Photo Shoot Fun Day

I had a photo shoot today and generally, I expect the worst — it’s just not my favorite thing to do as a performer. But I got hair and make-up done today professionally and just LOVED IT! The make-up artist, Penelope Vazquez (@penelopevazquezmua) worked her magic and just made me feel sooooooo goooooooood! It’s such a collaborative thing, the kind of ART that I do, that when it all works, it’s FABULOUS! As soon as I get the pics, I’ll upload, but for now — here’s “me” enjoying my damn-self, a little too much with a few selfies and vid!

Sorry. Not Sorry! 🙂

 

 

WHO AM I?

 

Who Am I?

 

Without force I am everything I ever wanted to be and nothing of what I truly am.

I am wisdom working.

 

 

 

With My Morning Coffee

If you look at your social media feed when you first wake, please make sure you start your day with the possibility of joy.  I follow this beautiful soul on Twitter — and seriously, every morning, with my coffee, I find myself starting the day with a smile.  

 

If you don’t know who Lin-Manuel Miranda is… trust me, you should!

Hamilton.

(I only follow the beautiful ones….)

Please start your day with the possibility of joy.  It changes everything when you do.

Carmen

 

 

 

 

My Symphony

Saturday 9:23am

I just feel like writing. I’m dressed to go for a run. My bed is made, I’ve had my coffee, it’s way past my “writing time” – yes, I have a “writing time” – it’s usually early in the morning between 5am and 6am.  It was never a scheduled thing, it just happens that way.  It’s the quietest time of the day for me. My mind is free, clear and fresh.  And yet, things pop in and out like a symphony.  Musicians chiming in on cue – that’s what it feels like when I write early in the morning.

But now it’s much later. My day has already begun, and this, this workout – this run – is what’s next. But I can’t. Something has pulled me back.  And I never type when I write. No. I’m old school. I’m that person that has to write long-hand and then transfer it to the computer if I dare (that “symphony” of writing isn’t always a masterpiece, or even close, by the way).

Hmm.  So what’s so important that I half tied the laces on my sneakers and have sat back down in front of my computer to write? Honestly I have no idea. I don’t know what’s about to come next, but I’m typing nonetheless.

Lots of things have plagued my brain lately. I refuse to let politics crowd my thinking too much so I’ve limited my time around it — but I can’t dismiss what happened yesterday.  What a refreshing moment to hear President Barack Obama speak in Chicago. I turned on the TV and like a dried-up sponge needing for just a drop of water, I was quenched instantaneously.  The complete feeling of security as an American came back to me – I hadn’t realized it had ever left. But yes, that stunned me a bit yesterday — the need to hear a leader of my country speak… in a rhythm. In a cadence. With elegance and intelligence.  It was music to my ears, to my soul…

In lieu of dealing with the daily politics of the current foolish administration, I’ve been reading Jon Meacham’s book, The Soul of America.  A reminder that we’ve been through similar moments before and prevailed.  But still.   I wish we weren’t here again.  I wish Obama’s voice didn’t settle my soul so much – it just reminded me of how bad things really are – and although I have faith that we’ll be fine and find our way back, it’s is daunting…maddening and surreal.

But my brain has also been plagued by my recent trip back to the east coast.  I got lost in my own home town of Boston – that’s how long it’d been since I’d been home – I can’t lie, I miss that beautiful town so much more than I realized.  I actually missed the sky scrapers, the city lights, the hum…  it’s not like New York at all, but when New Yorkers talk about New York, I get what they mean.  For me, Boston has never left me.  My heart.  It’s part of who I am and although I never negated that, and I’ve always been a proud Bostonian, I hadn’t been home FOR REAL in a long time.  Just me, visiting the city.  Me, walking around – people watching.  City loving.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d been back in the past 24 years, but just for weddings, funerals, graduations – and only for a minute. A weekend at most – but this time, I was THERE. Away from the chores of “family” and instead with just the city. And my friends. And I miss it. I ache for my friends.  And I’m a little sad to be back in Los Angeles…

I went to Vermont too – actually I was there first. I don’t miss Vermont so much (I went to school there) but I do miss sitting on Alden’s back porch for hours overlooking Lake Champlain in the distance and laughing, talking, reminiscing… That was everything. And it settled my heart.  I miss the simplicity of quiet.  The prettiness of tranquility.  The crickets at night nearly killed me though – but I could get used to that hum again, I think, not sure – but the quiet during the day, the calm hum of life…. It really was beautiful.  And yeah, I miss that now too.

