xo – c
xo – c
Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino
i am honored and grateful to be featured in this month’s “O the Oprah Magazine.” i was asked as an expert on beauty and a woman who is closing in on 50 to tell “The Five Things I Know for Sure About Aging.” i can say now i am “living my best life” after taking a profound and unplanned inner journey to loving both the beauty and the beast within me, since the time my friend, susan casey wrote my answers a few months back and this issue reached the stands, i have am sure i know at least five more things i could add to that list. and i will here. that is the beauty of aging.
each day i know more because as one of the great thinkers of all time, carl jung, said, “midlife is the time we begin to listen with our heart.” and that is where my knowledge is coming from. a heart that knows more and thinks less. my eyelids may droop a bit, i may be thinning out everywhere but my hips, but i have new ears! the ones that choose to listen first with my heart as i wasn’t able to do the years i was creating and building and loving my businesses while not so much myself. the ones that know we cannot hear what we need to hear one second before the moment we are ready to hear it. and that moment is not up to us. there are many of these moments along the path.
my first mid-life moment came at 40 with the birth of my beautiful daughter. the next, the one that sent me on my journey, came in my 48th year in an unexpected phone call from my office that led to my resignation from philosophy. it was a “calling” that like many i see now was thirty years in the making. looking back now, two years later with a more knowing heart, what i thought was the end was really the very beginning as it was the greatest awakening of my life second only i suppose to the day of my actual birth. but first, as carl jung also said, no conscious awakening comes without some pain. and rest. that is what my interactive journal, “Beautiful Beast” is about. surrender and peace not just to age but to everything.
i can tell you from my heart today i realize i had to leave the beauty business to get to this place where what i feel inside is positively gorgeous. my inner eye is my only mirror to see myself and quite frankly others. this has been the gift of age for me. i am at peace with getting older. never has the divine been closer and never has the synchronicity of events, some wonderful and some frightening, been more obvious to me. life isn’t meant to be perfect and neither am i. but it is meant to be lived.
so here are five more things “I Know for Sure about Aging” today:
(1) that a sunset or a pretty moon or telling the person you were speaking to “i love you” is not to be missed ever if you can help it
(2) that the only thing real, at least to me, is love.
(3) that loving people doesn’t always mean rescuing people.
(4) that surrender, not resignation, is the greatest anti-aging elixir i have ever discovered.
(5) that five months from today, i will know at least five additional things if i keep listening to my heart.
i’d love to hear what you know about aging.
with peace and blessings, c
Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino
who do you think you are? that may sound like an abstract philosophy question. if we even stop to ask it. who’s got the time? for me i couldn’t stop to ask the question until the question stopped me and brought me to my hands and knees. that was the day i resigned from philosophy and headed out into the world as a giant question mark? just Cristina? my identity was swiped out from underneath me. there was no way i could prepare for how lost this would feel. it can happen to anybody in an instant. we hear it on TV. i have for decades. remember karl malden? “don’t leave home without it.” because if you do, nobody will know who you are.
it’s not our fault. it’s how we live. we learn first from our tiniest days we are our name. next we are somebody’s sister or brother or girlfriend, student. we are declaring we want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a ________fill in the blank when we grow up so. (i never once thought i’d be an executive when i grew up. and neither did anybody else.) but still one day “it happens.” we find something we do. we are good. we have proven we deserve to be here. so we pledge allegiance to not being our self but being that something else first.
today i read that identity theft is the fastest growing crime in america. but i have discovered it doesn’t just take a thief to rob me of who i think i am. i can do that just fine by myself. everyday without even knowing it. it’s been decades in the making. even with security codes and special “pins.” coming to terms with that reality took me into its own abyss because suddenly if i wasn’t creating for philosophy who was i? if i wasn’t taking care of everything around me and then some who was i? if i wasn’t trying to fix broken people and business models, who was i?
the truth was i didn’t have the slightest idea. that is how disconnected i had become from my soul from a life defined by a to do list for others.
