Category Archives: Personal Stories

protecting our true identity

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

cristina carlinowho 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.

with love,




standing in my truth with shoes that finally fit

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

cristina carlinomy 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,





women at work- living in our truth

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino
cristina carlinoin 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,


words on life

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

cristina carlinodid 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


i love you unconditionally (under one condition)

cristina carlino

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

that i can forgive you.  oh!  that condition!  can we do that?  can we really forgive others unconditionally, other than our  children and our grandchildren for whom that seems to come to as a gift of  nature?  i’m sure the native american indians got it right when they taught  every living thing from a rock to the earth to a person deserves our love and reverence and forgiveness and that makes such simple sense until someone throws a rock at your back, or breaks your heart in two.  then, under these and a zillion other scenarios, the road to unconditional love via forgiveness can get pretty bumpy.

but the older i become, the more i want to try to stay on it a little bit more daily… i want to love unconditionally and  it helps that dream seem less daunting when i consider what unconditional forgiveness even means:

it does not mean i approve of what was done

it doesn’t mean i have to forget

forgiveness means i forget  about expecting you to change the past

i forget about holding you hostage for it,

so join me on this sacred dirt road and see if any of these lookout points open a new vista. do any of these reasons to forgive someone who you truly want to love resonate with you?

i forgive you for:

taking me to a “romantic valentine’s dinner” at a place that played rap.

leaving your dirty socks on the floor.  again.

not doing it the way i would do it.

giving me advice i didn’t ask for.

being smarter, prettier, richer or funnier than i am.

not being able to make me happy

talking about me behind my back

not being who i told others you would be.

i forgive you for  embarrassing me

i forgive you for not showing up on time

for what you said to me when i was a child

for what you didn’t say

i forgive you for not being healthy.

i forgive you for not choosing me

i forgive you for choosing me for what I never wanted to be chosen for

i forgive you for laying me off my job

i forgive you for reminding me of my mother, father, sister, teacher

i forgive you for being black, white, male, female, foreign or furry.  (fill in the blank)

so i pray for a forgiving heart so that i may love you unconditionally.  and under one final condition:

that i can forgive myself first.  because if i have no forgiveness for me i really have none to offer you.

it’s not an easy journey but it’s so worth it.  the road itself is very forgiving.  nothing but love.  it’s not a project.  it’s a process.  a little bit more each day.  it may well be what heals us and our world.

peace and blessings,


why choosing for the common good is good for you!

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

cristina carlinoremember the golden rule?   you may have first heard about it in kindergarten.  our little worlds were getting bigger.  that’s when we were taught about cooperation and sharing in groups even larger than our family.  if you wanted to be heard you raised your hand to speak.  if you wanted to have any friends, you let everyone have their turn on the swing.   it was all for the common good.  whether we were good at it all the time (and believe me i wasn’t), we wanted to be.  our little bodies and souls knew doing good felt good.  plus we might even get rewarded with a gold star!

now we are all adults living in a very busy and complex world that seems to be getting both bigger and smaller and more out of control every day.  in more situations than we can count, we have learned to take care of and watch out for ourselves.   many of us may not even know what “for the common good” even means anymore.  it means, basically, considering the greatest good for the greatest number,  and to “sweeten the deal”, choosing for the common good is good for you, too!

here are a few reasons why:

l.            considering others is good for your heart.  scientifically proven.   something you may not have been so concerned with in kindergarten.

2.            when we choose for the common good we are choosing from love whether we know it or not .  whether we are l00 percent enamored with our choice or not.   more love less fear.  less fear less stress.

3.            choosing for the common good does not mean you lose ourselves.   rather you may find yourself at last in your  right home where you have always lived – a global village.

2.            when  choosing for the common good  you are not asked to be a martyr, hero or doormat.  in fact with the weight of the world not living solely on your shoulders, you may feel less like one of those than you have in years.  you may feel very happy!

3.            choosing for the common good doesn’t mean our needs are not important.  it doesn’t mean we are less lovable.   it can mean we are more loved.

3.            choosing for the common good can naturally make you more compassionate.  medical research  proves that being compassionate lifts a hormone in our brains ( DHEA ) that slows the aging process.  something else we didn’t care about in kindergarten.

