Authenticity

Authenticity

*As always, enjoy the podcast or the kinda-sorta transcript below! Thanks for stopping by!*

I’m glad to be back and I feel like I need to have this conversation. So here it goes: the latest thing that is driving me nuts.

A few weeks ago, I went and spoke to a bunch of students in Boston – high school students and I also  spoke to 7th and 8th graders.  And we had this conversation about authenticity and what that meant.

When I landed back in Los Angeles, I realized how much it was bothering me – the people that I had to deal with after talking to these great wonderful students, it was so depressing.   

I came home and I had a meeting with this young man  (I don’t know if he’s young but he’s in his 30’s so he’s younger than me) but he’s very successful.  He sold his business.  He just moved here with his family and he’s going to be working in the film industry and he was looking for a bookkeeper. And I was happy to help him with that – possibly help him with that search.  But he kept boasting – he was doing this whole thing about how he makes about $300K to $500K a year –  how he sold his very successful business and so now he gets a certain amount of money every quarter from that –

So he’s trying to explain to me what’s involved with his need for bookkeeping and in the next breath, he’s saying things like, “…yeah you know but I’m so poor I live paycheck to paycheck.”

I actually said to him: “You’re not poor!” I mean, I said it in a tone I hope was nice — but I knew within 10 minutes of meeting with this man that I would never work for him, nor would I ever help him find somebody.   I could already tell he was just full of it – you know? 

So in one breath he was talking about how much money he makes and how successful he was and what he’s doing,  and in the next breath – because he doesn’t want to pay anything to have someone take care of his bills he’s trying to pretend that he doesn’t have enough money to pay someone a decent wage.  

So I said to him, “Look, if you can’t afford $1000 a month – that’s $12,000 a year –  then you shouldn’t hire me or you shouldn’t hire anybody that I would refer to you.”  And his whole face kind of just — I don’t even know the right word is — I just realized in that moment:

I don’t want to be around people who are not authentic, who not real. Who are not honest.  

Now, either he was bullshitting about how much money he made or he’s just a cheap human being.   Either one of those things are people I don’t want to be around.  I don’t want to be around someone is telling me to make a half a million dollars a year but they can’t afford to pay someone to help them with their money at a whole rocking $12K a year!!

And then it happened again.

A weel later I was talking to someone at a presentation I was at  – we were all just  milling around talking afterwards and everybody had left the conference room she was telling me about all the things that she does and that she’s kind of this big time entrepreneur. 

She has 5 businesses, so she’s so busy she’s always doing speaking events —  and I was kind of intrigued by learning more about her speaking events because it’s something that I’m starting to do a lot more as well.  I don’t have 5 businesses – I just kind of doing my small little thing – but I was intrigued.  I went to her LinkedIn and to all the websites and I thought, “Wow this woman is a powerhouse! She’s doing all this stuff!” 

Later that evening a mutual friend of ours said to me, “You know so and so is looking for work so if you have any work for her she kind of does business management like you and she’s also into branding and marketing and really needs a job because she got let go…”. 

I was stunned.  Not because she needed work,  or whatever,  I was stunned at this this kind of false narrative we’ve all fallen into that we’ve confused the line between branding and marketing ourselves so that we can try to get work –  so that we can be perceived a certain way and just straight up lying about who we are. 

It’s funny. Both of these people that I met –  within 5 minutes of talking to them –  I knew I would never work with these people.  I have no interest in being around them because I wasn’t getting the right vibe.

So finding out that she really wasn’t this booming entrepreneur person –  and that yes she has all these great websites and can probably do all these things, but that actually at the end of the day she’s just a regular person trying to get a job too, just trying to get work. 

I starting thinking about authenticity and I started thinking about why we’re skewing the line — and all this stuff about branding and marketing is kind of the thing you do right now. Everybody has a website.  Everybody brands. And I think we’ve confused branding with actually crossing that line where we lie to try to get work.  It’s grey line.  I’m not sure what the answer is to tell you the truth.

And then there’s social media where we’re always presenting our best selves. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with presenting the best of who we can be –  we do it every day for goodness sake I mean I I’ve been coloring my hair for like 15 years because I saw like 1 grey hair 15 years ago and freaked out!  I want to present myself in the best possible way I can.  We do it all the time.  Animals do it as well.  It’s the way in which we attract people in our lives so there’s nothing wrong with that.  I mean that’s healthy, that’s part of all of our socialization.  But when we skew that, when we’ve gone a little bit beyond presenting our best selves – to being inauthentic –  I think that’s where the line is or that’s where we’ve skewed those two things. 

But it is something that has been bothering me and I’ve been dealing with it for the past couple weeks. I keep meeting people that I just literally want to smack upside the head (not literally ’cause I would never physically ever hit or hurt someone) but you know — in my head I totally slapped him ‘upside-the-head as I was sitting across the table – and then that woman —  I just felt really bad for her.  I just wanted to hug her actually! 

So, I just wanted to share this idea of being your authentic self.

And here’s what I told the kids because is such a great conversation:

When you can figure out who you really are, presenting yourself is actually pretty easy.  Branding who you really are is actually not that hard.   I mean you can get some help from other people to help you with the coloring or the logos or whatever all that is,  but if you’re not sure of who you are —  and in the same respects with companies —  if you are not sure what your company does or what your company is supposed to be,  and all you’re doing is “branding” just a bunch of  bullshit so you can say this is all the stuff I kind of sorted do but I really do absolutely nothing…  If you don’t know who you are, you’re never going to come across the way you think you’re going to come across. 

