The Argument for Homelessness

The Argument for Homelessness20190502_141653

I was on LinkedIn this morning and I saw a post / Headline:

San Francisco billionaire gives $30M to study homelessness

https://www.apnews.com/9489e7a73b62497997bc3d55cd5d7424

In my simple view:  it’s a tech company owner trying to do a good thing with his excess of money on a philanthropic level.  Good.

So, the article didn’t throw me so much – but the comments were incredible. Made me sad actually.  As you might suspect, the comments ranged from support for the Billionaire doing a study to people questioning why he just didn’t give the homeless the money directly. Some of the comments were crass and not thought-out and some were interestingly veiled swipes at how the author of the comment could “do it better if they were a billionaire.”

I read all of the comments.  And what I learned is that most people sharing their views on the subject had an arms-length understanding of the issue.  They’ve probably never experienced being homeless. Never had a family member or known of someone out on the streets.  If they did, just like anything else we’re familiar with, our experience with this tragedy would show in some form of compassion and empathy.  There were none in most of these viewpoints.

As most people who know me and as I detail in my first book, I was homeless as a child. I like to say I was “homeless by choice” because unlike a lot of people who find themselves out on the streets, I had an enormous group of people who cared for me to a certain extent and I knew I could go somewhere if I wanted too. That’s a different kind of homelessness. I just didn’t want to a burden to anyone. I was alone, and scared and in danger.  Always in danger.

I met a lot of people who were homeless in my time.  I think what I understood most about people was exactly that – they were people. They were human beings with these incredible stories of a life once lived until something happened unimaginable that brought them to the streets.  Some of the people I met were funny. Some were quiet and others loud.  Some angry and rightfully so.  All of them scared.  And if they weren’t THAT, then they had lost their mental faculties long ago. Also, completely understandable…

You know how you come home from a long day at work where your boss just didn’t give you a break during a meeting and your co-workers threw you under the bus and you just couldn’t wait to get home to sit, on your couch and have a glass of wine just to relax?  Maybe it’s not just one day at work that was bad – but let’s say you missed a deadline or you lost a client or you messed up really badly and it’s just been a long hard couple of weeks.  We’ve all experienced that, right?  Maybe you have a drink or two –  more than a couple of times that week – just to relax. To forget about all of it.  It deadens the pain a bit – you just want to shake it off – whatever happened –  and finally get some sleep.

Imagine it never getting better. Not next week, or the week after. Or the month after…

It’s not that difficult to see how easily you can become an alcoholic or depressed – especially when you get fired, lose that job and can’t get another.  Your unemployment, your savings, all gone.  In this example, let’s just keep this fictitious person as a single man with no children.  His social life revolved around his career and so his friends/co-workers are afraid to talk to him because they don’t want the same thing to happen to them.  He loses his apartment because he can’t make the rent.  He already gave back his car.  He’s called in a few favors, but he’s already slept on friends’ couches who are clearly ready to have him leave.  He doesn’t want to be a bother – especially since he got real sick in the interim, had no health insurance and they helped him get better, bought his prescriptions, had been feeding him, providing shelter. He feels like a loser – he can’t get it together.  He’s sold everything. He’s depressed, but he tries to stay strong.  And yeah, he’s been drinking his friends wine – and now he knows it’s time he moves on so he tells them he’s grateful for the help but he decides to just find a bench to sit on at the beach somewhere and figure out what’s next.

All this time in his head he’s rethinking how he got here. What did he do to deserve this?  He goes to a local church to pray – he’s never been religious, but he tries anyways.  He has no money, a priest tells him where he can find a shelter…  and when he gets there, he eats and he cries because being in the shelter confirms he’s nothing. He was never supposed to be here. He was a Marine for goodness sake.

He stays in the shelter for as long as he can.  But it smells, it’s crowded and he’s not like these other guys.  He can’t take all the crazy people there.  So, he goes back to a bench. Near the beach.

When you walk on by, you see this guy talking to himself.  When I walk on by, I see a guy asking, praying, begging to understand why this happened and trying to figure things out.

This has been all of three weeks. His newfound homelessness.  Imagine, a year?

My argument for homelessness is that WE, those of us not currently homeless, dig deep and find empathy.  It’s the least we can do.  The way to start solving the problem of homelessness is to first STOP thinking it’s NOT OUR PROBLEM.

I was on the streets because I never knew my father and my mother died of a cardiac arrest due to asthma when I was 11 ½ years old.  My mother was a housekeeper, a teacher’s aide, living barely paycheck to paycheck with no real idea that she wouldn’t live long enough to see me turn 12.

Now some would argue that I was just a kid, it wasn’t my fault – and I would say, that makes it quite comfortable for you doesn’t it?  That makes you feel better, right?  We were all kids once.  I should have fallen through the cracks.  Statistics say I should have become a drug addict and pregnant and become nothing more than what statistics say – but can you guess WHY none of that happened? Why I never became a statistic?