4.            choosing for the common good is a good choice for us because now, unlike when we were children, we have a myriad of other additional opportunities to practice it:  here’s just a few:

–            at  home – listen, laugh, forgive, repeat

–            in traffic –  be really, really polite and considerate

–            at work –  get your job done.  everyone’s livelihood depends on it.

–            at a movie theatre – “shhhhh means “shhhhhhhhh”

–            at the gym – play well with others

–            charity –    if one person’s hungry, we are all hungrier than we know

–            volunteering –    time is your greatest gift.  Long before time is money.

–            with your neighbors – live and let live and let your dog in if she’s barking

–            in your places of worship – consider that God loves the person next to you as much as He loves you.

–            for the environment – please leave this world as clean as when you came and a little cleaner, for our children.

choosing for the common good may not at this point in our adult lives include the possibility of a gold star, but unlike any other time in recorded  history, it may be our only hope for survival.

i’d love to hear ways how choosing for the common good has proven to be good for you.

peace and  blessings,


choose with your heart, it’s smarter than you think…

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

cristina carlinofive days after  this past weekend’s horrific shootings in tuscon,  i am still trying to wrap my head around how this moment in time came to pass and what it may mean for the bereaved families and our country for years to come.  i know i am not alone. and then suddenly i get it – no matter how many thoughts i have or facts i read or opinions i hear, i will never be able to wrap my head around this.  my head simply isn’t big enough for the job.  only my heart is.  my heart may not make sense of the senseless, but it brings peace, creativity and new possibilities beyond what  my mind can understand to today’s reality.  every day.  if i can be still and choose to listen.

so i am choosing with my heart today and all year.  here in  my 49th year on this beautiful planet in the year 20ll  are a few more of my  reasons why i invite you to join me in following your heart’s choices:

1. my heart will never close its  door on me

although i have shut the door on it in the past more times than i could ever count. my heart is still wide open for the asking after my very best thoughts have only been able to wear me down.

2.  the heart is its own brain bank

i spent several years feeling insecure about my intelligence because i only got a high school diploma.   when i first founded  and began building what became two very successful companies (including philosophy), i was especially aware of this.  but  my heart revealed itself as  my most brilliant  professor guiding me to every next lesson  i needed.   including meeting   many wonderful college educated people who knew what i could not know and helped grow these dream businesses with me.

3. i’m choosing with my heart because when i choose with my head i know:

i  may be making a decision based on my fear. what will my parents think?   what if i get sick?  what if it doesn’t work out the way i want to?

logic won’t choose intuition  if  i’m writing  a pros and cons list of a situation to make my decision, the answer is not on the paper.  the answer is in my heart and my gut although in my head, I may feel very happy and relieved for a while.   i think i am in control. i think i am right.

4. i’m choosing to choose with my heart because:

when i do, it’s not that  i am right.  it’s that “it’s just right.”  it feels right.

i’m certain i’m not in control.  something greater than my thoughts is leading the way.  i feel happy.  my heart feels a little bit bigger.   .

5.   i’m choosing with my heart because  i have discovered it  makes for the  greatest adventure and the scariest ride.

people may call you crazy or a visionary.  i’ve been called both many times over.  but very few days of my life have i called myself not curious.

6.   i’m choosing with my heart because it can make decisions big and small

it has no judgment on what makes a right question. any question will do just fine. from which shoes i should  wear with this outfit to how to best answer my daughter’s serious question to what project may i best serve next.

7.   i’m choosing with my heart because to do so i must get very still.

our invaluable brains are  accumulating information and  making decisions at faster and faster speeds.  i can hear mine at times racing nonstop.  but to choose with my heart i must listen to my still, small voice.  i must get still.   not just for a second.  but again and again.  and that is oh so good for me.

8. i am choosing with my heart because it’s a most wonderful practice:

the solutions from our heads are complex.  the ones from our heart are simple. it should be simple but it’s not easy.   it is a skill that can be practiced but never fully mastered.  the outcomes of these choices are not up to me.  choosing what feels right for me in the moment is.

and finally, i’m choosing to choose more from my heart because it is only in my heart where i have the power to truly forgive.  the power to pray for myself and for us all.  the heart to begin anew and the power to consciously believe in miracles.

and i most certainly do.

peace and blessings to us all,