So knowing your company, understanding what your product is, and even in our own individual selves —  Knowing who I am –  is what makes me so authentic!  Not lying about it and not trying to be more than what I am. 

I am so sick and tired of inauthentic people. And I don’t want to be around them. And I don’t want to work for people who are inauthentic.  And I don’t want to associate myself with people who are fake (and have like 15 companies but they’re actually looking for work doing anything that they can find that will pay their bills).   

Okay. So, thanks for stopping by.  Have a sweet day. 

Carmen

Share Your Story

I thought I’d play a little bit with video posting this time around.  The gist: I encourage everyone to tell their story.  When you do something from your heart, you just never know how it will manifest.  For me, I’m starting on a new journey, speaking with different groups about my book CANELA.  I met with students in Boston this past week — and I’m a better person for hanging out and sharing some stories with these amazing kids!  I learned so much!  They really are going to rule the world! So grateful.

Here’s a little quick video clip I made yesterday morning…

 

Relationships Are Hard

Relationships are hard.

All kinds of relationships – between you and your parents, your friendships, siblings, co-workers and yes those romantic ones too – all relationships are hard.

I’ll admit upfront that I’m the last person on the planet that should give any advice on relationships. But someone asked, and as many of you know, it’s hard for me not to share…

I have a shrewd way of dealing with people in my life that works for ME, but please understand, it may not work for anyone else.

With that said, let me start with my definition of LOVE:  It’s a feeling and for the most part, it’s intangible to quantify.  Love can be pretty complex but, in most cases, and definitely in the beginning – love is pretty easy.  Whatever you may think of love I believe it can happen instantaneously.  A baby is born for example – that feeling of love is innate and all encompassing.  I know in my own experience, you can meet someone and “fall in love”.  It’s possible.  No matter what anyone tells you, love can be inexplicable and undeniable.  And since no one owns the patent on what love is, to me, it’s a feeling first.  Given time, love can surely evolve into something more in-depth depending on the circumstances and attention to the relationship.  But the essence of love is something you simply feel deeply that is difficult to always put into words.

So, in some respects, love is easy. There’s no controlling it. You can’t help who you love and most times you don’t really understand why you love a person, you just know that you do.  I think we’ve all experienced that in some way shape or form – and I love people who always feel the need to chime in to tell YOU what you’re actually feeling when you say you love someone – it’s as if they’ve cornered the market on what love is and is not. Cracks me up every time. Don’t listen to those people.  No one can tell you what you’re feeling.

But don’t be confused – there’s a difference between LOVE and TRUST.  People make this mistake all the time in all types of relationships.

If love is easy, then trust is difficult – REALLY DIFFICULT. Trust is earned.  Trust takes time. Trust is not innate. Trust is NOT a feeling.  People confuse being “in love” with the fact that they don’t trust this person yet. How can you trust someone you do not know?

Trust is important because it helps define our relationships.  We trust our parents because through thick and thin, they’ve been there for us even when we’ve messed up or shined, parents have walked us through infancy to adulthood.  So we trust them.

Siblings on the other hand, we may “hate” but ultimately, just based on sheer time, proximity and history, we love them. But what about a sibling who’s a drug addict?  We may not trust our siblings who are drug addicts, but our love is based on our history and connection with them. So, a family member who is a drug addict may be someone we love, but we would never trust them, unless they worked real hard to earn that trust back. Right?

What about a new boyfriend or a new girlfriend?  Sure, you can “fall in love” with someone you just met. It may be the beginnings of a deeper relationship – but all that questioning going on in your head, all the wondering of “does he” or “doesn’t he” has to do with getting to know each other. That takes time. And even if you think you trust a new person in your life, truth is, you just don’t know.  Trust is earned. Trust takes time and effort.  It’s not a feeling.

Okay, so just for clarity (and simplicity):  Love is easy and is a feeling.  Trust is earned and is tangible to calculate. Good.

I can honestly say I have fallen “in love” romantically twice in my life.  Once with a man who I slowly grew to appreciate over time and then realized he couldn’t be trusted so I walked away – and another man I fell in love with instantaneously whose presence in my life was rather short, so trust between us was never established.  I can easily say that I loved both of these men – but trust is a thing. It matters. And without trust, you cannot have a good relationship with anyone.

So, when you meet someone and you “fall in love” don’t be confused by what that means. It’s a feeling and that’s fine.  Don’t let anyone tell YOU how you feel or what the definition of LOVE is or is not.  No one can fully explain what love means – but DO NOT confuse TRUST for LOVE.  That’s key.

This is where most people get confused.  It doesn’t matter how old you are.  I know people who are married, divorced, married again and divorcing again because they have continuously confused trusting someone for loving someone.  And regardless of the relationship we’re talking about – friendships, siblings, boyfriend, girlfriends, spouse, parents – if you can’t trust a person, if you have doubts about who someone is in your life, then it’s not a healthy relationship.  You need to consider why you keep toxic relationships in your life and how you can work with them if you have to or learn to work around them if you can to remain a healthy and positive person. Please, if you have questions or concerns about this in any way, it’s always good to seek out professional help from a therapist, counselor, or doctor – I am none of these, but know that talking to someone can help walk you through.