Because of empathy. 

Empathy means:  The ability to understand and share the feeling of another. 

People saw a child in pain and instead of complaining about the problem at hand: Who left this child alone? Who’s going to pay for this kids welfare? What is wrong with this kid?  Why do I have to deal with this? Why is this kid homeless? What did she do? Instead of judging me, instead of being angry at the inconvenience, instead of beating me down when I was already low, instead of considering me an annoyance and a problem – people, blue-collar, hard working people with nothing themselves, all took turns doing what they could to walk me through a possibly terrible time in my life.  That’s what my book CANELA is about.  It’s about ALL OF THEM and what they did to make sure I “made it out”.  And there were so many others who didn’t make it IN the book. This wasn’t some coordinated effort by a neighborhood, most of these people never even knew each other – but they had empathy for a kid. I mattered.  I was never a foster child legally but to this day, I have many families and people that I consider mi familia because of their empathy. Support. Kindness.

The first thing to do in order to help the homeless is to stop thinking they are people beneath you and unworthy of your attention.  You do NOT need to give a homeless person any money when they are begging on the street – I’d actually suggest that you don’t do that because if you live in any city like I do, you’ll be giving money away all day long because the homeless situation IS that big.  But you can start to look at them with dignity.  You can start to send them a loving kindness in your thought instead of your typical annoyance and hatred as if they need that burden on them as well. You can start helping the homeless by stopping that ever important need to make it about YOU –  how it bothers YOU, makes YOU feel sad, blah, blah, blah.

SEE THEM. Imagine the beautiful people they were and how they can be again.  In order to help the homeless we can start by just thinking of them with kindness.  Change our perception and our attitudes of what homelessness is and realize that these are actually beautiful people and YES, you can SEE them and you CAN understand HOW they got here. If someone asks me for money, I always say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t have any cash.” And it’s from a place of true genuine kindness and respect. Not hatefulness. Not once have I been treated badly for treating someone with respect.  If anything, they thank me kindly and return a smile.  Even still, I’m not saying you need to talk to anyone at all or respond, but if you have hatred and anger in your soul about someone, they can feel it.  And it matters.  You know how you feel when your boss is pissed at you even if he hasn’t said a word about it?   That’s what these people feel too.

I pride myself on the life I came from and person I am today. No matter who I’m dealing with I am graced with the fact that I treat everyone with dignity and respect at least until they don’t deserve it any longer.  The homeless do get a bit more leeway and understanding from me for sure.  But only because I know that most every day a homeless person encounters another human being who isn’t homeless, they’ve probably been treated horribly, looked down upon and maybe even cursed at for merely existing the best way they can. I never want to treat any human being like that. I just can’t.

Empathy. It’ll cost you nothing at all. But can be the beginning of something big. And if you really want to do something about the homeless problem, then start with being a better human being yourself.

Carmen

Therapy Session: Life Changes

Therapy Session: Life ChangesZuma Beach 2017

Carmen: Honestly, I don’t know what’s wrong. Everything. Nothing. On the one hand, I know I have nothing to be complaining about. On the other, all I want to do is scream. It’s all just jibberish. Never mind.

Dr. Mei: How about if you stop over-analyzing what you’re going to say, and just say it?  Let me hear it and I’ll tell you if I think it’s jibberish or not. Deal?

Carmen: Okay.  Deal.  Uhm. Well, simply last week I was sure I’d be pitching my TV drama idea based on my book but I didn’t finish it. You know, detailing out all the characters and such. I wanted to be so organized, so ready and I’m not. Then, I got it in my head that I should pitch an idea I had on cultural criticism to a magazine that’s looking for new writers and so I started working on that.  I’ve outlined my second book – and started writing another chapter — I saw an audition online and wondered if I should submit – then I thought I should contact my agent to start sending me out or get a new agent because –  what the fudge, right? They haven’t sent me out at all. It’s annoying. Uggh.  I applied for a grant a while back and decided to follow through on the play part of the proposal. Plus it’s still something I want to do.  I “owe” two podcasts – based on my self-imposed schedule – I mean, what is wrong with me? Why do I think I can do all of this? And why can’t I do all of this?  Why am I feeling overwhelmed when this is everything I’ve been asking to do all along?

Dr. Mei:  First, take a breath. A deep breath.  Good.  Now, it seems like a lot, but why do you think you’re not doing it?

Carmen:  Well, if I’m being honest, I realize for the first time in my life I’m living my dream. For all these years I’ve worked a job I hated – yeah, I’ll say hated, without hesitation.  Even more than the work itself,  I hated the people I worked for.  I mean, now that I can look back, most of the people I handled money for were bitter, old-minded, entitled privileged lazy people. Ungrateful. And constantly complaining about how hard their life was and the worst:  they always “announced” how much they did for everyone else – which for the record, was write a check. Write a check from money they never had to earn by the way.  Anyone can write a check if they have money.  But it takes a real kind of person to take credit for doing bullshit.  I think I hated that the most. The god-damn boasting about how much money they gave to such and such… But I digress. I ultimately hated the work itself.