I don’t know why I needed to write right now, but isn’t that the beauty of creativity? You never know when it’s going to hit – and sometimes I swear I have the best thoughts in the most inopportune moments – for me, IN THE SHOWER is a big one!  I hate that!  It also happens when I’m in my stride.  Running so fast (for me) that I’m in that imaginary zone people talk about – if I think of it, I turn on my recorder on my cell and try to grasp that ever “clever” thought – but the moment I do all of that, I’ve stopped the creativity and most likely lost the initial “thought” anyways!!!  I’m sure I’ve solved the world’s problems ten times over during those moments – I just haven’t been able to record it fast enough without losing the momentary thought!  😉

James Baldwin said, “Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does.  Love is a battle; love is a war; love is a growing up.”  Seriously, it’s just in my head. I have no idea why, but I wanted to mention that too.  It’s part of the symphony – it all makes sense and sounds so beautiful in my head.  And I’m not sure Mr. Baldwin was right. But I can’t argue it yet either – so it’s there, in the melody…

There’s a lot going on in my head – I feel blessed to be consumed by so much.  Whenever I write (long hand) I tend to end with how I’m feeling.  I feel good.  Right now, I feel empowered and in a space of intrigue.  Everything seems tangible even though I can’t really grasp it.  Yes, I get how ridiculous that sounds, and yet, it’s still true. I am reevaluating everything. I’m dreaming every dream and not discounting its real life applications. Everything is in sync. It sounds beautiful. Rhythmic. In tune. I love that actually. I love that a lot.

Okay, my typing has slowed, my brain feels purged. I think the orchestra has finished. For now.

Time to lace up my sneakers, put on my headset and go for a run.

Carmen

My Slice Of Pie

My Slice of Pie

As many people know, I recently traveled to Vermont and Boston to visit friends – it was an amazing trip.  And even though it was just to the East Coast and a place very familiar to me, it was one of the best “vacations” I’ve had in long while. I’m so glad I went.

Along my travels, I had dinner with Patty (well, Alden and Andy were there as well – but this is a story about my friend “Pie”, aka Patty).  She’s retired from working at the University of Vermont.  It’s where we first met.  She shared with me all the gifts she received at her retirement party.  They presented her with a book that included letters from students talking about why Patty Corcoran was special to them.  I had no idea and hadn’t been contacted to write anything – in all fairness to UVM, I took my name off their mailing and calling lists years ago… but still.  I should have written something for her book.  I was one of her students.

In her usual understanding and lovingly-filled way, as she flipped through the book casually, she asked me to write a little something and send it to her so she could “include it in the book” after-all.

Well, following is that little something — a note of thanks for Pie:

 

Why is Patty Corcoran special to me?  Well, that could easily fill an entire book.

I was never supposed to go to college. It wasn’t that no one mentioned the word “college” growing up, it just wasn’t tangible or realistic for most in my neighborhood.  So, imagine my surprise when I found myself signing in for orientation at the University of Vermont.

Now, I can’t find the right words to describe the amount of fear I had in going to college in the first place, but once I was there it was palpable.  Everything and anything was a reason for me to quit.  From my point of view, I wasn’t supposed to be there anyways.  Patty clearly had a different vision about my college career and from day one her support and commitment to me as a student was…remarkable.

