Tag Archives: cristina carlino

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Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino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,






the (food) bank that’s too big to fail

cristina carlino

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

i am not a political person,   i don’t favor one party over another.  and i don’t think i’m alone when i say wrapping my head around all that’s gone on in washington these past few years to save our biggest banks from failing has gone a bit over my head.  but i can get hunger.  i may not know it in my stomach today and like most of you i have been fortunate to not know where my next meal was coming from (as in hunger not as in “do we do mickey d’s or pizza hut for lunch?) only a very few days of my life.  but when i imagine a child in her bed at night going to sleep without enough food in her stomach, i can feel  it in my gut.  it feels sickening like panic and despair and abandonment and a great big question mark.  how can this even be?  put the most remarkable economic genius minds together in a room and i’m certain they can explain the complex academic reasons behind why hunger in america is at an all time high and likely will continue to be for a long time.  but my simple spirit can’t put together how my beloved country that starts every national baseball game  singing “…for the land of the free and the home of the brave” can be free if so many millions are begging for food?   how did hunger become as american as apple pie?

have you been around long to enough to remember when parents told their kids  to “eat everything on your plate because people  were starving in europe!”   do you recall when your local church or synagogue or school would collect cans of food in what was called a “food drive for the holidays?   that’s when our next evolution of help  came along called food banks.  they were born from the evidence you don’t have to be homeless to be hungry.  now there’s over 200 food banks sponsored by cities across america trying to stay open 365 days a year.  these banks are in an emergency state.  real crisis.  they didn’t do anything foolish.  nobody’s getting big bonuses. they’re worked by volunteers.   they just can’t keep up with the supply of food needed and the money it costs to buy nutritious meals.   they need a bail out.

but this blog isn’t about guilt.  it’s about generosity.  beginning with ourselves. you can’t give what you don’t have.   it’s the holidays and the most wonderful time of the year. and food is a big part of it.   a time to celebrate and indulge and freely enjoy what is given.  a house full of special comfort foods.  the comfort foods i’ve usually gone for the rest of the year are filled with sugar and goo and are less expensive than real nutritious foods.  it helps me to remember that 44 million americans may be calling “comfort foods” their daily dinner.   it’s all they can afford.    so i’m asking that this season as you try to wrap your head around counting your calories,  that you enjoy every bite and count your blessings along with them.   if you can, please make a donation to your local food bank.  to help feed one person.  we are not saviors.  mother teresa herself said, “if you can’t feed 100 people feed one.”   together the numbers will add up.  to something we can wrap our heads around.  we cannot fail.

peace and blessings

finding our way home for the holidays

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

thinking of home has me thinking more than ever this year of all the people who are finding  themselves  hanging on to their homes by their fingernails or those who are dreaming of just one good night’s sleep in a local shelter.  the increased reported numbers of adults and children living in subways and shelters in new york alone is up over 30 percent from 2009 –  a fact that is hard for me  to wrap my head and warm woolen scarf around.   it’s easy to feel bad and guilty.   harder to remember that guilt is a weak and useless emotion next to the strength of gratitude.

gratitude  for even the most simple of things, like a warm piece of toast with a little butter.   or for the ability to supply that and a word of kindness to someone in need.  gratitude is one of our great and only  god given powers.  but it’s hard to be grateful when we feel we are not having the relationships or other goodies we may want.  easy to take for granted all we have and have always been given.  it’s easy to be grateful when we have a windfall of good fortune. harder when we are without shelter and trying to protect ourselves from the wind.   but whatever our particular situations may be this particular thanksgiving, our ability to give thanks is what still is our great equalizer.  it brings us to our home.  maybe not the home where we get our mail delivered – maybe not the mansion we’ve imagined should be ours or a simple, small house with the roof over our head – but nonetheless our ‘home.’   ours  to carry with us wherever we go.

this year something i am grateful for is i have had the willingness to further pump up what i have come to see is a gratitude muscle. it has to be exercised daily.  otherwise,  like everything else it starts to get weak and flabby.  thanksgiving is the perfect day to begin again.  maybe not a diet but a workout of thanks.  sincere thanks.  so where do we start?  simply.   i’m thinking of the classic children’s poem written by the great robert louis stevenson for this holiday.  it’s called, appropriately, “thanksgiving.”