Here’s my shrewd way of dealing with people I can not trust – again, I preface this by admitting this may not work for other people, so I don’t recommend it, but like all things – take what works for you and mold it into what is uniquely you.  Be a sponge who retains what little water you need and ring out the rest. But this is my way of dealing with relationships – especially romantic ones:

When I’m clear that I can’t trust someone, regardless of the relationship, I easily walk away. Because of my upbringing, (which you can read in the book CANELA), I’ve instilled a system of deciding what people I keep in my life with clear “rules”.  It’s always been about self-preservation and something I’ve practiced since I was a kid.  It’s actually simple:  after three times of being disappointed by someone, they’re out. I’m done. I walk away. In theory, you get three chances to be in my life, and then after that, I cut all ties.  My instincts tell me that in any relationship, especially a new one, if after three times someone’s proven they cannot be trusted, then they clearly do not have respect for my time and therefore do not deserve my energy.

I justify it this way:  There are close to 7 billion people on the planet. If you don’t have time to respect me, then I need to move on.  There are too many people to meet who may have a mutual level of respect that I want in my relationships – why bother wasting time on people who don’t “get” me even if they claim too?

Trust is the most important aspect of any relationship I have in my life.  I still love those two men dearly but let them go and never looked back or regretted the decision.  It doesn’t mean they are bad people, it just means we’re not in the same space.  Look, I don’t claim to know exactly how the world works, but I do know that I want people in my life that want to be there, that need to be there. Friendships, siblings, lovers, even co-workers.  Fake relationships are a waste of everyone’s time and energy.  There’s a level of respect you can demand to have with all relationships if you start understanding that it’s okay to have boundaries and rules that work for YOU.  When you have a set of standards, people will either meet them, or they won’t.  When you love and respect yourself completely – you’ll never let a person into your life who continuously lets you down and hurts you – intentionally or not.

And there it is:  How well do you understand yourself? Do you love yourself completely and what does that mean?  How well do you trust your own gut feelings?  What are your standards? What are your expectations of people and do you practice those same rules?  What kind of people do you surround yourself with and do they reflect the best of who you are? I can honestly say, the people that are IN my life are some of the most beautiful people I am privileged to know. My loyalty to them is fierce — and I know for them, my relationship is just as important.  I always say, you don’t need a lot of friends, you only need one REAL one.  And I’m lucky, I have several beautiful REAL people in my life. True wealth.

Now, I’m not saying it’s ever easy to walk away from someone you’re interested in.  Even with my rules in place for decades, relationships are always hard.  But over time, you realize it’s easier to control your own behavior and reaction than it is to force others to BE a certain way.  I’m a firm believer that you can have everything you want in life, but first, you have to understand what it is you want and embrace the idea that you deserve the very best and never settle for less – especially when it comes to relationships.

 

 

 

The Picture Is Vague

Life feels like a 5,000-piece puzzle some days.  The full image is vague at best with only random sections partially filled in. We’ve never seen the full picture and we don’t know what it’s supposed to look like, but we have to put it together anyways. There are thousands of pieces still needing to be connected.  We can see there might be some likeness coming to fruition, maybe a tree, the sun, dark clouds – is that a house over there?  But nothing concrete, not just yet.

With both frustration and glee and every feeling in-between, we trudge along anyways, excited by the highs of figuring out a 218-piece part in the top-right-middle that finally looks like something solid.  We get easily saddened by the lows of realizing a piece we once thought fit perfectly, never actually fit at all.  We kick ourselves for having wasted so much time on that one part. How did we not see it was the wrong piece for so long?

But when all the pieces fit and a small portion of the picture emerges, the joy is almost unbearable.  When a baby is born, when you fall in love, when you accomplish a long fought after goal – in those moments, figuring out the puzzle pieces of life seem well worth the effort.

Maybe when we began this journey, if we were lucky, we started out with a corner piece handed to us by our parents and mentors. Then, for most of us, our daily adventure (or torture depending on your perspective) is to figure out where the rest of the pieces are and how they all fit – if they fit.  Maybe connecting all the puzzle pieces of our lives is exactly the journey we’re all on.

Is life just a matter of figuring out the full picture of a 5,000-piece puzzle?

Maybe.

Just something I was thinking about today.

 

A Million Dollar “Gift”

I was just on the phone with my good friend “John” (we’ll just call him that for this post). I was complaining, venting about how hard life can be at times and he asked me simply, without hesitation:  “If a million dollars landed on your doorstep, what would you do?”

We’ve all had this dream at one point or another, right?  The conversation is usually with one of my girlfriends as we finish off our typical weekly catch up call where they’ve complained about their husband or kids (or both) and I’ve complained about work, a date or my latest frustration, my neighbors. And as we finish off our chit-chat we remind each other to get our lotto tickets because “…you never know…” and “…hey, you can’t win if you don’t play.”  (That last one is my favorite).  But yeah, we’ve all had that dream, Am’I’Right?

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But today was a different.  This friend of mine is actually wealthy.  He’s in a position to drop bank and not think twice about it. I’m not sure if he’s the “million dollar” kind of bank or not, but he has “bank dropping” abilities nonetheless.  So interestingly the question sounded different coming from him.  It felt like a real question. I hesitated. I had no quick witted funny-isms, no:  “Gurl, we’d be killing it on a sandy beach somewhere watching some half – naked man serving us drinks” – no:  “Gurl first stop, Rodeo!” (It’s a Pretty Women thing).  I had nothing. I was stunned. Into silence. Rare.

Truth is, no one “needs” a million dollars especially if they didn’t earn it.  I calculated that if I could make $200K a year for the next 50 years, I’d be tre cool with that “tiny” amount (she said sarcastically)!  Interestingly enough $200K for 50 years is only $10 Million dollars. I say “only” because those lottery grabs are always so much more than that.  Truly, no one needs that much unearned money EVER!  Even the ultra-wealthy like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates give their excess money away because at some point it just makes sense to share it.  Seriously, how many homes, cars and shoes does one person need?  No, for real?