My first experience in dorm life was a horrible one.  I was an older “non-traditional” student who had been assigned to live in Davis Hall with a roommate who was fresh out of high school and ready to explore her new-found freedom in college life. We clashed. We clashed on so many levels.  After many attempts to resolve the problem myself, I was ready to pack my bags and make my way back to Boston.  I was intimidated by my surroundings and not being able to get along with my roommate seemed to be my cue.  But Patty Corcoran intervened with the Director of Residential Life and got me moved immediately. That was the first time we met – officially anyways. She made it clear then and she would reiterate over the next four years, that any problem, any issue I needed help with, I was to contact her first before boarding a bus back to Boston.  That was my saving Grace.

The ability to comprehend someone’s fear and dissolve its power instantaneously is one of Patty’s notable qualities.  There was never an issue too difficult that she wouldn’t tackle and find some way to walk you through.  If there was a problem, she’d fix it. Period.

A better example of Patty’s importance to me came in another moment at UVM that was devastating for me personally.  I struggled with my grades. I couldn’t understand why exactly – I studied and studied and studied and I still failed tests or barely got a passing grade.  I was generally a “B” student in high school, most days without even trying – so again, I reasoned that college just wasn’t for the likes of me. True to form, Patty didn’t buy into that at all. She was convinced that I had what it took to get my bachelor’s degree and proposed that I get tested to see if I had a learning disability that we could work around.

Well, I wasn’t diagnosed with a learning disability, but it was determined that I didn’t have the necessary basic skills that most college students have when entering their first year.  I had been a stutterer as a kid, so this was yet another hurdle I didn’t think I could bare. The tests revealed other information: that I was a visual learner and did best verbally explaining things instead of writing them out on timed exams or taking lengthy multiple choice kind of tests.  Clearly, again, in my mind, this was more evidence that I wasn’t fit to be in this place.  That’s what I understood from the “diagnosis”. Combined with being Black, Latina, older, growing up poor…I was sure THIS was it, I’d be heading home soon enough.

But that’s not what Patty heard. 

What Patty heard was I needed to be able to take tests that were un-timed. That I needed to be able to verbally prove I knew the material.  That I needed to be able to write out answers to any questions without the pressure of a clock.  Patty made all that happen.  We sat and looked at my class schedule, she spoke to the professors who would allow for this adjustment and we changed my classes for those who would not.  Patty empowered me and taught me to work around any “disability” – and she reminded me, never to let anything deter me from my goals. But here’s the true brilliance of these moment if you haven’t figured it out yet:  Patty believing in me, having faith in me, is what made all of my studies and test taking after that so much easier.  Professors accommodating my needs was helpful, but Patty having the certainty that I was worthy…that was everything. When someone believes in you?  That’s a game-changer.

I could go on and on. As I’ve mentioned, I could write a book about Patty Corcoran’s importance to me during my days at UVM. Her ability to nonchalantly take any problem you have and turn it into a learning moment is priceless.  Her casual skill of reminding you how important you are to the world and how much you matter to her is remarkable.  And Patty does it all with a sense of joy and positivity —  and it’s always personal.  You are the most important person in the room when Patty is talking to you.  You are all that matters.  For the longest time I thought I was the only student she cared this much about – I was special.  When I realized Patty did this for many students at UVM, I can’t lie, I was a little jealous.  Okay, maybe a lot jealous!

But I understood in my senior year that Patty Corcoran was not just a gift to me, but a gift to UVM. A gift to anyone who had the privilege of knowing this wonderful woman.  She was a light, an inspiration, even during the tumultuous times of my four years at UVM. She was always positive and uplifting.  And like so many people I admire and aspire to be like, Patty makes you feel like a better person just by being her authentically cool self. She makes it all seem so easy.

When you’re with Pie, you will smile. You will feel joy.  And you will feel loved.  There’s a power in that and a strength in who Patty Corcoran is, that makes her the kind of woman I aspire to be every single day.

So yes, Patty Corcoran, is still very special to me.  My Pie.  I would have never made it through college without her.  Of this I have no doubt.  I am a better person for knowing her and grateful to still be able to call her my friend.

Thank you, Patty…for everything and congratulations on your retirement!

With love and gratitude always,

Carmen Suarez, Class of 1994

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support

Like many things in our lives, it’s so much easier when you have the right support to walk you through.

