Get The “F” Back Up!!!

Success in anything isn’t all about talent. It’s not even all about networking. Certainly it’s not about luck since I don’t believe in any form of luck – good or bad.

The formula for success is an intangible formula to calculate. All the “gurus” always have some answer in “three easy steps” and always for “$249” or something like that – eeh, pahleeze don’t believe the hype!   The formula is different for everyone – no one has the answer for your journey except YOU!

But the one thing that I am sure of, without a doubt, is that success is all about perseverance.  And what does that exactly mean?  It means that every time you fail, every time you fall, every time you get kicked, every time you see no hope, you find a way to get back up and try again.  Dust yourself off or don’t dust yourself off, but get the fudge back up and try again.  Never let anything stop the path you’re on.  It’s your journey. Your dream.  Your life.   Make sure you notice the signs along the way, because you’ll learn something valuable. Pay attention so you don’t accidentally veer off course or go the wrong way, but never give up.  Never ever give up.  And always know, yes, you have it in you to succeed.  We all do.  It’s the beauty of the human spirit.  We’re always trying to know more, do more, be more….  It’s who we are.  And that means, YOU too!

So… No excuses!  Figure it out and keep on keepin’ on!

Freezing in NH! "Persevering" to get my booty back to Cali!

Freezing in NH! “Persevering” to get my booty back to Cali!

My Sadness, My Regret, My Pain. And Love.

Today was tough.

My God Mother died today.

To put this in perspective, my God-mother and God-father (who died years before) basically took me in when my mother, my only parent, died.  Although most would hear the stories of my childhood and think, “oh, how sad and painful…”.  When I think of my childhood, I feel fortunate to have experienced such beauty of the human spirit many times over.   I certainly have been blessed.

Mr. & Mrs. Martin.  My God Parents

They didn’t know my mother. We weren’t neighbors.  They didn’t work near or in the same place as my mom, but, somehow, the Martins cared about me. A lot.

I was friends with their twin daughters in school.  Jo-Ann and Mary.  And how the friendship started still brings me to tears today… it was before my mother died – the third grade.  I never had a decent lunch mostly because I was a latch key kid and we were poor. Don’t get me wrong, my mother did the best she could, but sometimes I went without.  And Mary and Jo-Ann – well, they always had the best lunches.  And they would share with me – half a sandwich here, a cookie or chips there. Eventually they’d just bring me a whole separate lunch.  I’ll never forget that.

You hear about kids who bully other kids all the time nowadays. And I always listen and think how…it just never happened to me.  You hear these horrible stories of children hating other children for being different.  And I was certainly different.  But these girls, they didn’t care.  If anything they went out of their way to protect me.  To call me “sister”, to call me friend. Let me just say, they were (and are) spectacular kids and along with their older sister Patty-Ann, are the best people I’ve ever known. In. My. Life.

The apples truly don’t fall far from the tree.

And when my mother died and I was lost in the system and left, at points,  to my own devices – it was Mr. and Mrs. Martin who stepped in and did their part to walk me through this thing called life….  Even when I made mistakes – and goodness knows I made many — they loved me anyways.  I was part of the family.  I was loved.

When I was in high school, I asked Mr. & Mrs. Martin to be my Godparents.  None of us are crazy religious, but I wanted so badly to fulfill something my mother never had the chance to do. And I wanted to honor the Martins.  And when I asked, there was no hesitation at all. Not a question.  Of course, they’d be my God-Parents.

What most people don’t know – is that they went farther in their support of me.  Don’t get me wrong, everything they did was beautiful and enormous enough.  Goodness knows they went out of their way to make me feel part of the family.  But when I wanted to go to college and didn’t have the money to do it and all my scholarships and funding was depleted, it was the Martins, who co-signed loans for me to continue on and get my degree.  I don’t know why that hit me today like a ton of bricks – but it mattered.  Maybe because we all talk a good game about wanting to help someone less fortunate, but at the end of the day, would we really co-sign a loan for a non-family member who may or may not succeed?  Would we really invest and be responsible for such a quantity of money for a non-blood-related relative?  Most of us wouldn’t do it…  but they loved me and believed in me so much.. when I asked for help, again, it wasn’t a problem.  No hesitation. They signed and I finished college and got my bachelors.  Ain’t that something quite beautiful?

I’m heart-broken today. And I can’t stop crying. My face is stained with tears.