So, here I am, now, getting up every day working as a creative entity. I wrote my book, I’m doing some speaking events, I’m writing — exploring every day what it feels like to be a writer.  I can’t lie, it’s taken me some time to get into the groove of things. I mean, when I rehearsed as a kid, as a dancer, I was on schedule.  And, it’s taken me some time to FEEL like this is right, but I can’t lie. I’m scared.  I just am!

I fear I’m going to do all this work and nothing will come of it.  I mean, that’s not why you’re supposed to do ART in the first place, right? You’re supposed to create ART authentically because you can’t do anything else. But what if I share all of this, what if I pitch this or that or write a second book and no one cares?  What if I put so much into all of it and I get rejected, dismissed – or worse, what if I hear nothing at all?  What if I do all this and I still can’t pay the bills? What am I thinking?

I really can look at my entire life and see it that way. Nothing I’ve wanted has ever come to fruition. I’ve failed at everything I ever wanted even if I succeeded at everything else.  My entire life up until this point has always been to do the right thing. To be the good girl. To never be a bother.  And even still – with all of my effort of always being of service to others, of always being honest and kind…why haven’t I succeeded in all the things I’ve wanted?  Why try this? I’m just setting myself up for more heartache, right?  And which one of these things should I be pursuing?  What is wrong with me that I think I should be doing 5 things at a time?  And have I lost my mind? Do I think money grows on trees somewhere?

Dr. Mei:  Well, two things come to mind that I’d like to share.  Maybe three. First, take a breath.  I’m not saying that because it’s what I tell everyone – I’m saying that because I don’t think you notice how you hold your breath and tense up when you speak.  Your passion, your concern are formidable, but that stress is mounting and I can SEE it in you.  So first, take a nice long deep breath.

Second. I love how you said you’ve “failed”.  You realize you’re not done, yet, right?  You get that it’s not over yet.  As I know you, as I’ve read in your book, you haven’t failed at anything that was put in your path.  Most people see you as a success.  But you feel like you’ve failed at the things you want in life. I get that. But you’re wrong.  The problem isn’t that you failed Carmen. The problem is that you haven’t even started yet. 

You feel like a failure because you’ve been pursuing other people’s needs and joys.  You’ve never followed your true North.  You moved to Los Angeles and took a job doing bookkeeping because you knew it’d be better money than being a waiter, plus you’d never last waiting on people.  But it was the plan till you could get yourself stabilized to pursue your creative career.  Things continued on from there and the jobs got more important and impressive – and they got even more miserable with every day that went on.  My goodness, you wrote a book in the midst of so much misery in the job you had while working through past pain of your childhood!  That’s pretty remarkable. I can’t wait to read the second book for that reason alone!

Third, and maybe most importantly, you’re here now.  THIS was your path to get here.  You needed to travel that road to get to THIS point.  None of it was a waste of time – and none of it was really in your control.  This is LIFE happening.  You can only do what you know how to do when you actually KNOW how to do it.  You couldn’t be anything else other than who you were then, to be who you are NOW. This is the journey you’re on.  And so far, it’s been pretty interesting to say the least. Aren’t you excited to see what’s next? I am. I can’t wait to see what you do from here.

Let’s talk about rejection.  Or my other favorite quip you said, “…or worse, hear nothing at all.”  Whatever it is, fear of being rejected, to make a mistake, to let people down, to not make enough money to make a living, whatever.  Rejection is hard.  Doesn’t matter how many times you’ve gone through it, doesn’t matter how used to it you think you are – rejection is difficult.  Got it?

By the way, welcome to the club.

Yes. It’s a club.  We’ve all been there at least once in our lives.  You’re at a crossroad and instead of choosing which path to take, you’re standing at the head of all the choices in front of you hoping someone will you push you down the “right” path.

Look, everyone wishes Steven Spielberg will run into them at the local coffee shop and be so stunned by their mere presence that he asks you to his office because you’re his next lead in his upcoming movie.  People dream of Oprah calling them on the phone and saying, I read your book and you’re one of my favorite things… yes, we all want that. Someone to validate us, someone to walk us through.  It would be easier…

I’m not Steven Spielberg, but let me help shove you down a path anyways.  Write the TV Script, do the pitch, write the second book, do the acting, the podcast, the blog, do the magazine cover – DO ALL OF IT!  Do the speaking events, teach, write, dance – all of it IS WHO YOU ARE.  It’s who you’ve always been even while doing everything else.  That’s what’s so impressive.  IT’S YOUR TRUE NORTH Carmen.  You’re a story-teller, a performer.  Do you need evidence? Okay – here’s some off the top of my head:  Steve Cadwell said, “You write like Hemingway: every word true to the bare bone fact of how you experienced it. Compelling!”  That was October 21st, 2018.  Right?  You sent me the email because you were so happy.

