The Kinda Pope We’ve Always Wanted..Needed…

Pope Francis waves from his car, a Fiat, upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis in a Fiat!  Arrives at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of his first visit to the United States.  I couldn’t love this any more!

And, I don’t need to write anything else.  A picture truly is worth a thousand…

Lions, Abortion and Police

cecil 001

“…intentionally wanting to be a killer as opposed to having to kill?  Those are two different things.”

I’ve said very little about the killing of Cecil the Lion.  What has struck a nerve is some of the fringe discussions that people are having around the whole “Trophy” hunting thing – whether it be Marco Rubio tweeting in dead children and the idea of abortions being something we should be more concerned about, or various people on Twitter talking about how Cecil the Lion “…better not be more important than Dubose…” – meaning, the killing of Mr. Dubose by a University of Cincinnati Police officer.  Well, it all just got me thinking…

Why do we seem more upset about the killing of a Lion as a collective than maybe some other horrible event?

Personally, it makes complete sense.

When we think of abortion, no matter what side you lean on, there is still the belief that no one thinks women intentionally go and get pregnant in order to abort a fetus, or a human being (definition of fetus or human being depends on your perspective on the subject of course).

In the same respects, the killing of Black men by police officers still does not seem to be an intentional act even by these corrupt and clearly misguided (and probably racist) cops.   More specifically, I don’t believe these officers wake up in the morning and say, “Oh, I’m so glad I’m a cop today – now, I can go find a Black guy and shoot him.”  Well, that’s my hope anyways.

The point is simple:  The reason why Cecil the Lion hurt a different part of my heart wasn’t because it was more important than any other issue out there today – NO.  It hurt because the intention all along for this dentist, this American man, was to KILL an animal. He woke up that morning and literally paid for the thrill to KILL.  It wasn’t for food, it wasn’t for clothing, it wasn’t to defend himself – it was for no other reason than saying he could and mounting a Lion’s head on his wall.

It just feels wrong.

I have no problem with actual hunters, though I admit, it’s not my thing per se. But the urge to KILL?  The NEED to KILL for no apparent reason, with no justification? That’s why this is different.  Most legit hunters hunt and eat their kill.  But to hunt like this?  It just doesn’t sit right with me.

It is wrong.

So, look no one’s saying Cecil’s death is more important than our brothers being killed by police officers. And no it’s not more important than my stance on abortion. Truthfully, I’m not sure why we need to rank such things, because all in all, it just sucks equally.  But, intentionally wanting to be a killer as opposed to having to kill? Those are two different things.  And that, in my opinion, is what has touched a nerve in all of us.

How To Criticize or Tell Someone A Truth

Enjoy the Podcast or the Written Word (transcribed)


Most people, when hearing something critical do the very normal thing of becoming defensive.  It doesn’t matter how gently you tell someone something — when you’re pointing out that something is wrong, our natural instinct as humans is to defend ourselves.

I got an email from this wonderful person on my LinkedIn page the other day and she was criticizing a picture that I had posted and my first thought was to explain it:  Why I liked the picture so much, that it was a picture that was taken in between two posed pictures by the photographer – I was coming up with all these defensive explanations even though I didn’t need to.

So, knowing this, that none of us like to be told that we did something wrong, or to be criticized, I started thinking about how we speak to each other.  How we can do a better job of finding the right tone and the right way to help people.  And that’s the first key.

This persons email on LinkedIn, was all about me.  It wasn’t about her being right –  she wasn’t trying to be righteous or trying to be better than me.  She was genuinely coming from a place of trying to help me be the best possible ME I could be.  And I think that’s the first important thing to understand when you go to tell someone the truth or when you go to criticize someone:  make sure that the reason why you’re doing it is because you’re trying to help someone else and that it’s not about you at all.

The next thing to remember is to always put yourself in that persons shoes.  How do you best take criticism?   Think about that.  We’re all naturally defensive.  So when you have to hear something that you don’t want to hear, how would it best be relayed to you?  Probably from a very nurturing point of view?  Loving point of view? A kind point of view?  So always put yourself in that persons shoes first.