I honestly don’t need a million dollars dropped on my doorstep. But when I heard Donald Trump say:

“…it has not been easy for me and you know I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars. I came into Manhattan and I had to pay him back, I had to pay him back with interest…”.  

I lost my dang-on mind! Even as I write that quote I cringe. There’s an actual sensation in my chest that feels like somethings burrowing deep into my being as I hear it, read it, write it. It bothers me so much.  I know I’m not alone in this.  But, I have finally figured out why.

People think they want loads of money.  People think they need lots of money.  A lot of dumb people think money can buy them happiness (yeah, my apologies for using the word “dumb” here but it really is dumb to think money can buy you happiness).  Money can provide choices. But choices are abundant even when you’re poor.  So, having money can sometimes give you too many choices and become a burden and lead you down the wrong path (Uhem, “Elephant” man bones, Michael Jackson…Google it. An extreme example, but you get the point).

What people actually want in life is security.  That’s a very different thing than loads of money but people confuse it all the time. It’s why I hate that quote from Donald Trump so much.  He doesn’t understand the security he has….

Let me explain.

Money is a vehicle that allows for security, but make no mistake about it – security is a thing, and it hasn’t always been about about money for most of us.

I’ve wanted security my entire life.  And security comes in different forms throughout our lives.  You can see the joy in children who have parents – they may have very little money-wise or a lot of money, but if a young child has love, money is generally not even a thing.  It’s not even part of the conversation.  Think about it this way:  do you remember the first time when you realized you were poor?  Or, do you remember the first time you noticed you were rich? Do you remember whenever you found out that there was a status associated with how much money your family had or didn’t have?  Before that time, all you knew was (hopefully) the joy and happiness of being a child.

I remembered when I fully understood we didn’t have money. It was when my mama bought me boots.  I wanted to march in parades. I was part of an organization that marched in a lot of local events and I didn’t have the right real boots to wear. And one day she used the money that should have been used to pay for heat to buy me the boots I had wanted so badly and for so long.  She traded a utility bill payment to give her little girl a Christmas gift Santa had forgotten to give her.  We went without heat in the middle of winter.  And yet, despite our actual poverty, I always felt secure as a little kid. I knew even then, mama would take care of me, would take care of everything. But seeing her trade heat for a gift, was a realization I hadn’t comprehended fully till that moment. Yeah, we were poor.

As we get older that sense of security becomes our own responsibility. If you’re lucky, you’ve made some choices that maybe provided for some shared responsibility with a husband or wife – or maybe you’ve been able to get a great job with a 401K and good benefits. Maybe you’ve saved a bit, made good investments, and have a cushion of some sort. But see, security now becomes about how much money you have in the bank – and less about your mom or your dad providing that basic sense of safety.  But that oblivious sense of security – that blanket kind of comfort, that sense of well-being you had as a child that was all encompassing and about your safety, security and nurturing, is now all on you. And a lot of it is about how much money you have.  If you don’t have tons of money, then you do what you can to give your family and friends that sense of security and safety anyways.  And even if everyone else believes you’re doing okay, maybe the fact is, you live in that place where fulfilling your personal dreams and ambitions take a back seat to making money every day for your family or just to make ends meet. Taking care of your basic needs is priority numero uno.

Truth is, most people live paycheck to paycheck. There’s not a lot of time for being “creative” or “starting a business” when the fundamentals of living haven’t been met.  A lot of real honest hard-working people, who have done everything right don’t have much more than a couple of months or so savings to make it through if they lose their job (or, if they work for the government and there’s a shutdown – uhem).  It’s been estimated that 40% of people don’t have enough for a $400 emergency.  Rack it up to a $500 emergency and I bet it’s even more people! Fact is, you can make all the right choices in life and still lose everything because financial security is elusive to most regular folk.  It’s hard to dig yourself out of whatever hole you may be in trying to make a better life for yourself , your family (school loans, medical debt, etc.) and still save such an abundance of money (or credit) that you can live through any other financial emergency crisis that may occur AND fulfill some life long dream. I love that line about “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps”. I always counter with, “It’s much easier when you’re born with boots that have them bootstraps to pull on. I’m still walking around barefoot trying to find my way into the damn boot store.”

When someone like Donald Trump talks about it being so hard for him – maybe it was. I mean, everything is relative I do suppose so maybe for HIM it was difficult.  His world is so different from mine, so maybe it was hard for him to deal with receiving such a gift from his father. What angers me about the statement is his inability to understand how insulting it is to those of us who would give anything to have half the advantages he’s had in his life AND get an offer of any kind of loan or gift to make our dreams come true.

The security aspect is so important.  It’s the part that people of such wealth and privilege like Donald Trump don’t understand.  If I had the security of knowing my rent would be paid, my student loans would be paid, my taxes would be paid, my gas bill would be paid, my electricity bill would be paid, my health insurance would be paid, my car payment would be paid, my auto insurance would be paid, my phone bill would be paid, my AAA membership would be paid, my gym membership would be paid, my groceries would be paid, my dental bill – paid, my eye doctor – paid, contributions to a retirement plan or knowing that I would be taken care of in my old age… If I knew all those things – that all those basic necessities would be paid regularly and on time and I didn’t have to ever worry about them, then yes, I could see how being laden with a million-dollar loan might feel a little difficult.