Need more? I can rattle off the names, the people – some you know, some you don’t who have already told you about your writing.  But just looking at your face I can sense your disbelief.

Tell me what you’re thinking right now.

Carmen: I’m thinking they’re all just being nice. Overly generous.

Dr. Mei: Okay. Let’s go with that. Let’s pretend that all the accolades thus far have been people “just being nice” to you.  For the record, that’s a complete untruth, but let’s just go with it.  So what?  Then just do it because it’s what’s next.  Do it because you have no reason NOT too. Do it because you’ve been given numerous “signs” that you should.  Do it because NOT doing it guarantees failure and regret. Do it because it makes you happy. Do it because I’m telling you, this is so much closer to your true North than anything else you’ve done in the past 20 years. Do it because even when you talk about the struggle of it, you still sound lighter and happier than any time you’ve talked about any other work you’ve ever done.  Do it because the worst possible thing that can happen is that you took the shot, it didn’t work out and you go about and do something else.  I don’t see how that’s a bad thing.

Carmen:  Yeah. I know. Everything you said, is true. I know all of this. The weird part is, I’m excited. I’m excited about all of it.  And it’s mixed with a tinge of fear. But when I think of going back to my old life – the only word I can come up with is dread.  Absolute dread.

Dr. Mei: You’ve already leaped Carmen. You’re in the air right now –in the midst of it all.  Don’t worry about how you’ll land.  Stop looking to land just yet.  For now, keep doing the work. Keep flying high on the joy it brings you. No matter how you land, you’ll be fine.  My guess is, you’ll be better than fine.

Carmen:  You know what’s so funny and sad at the same time? I went and saw the new Avengers movie and there’s a line in it that made me wince – I just couldn’t believe I had just heard this. I promise, no spoilers. Have you seen it yet?  It doesn’t matter.  This line gives away nothing to the movie. But the character says something like: “Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be. A measure of a person is how well they succeed at being who they are.”

What I really thought in that moment:  I’ve gone mad crazy. I’m so ridiculous I’m even getting “signs” from action movies. Don’t get me wrong, I love movies, it’s just…crazy, right?

Dr. Mei: Well, that’s one way to look at it. Or, the way I see it – the universe is trying to push you down a path in every way possible.  And if not the universe, then you’re inner-self for sure. You’re seeing what you need to see.  You’re hearing what you need to hear.  Whether you choose to listen is another thing. It’s like that clip you like in the show the West Wing. The episode is Take This Sabbeth Day, remember?  It may be a bit too religious for this moment, but it’s on point. Choose to take all the signs your getting – the most important sign is that YOU want to do all of this. If you had all the money in the world, THIS is who you’d be, right?  Failure wouldn’t be such a big deal then. It’d be just a bump in the road to still doing what you want to do.  And seriously, when have you EVER allowed money to be the reason you chose to do anything at all?  To define you?  To stop you from doing what you want to do?  Don’t start now.  This is the best part!  Enjoy the ride. It’s just getting started.

Carmen:  Yeah!  You’re right. Oh my goodness. Yes!

Dr. Mei: Till next time, then?

Carmen: Yes!  Thank you so much.

8

8

West Wing Clip: Take this Sabbath

My Murder Scene

black-coffee-2847957_1280This morning I woke up and in my groggy state I headed to the kitchen and clicked on the coffee maker.  Standard procedure.

As I waited, half-asleep, I noticed on the wall across from me a tiny figure slithering it’s way across the wall.  My eyes widened and somehow now fully awake, I walked on over, grabbing a napkin from the counter and snatched the tiny insect from the wall, killing it instantly.

I could hear the coffee peculating — it was almost done.  I grabbed under the kitchen sink counter for the “409” <– a spray “bleaching” cleanser of sorts (I have no idea why they call it “409” by the way, something I should look into at some point), and with yet another napkin, I sprayed the disinfectant  and wiped clean the murder scene.  It’ll be like it never happened.

The coffee was done.  I discarded the evidence, washed my hands and poured my coffee.  Cream, no sugar. My morning back to it’s normal routine and I started reading the paper.

At some point into the article I was reading,  I realized that before my morning had even really started, I had killed another living thing.  How horrible is that?

I sat back in the chair and remembered an acting class I took when I first started performing.  We had been asked, “How would you play a murderer?”  –  Everyone went into all the cliche answers of what they thought might motivate a murder. Novice actors thinking way too deeply about it and announcing how they’d have to do so much research because they themselves would just have “no idea” what it would be like (everyone making sure we all knew how “good” a person they were and how inconceivable it would be to have to play such a horrible person).  The conversation always fell way into that category of a mobster or hard core criminal  – cliche of course – but I remembered sitting there thinking:  If you’ve ever killed a mosquito, you can play a killer. The murder? That’s just the action –  knowing who the killer was, their childhood, what they do for a living, all of that is the character. To play any part, of any person, you need to KNOW who the character is, the background.