so i’m wondering, how do you identify yourself today? how do we walk that fine line between both needing identity to find place in the world and knowing our genuine identity so we find true peace in our world?
are you an executive? an artist?
are you a mother? a wife? your mother’s daughter?
are you your ancestry?
are you a Californian? or a New Yorker or a resident of the state or planet you live on?
that question next took me on a journey from the lyrics of “hands and knees” to facing off with what i could only describe as my” beautiful beast.” never in my life had i taken a mystical journey quite like it and when the light finally came at the end of it, i didn’t feel peace i had become peace. i didn’t feel love, i was love. i didn’t feel joy, i was joy. my coming of age had arrived.
so who do you think you are?
my guess is a person who is very, very loved and may not even know it or believe it.
Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino
my last two blogs i wrote about “hands and knees” – a song i co-wrote with my friend, stuart mathis, two years after i sold my majority interest in philosophy. the lyrics speak to the effects i saw corporate america having on the women i worked with and loved as my own days at philosophy came to an end. “honey i’m beat” is the cry of each chorus. what i could not see at the time was how truly beat i was as well as a working woman failing as an executive chairman by day and, too often as a mother and partner by night. i was on route to my own break that was decades in the making. this is my story and truth that i have shared only with those closest to me until now as i near the end of my time as a spokesperson for philosophy.
to start, i began working when i was 16. i had always been an excellent student in high school who graduated with not enough courage or self worth to go to college so i signed up for vocational beauty school with a friend so i could learn to cut hair by day with fantasies of singing in her band by night. i was a failure at beauty school and dropped out at one point. eventually i returned and earned my hours by working as the school’s receptionist. looking back, what i was proficient at was understanding the physiology of hair, skin and nails. i loved it. i just couldn’t read enough about it. soon after i graduated, i went into business for myself with the help of my mother. i began putting fairly sophisticated product lines and procedures together for doctors based on my experience as their patient who suffered from both acne and very sensitive skin. when i was 29, i founded biomedic and at age 36, philosophy. all expected of me by no one. especially me. i loved my life and the success of the companies. biomedic was a brain child and philosophy a love child. i thought of them as my babies until at age 40 when i got pregnant for the first time. also unexpected. i finally got to look up from my desk long enough to ask, “what am i doing?”.
soon i realized, like so many working moms, that i wasn’t doing well as both a working woman and a mom. i knew the first time i looked in grace’s eyes that my own personal available decision would be to put my company up for sale as soon as it was ready. that time came and the buyer was an iconic wall street corporation. when i sold philosophy, the plan was i would step down as ceo and still be the executive chairman and creative life force working 20 hours a week from home or the office which was perfect as it took little time away from my daughter. the security of that role was important to me because creating was what i did and i was still deeply invested in the brand. be that as it may, my truth was that my heart would prove to be far too soft for big corporate america. at philosophy, we operated as friends and family, which was all i knew, and for me that type of culture really worked. now i was a creative visionary that had been moved from a sandbox into what felt like a giant battlefield with tanks coming through.
soon there would be all new heads of heads and my creative vision was just in the way of the new direction they wanted to take the brand. i realized i had sold a home with myself in it. it was hard on everyone and brutal on me the day i got a call that my creative services were no longer needed.
although i had gotten what i wanted in the privilege of being able to be with my daughter, decades of what i thought was my identity as a business creator were swooped away in a phone call. that call sent me into the dark.
today, after four years under the brilliance and expertise of the carlyle group, philosophy has a new home with coty and i couldn’t be happier. we all get along beautifully. while i have clocked a lot of time as a home mommy which i love more than anything, my life, like everyone else’s still has its share of stress, fear and resistance to more change. and yet for me the truth is still i have never felt so much at peace.
that said, the truth is also that an event, a phone call, may appear to change our lives in an instant, but the emotional transition is never an event. it is a process. and mine has been a long ongoing often very painful one. the call that put me face to face with what i named my “beautiful beast” became a next song for me and a mid life journey and journal that i will share you with you soon.
ultimately it is about what connects us to what truly matters – the moment and our capacity to love not just others but ourselves enough to say “enough”!
with peace and gratitude,
Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino
in last week’s blog i told you the beginning of my personal story about “hands and knees, ” a song i wrote with my friend, stuart mathis. the song was about standing in our truth and the effects i saw corporate america having on the women i worked with as my days at philosophy came to an end.