“the world is so full of a number of things, i’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

to this i will add “amen”.  and a-women, too.  beginning with the fact that i can breathe and that i have fingers to type (although certainly not without error).  i am grateful to have you reading my words.  i have a world to be grateful for.  and a world of love to give in return.  how about you?

peace and thanksgiving blessings

christopher reeve foundation- a super love

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

no true hero sets out to be a hero.  only the superheroes we see in movies are scripted.   that’s why we love them and pay for the ticket.  but a real hero is the one who christopher reeve said, “is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” that was unscripted. he did not plan for overwhelming obstacles.  horrible accidents happen to people every day.  what makes him a hero of mine is he turned what could  have otherwise  been  merely a horrific ironic fate into a living legacy of good.

for starts, he established the christopher reeve foundation.  he put a human celebrity face on spinal cord injury and then he motivated neuroscientists around the world for the first time to conquer the most complex diseases of the brain and central nervous system. and he didn’t let up.   ae founded a separate  “quality of life” organization with his wife, dana reeve, to raise awareness, funds and rights for the disabled.  the conviction, determination  and  strength lived from his wheelchair were  beyond  the powers of a superman who originally was “ able to” leap tall buildings with a single bound with more power than a locomotive.”  he was real. so real that his character was hard at times to wrap our imaginations around.     and yet he didn’t go looking to be caped or canonized.  no true hero sets out looking for that.

at the same time the marriage of chris and dana seemed a love story that could have boggled shakespeare’s brain had he tried to create it.  chris was devoted to dana.  he  loved her and she him.  i had the privilege of seeing it when i would see them together.  in all of the days i knew Dana, never once did she complain, lose her smile, lose her sense of humor or her compassion for others.  she would walk in a room and instantly you could feel her healing presence.   and still, in their very real world, you knew they had to be having good days and not so good days.  like the rest of us.

bob and lee woodruff who founded the bob woodruff foundation understand this kind of love as well.  i wrote about them in my blog last week. they are another heroic love story to me.  and as they wrote in their  bestselling book ,”in an instant”.  “and yet there are no perfect spouses either, just those who love each other enough to stand by for better or for worse.  don’t be fooled: that kind of endurance is, perhaps, the greatest expression of love.”

there are countless other people who we do not hear about in the news or media practicing this expression of love in their daily lives with their spouses and partners.  and children and friends.   for chris reeve each seemingly tiny to us physical movement was a monumental achievement of love.   love is an action.  the big ones and the little ones.  to that end, i ask that you take an action and explore their website. visit and learn and please donate if you are able.

we may meet the loves of our lives by accident.  but loving  another is no accident. this is one of the many things i have learned and continue to learn from chris and dana reeve.  we won’t all be starting or need to start a foundation.  but love can still be our foundation.   it is our foundation.

i’d love to hear about yours.


be a hero (with your super power)

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

happy november. i’m thinking about heroes this month and since november kicks-off with halloween night,  i’m also still smiling about the droves of  little heroes i saw out sunday  night.  they were disguised as spider man and princess tiara and a skeleton dressed in a sweat shirt to stay warm.   and then there were lots of their parents – adult heroes dressed in costumes, too.  more than i’ve ever seen. i am grateful for all of them and for the melting pot of heroism that is brewing out there .  just in time to inspire us and save us .

and while few may ever fulfill the fantasy and “leap tall buildings in a single bound,” morph into a favorite animal, or save the world from all evil,  it’s a dream come true for me that we  are getting we don’t have to be perfect or the best who ever lived to be heroic.   we have only to do something unselfishly for the benefit of the greater good.  that’s what ben franklin first said and i’m sticking to it.  not the greatest number but the greater good.  to make a difference in one life, one million lives, our own lives.  small things.  big things.  our families, our jobs, our neighbors, strangers whose lives we may change without even knowing it.

i love the mother teresa’s quote, “we cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love.”  come to find out, all that great love adds up.