Of course, that’s exactly where the acting teacher was going.  The class seemed stunned to learn they’d all “killed” at some point in their lives.  In a lot of ways, it’s a horrible thought.  I started feeling bad about my little slithering morning guest who I killed and cleaned up after all before putting my first cup of coffee to my lips.

Morning Cofee

Truth is, I’m sure I’d do it again. I’m not a fan of insects of any kind IN MY HOUSE. I have no problem with them out in the world, I understand their value in the Eco-system of life, but just as I wouldn’t walk around intentionally in a Lion’s den, I expect slithering little insects to stay out of my “den”, no matter how inviting it may be… or suffer the consequences.

Yeah, I’m still half asleep. I need another cup of coffee.

Happy sweet day.

Carmen

The Kindness: An Award from Jessica

dare-tl-be-remarkableI wanted to give a shout out to Jessica Larsen who nominated me for a Versatile Blogger award.

Such a kind and lovely thing to do — to just let someone know, that you appreciate their work, their words, their time writing.  It really touched me something fierce.  It’s taken me a few days to get to this part of it — so please forgive me.  But, when you have a moment, please visit her lovely site:  https://www.jessicaelarsen.com/ — and yes, please follow her!  She’s fun, and writes about everything with a special gist on romance.  A very lovely site and an avid writer/blogger.

Let me also add this:  I know a lot of us take so much time to write and share our thoughts, pictures, moments — and I do visit a lot of sites that I follow on a regular basis. I don’t always comment.  I don’t know how so many of you so easily write blog posts daily — I’m so jealous!  But some times I just read and don’t comment because I never feel I have enough time to really say what I want to say.  Maybe I’m thinking too much on it?  Not sure.  Sometimes, I just think “Eeh, they’ll get how much I loved this by the pressing like.”

I want to be better about commenting more often. I know for me, when people take the time to comment and share their thoughts on my blog posts, it just brightens my day so much. Especially if it’s been a full day in solitary WORK WRITING mode — having this interaction is a blessing, even if people disagree or have a different point of view — so thank you for those that always take the time.

Well, check out Jessica’s blog when you have a sec, follow her and, as always, thanks for stopping by and have a sweet day!

What’s Wrong With Me? Bucket List

 

20190124_160919In the past two weeks I found myself catching up, in one way or another, with old friends/acquaintances. Some are old work-related contacts, others friends from long ago —  with one contact it was as if no time had passed on by at all – we just picked up where we left off.  With another “friend” I remembered instantaneously WHY I stopped talking to that particular person within 5 minutes! Oy!

Of course, this promoted me to look at old pics.  As it always happens, I ended up going down a rabbit hole of pics and found a few… my last marathon 2004 for example… 

 

Runnersbefore

 

I think I want to run the LA Marathon next year.  WHAT?  This is what I get for looking at old pics!  Oh no…

I couldn’t sleep all night thinking about it. I’ve completed three full marathons — but they were in San Diego — and the LA Marathon has been on my mind for a long time.  Of course, if I was real serious, I’d try to qualify for the Boston Marathon, since it’s my hometown. But, uhem, baby steps…  I’m shocked I’m thinking about this at all!   

I’m hesitant because in 2017 I participated in a Tough Mudder with my fabulous work-out group and nearly died!  Look at my face in this pic — it kinda says it all — this is ME trying to get over a wall: 

 

51089679_race_0.7186450649885151.display

 

Below is a great pic BEFORE we hit the track of mud. We didn’t take a group pic after, but actually, we were all pretty happy and it was a great time — but the scars, scratches, bruising… it was weeks of recovery for me. Just not my kinda thing, but glad I tried it!  Again, crossed off my bucket list FOREVER!  

 

Tough Mudder Love 03.25.17 (2)

 

Granted, running and doing an obstacle course are very different things, but running 26.2 miles is still RUNNING 26.2 miles.  Unfortunately, nowadays, I call a “long run” any time I run to the beach and that’s just a mere 6 miles at best — and only if I actually run back!  Ugghh.  But…  there’s something in me that thinks I can do this again.  I should do this!   

It’s funny. I have so many things on my Bucket List.  I crossed this one off three times already and yet, I still feel like it’s not finished yet.  What is wrong with me?  

I’m positive I’ll NEVER do a Tough Mudder again.  It’s just not my thing. But for some reason I’m itching to finish another marathon.  Maybe I’m posting this so someone will talk me out of it?  I hope so.  

You have at least 4 months to talk me out of it. I’ll have to start heavily training by then.  The next LA Marathon is March 8th, 2020.  I just tried to register but it’s not open yet… is that a sign NOT do it? Hmmmm. 

 

 

I’ll thank you in advance for talking me out of it. Maybe you have another thrill seeking, accomplishing, kinda crazy thing I can do instead?  Lay it on me.  I’d love to hear what’s on your bucket list…  

Happy Sweet Day!  

