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!

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]

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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]:  

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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]:

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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

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

 

My Symphony

Saturday 9:23am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carmen