Today, I ran to the beach and back – in total it’s about a 6 mile run.  I ran fiercely today – it wasn’t a struggle at all.  I took no breaks. I felt like the music carried me easily through to finish back home in fairly record time. This may seem silly to those athletic friends of mine who do a 6 mile run at lunch on a regular basis, but for me, this was finally finding my stride.  My comfort zone.

It’s taken me a long time to get back here.

I met a great work-out group via MeetUp a couple of years ago —  Sabertooth Fitness —  and I continue to participate in those classes regularly.  I train with Pete Neumann privately, once a week and I’ve started taking a yoga class at Goorus.  Yoga is something I’ve NEVER been interested in at all, since I’m NOT a fan of the practice.  But I found this YIN class that works for me and it has added a whole other level of mind and body care that I hadn’t even considered.

One of the best things I joined,  which is free, was Kasey’s Walking Group which is just a facebook page of people committed to walking or running every day during the summer months and posting a picture or any update of your “moving” that day.  You go for a walk or a run, post a selfie, and watch others post their pics as well. It’s like a great big support group across the country motivating you to just go for a 10 minute walk if it’s all you can do that day.

This morning, on my way back from my run I stopped and while taking my selfie to post, I realized all this support, all this encouraging, has walked me through a very difficult time in my life. Since February 2018 life has pretty much been a bitch!  It really has!  So many things have happened – some real good: like my book being published — but mostly a lot of bad stuff.  Truth be told, all of them stressful, anxiety driven and very disappointing.

And yet, I’ve stayed on point working out, walking, running and have found myself dealing with each situation with calm and even joy (I know, it sounds weird, but I swear it!).  Today it hit me:  all these groups and “new” friends I’ve met where our common goals have been to stay fit – all that support and encouragement – has helped me get through so many obstacles these past few months unscathed. It’s been incredible.  And today I realized it – lightbulb moment!

For some people I think it may be hard to ask for help.  But for me, I didn’t even realize I needed help.  All this time, as I walked through some minefields these past months, I’d been supported by the camaraderie of friends in a class, or getting to a work-out, or meeting my trainer or just having to post on the group page.  All of these interactions motivated me to get out of the “minefield” situation I was in – take a break, maybe talk about it or not, but return with a fresh new perspective. And today, that just all came together and made so much sense, I had to share it!

My point is we should find ways to put the right people around us so we’re always in a nurturing supportive environment.  I know that sounds easy.  And yes, it seems logical.  But when we’re “in” a bad situation, the last thing we want to do is join a work-out group or post something on a page.  But, if you can push yourself  to join a group on Facebook or Meetup —  to just get out of your head for a bit – it really could help you get through things easier.  If only to give you a break from dealing with whatever “IT” is.  You may also be helping others by possibly being that “support” for someone else, even if you don’t realize it.  And yes, depending on the support environment you choose to create, you could also enjoy the side benefit of having that bikini beach body you’ve always wanted!  🙂

Clearly, today, was a good day for me.

 

 

Perfecting that Selfie

Caught in-between perfecting that selfie.

I was trying to fix the camera to take the “perfect” shot. Instead I got the…

in-between shot.

The un-fixed shot.

The un-posed shot.

Funny.

No matter how long I tried to pose for the right pic, nothing ever matched the “realness” of this moment.  The in-between shot.

I could point out every flaw – and I want too – but, it’s pointless. And honestly, who cares?  I have a good life – in this moment…. “life is pretty spectacular”.  The perfect selfie?  Irrelevant! 

It’s become cliché but wow…  First. World. Problems.

A bad selfie.

Moral? 

Catch the moments in-between.  It may be the sweet spot.

 

 

 

 

For The Love of Alden

I was out running.

I had forgotten to silence my cell.  The music and mind are not to be interrupted for that one workout hour. Every. Day. That’s the goal.