Carmen 

 

 

 

Writers Block: Never Experienced It

I’ve never experienced writers block.blocks-bricks-brickwall-761142

I know –  I was talking to a friend yesterday and we had a whole conversation about writers block and she didn’t believe me AT ALL.

[Please continue reading the lightly transcribed post below or listen to the podcast here] 

9

9

But the truth of the matter is, long, long ago I used to have the same experience as a dancer where I would keep making the same mistake over and over and over again.

And I had this amazing coach (and instructor) who would just tell me, “You know what? Enough. Just stop!  You need to just sit down!”  And so I would do that.  I would be forced to just sit down and do something else.

I would go take a walk around the track.  Or I would go sit on my knapsack – or whatever.  The point is that I learned early on that when you get stuck – when you get into a place where you can’t  do what you need to do as a dancer,  then you need to stop and do something else – because you’re just repeating the same mistake over and over again.

And I think in a lot of ways I’ve incorporated that into my life as a writer – and just in my life in general.

When something isn’t working, I stop doing it.  I try to do something else.  And then I come back to it.

I also think because I learned this at such a young age, I don’t see “writers block” as a negative thing.

I see it as a way in which my body tells me that I need a rest.  That I need a break.  Just like as a dancer,  I would keep making the same mistake over and over again – and then I’d realize that the reason why I was making a mistake over and over again was because I was tired.  I was exhausted.

Well when you write it’s not any different. We get exhausted. Our mind gets exhausted. We may not readily see that,  or experience it,  but the way in which I view that moment in time when I’m writing and I can’t really stop thinking about other things —  or I can’t seem to keep myself focused,  I see that as my body trying to tell me that I need a break.  And so, I’ll go listen to music, or I’ll go take a run, or I’ll just go watch television for a bit and then I’ll come back to it.

And sometimes it’ll be 5 minutes later and sometimes it might be a day later.  But what I don’t do is beat myself up for needing a break.  And I definitely don’t call it a “block” —  I don’t call it a “writer’s block” —  I just call it a time for me to take a break.

I think if we see that as a positive —  as resting period – as an ability to kind of rejuvenate –  it becomes a much quicker thing to notice Number 1,  and a much quicker thing to get through Number 2. Which means you can then get back to work!   Usually with fresher eyes and a rested soul.  And with much more enthusiasm to get back to your creativity — instead of beating yourself up for having “Writer’s Block”.

So, I just wanted to share that.  I would love to hear how other people deal with this writer’s block phenomenon….

Thank you so much for stopping by —  I appreciate it so much —  and I hope you have a sweet day.

I’ll be back again soon.

Carmen

Tell Your Story: Part 2 How To Create

TELL YOUR STORY: HOW TO CREATE? 

So, if you’ve decided to tell your story, how do you go about doing it?

How do you go about writing, or sculpting or filming or whatever it is bitmoji-20190402030809you’re going to do – to write your story — How do you go about doing that?

[Please continue reading the lightly transcribed post below or click on the podcast and listen to the recording]

9

9

Well, the truth is – there is no right or wrong way to do things. But I will say this – especially as a writer – I always think about when I danced. I was an bitmoji-20190402030846amazing dancer.  It’s something I was born with as a kid.  And I loved to dance.  I was passionate about it.

I can remember people who would come up to me and try to copy me.  And they would always look the most awkward and the weirdest — because they were trying to copy something that I was doing. They were complimenting me — they were saying, “oh you’re such a great dancer I want to be just like you.”

So that was a very flattering thing — but they always looked out of place – out of sorts.

The people that looked the best, the people that I always admired, were the people that got up and danced any way. They did it their own way.  It didn’t matter if they were in rhythm or if they were out-of-sorts, or if they were just doing these strange and interesting hand movements and their feet were all awkward — I always loved this ability to be an individual.  And to be dynamic. And willing to just do it your own way. They will always the happiest dancers, the best dancers and everyone was paying attention to them.

That’s what I think the creative process is like.

That’s why I think — whatever it is you choose to do to tell your story — however you choose to do that  is going to be right if you do it from your own inner place of joy and happiness.

Now that doesn’t mean there isn’t some technique involved. It doesn’t mean there aren’t some better ways to do things – but you know, that’s what an editor is for.  When it comes to writing…when I started writing, I just wrote and I let it all come out.  And then I let the story mold itself.  And I figured out ways to thread things through so that the story would have “connection”.  But at the end of the day I still had somebody else read it.  I had an editor go through it — and that person goes in and looks at it and says, “Hey you know what? This is a great idea…”  or “This works here and here, but this doesn’t make sense…”.

So don’t worry about all that stuff afterwards.