“honey i’m beat” was the “battle cry” in each chorus. and truly we were. i saw it suddenly and profoundly one otherwise ordinary morning as many of us gathered around the conference room table. we were highly competent, dedicated, with and with without children and lives packed with responsibilities to be met even before we entered the office. like women in offices around the country, we were grateful to be employed, enjoying our work and at the same time torn and teetering on the brink of exhaustion. we were on our way to what i saw then as an invisible breaking point. what i could not see then was how mightily that point was also heading toward me.
for thirty years i had been a skin expert but i couldn’t see that over the years my own beautiful skin was slowly morphing into something more like a suit of armor. what was once soft was now a false, impenetrable shield between me and harm. but the problem with a shield is while it keeps some bad things out it also can not possibly let other good things in. in my case these were more love and self awareness. as philosophy grew bigger as a company my skin along with my co workers kept stretching as we pulled on imaginary fire hoses to put out fires every day. the stress is collective but so also are the rewards.
and that is the good part – the wonderful things about corporate America. i loved creating and birthing philosophy. i love philosophy today and am so proud of all of those who create and continue to grow philosophy without me. i am eternally grateful for the joy and relationships and all i have learned and earned for all of my efforts. but i hope you will never assume that there is not a price paid for each and every dollar we all earn regardless if our jobs are in an executive office or in shipping. because there is. and i was no exception.
and throughout, creating was the happiest and most exhilarating thing i got to do on my job and on too many days to count only for five minutes. it brought me great joy. joy is creative. it fills our hearts and lights up our faces and lifts us from our hands and knees. i believe it is our job one responsibility to ourselves. so i’m curious to hear how you cultivate your creativity at your job today. in what small or bigger ways. either alone or with a coworker or team.
do you allow yourself to daydream? (it’s a great tool for problem solving)
do you let yourself enjoy your skills and talents without judgment?
do you celebrate your successes with each other? the little and big ones?
do you trust yourself? your instincts? do you believe that creativity is trusting?
now i spend several hours a day at home creating from a visionary place in soft skin with an equally soft heart. some ideas are pretty good. most will never see the light of day. it doesn’t matter. either way i’m here on the floor often stretched out on the floor with pen and paper in hand or, you got it, on my hands and knees. the song and lyrics to “hands and knees” indeed ended up being the prelude to the invisible breaking point i could not see coming. that moment did come for me. and with it another song and a transformation that i am excited to begin sharing with you in my next blog.
peace and blessings,
last week in my blog about journaling, i mentioned a song i wrote called “hands and knees” that i would love to tell you about today. music is the heart and soul of my life journal. the songs i write or in this case co-wrote with stuart mathis are not born in between the pages of a book’s binding, they all speak to the time in my journey that i never want to forget. hands and knees was written about 18 months after i sold the company i founded and created called philosophy.
for the past thirty years i have been a recognized authority on beauty. today, i know my true expertise comes primarily from being the only person who will ever live my life. our life experiences are what we have to share. over the next several weeks, that is what i will be doing sharing parts of my story with you that until now have lived inside of me.
so looking back, here’s how “hands and knees” came to be: it was a crisp fall morning at philosophy and like many other mornings, i was in an overly caffeinated conference room filled with many other wonderful women. we all worked together in a culture we strived to create as supportive. these women are both mothers and not mothers, married and single, overloaded with responsibilities, beautiful, competent sisters and i was suddenly struck by a profound site of overworked, under loved super girls. we were sharing a silent collective moment i call the breaking point. the breaking point is not a power point presentation. you don’t actually see it till it breaks. but i sensed clearly it was on its way. what i was not able to see in that moment was how forcefully it was coming for me, too. but i heard a few words in my mind that become part of the chorus to this song:
“honey my hands and knees have grown tired from the road
i need relief
honey i’m beat from a broken heavy load.”