The other thing that I think is important is tone.  Tone, whether written, or texting or verbally, is extremely important.  If you are in attack mode, that’s how someone’s going to take it. They are going to be even more defensive.  But if you come to it from a place of concern, of kindliness, lovingness, you can hear that in someone’s tone, people tend to take things much easier when you have the right soothing or comforting tone. It’s definitely a skill.  But once you master it, it becomes so much easier to tell people the truth.

Another trick that I use – and I will call it a trick – maybe a strategy is a better way to say it – if I need to tell someone a truth, I always try to first tell them something complimentary.   But it has to be genuine and authentic.  It’s kind of a way to ease yourself into telling someone the truth.  I’ll give you a frivolous example:

I had a friend come over the other night and we were going out and she was dressed very provocatively.  And the shirt she was wearing was just not working for her.  She was going for sexy, but it was definitely coming across more like slutty.  She asked me what I thought of her outfit and I told her the truth. I said, “You know what?  I love what you’re going for – I love the skirt, the shoes are awesome.  But I’m not sure the blouse is the best because it’s taking away from those fabulous legs of yours…”  And she understood.  She got it.  And so she changed the shirt.  The point is, always find a complimentary way to ease yourself into the truth telling.  And it should be authentic and it should be genuine.  And I really did believe her shoes were amazing and she does have the best legs ever!

So the next time you’re in a position of needing to tell someone the truth, make sure you’re coming to it from a place that’s about them and not about you.  Come to it from a nurturing, loving, kind place to help them be the best possible person they can be.  And it’s never about you being right.  Or about you winning.  And if you do that, you’ll always strike the right tone.

By the way, I did change my picture on My LinkedIn Page because of this woman’s email.  She was right.  And I was able to take her criticism and make a better decision.

I hope this helps.  Thank you again for stopping by.  I hope to be back real soon.

In the meantime, have a sweet day!


*Music by Chris Zabriskie, Prelude No. 23, Licensed by Creative Commons 

How to Let It Go

“Let it go”.  Such a cliché line.

Letting anything go is not easy. Generally we hold onto things because we’ve been hurt or there’s been an injustice.  There could be a lot of reasons, but the real reason we can’t easily let things go is simply because we haven’t taken responsibility for our own actions in the situation.

I know that stings a bit. But let me explain with a few real life examples:

First, a Personal example: 

I had been dating this guy for a while when I first caught him in a lie.   I forgave him and we went on.  Then he lied again. But I was in love with him. I wanted to make things work.  Everyone who knew him talked about how brilliant we were together and that he was such a good man.  Then he cheated on me.  I dumped him.

But not until three years after the first lie.  

For the longest time I couldn’t let it go.  I was hurt, angry and felt like I had been manipulated.  And then one day I realized I wasn’t mad at him as much as I was mad at myself.  How could I not see so clearly that he had no respect for me?  And did I honestly believe THAT was the first time he cheated on me?  Of course not.  I was mad at myself.  I was angry with not “getting it” earlier.   But once I accepted responsibility for my own actions, or lack thereof, in the situation, I was truly able to let all thoughts and feelings of this person go… in effect, actually, let it go.

Now please, don’t misunderstand – acknowledging your role in the circumstance doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.  Clearly, I wasn’t the one who cheated.  But, when we know better, we do better (paraphrasing the great Maya Angelou here).  And acknowledging my role in allowing this man to be a part of my life when he had no respect for me from the beginning…well, that’s on me.  Maybe I could have forgiven him the first time – but three times? Three years?  Now I know better.

Here’s another example from the Business point of view:

I was working with a group of people on a huge project – we were a team.  And every morning we would discuss the plan for the day and how we would accomplish the goals that we had set with our clients.  Various times I would come up with an idea and later in the day this other woman who was playing “team leader” would take all the credit for MY idea when we would present our end-of-day analysis to our boss.