in november  i’ll blog about a few famous  heroes whose deeds seem very great to us, including my friends, bob and lee woodruff and the late dana and  christopher reeve who i deeply miss.  all who are and we super people and models of doing the right thing.   ultimately they teach me about great love.   that the primary requirement to being  a hero is to be a  decent person with a respect and love for ourselves and faith in humanity.  that we be honest and fair and true to our word.  this is our super power.

come as you are.  wear a costume if you wish.   but come.   i’d love to hear from you.  how are you showing up for your life?  who is a hero in your life?   who are you a hero to?

peace and blessings

breaking records- with a little help from our (girl)friends…

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

i read a quote this week that reminded me adversity  can break us or it can inspire us to break records. the good  kind.  this breast cancer awareness month, records have been broken.  the record number who lost their lives to this dreadful  disease is  down and awareness of prevention  is up.  she colors my day surpassed its previous reach.   the pink crayon has now  been clicked over ll4,000 times – each time creating for a cure.   project miracle is delighted with these numbers.

and we know, ultimately it’s always just about one.  one story. one woman.  one friendship at a time.  no one breaks records alone.  not the good kind.  not even our  own personal best. can you imagine trying to reach your goal without the “that-a-girl’ support of a good friend cheering  us on the path and celebrating with us at the finish line?   all it takes is one friend.   here’s my one story.  it’s about my friend, kelly.  we have been inseparable from the start.

“i am woman hear me roar in numbers to big to ignore.”  kelly and i sang out helen reddy as loud as we could.  our legs were pumping as hard as they could to make our swings fly high above the playground.  we were in the fifth grade.  it was the last day of school before summer.  so we decided to show up in halter tops.  we were brave and wanted to break the glass ceiling of a dress code we thought was invented by the self righteous. the result: we were sent home to change.   a moment of adversity, but neither of us opted to break the dress code again.   instead, we got into student council and figured out how to change the rules.   and that’s what we’ve done.  year after year.  a kept roots in arizona.  kelly moved to hollywood.  but we  have never really been apart.  many years later, both kelly and i sadly lost friends to breast cancer.  breast cancer?   we had never heard of such a thing when we were young girls.  kelly became one of the founders of the women’s cancer research fund.  she inspired me to follow her lead and turn my grief into charitable  good.

then, about seven years ago, kelly began to  ride another new wave.  literally.  she met a volleyball player named gabby and her surfer husband, laird.  (laird was to become the subject of the current new york times bestseller, “The Wave”,)  kelly spoke about her new companions endlessly and i didn’t get tired of hearing it.  i watched as in their company, kelly became brand new and better physically than i had ever remembered her at any other time in her adult life.  she was not just living in the moment but exploding into it.  like we both did when we were nine.  this past summer, i got to meet laird again and read about him as well.  with kelly at the inspiration-helm, my own desire to not just live in the moment  but explode (in the good way) into it was ignited.  i am now breaking my own personal  record and working  daily to  get back into better physical shape than i have been in years. i feel wonderful.   next summer, i’m going to be in california at the pacific with kelly and my daughter and our very own surfboards on the waves.  the baby waves.  exploding into the moment.  as we close out this last week of breast cancer awareness month, this is my plan and my prayer. for my one story.  for all of our stories.  that we be alive, healthy and grateful together.  and breaking records.

who do you pray to be with next october?  have you told her yet?  i’d love to hear your story.

peace and blessings

“the wave” review (book by susan casey)

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

the wave changed my life not unlike other classics like marianne williamsons return to love, carol myss anatomy of the spirit and eckart tolle practicing the power of now. i believe, unknowingly, susan casey has penned a book that puts all of us seekers on notice that a strong spirit requires an equally strong body. the wave made me see you cant reach a truly spiritual high without physically animating your body. i have put my theory to the test by enrolling myself into a wave theory of life where i rise with a passion for movement knowing that like a wave  this day will never come again. for the first time in decades i am working out and getting strong all because the wave made me want to do it. it was the ultimate ah ha moment for me. i will be posting weekly to report on my progress in becoming a person that doesn’t just live in the moment but is exploding in it. buy this book for any person in your life that like me has been sitting around way too much. once you ride the wave you want to become with it. stay tuned, cristina carlino