You see, because if all those basic necessities were paid and I was given a ton of money on top of all of that, I’d actually have to use that money to do something amazing and brilliant and I’d have an enormous amount of pressure to succeed.  Maybe that’d be scary.  To have no excuses? To have no worries of how to pay the rent?  To not be able to bitch and moan about how hard life is to make ends meet?  Maybe, that’d be scary.   But hell, I’d take that challenge every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I’m pretty sure most of my friends reading this post, would too. Wow, how to succeed when all you have is a million dollars and your dream.  Talk about First World Problems.  It took me ten years to complete and publish my first book. You know why? It wasn’t because I write slow.  It wasn’t because it was a complicated idea or I didn’t have a plan – NO. I wrote the book fairly quickly.  But I had to worry about all the other priorities that came first. And no, I didn’t have extra money readily available for an editor, for a book cover “designer” and blah, blah, blah. Basically, it took me ten years to write my first book because I had to do things like pay the rent.

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I’m not saying it’d be easy, but yeah, go ahead Universe, bring it! I dare you.

I don’t “need” a million dollars to fall into my lap. But if it did, I’d pay all my bills for a year, and then go from there fulfilling the next steps of my dream. Because what I really want in life, what we all need in life, is a sense of security. A solid foundation to start from.  Then, on top of that, I’d take the opportunity to soar. That wouldn’t scare me at all. And I promise, at the very least, I’d  pay it back…with interest.

 

xo,

Carmen

 

Your Resolutions From Me

Yup, you read that right. I wrote a 2019 wish list for YOU! You’re welcome.  😉

  • May you listen to more music on a regular basis and stop texting, especially while driving.bitmoji-20190101063153
  • May you meet your friends in person, talk to them on the phone, enjoy the reality of life instead of this “cyber” version we’ve all become addicted too.
  • May you read more books and take a journey anywhere that doesn’t involve a computer screen. bitmoji-20190101065859
  • May you stop having your entire life and relationships revolve around politics and Trump in general. Stop it!bitmoji-20190101065032
  • May you stop being so obsessed with your looks, your weight, your “outer” God-given shell and learn how beautiful you really are. This is how I see YOU. bitmoji-20190101080924
  • May you realize that life is both hard and then some days even harder – for EVERYONE. You’re not the only one having a tough time – walk on through it. We’re all over here, waiting for you, needing you too. bitmoji-20190101065401
  • May you be more generous with your time, your money, your love. Being selfish, cheap and self-absorbed is easy (and so unattractive).
  • May you realize that it’s not always about forgiveness, but about acceptance. Sometimes things are just the way they are – and that’s okay.bitmoji-20190101080058
  • May you celebrate your birthday so brilliantly understanding that this is the day YOU were gifted to the world and YES, we should celebrate that ALL. DAY. LONG. You matter!bitmoji-20190101065455
  • May you be considerate of others – while driving, while walking, while at the grocery store…you know, everywhere! Kindness stems from being considerate.
  • May you dance a lot more often and stop being worried that you’re doing it right. (If you’re dancing at all, you’re doing it right!).bitmoji-20190101065543
  • May you take care of your health – mental and physical. No excuses! bitmoji-20190101075845
  • May you reach out to others instead of sitting at home wondering why no one is reaching out to you. bitmoji-20190101080015
  • May you stop swearing – it’s the easy way out (I’m talking to you Arianna Grande, Adam Levine, Cardi B. and others… uhem, and yes to myself). bitmoji-20190101063056
  • May you have more people in your life who are not like you!  Racially, religiously, culturally, sexual orientation, etc. Let’s broaden that circle people! We’re all better for knowing and accepting difference! bitmoji-20190101075909
  • May you go out of your way and hug someone you’d never imagine hugging before, just because they need it (and so don’t you!). bitmoji-20190101065623
  • May you find the time to create art in whatever way it manifests in the unique being that is YOU!bitmoji-20190101080601
  • May you find that part of you that is warm and fuzzy and let that shine instead of that yukky part that surfaces in all of us way too often.bitmoji-20190101063338
  • May you break out of your comfort zone and learn what it feels like to really BE!
  • May you understand what true beauty is and that it has nothing to do with looks. bitmoji-20190101063532
  • May you love fiercely, cry with joy and see all the good in the world. bitmoji-20190101065827
  • May your 2019 be a monumental and beautiful year!bitmoji-20190101062605

Don’t let me down people!  I promise to do my very best also!

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Old List, New List

I kinda wish 2018 wasn’t over.  I feel like so much is unfinished…

Here’s the list I wrote at the end of 2017:

Michael Roud Photo Shoot 2018
  • Visit home (Boston) for a couple of weeks.
  • Finalize the Book Canela, get published before end of 2018.
  • Clean out my storage area / donate everything.
  • Meet 10 new people who are extraordinary.
  • Rid myself of the 5 toxic people – kindly.
  • Stop “facebooking”.
  • Connect with like-minded creative folk and be inspired.
  • Buy a new car.
  • Find a new apartment / quieter, still close to the beach.
  • See a movie a month at least.
  • Read a book a month at least.

Every year I write a list of at least 10 things I’d like to do, but no more than 20.  All of them tangible and possible.  Here’s how it all panned out:

Visit home

After my book was published in June, I visited most everyone in the book and spent a lot of alone time in my home town of Boston.  It was magical, emotional, inspiring!  I had only been “home” for brief moments over the past 20 years since I moved to Lost Angeles. I’d visit for a funeral or a wedding. Just quick weekend trips where I only saw the airport, freeway, and/or a church. But this past year, I was home for a while.  I got lost in my own neighborhood – that’s how long it’d been and that’s how much things had changed in the city I grew up in.  I saw old friends and fell in love with my childhood all over again.  I saw how far I’d come and I realized how much I loved Boston, but missed Los Angeles. It really was beautiful.  Maybe my favorite part of 2018.  

