of that is critical.  When a child thinks they are not good enough for their parents – whether its her academic performance, the way she behaves, the things she wants to do or the person she is becoming – she learns that she needs to change who she is in order for you to love her. Shift your conversations from  move from a judge-and-be-judged framework to learn-and-help-learn framework.  This style of parenting cultivates a growth mindset from which all confidence flows.

4. Cultivate Quality Friends.

Friends have a huge influence on choices we make throughout our life, especially for women, as we establish close, intimate relationships with our girlfriends. Think of your own life. You have a problem – you talk to a friend about it and she offers her opinion or advice. You are in the process of making a decision – you may bounce it off a friend or two to see what they think. You also take notice of what your friends are doing in life, the choices they are making, and how that works out for them – another subtle influence as we learn by observation.

Make a point of having conversations with your daughter about how she chooses her friends. Find out what she looks for in a friend and why.   Talk to her about the importance of surrounding herself with people who lift her up, make good choices, and learn from their mistakes. She, and her friends, are going to change a tremendous amount as they grow up. Good friendships build confidence through the support and positive affirmation they afford. Knowing when, and how, to let go of a friend because the relationship is no longer in her best interests, is critical.

If your daughter says she is unhappy because she does not have enough friends, feels lonely, or doesn’t fit in, take this seriously and seek the help of a counselor or coach that specializes in working with girls. These are the girls school administrators, counselors and other mental health professionals worry about most. They are the girls on the fringes. The ones that eat lunch by themselves and walk the halls alone. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are symptomatic of low self esteem, a lack of confidence, and deeper issues like anxiety and depression, and can lead to a wide-variety of risky behaviors and poor choices.

On the bright side, studies show that as long as your daughter is happy with the number of friends she has there is no need for concern.  When it comes to friends, quality, not quantity, counts. 

In the words of noted philosopher and researcher, Alexander Nehamas, author of On Friendship“All you need is one good friend.” 

Are you concerned about your daughter? Curious about how coaching can help? Schedule your free 20 minute consultation today.


5 Tips for A Good School Year

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 4.28.08 PMAn open letter to Girls as you start the new school year….(hey mom –  share it with your daughter!)

Dear Smart Cookie,

Soon you will be starting another school year – maybe you already have. Here are my top tips for making this school year a little bit easier, a little bit better…feel free to share with your friends.

These tips are for all of you – even if you have attended the same school for several years because things can change overnight when it comes to friends and school. For example, some of you will be the “new” girl in school and will have to make all new friends this year. Others of you may be going into a situation where the girl you were friends with last year didn’t call you all summer. You may have even heard she has been hanging out with a mutual friend lately, but they haven’t asked you to join them. Maybe the girls you sat with at lunch last year have found a new lunch table…so you find yourself wandering around, feeling a little lost and alone.

No matter what your situation – even if things are perfectly groovy – use these simple tips  to make your school year better than ever!

#1  Don’t Worry About What Other Girls Think.

It’s natural to want to fit in, so you may find yourself worrying about the opinions of others.  Please promise me, Cookie, that you will catch yourself when you are doing this and stop! Remember, you are perfect exactly the way you are – you don’t need to change yourself in order to be liked. You don’t need to dress like everyone else, act like everyone else, or talk like everyone else. Just be yourself and when you do, the right people will find you. They will like you for who you are deep down in your heart and soul.

#2 Fill Yourself Up with Good Thoughts.

This is soooo important, Cookie! Your thoughts are incredibly powerful. You can lift yourself up or pull yourself down just by what you think. Be your own BFF by thinking positive thoughts about yourself every day. Build the habit of positive thinking, just like you have built the habit of brushing your teeth,  by spending a few minutes thinking about how great your day is going to be every morning. Do it while you are brushing your teeth while you are at it! That will make it super easy to remember.

#3  Do What You Love.

Are you crafty or totally into math? Do you like to read or play soccer? What ever you like, do more of THAT. Cookie, if there is only one thing I could teach you, it would be to follow your dreams, walk your path, listen to your inner voice & wisdom not someone else’s. You will be pressured to do what your friends do, like what they like, to take their advice. The truth is that, with the exception of your parents, only you know what is best for you. Follow your heart –  don’t listen to critics –  and you can’t go wrong.

#4 Practice the Golden Rule…Especially When it’s Hard.