The text chimed loudly amidst Prince’s “Purple Rain”.  I stopped cold, annoyed at the interruption.  I checked the phone, attempting to just turn off all sound, I saw the alert message anyways.  It was from the East Coast.  Alden was in the hospital. He’d had a bike accident.

I skipped the rest of the text.

My heart sank.  This has happened to me before.  A text message and then, dread.  I felt my eyes well up. And I reminded myself to read the whole text first…stay calm and read the entire text.

Alden & Jame Startt, lead guitarist for the Parisian funk band, Urban Groove Unit; incomparable vlogger (Tour Talk); and the best photographer of cyling alive today (see Peloton Magazine).

Alden is this beautiful man who is a cross between Robert Redford, Anthony Bourdain and the best friend you could ever have – even if you’d just met him a minute ago, you’d feel it.  He’s intellectually brilliant, his voice is sexy and his energy perfection. I honestly think he’s maybe the hottest guy I’ve ever known – definitely the most beautiful man I’ve ever laughed with –  and I know if he were reading this right now, he’d be blushing, giggling.  He’d try real hard to be mad at me all at the same time humbled by my awe of him. His genuine humility, his authenticity, is probably the sexiest thing about him. And yeah, he’s easy on the eyes for sure.

Alden is a cyclist.  He travels the world and adventures for most of the year meeting the most amazing people, taking the most incredible pictures and just personifies to me – “enjoying life”.  He calls Vermont home, but I think Alden brings a sense of home to wherever he is and to whomever you are. He connects with everyone, from any background, anywhere.  You can’t help but be comfortable in his space – he just has that kind of energy. It’s a gift.  I honestly don’t know one person who has ever said a bad thing about him. But then again, no one would dare say a word to me – I’d kick their butt if they did.

I read the entire text.

Alden was reading my book while “recovering” — he broke his femur. “Call him, he would love to talk to you.”  I felt comforted by that line in the text.  Part of me laughed at the thought of him reading my book for any kind of recovery – but yes, my heart settled a bit. Tears had already rolled down one cheek, as I dialed.

The first words out of his mouth were “CARRRRRRRRRRMEN!” — and then, “Do NOT get on a plane to see me. Don’t do it!”  He was being sarcastic and yet, he wanted me to come – he knows that’s exactly what was about to happen.  I’d done it before when a mutual friend of ours was in the hospital. That time, there was no conversation about it, I just got on a plane and was there as soon as possible.

We talked for a while.  It was nice.  I had forgotten how much I loved talking to this beautiful soul.

In India hanging out with High Schoolers

He’s funny and endearing without even trying.  And whenever we chat it’s both a giggle fest and a learning moment.  Mostly for me, but I think for him too.  We shared our love of Anthony Bourdain and how much we missed him.  I kicked myself for not calling him when “Tony” died – but you know, I thought of Alden so much.  He truly is the most realistic version of a REAL Anthony Bourdain I know – minus the food and tats, add in the avid cyclist and skier.  But Alden is a story-teller, a lover of people, a traveler – an adventurous soul.  His natural good looks are nothing compared to his naturally pure gorgeous heart.  I am so lucky to have him in my life and so grateful that although his injuries are fierce and yes, he’ll be out of commission for a while, that it was nothing worse.   He’ll make a full recovery.  And that’s the thing about Alden – even while I’m tearing as he explains how bad the break was and how devastated he is knowing he’ll be in rehab for bit, he then expressed how in the big scheme of things, he was fine. He’s never a victim. And he’s always more concerned about others and their stories – he wanted to know more about my book and how it was going.  And he reassured me that even though he was still suffering from a concussion that he was excited to read it.  Hilarious!  But that’s who he is. It’s never about him, even when it completely should be.  He’s always curious about others – lovely, charming and so damn smart. I’m honored he’s my brother, my friend. And I’m so glad he’s okay.

Alden riding in West Marin County, CA in the spring.

So, I’m not jumping on a plane today to visit Alden. Though I did look at flights and I will be out in August for sure.  In the meantime, I put together a care package for him – I took a pic of a recent mural of Anthony Bourdain by Jonas Never at the Gramercy here in Los Angeles. I added in some other little funny-isms and sent that out yesterday after our talk.