Just sit down and sculpt whatever you’re going to sculpt.  Do it however you going to do it. All that other stuff will come through.  All the other possibilities to kind of refine it and touch it up or fix it  —  so that your voice can be heard the way in which you intend.  We’ll get there — you’ll get there after you have that base part.  Because I have to tell you, all those people that danced the way that they wanted to dance they were feeling the music! They were in joy! They were happiness! And afterwards, they were the people I wanted to talk to.  They were the people I wanted to learn from.  And it has nothing to do with dancing, and everything with being an individual and being unique and being strong and having courage.  And to me, that’s what the creative process is.  It’s all about us finding that inner strength,  that inner courage,  that inner love,  that inner joy —  and sharing it with the world.  bitmoji-20190328073700

Because at the end of the day, I feel like that’s what we’re here to do.  To share the best parts of who we are with everyone and hopefully along the way that will help someone else too!

As always, thanks for stopping by. Have a sweet day and I’ll be back again soon.

Bye.

Carmen

Tell Your Story: How To – The First Part

Tell Your Story: How to – The First Part 20190331_152508

One of the questions that I keep being asked when I share that I just published my first book is… people’s excitement or wish that they could also write their story.

I want to talk a little bit about how I went about writing my story in the hopes that maybe it might motivate other people.  Or let you realize that it’s actually something that can happen and that it’s not that hard.

[Please continue to enjoy the lightly transcribed post below or listen to the podcast here]:  

8

8

Don’t get me wrong, publishing a book is a difficult process and the landscape is changing so much — so the business end of it is a little bit difficult.  But writing your story is the first part.  And everyone has a story to tell!  How you go about sharing that story is kind of what I’m here to talk about.

A few years back I was overwhelmed with the success I had noticed in my life.  And I took a moment and decided to write a letter to all those that helped basically raised me after my mom passed away.

If you know any part of my story, I’ve never known who my father is, so there were a lot of people involved in helping me get through.  That’s what “CANELA” is all about actually.

So I started writing these letters basically to say thank you and in the first letter that I wrote which was to “Jackson”, which is in the book, I explained a very specific period or moment where I realized he had “saved” me.

And I decided to post that one letter on a previous website I had — and the comments,  and the reaction —  was just overwhelming and incredible.  And people started saying,  “…you should write a book…”.

So I took the 12 other letters that I was starting to write – the ideas that I had — and because I wasn’t actually in touch with everyone readily, I just kept writing the letters and I put it aside.

Then I put them in chronological order when I was done.  And then I wove a thread through the entire “chapters” –  through the entire story –  trying to kind of combine them together.

I asked myself:  who would I be sharing this story with if I wanted to tell someone who all these people were?

And then it became a manuscript.

And that’s how the creative process – for me – started and ended.

I then had a manuscript that I needed someone to also read and help me fill in the blanks of the things that I was missing —  because I was so “in it” at the time.  When you’re writing, when you’re creating sometimes you don’t see what other people can see…

So once I was done with the first part of it: which was just getting that story down and getting that thread through it all – I had a friend of mine, read it.  And that helped me to construct other little pieces that needed to be put into the book, into the manuscript at that time.

The purpose of this post is to share with you that there is no right or wrong way to share your story or to tell your story.  And there’s no reason for you not to start trying – even if you just sit down today and write one paragraph of what you think you might want to write about,  that would be the beginning of the process.

Or write a letter to someone telling a certain part of a funny story about what happened to you when you were eleven or last week —  it doesn’t matter —  there is no rule how you choose to start writing,  except that you have to start writing.  Or maybe for you it’s painting, or maybe for you it’s recording something or sculpting something?

I wanted to write this post to kind of take away this idea that it is so hard 20190331_152402and so difficult and that there was something different about how writers go about writing and how other people go about creating.

It is all about sitting down and deciding for yourself that your story should be told!

And so I hope you’ll share with me how you go about that or if you’re going to go about it —  because I would love to learn more about how people go about sharing their story – how you go about the process of writing, or creating in any form, that you choose to do it.  It inspires me!

As always, thanks for stopping by —  have a sweet day.

I’ll be back again real soon!

Carmen

Forced to Write

I have been writing regularly since I was about 13 or 14 years old. bitmoji-20190328072744

I remember how it started. I had been told by an authority figure – a teacher or a therapist – I can’t remember which one — that I needed to start writing every day.  They were trying to force me to write about my feelings so I would deal with my mom’s passing because I wasn’t dealing with it at all.  I was just rehearsing all the time.

[Enjoy the rest of the transcription by reading below, or click on the podcast]:

*

*

In a lot of ways it was bad that they were trying to force me to write because, as with anything, when you force a kid or actually an adult as well, to try to do something – the first thing you want to do is be defensive and not do it at all.

But what it did do, is exposed me to a possibility.  And that possibility to get up every day and write in a journal – has been my saving grace.

Now I’m not an advocate of forcing people to write every day, or to do whatever it is I think works for me…

I do think being able to take time out for yourself every day is really important – especially in this world and in this time where everything seems so stressful.  We have so much technology around us — and you know — I always kind of giggle at people who pay so much money to do yoga, and meditate —  we’re actually paying for quiet and silent sometimes.