City of Boston at Night - Taken at the top of the Prudential Building in August 2018 on a clear evening. The glass and lights give it an eery feel.

My Book Canela

I’ve written so much about publishing this book – but let me say this again: if you have the want, the desire to write your story (because everyone has a story to tell) please, do it!  For me, it was cathartic and life learning at every level. The process of writing is one part, editing another – what I didn’t realize was that AFTER you publish it, well…. maybe it’s just me… but this part has been just as incredible and teaching as well. It has changed my life and the way I view it.  Creatively I’ve changed. How I view people’s importance in my life has changed.  And the book has become a very central part of my every-day life in ways I’m just starting to understand.  Tell your story. Preach your story. The world will be a better place because of it.    

Clean out Storage

Done and done.  We all have that STUFF we keep “just in case” we need it.  Uhm, I got rid of all of it.  Period. Just a housekeeping item that I had put off for too many years so… done. 

Meet New People

I met more than 10 extraordinary people in 2018. My point in writing this in my list (I write it every year by the way) is because I think when you meet new people, you have the opportunity to grow and learn and be “better than you used to be”. If you are constantly around the same people all the time, well…. that’s cool. But for me, it can become pretty stagnant.  Here’s the cool thing about the people I met this past year:  I met so many of them because of my book!!!   Yes!  I have done no publicity, no advertising, just giving it out to friends and yet, others have read it and reached out and it’s been amazing!   I ‘ve learned so much and am excited to get to know these people even more over the next years. 

Rid Toxic People

We all have people in our lives we wish we didn’t have to interact with.  And for most people I get this is a hard thing to do.  For me, eeeh, it’s pretty easy. I’m really great at walking away from people when they are toxic.  Even if I have to work with them or be around them for some reason (creatively). I have a pretty tough barrier that keeps them at distance.  It’s a skill I developed growing up the way I did.  You know “bad” people right away and learn to always keep them at arms-length, while still “dealing” with them as best you can.  This past year I had 3 people I definitely wanted OUT of my life, but there were 2 others I was hoping to also end the “pretend” friendships with. That happened earlier this year.  Wow.  Clearly a great thing!  Rid yourself of people who do NOT lift you up or make you a better person. Seriously, it’s the best thing you can do for your health! 

Stop “Facebooking”

Well, this I could have done better for sure. I do not have messenger and I am not on there often.  I also have Instagram and eeeh, use it sparingly.  I’m a huge fan of Twitter though so I’m not sure any of these are better than the other.  But all are a part of our daily lives now – whether we use them or not.  But the point is to get better at NOT being on social media so much and I’ve accomplished that.  I think social media is finding its equilibrium in our lives in that it’s not a constant way of “talking” to each other.  Many times this year I went out to dinner or was hanging with a friend at the beach and missed so many calls and texts. And it’s simply because I’ve learned to turn off that ring/sound and just enjoy my time with the person I’m with.  It seems like things are calming down for all of us on social media.  Maybe we’re all learning that there really is something to actually (physically), talking to each other and enjoying REAL time with one another.  Maybe.

Connect with Creative People

I found a few groups on MeetUp.com and got inspired for sure.  WritersBlok was a great place to go and finish up the last edits of my book.  I’m really glad I found it.  I also had lunch with up and coming Directors this year, met with other writers, had dinner with a few musicians.  I met with dancers and graphic designers, actors…  being around creative people fuels me and I made an effort this past year to be around those people more often than not!  So glad I did. I’m a better person for it! 

Movies and Books

I did much better this year with Movies and Books but there’s still room for improvement. The movie that surprised me most was clearly Black Panther.  I’m a huge fan of all action movies (Marvel and DC) but Black Panther stunned me. It’s not what I expected at all and I loved it. I loved it when I saw it alone, then again with a few friends, but my favorite was watching it with my 10 year old God-Daughter who’s take on it was exactly how we all want the world to be! 

Black Panther viewing with Julie

Another favorite movie this year was definitely Mary Poppins Returns!  Loved it, loved everything about it. And can I just say, Lin-Manuel Miranda?  I think we’re in the midst of genius with this lovely talented man…I’d love to work with him.  Hmmm. 

As far as Books are concerned, I’m a slow reader and if a book doesn’t grab my attention or is too difficult, I just put it down. It bums me out. I didn’t finish four books this year to make my goal complete, but I did start them…that counts, right?  Ughh. *insert big cheesy half smile emoji here*

In 2019, I’d like to think I have a list as long as former President Barack Obama’s. I’m not sure I’m as interested in his entire list of books, but I’d like to think I’d read as much to even have such a list. #Goals.

Things I didn’t accomplish:

I didn’t buy a new car – and I guess I really don’t need one.  So, you know, there’s that.  I also didn’t move out of my current apartment.  That may still happen next year.  I love my apartment and it’s close enough to the beach (3 miles) but I hate my neighbor upstairs. She has a great kid but it’s just loud all the time. When I was a little girl and lived in an apartment with my mom, we were never allowed to run and jump in the house.  You just didn’t do it.  You were taught to have respect and consideration for the neighbors that lived next to you and below you. If you wanted to run, you went outside.  But not these people. It’s incredible. I don’t blame the little girl. It’s her parents. They are inconsiderate and…goodness, it’s a one bedroom.  They run up there, always have too many guests – every day.  And it’s just incredibly loud and not a great place to live if you like quiet and need to write, to work, to just be. So, it’s still a goal. But, seriously, I keep thinking:  First. World. Problems. Hmmm.   