But intermittently I’m crying tears of joy. How lucky I’ve been to have been loved by such wonderful people.

And here’s the thing. The best part of the story:  the Martins, these beautiful people, helped so many.  I’m just one person whose life they changed and made better.  There are so many people whose lives transformed because the Martins went out of their way to help.   And they did it just as powerfully, and just as beautifully, as they changed mine.

I’m not sure I ever expressed enough how much I appreciated what they did for me. I hope I can be one tenth of the person they were in helping the world be a better place – by loving, by caring, by touching even just one person’s life.  What an amazing presence on the planet they were…

I love you so much Mrs. Martin.  I love you both.  Thank you for everything. And enjoy the dance…

Epic Failure: Taking My Own Medicine

I sometimes find myself working as a consultant generally helping start-ups move forward.

This particular start-up company that called me in is a mixture of freelancers and employees.  They were working business black suitwith a pretty high profile client on a project that seemed to take forever. Unfortunately, they didn’t understand or take into account the financial ramifications of what it would actually cost them to produce their art.  So they ended up losing money.  In essence, the small promising start-up company ended-up paying to work.

To add to the loss of money they endured, the client whose project they worked on for months, decided not to use their work and went with a rival company instead.  That stung for sure.

When I was asked to help these creatives unravel their problem with finances I simply told them:  “The issue you’re having is you don’t fully understand your own value as an artist. You don’t get the big picture.”

The room went uncomfortably silent.  They seemed stunned.  How dare I? And what could I possibly mean?   The vibe I was getting felt like they were all secretly screaming – We’re designers and absolutely understood our own work, crazy lady.  Eeeh, I kept on…

“Look, art is a beautiful thing. Being creative is magnificent and all of us have to find it within ourselves to express who we really are – – and some of us do that by designing, some by writing, and others by being teachers, actors or whatever.  But being creatively brilliant isn’t enough.  It is, if what you’re going for is being creative in your bedroom or basement and only showing your stuff to your family and friends. But if you’re going to put your art out there and expect people to buy it, then you’re going to have to learn the other part of being a creative person – and that involves ALSO understanding the business end of the spectrum. That’s what I mean by not understanding fully your value as an artist.”

Lightbulbs seemed to be going off above some heads. So I continued on:

“Look, I saw your boards. I saw how meticulous it was that you scheduled time for each frame, for each character, for each part of the story. I saw the schedule you put in place for each person’s time on each individual thing. But what I didn’t see was that same dedication into billing for that time, or any time frame for revisions and costs to those adjustments.  I don’t see a budget anywhere that includes things like materials, overages and/or calendar changes.  Basically, a client offered you money and you took it without a thought to any of that. Creating art as a business isn’t just about the design. It’s about something bigger than that. The technical stuff. The money stuff. The marketing stuff. Business is the umbrella, but under that umbrella is a lot of other “stuff” to understand and master to make it work and to make it profitable. ”

They got it.

“Let’s talk about what someone earlier called an ‘epic failure’.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, mistakes are going to happen.  Not just in business, but in life.  It’s never an epic failure to make a mistake unless of course you make the mistake over and over and over again and never learn from it.  If you learn from the mistake, then it was a valuable lesson and one that should be embraced and then let go. Period.  Consider it a learning moment. That’s a good thing.  It’s an education.  And education is never free.  Change your perspective to a positive about this particular project. It feels better and helps you move on…”

Well the vibe in the room seemed lighter.  They got it.  Applause.  I felt good.

And then, just as quickly I realized I had to make a note to myself — so on my phone I quickly typed in a memo:  You know what would be really great Carm? If you actually practiced what you preached and took some of your own medicine!

Ahhhh….a perfect example of a “Carmen-ism” for sure!

Two minute movie review: Paddington

When it comes to movies, I’m rarely surprised.

This weekend I went with my beautiful 6 year old God-daughter and her mom to see the movie Paddington and we had the best time!  Talk about being surprised!

Laugh out loud funny moments for both kids and adults.  A story line that works brilliantly, with wonderful acting, great music moments (one of my favorites without giving anything away – I’ll just say two words:  Lionel Richie) and a beautiful teddy bear that feels life-like right from the start – Paddington is great fun and a perfect family movie that all will appreciate and certainly enjoy!

Oh, and just to add a little more – it teaches empathy, love and about what family really means (and a whole bunch more).  We give it two bear-paws up!    Enjoy!