now a girl is a girl is a honey is a girl and i believe the truest part of our feminity is our vulnerability. our bodies are more vulnerable, our sensibilities and sensitivities on 24 hour alert. our lives are packed with jobs and responsibilities to ourselves and others with or without children even before we show up to where we actually earn our living. we may recall when we were little children waiting for the slow, slow time to pass until we became grown- ups. then, at last we would be vulnerable no longer. we would be free. now we know to love is to be vulnerable. and to live is to be vulnerable. to never have enough hours in a day is “grown up.” to do so silently and without enough nourishment day after day as we take constant beatings with our own sticks that remind us we have got to be more, and aren’t doing it all to perfection can make us very unsafe.
the freedom we were waiting for comes now in being there for each other while we’re getting “the job” done. this is how we lighten the load. whether in a corporation, a small business, or doing the work of raising our children at home. so I’m wondering, how are you doing this today?
do you reminding each other to take a lunch break?
do you take a moment to listen to someone who really needs to be heard?
do you offer a loving smile just because she looks like she could use it?
when you go in the bathroom, can you look in mirror and say “i love you” just because you need it most of all?
do you make it your business to have a good laugh with someone at least once during the day – no matter what?
can a single moment of being still be as essential as your morning cup of coffee?
i wrote powerful lyrics and melody lines for “hands and knees” so i might stand in my truth side by side women trying to stand in their truth. “honey i’m beat” was the battle cry in each chorus. i will tell you more about the stories behind the verses of hands and knees’s in next week’s blog.
until then, please think of an expression i told myself everyday/during that time. “this too shall pass.” each one of our songs seems to follow the next. the next chorus of “hands and knees” was the prelude to the song that came after which would journal the moment that brought me to my breaking point. that song in turn ended up being the opening to my next miracle. discovering the woman i was always meant to be. right here with you. and i am so very grateful.
peace and blessings,
Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino
did you have a special diary when you were young girl? can you still see its perfect color and remember how it felt to clasp the shiny lock shut, knowing your most sacred secrets could stay safe in a world where only you held the key? years go by and our deep secrets secured may no longer be so safe for our souls and health to hold onto. our self expression grows. our need to be intimate with ourselves and others blossoms. the feelings and memories once of excruciating significance have birthed and rebirthed a thousand times over.
i don’t remember having a special diary when i was a young girl and i have not kept an actual journal (before i published “the changing room”, ) but i have never stopped writing my thoughts and feelings and memories of my moments in time on notebooks and notepads and napkins, love letters , poems and photographs and pretty much anything I could get words onto. wherever my words have landed, they all have one thing in common. they are the mirror that sees through me.
i see now that our lives are our living journals. everything we touch. when i listen to all the songs or poems i have written each one chronicles the “me” i was at the time in my life when i wrote it and the perceptions that were only as valid as my age would allow them to be. there are the canvases we have painted; a party dress sewn, videos we have taken on our travels and a recording of the voices of our grandparents we taped at a backyard picnic. there’s the journaling visible in the beautiful growing faces of our children, the eternal memory of a laugh that traveled the distance between ourselves and a forever faithful friend and a rose bush we planted one spring in our garden. each journal entry is a mark or a question mark on our path. and so are the expressions of others for us. that one day my poems would be included on bottles of product that millions of women and men would see daily never could have crossed my imagination back before i created my skincare companies. and we never know what tomorrow may bring.
today i am discovering a song i wrote about 18 months after i sold philosophy. the song captures me as a then neglected woman and an overworked mama.
it is called “hands and knees” and is posted for listening to on my facebook page. and i will tell you more about the time it journals in my next blog. like all of our journals, it was a prelude for me of what was to come next.
may we find our diaries of yesterday and keep our journals from today, if we wish, to look back on who we were without self judgment and always move forward with more love. grow, grow and then live some more. this is what we are here for.
i would love to know what is your life journaling today? where is your word, your touch making its lovely mark?
peace and blessings