At first I tried to blow it off and tell myself that it didn’t matter, it was a team effort.  But she continued to do it.  And she did it so brazenly that it kept me up at nights – I couldn’t sleep.  Other people in the group kept telling me to let it go and honestly, that just made the angst in my chest worse.  Finally, I realized that if I wanted her to stop taking credit for everything, I needed to take responsibility and let her know how I felt.  The next day, I confronted her professionally at the morning meeting with a list of all the ideas she kept taking credit for that I felt was inappropriate.  I listed all the specific ideas that belonged to other people, myself included.   And I told her, that it was creating an uncomfortable environment for me – either we were a team and it was a team effort, or it wasn’t. And then I reminded her that she couldn’t do this herself.

Little by little other members chimed in as well showing support for my conclusion.  She was voted out as “team leader” and I was put in her place.  From that day forward, credit was given to the team. And if one individual soared above all others in some specific thing that changed the course of the project in a positive way, special credit was always allotted to that person, not to the team leader.

Yeah, I slept beautifully after that. Dealing with a situation makes it real easy to actually let it go

Even with Death, it takes work to actually be able to let someone go 

One of my dearest friends, died three years ago. Honestly, I’ve been having a hard time of it since he was found in his bed. He had died in sleep and had been there for about 5 days.  For whatever reason, after two memorials, spending time with his family and friends, I still couldn’t stop thinking about him.  It wasn’t a sorrow of loss, but something else.  Something wasn’t sitting right with me.  Again, people kept telling me that I just had to let him go.  And the more I kept hearing that phrase, the more I realized that it meant absolutely nothing…  You can’t let someone or something go when you still have something to say or do.

So I sat down and wrote my friend a letter.  A long letter. And I realized pretty quickly, I was angry with him. Pissed actually.  Surely, I missed him, but we had had some plans, some unfinished business and…  I needed to say it all. Angrily. Sadly. And then, I found myself smiling, laughing even.  Ultimately, I realized it wasn’t his fault I was missing him.  His death was such a shock – and it was unfair to lose someone so young and so healthy.  I had to acknowledge that before I could let my dear friend rest in peace…  and finally, for real, let him go….

So how do you actually LET IT GO?

By figuring out the problem. The real problem.  By answering the question as to WHY you have such angst. AND using a very proactive approach to stop feeling the way you’re feeling.  Look at the problem from a different point of view – and then taking responsibility for it.  Letting it go isn’t about ignoring the issue or expecting Time to magically fix it.  It’s about figuring out the problem and then doing the work to ease your own pain. Once you heal, it’ll be easy to move on through the situation.

Some Carmen-ism Tips: 

  • Try not to use the cliché line let it go when trying to comfort someone. It might make YOU (the consoler) feel better, but it never really helps the person in the predicament in the long run.  I know AA folk and religious folk like to say “Let go and Let God” a variation of the same thing that is always brought up when I start this topic of conversation.   Again it may sound good and come from a good place, but sometimes God needs us to use the brains we were given to get through a problem.  “Let go and Let God” sounds nice, but rarely ever works and rarely ever helps on its own.
  • If you have a feeling of angst, or something that you can’t just let go of because you know someone has done you wrong – then do some self-reflecting. And what I mean by that is, as hard as it may be, try to see what your role was in the event.  Look at it from that new perspective. Remember, knowing your role or accepting your responsibility in the situation does not mean you are to blame. But it will give you the first tools to really move through the angst regardless if it’s personal or business related  – and maybe you’ll also seeing a silver lining (there’s always a learning moment, even if it’s not easy to see at first).

Once you take responsibility for your role in the situation, then you can choose what to do next.  End a relationship, confront a person about their misgivings, write a letter to let your feelings out or whatever may be an option for you.  Either way, it gives you back some control on how you’re feeling and really is the best way to start the process of healing.

Hope that helps.

Keep on keepin’ on.