More Time

Well, if I had more time I guess I’d finish the books I didn’t complete and maybe I’d… 

No, it’s all good. I had enough time for all the things that matter. 2018 is almost over and it’s been a good year personally after-all. There were some missteps along the way, but nothing too damaging or unfamiliar to move through. 

Actually 2018 started out with my sweet sister (Jo-ann) from Boston visiting me in January for my birthday.

The year ended with me hanging out at Christmas time with one of the guys – also from Boston— who helped me go to college (Scot in the book). 

And in-between it all I became an author, traveled, got inspired, did a GREAT photo shoot (with Michael Roud!), saw so many of my dear friends, met new people from all over the world (shout out to Jean-Claude in Luxembourg) and really accomplished so much more than I realized!

Okay 2018. Actually I’m ready to move on. Bring it! I’m starting my 2019 list right now.  🙂

Happy sweet New Year to all of you!  We got this! 

Carmen 

Ten Things That May Surprise You About Me

Ten things about me that may surprise you:

  1. I’m a stutterer. I have been since I was a kid. Most people don’t notice.  Only those that KNOW may see how I work around it.  I remember being so sad in grade school and then being told that “…even James Earl Jones stutters and he’s the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars…”.  Well, that changed everything! I became okay with stuttering. Maybe even a little proud of it because you know, Darth Vader stuttered too. I worked hard to get through it with therapists and such, but knowing someone else stuttered and “made it” — that was everything!  How cool was it when I actually got to meet him on set and talk about our stuttering issues over a meal?  Yeah, priceless!
  1. I’ve never eaten Lobster in my life. I don’t eat shellfish, no sushi, rarely eat seafood at all.
  1. I’ve run three marathons. I’m not a fast runner by any means, and my last marathon was in 2004, but it was on my bucket list and it was GREAT to scratch that off the list for sure!
  1. I write in a journal every morning. I write – not type – with a pen and sketch book. I’ve done this since I can remember.  It’s as normal to me as brushing my teeth in the morning.  It’s my therapy/meditative time.
  1. I’ve gone Sky-Diving and would do it again in a heartbeat! I used to be afraid of heights and thought this would help. It did quite a bit, though I still have a little fear of it. It was quite the adventure for sure! (Check out the Video here!)
  1. I don’t like cut flowers. I love flowers, trees, plants – I don’t like that people cut flowers and put them in their home. I don’t like real Christmas trees for the same reason. Fake trees and flowers can be just as lovely and last forever!  One of my pet peeves is seeing Christmas trees lined in the alley way near the dumpsters discarded and dead a few days after the holiday.  Who knows how long those trees would have lived!  I feel the same way about flowers (sorry Oprah). I know, it seems a little crazy, but I said “..things that may surprise you…”. Side note: yeah, never bring me flowers – chocolate YES, flowers NO.
  1. I was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, but I do not have a Boston accent and never really have. Part of that is because I traveled the states so much as a kid, but get me around a Bostonian and I can, just as easily, drop a few “R’s” here and there.
  1. I have always been a Sci-Fi “aficionado”. STNG over the original. BSG. Scully over Mulder. Only the original Star Wars…Eureka, Stargate SG1, Atlantis…you get the point if you enjoy the world.  I’m also a fan of most fantasy – Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings…  Oh and don’t get me started on Marvel, DC Comics. Yes, I love all of it.
  1. For whatever reason, I cannot break eggs without a piece of shell landing in the mix. So, years ago I started breaking eggs in a separate bowl first so I can pick out any shells before adding it to any pan or recipe.  It really kills me that I can’t do it. Oh, and chefs who break eggs with one hand? I think are genius!  It’s a skill that secretly fascinates me! Ha!
  1. And this is NO secret to most, but just in case any newbies are visiting: I published my first book CANELA this past June and I’m now working on the beginnings of my second book. Wow. I’m now an “author”. I’m still getting used to that! 

I love reading about people’s “isms”.  We all got’em. It’s what makes us all unique.  Sometimes, it takes a long while to realize that.  But once you do and embrace all that you are, it can be helpful, liberating and kinda cool!  Being unique, or different, can be a GREAT thing! Sure, it can be challenging at times, but hopefully, always fulfilling – in the most positive ways ever!

Sweet day to you!

Carmen

My Creative Process – What’s Yours?

My Creative Process  (Enjoy the podcast or the transcription below)

 

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I was asked this question the other day when I was speaking to a group of women.  The question was:  What is your creative process?

I don’t know why I was so taken aback by the question.  It’s a valid question,  but I guess I hadn’t really thought about it as a creative process.

I think one of the most important things that you can do as an artist, in any way shape or form that doesn’t get enough credit, is daydream.

I go running in the morning down to the beach and I have a bench that I sit at that I absolutely love – and there are times when I’ll drive down to the beach even after I’ve gone for a workout or whatever and I’ll just sit on that bench and I daydream.  The process of being able to sit quietly and just think things through — this is probably the most important thing that I do as an artist especially when it comes to writing and especially when it comes to writing my book.  Those stories are pretty much real true stories that happened to me, but I had to decide how to tell the story.

So one of the things  I would do, is kind of see that story in my head and imagine myself back there. And sometimes that’s a really good thing, and sometimes it’s a hard thing, but that’s the first part of my process.  And I think sometimes we’re really mean to ourselves about daydreaming and about just having time to imagine, imagination and story-telling.  In our own heads we kind of think we’re being lazy or you know that we should be automatically writing everything right now…  that’s not how it works for me.