So, for me at 4:30 or 5 O’clock in the morning, I’m having my coffee and I have my sketchbook out and I hand write because that’s what I do.  That’s how I start my day and I rarely ever missed that no matter what.  Even if I’m traveling.  I tend to like to “hand” write because I like the texture from the paper and a pen.

I have a kind-of system that every year around my birthday I shred all of those sketchbooks or documents or whatever I’ve been using.  That’s just been something I’ve always done.

I think it’s harder for me to write on a computer in a “journal-entry” kind-of form.  If I switch gears in my head and call it creative writing then I’m able to do it a little bit better.  But it’s not the same thing.  It’s not the same therapeutic kind-of process that I do every morning.

The reason why I shred journals every year is because sometimes when I sit back and read them –  they are just horrendous, or bad, or just they’re kind-of gibberish.  And there just kind of process…

Sometimes I’m working through problems, or anger things, or happy things that I never would want anyone to know about.  And there is also that — there is the ability, and the want to make sure that it’s always private.  It’s just for me. It’s not for anybody else unless I choose to share certain things about it – and I have in the past, taking pictures of my journal entries at times and posted up as a journal.  You can find them here in my blog post – but that also takes a lot of work too because I have to go back and reread it and I’m very careful about how I’m writing it.  Yeah it’s just a different mindset.

As always, I just like to share these things. I would love to hear how you go about giving yourself time every day — that would be fantastic to know – how some people make sure they find time throughout the day to meditate,  to think,  to create or to just “BE”.

As always, I hope you have a sweet day. I appreciate you stopping by, and I’ll be back again real soon.

Bye,

Carmen

Single and Breathing

Okay, I want to share this:After picking up my Lotto Tickets

I walked down to the gas station so I could get a Lotto ticket and also to just get a little workout in.

I was sweaty and gross and as I was finalizing my lottery ticket (which I’m sure is going to win) when this young man came up to me and asked me if I was single.

Continue reading loose transcript below or listen to the podcast:

.

I was a little bit thrown.  Good looking young man, very well dressed and he was buying gas or something.

I looked behind me to see if he was talking to somebody behind me and he said, “No, I’m asking you. Are you single?”

I still couldn’t answer him because I was in shock.  He said, “I’d love to buy you a drink or maybe lunch or coffee…”.  He was so elegant and quite fantastic actually.

But I just looked at him and I just said, “You know, I can’t do that — my boyfriend’s waiting for me at home but thank you.  I appreciate it.”  And I just pivoted and walked away.

I started thinking about how embarrassed I was that he asked me.

Also he probably was half my age?  – Maybe not half my age, but it doesn’t matter –  he was young enough to be my son.  And although I was flattered by that, there’s a part of me that knows I have some very strict standards.

I feel a little bad that I lied to him, but I’d rather have lied to him, than have made him feel stupid or made him feel bad.

I am single.

I am single because I have had two great loves in my life and I was so disappointed when they ended that I think it’s been very difficult for me to even consider the possibility ever again.

It’s not that they ended badly or that they were horrible, it’s just that when you really do love someone and you care for them it’s really difficult to lose that friendship as well as the relationship.

I’m not sitting here pretending that I could have been friends with these people ever again after what happened between us, but it was so disappointing, and it hurt me so much that I think it’s really hard for me to ever even consider anything less than what I want now and what I deserve.

It’s almost as if having those relationships have now set the bar really high.

So, I am not going to spend any more time on “finding love”.  Any more than I do on anything else in my life because I believe there is something very organic in relationships.

I don’t go looking for friendships.  I don’t go looking for new girl-friends either to hang out with.  They either happen or they don’t in all of the things that I do in my life.  And I think that’s kind-of how the next step has to be for me.

I’m also not crazed about this idea that I have to be married.  Or that I have to be in a relationship.

I do believe we are social beings.  I do believe we are better with companions and friendships and partners and spouses.  But, I also think we can be worse with those things too if it’s not the right fit.

So yeah, I’m single.  But it’s a good thing, not a bad thing. It’s not preferred or something that I don’t like – it’s just where I’m at today.

In order for me to ever really consider ever dating someone again, he’s going to have to at least be in his 40’s – or at least turning 40 – and then all my other standards that I have.

I guess the reason why I’m sharing this post is because I wanted to say this:

I think it’s OK to have standards.  I think it’s OK to want what you want!

What I don’t want is some of the relationships that some of my friends have.  They are in so deep with children and mortgages and their businesses are tied in and they feel like they can’t breathe.

You know what? Right now I’m single and I can breathe.  And I love it. And I don’t want that to change as much as I want to find someone that kind of fits into that puzzle pretty easily (if that makes any sense).

I just wanted to share that. I would love to hear your thoughts.

As always, have a sweet day. Thank you again for always stopping by — I appreciate it!

I’ll be back again soon.

Bye.

Carmen