You are going to have times when it is really difficult to treat others with dignity and respect. It is in those moments when you get to choose what kind of person you want to be. Some of you have been taught to be nice and therefore often have difficulty standing up for yourself…others of you have been taught speak your mind and therefore can be more brutal than than necessary when speaking up for yourself. No matter where you fall on the spectrum,  strive to be somewhere in the middle. Simply say what you want or need without insulting the other girl involved. Your voice is your super power. Use it!

#5  Always Do Your Best & Learn As Much As You Can.

When you hear other kids say, “We will never use this in the real world;” ignore them. You will need the information you are being taught in school more than you can possibly imagine….even Geometry.   Yes, it may seem like you are not going to use everything you are being taught, but that is only because you can’t see the future. Your interests, passions, and career will change over time. What you are passionate about today might not hold any interest for you in the future. Likewise, the geometry class you despise today will be invaluable when you are in your mid-40’s and want to learn woodworking! 

Want more? Sign up to receive emails in the orange box at the bottom of this page!

Are you curious about whether or not you or your daughter could benefit from working with Life Coach? Read More here





Will you walk this path with me?

I have a habit of sitting outside in the early morning hours, sipping my coffee, listening the birds, watching the moon and stars fade away as the sun rises.  I love this time of day. In it, I can hear the whispers of my soul gently guiding me through daily life.

This summer the whisper called to me more often. I would hear it throughout the day saying things like:

 you can do so much more

help so many more people

go back to your roots

be more creative

Several new and exciting opportunities popped up that aligned perfectly with the messages I was receiving as well. I am always amazed when that happens.

I believe this whisper is the voice of my soul. Over the last couple of years, I have developed my ability to listen to the whispers – really listen – and then follow – instead of pushing them down, back, and out of sight.  

 You know what I am talking about. You have heard the whispers of your soul too.

You may call it by another name. Intuition, God, or something else. Regardless of what you call it,  it is your personal guidance system. It calls you to follow the path you know you ought to be walking, but aren’t for whatever reason.

I won’t go any deeper into finding and following your truth for now.  If you will stick with me, I would like to share this new walk I am taking with you.

This year I have decided to pass the torch and certify a handful of you to teach the curriculum I’ve taught girls (through Smart Cookies School for Girls) for the last 4 years. If that speaks to you, look for more information to come soon. If you aren’t already receiving my emails, be sure to sign up so you can receive the information as soon as it becomes available.  This also means that the Smart Cookies’ after-school program format taught by me (or my staff ) is going away.  In order to do this, my role shifts to training and supporting other like-minded women who have a heart and passion for empowering girls in their community.  

I will also be hosting events, classes and workshops for you, my dear friend, during the remainder of 2016 and through 2017.  These classes and workshops will be designed to help you find your truth; hear and follow the whispers of your soul.   I am doing this because so many of you have shared, through your calls and emails  (or when you drop your daughters off at camp or pick them up after school) that your plate is full to overflowing; that you have lost yourself to the demands of motherhood or career and no longer know who you are or what you want.  You have shared your dreams of wanting to start a business, leave an unhappy marriage, or raise and empowered daughter, but don’t know how.  You’ve told me of your struggles to establish genuine, compassionate, supportive friendships and relationships…and wish I would teach classes for moms too. So I am.

These workshops will be creative, rich, restorative and life changing in the most amazingly beautiful way.  You will

find yourself again

love yourself again

believe in your self again

I am so excited! More information will be released as details are finalized.

All of this is starting in September. Stay tuned over the next few weeks and I will tell you all about it.  Don’t want to miss any big announcements, events or class information? Be sure to sign up to receive my emails – I try really hard to only send out the essentials. I won’t bombard you with daily emails that gunk up your inbox, I promise! Just enter your information in the big orangey box below and you are in!






You Can Do This

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 6.17.18 PMI was reading on post on one of my favorite websites, www.BraveGirlsClub.com, and was inspired by a post on that site. I’d send you to that particular post, but now I can’t find it. Ugh! The author wrote about what she would call her life if she had to give it a name. I loved this idea and decided to give it some thought. I combed through my journal, reflected on the last three or four months, and what I came up with was: “You can do this.”

I am a creature of habit. Most mornings, I purposefully wake up an hour or two before my kids so I can enjoy the quiet morning hours listening to the birds in my backyard, cup of coffee in hand.  It is in that space of quiet reflection that I find myself thinking of how truly wonderful life is and how blessed I am. Finding happiness is a wonderful thing. It isn’t always easy though.


Circle back to the current”You Can Do This” life theme.