Today, I thought about writing this blog post knowing that he’d hate me sharing his pictures from his private facebook page – knowing that he’d hate all the accolades and love I send his way.  I gush too much I’m sure.  But then I thought – I don’t care.  If I had LOST him, if my boy had died in that bike accident, I’d be writing this and sharing about him because I waited too long.  It would be a miserable thing.  And sad.  And you know what?  I don’t want to make that mistake.  I want to praise him while he’s here.  I never want to take for granted ever again the people I love the most.  Priorities.  He can be mad all he wants. I welcome his wrath.  I’ll be grateful for it actually.

Reach out to your loved ones today.  Seriously. Take this as a sign.

With love, Carmen

 

 

 

 

And They Call Themselves Christians…Disgusting!

AND THEY CALL THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS — PAHLEEZE!

This is my response to a Tweet and Facebook post and I HAD to share it here (original Tweet below):

43. Ain’t that sad? And we’re being encouraged to call. Lord help us. You’d think it’d be all Senators without question. Especially the “religious” ones. The Republican party — you know, faith and family and all that crap. I’m heartbroken by children being damaged by this senseless act — I’m just as heartbroken by all the adults who are standing by, using Biblical passages to justify their wrong-doing, their racism. Is there any question if these were little White blue-eyed children this would be happening? Not. One. Question. At. All. I am NOT trying to sell my book at all — I’ll give it to anyone who wants it, but THIS is exactly what my story is about — PEOPLE DOING THE RIGHT THING when a child was in need. Adults, stepping in and making sure a little brown Latin kid from the streets didn’t fall through the cracks and all of them — not knowing each other and not at the same time — just doing the RIGHT thing and BEING A GOOD AND DECENT PERSON. I’m so sorry, I’m so friggin’ angry about this… it’s killing me. This administration is killing all of us slowly.

 

 

Read my book if you need a reminder of HOW important WE ALL ARE to a child — to each other!

https://carmensuarez.com/canela/

 

 

My First Book Published! Yes!

My First Book CANELA has finally been published!  I’m so excited. 

Yesterday was an AMAZING day. My book has finally been published and it’s available now on Amazon.com as an e-book and as a paperback.

(For an excerpt visit:  carmensuarez.com/canela/)

I wanted to share that with everyone!

I’m not some great writer.  I’m not even the most brilliant storyteller – but my story is interesting, and probably not so much the norm.  My point in writing these true stories, is to remind us that who we are in the world and how we treat each other, mattersWe matter to each other.  And sometimes we don’t even realize it.  

Every person I talk about in the book is someone who changed the way in which my life manifested after I lost my only parent.  I ended up in some interesting, dangerous predicaments as a child and yet, I can say that I had the best childhood.  I should’ve been a statistic – in a bad way – and instead I had a really great life and became “successful” because of these amazing people I met along the way. We need to be reminded that who we are matters — not just to ourselves and our families, but to each other. Every day. With everyone we interact with.  When we do something, when we say something —  when we are our best selves, we can change a persons life for the better.  That’s what happened to me.

I hope you’ll read the book. Let me know what you think.  Please don’t be too harsh!   Either way, I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog –  “my creative space” and that you’ll consider wandering over here again some time soon.

Thank you for stopping by.

Carmen

 

WHO ARE YOU WHEN THINGS ARE BAD?

WHO ARE YOU WHEN THINGS ARE BAD?

It’s easy to be fun, brilliant, cool, loving, etc., when things are good. But who are you when things are hard? Who are you when things don’t go your way?  That’s when I can see your true shine…

 

 

 

Blabbering About Time

BLABBERING ABOUT TIME

As I re-read this journal entry, I kind of laugh.  Clearly, sometimes I should just put down the pen and drink my coffee.  I try and pick the “best” of what I’ve written in a week to scan and post…  Well, this goes off the rails a bit, but the point is Time is something I’ve been thinking a lot about – still am thinking about.