I spend a lot more time thinking about what it is I’m going to write — and then I am someone who writes in journals.  And I prefer that texture of actual paper to pen — pen to paper —  so I will write out those stories and I write every morning and it is long hand and sometimes it’s cursive sometimes it’s printing sometimes I’m just doodling, sometimes I’m writing just the name over and over and over again – Like you did in high school or whatever.  Some people who follow my blog have seen some of my Journal entries.  The reason why I don’t do them all the time is because I’m not always “journaling” about one subject and you know sometimes I’m venting or trying to process things because it is a Journal.

But I do enjoy that long-hand part, so once I write down that story or that part of the imagination or day dream that I had,  then I go and I put it on the computer.  I just basically try to put it into some type of form on Word and then I leave it alone.  I leave it alone for a long time. And then I come back to it.  It could be a month later, or it can be 2 days later, but I come back to it and make a decision on whether or not I’m gonna keep that or not.  Then once I keep it, it is sent to an editor.

I tell people when I first wrote my book it was 664 pages. Now it’s not that at all, I think it’s like 160 pages now — but I wrote everything and then I went through the process of having three different people — that I will call editors – they were people who know me and who don’t know me – and I wanted them to just look at it for clarity.  And then I had an actual editor work on it before it got published of course.

That’s the process of how I went about doing my book and that is the process that I’m going through right now with the second book that I’m writing as well.  And in everything I’ve ever done, dancing, acting, any of these things —  I do kind of the same thing: I daydream.  I imagine, I dream and I try to conceptualize it in my head.  And I honor that process — I honor the process of being able to sit quietly.  And sometimes I think about nothing! Because sometimes, that’s when something pops and something makes sense, and something comes together is when you take the time to just BE.

So I wanted to share that. I thought it was kind of a cool question and maybe it’s odd, but maybe there’s a lot more people out there that do the same thing I did.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a sweet day and I’ll be back again real soon.

Carmen

 

*Music – “Prelude No. 23” by Chris Zabriskie

Choices and A Thank You

Listen to the Podcast on “Choices” or read the light transcription below.  

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I have never had a problem making a choice and it’s because making a choice isn’t actually the difficult part.  I know it that sounds a little weird but when I explain it, it will make a little bit more sense.

There’s an incident in the book where I’m a little girl and I’m in the grocery store with my mom.  She gets a little ahead of me and she tells me that I can’t have any candy.  I steal a gumball anyway and plop it in my mouth. And as luck would have it, I start choking on that gumball and end up on the floor choking really hard.  People are starting to gather — I can still see my mother’s face even today.   It’s seared in my head – there is this moment where she turns around and realizes that I’m choking and she doesn’t come running over,  she doesn’t rush or whatever,  but she looks at me with that face of disappointment.  In what may have been a few seconds, I can tell by the way she’s looking at me that this was a consequence of a choice I made.

It was probably the first time I understood what consequences were.  And over time I started to realize that making a choice was never really the problem.   You know if you had a choice “A” versus choice “B” and you’re really conflicted as to which one to choose, you will make whatever choice you need to make depending on how you’re feeling that day, what’s going on in your life – things can change the reasons why we make certain choices. Right?  But the one thing that doesn’t change is your ability to understand what the consequences are for either one of those choices.

And so, that’s what I do on a regular basis.  I did that as a kid —  I did that when I was young —  I would see that there would be choice “A” and choice “B” and I would write down in my head or on paper – I would break down what the consequences were for each.  And even if the consequences were more wrong or cons or bad –  but I wanted to make that choice anyway for whatever reason —  I was never surprised by what happened after I made that choice.

So the thing about understanding consequences is it does a few things:  1) it prepares you for the possibility that whatever choice you make, it may become a huge failure.  But in knowing what the possible outcomes may be, you are also not surprised.  Here’s another kind of a side benefit to being able to understand what your consequences are for whatever choices you make:  it takes out a lot of fear.  People always ask me, “Carmen how did you move to California not knowing anybody and on your own and not having any connection…”.  People always ask these questions and I really don’t do anything haphazardly. I’m pretty much a control freak.   Part of having that control is understanding what the consequences are to any choices I make.  And when I have those consequences, and I understand what the possibilities may be on the downside, I can fly!  I can leap with both feet because I will land — I will land regardless and I will pick up the pieces if it fails.  Nine times out of ten it doesn’t fail and it doesn’t fail because I have taken control of the situation by understanding consequences.

I hope that makes some sense.

I wanted to share that because it’s come up a lot and it’s going to be part of my talk and conversation I’m having at a speaking event in 2019.  But I hope that helps.  I hope it gives people something to think about.  Again, if you have any questions or you want to leave comments, thank you so much…

I wanted to say something else now that I’m back podcasting. I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has bought my book, CANELA.  I have not done any publicity whatsoever except to share it with my friends on facebook and a couple of posts I’ve put here on my blog.  I am shocked by how many people have read the book and how many people have sent me emails and questions and praise… I’m so grateful for that.  It really kind of touches me, everyone’s perspective and everyone’s ideas.  It’s been a little bit overwhelming.  I was surprised by how much people are understanding this book and are connecting to it. And as much as I write down all my consequences, I wasn’t prepared for, well, all the love. That’s what I’ll say. It’s been a beautiful thing.

If you have an idea for a book, or you always wanted to write a book or you’re thinking of writing a book, I really encourage you to do it.  It really has been life changing for me. Now that it’s done and it’s out there, it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Please, keep writing, keep creating.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it always.

I’ll be back again soon. Have a sweet day.

Carmen

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Music – “Prelude No. 23” by Chris Zabriskie