About a month ago, the kids and I went out of town for a few days. After a long drive home on Sunday afternoon, we were greeted by a wet dining room floor caused by a steady drip/stream of water coming from the ceiling above. The air conditioner’s drain pipe had clogged, the water seeped into my daughter’s room saturating her carpet, sub flooring and eventually, the ceiling of the dining room below. My kids sprang into action. They quickly grabbed towels and buckets  while I  stood frozen in overwhelm. My thoughts went something like this:

“Deep breaths…. Stay calm. The kids are watching…I need a drink…Where’s the wine? More deep breaths. Okay.  Okay. It’s going to be okay. You’ve got this. You can do this. You CAN do this. “

Together the three of us hauled a ruined settee to the curb, pulled the saturated carpet and pad out of Mia’s room and somehow managed to get it to the curb as well. In between the mopping and drying, I figured out that the A/C drainpipe was the problem and attempted to fix it. Calling our trusted HVAC repair man would have to wait until Monday morning. To make matters just a tad more stressful, I had two summer camps starting the very next morning.

There have been many more “You can do it” moments this summer. The exact quality that got me through them has varied. Bravery, determination, confidence, willingness, responsibility are the ones that come to mind.

The more I think about it the more I see how I have grown over the last year. Taking things on which previously seemed insurmountable. Confronting difficult situations (no more sticking my head in the sand). Making the tough, but right decisions.  Which probably explains why my dream for Smart Cookies has grown too.

When you grow, your dreams grow too.

For those of you who registered your daughter for a Smart Cookies’ summer camp, I thank you. It has been a wonderful summer and I always feel so very fortunate that you trust me with your daughters.











Keeping her Happy & Busy this Summer

What have you got  lined up for this summer?

I am going to be busy teaching Smart Cookies summer camps.  The first one, Friendship 101, kicks off next week at Marmalade Skies here in Austin, Tx. I am super excited! I have added even more crafts and activities to this popular summer camp. The girls are going to have such a great time along with learning all about Friendship!

Short on things to do? You can still register for next week’s Friendship 101 summer camp and all of the other camps I am teaching too. You can turn any of our 1/2 day camps into a full day camp by signing up for another camp at the same location for the afternoon or morning, depending on when our camp is being offered. To be honest, I like that Marmalade Skies offers sibling discounts and discounts when you sign up for multiple camps. Check it out!

For camp details and descriptions, CLICK HERE.

Here is a list of our other camps this summer. Find your best fit by location or by date 

REGISTER ON-LINE TODAY! Note: Registration is handled by the host site, not Smart Cookies. Click the specific registration link providedfor the camp that best suits your needs.  


@ Marmalade Skies (North Austin)  map link

June 20-24  A Girl’s Guide to Fairy Wisdom 1pm-4pm:   $198 

July 5-8 – Besties & Sticky Situations 9am-12pm: $158  

Register HERE


@ Cedar Creek Elementary (Central/South Austin) map link

July 11-15 – Gutsy Girls 9am-1pm: $225


Register HERE


@ Deer Park Middle School (North Austin) map link

July 11-14 Gutsy Girls 9am-1pm: $179

July 18-21 Friendship 101 9am-12pm: $179


Register HERE


@ Creative Brick Builders (Round Rock) map link

July 25-29 Friendship 101 9am-12pm: $179

Register HERE

P.S. Make it a full day camp by registering for girls-only Bricks & Crafts Just for Girls camp in the afternoon too!


@ Great Oaks Elementary (Round Rock) map link

June 20-24 A Girl’s Guide to Fairy Wisdom 9am-12pm:  $179

August 1-4 Gutsy Girls 9am-12pm: $179


Register HERE


Whew! That was a lot of formatting. I think I will go sit in the sun and read/rest for a bit.

Let me know what you are up to – I’d love to hear from you!


P.S. Feel free to forward this email to a friend!

Mothering, Fear, and Success – Live Interview

Listen in as  Nicholle Walton Durban and Leah Weinberger and me (Candace Avila) talk about the challenges we faced going from stay-at-home moms to entrepreneurs,  feeling the fear and doing it anyway, and where we draw our inspiration. It also happens to be the premier episode of Nicholle and Leah’s podcast, “The Bitch and The Jew”.  I was honored to be their first guest!

There are many valuable gems of wisdom in this interview. We talk about everything from:

~ my personal story behind the creation of Smart Cookies School for Girls

~ who my  businesses mentors were and why they were not women

~ my never-before-revealed opinion about how women (moms) are facilitating the creation a mean-girl culture