Tag Archives: mothers and daughters

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Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino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,






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 cloud with a pink lining (and a crayon, too!)

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

as i write this, we are more than half way through breast cancer awareness month. pink is the word.  pink, that for every other month of the year instinctually calls up my feelings of joy,  innocence,  carnations, weddings and a luscious pink lipstick or two this month changes hues.  now the same pastel pink is the color of passion and power, pride and hope.  it is a promise and a prayer wrapped in a ribbon.   it is a switch that turns  on  memories of those we’ve lost from this awful disease from our mothers to daughters to sisters to friends-  both women and men.  pink is the switch that flicks on a remembrance of struggles in the bodies of all survivors and an awareness and recognition that at any time this disease can occur or reoccur for any one of us. anywhere.  cancer is a dark grey cloud that just hangs there.

and then there is pink.  we grow up learning that adversity is inevitable in every life.  that every cloud has a silver lining.  that with loss there is some gain. i have found this to be true in the darkest moments of my life which include losing people i love to cancer. with my greatest losses have  always come some unexpected gift.  i wouldn’t  wish the horrific breast cancer prognosis on anyone or any family.  but my dear friend and author, leah komaiko, said it best with the following poem.  it is now  my pink lining for myself and for those i know personally and love. it is also for the millions of women i know indirectly from my work creating product for philosophy and the millions upon millions of faces i will never see yet know are my own.  pray:

that at least one of us sees and trusts her own strength in facing her worst fear.

that at least one of us awakens to the beauty of her body and loves it for the first time in her life.

that at least one of us makes some small change in her diet that can save her life.

that at least one of us has a conversation long avoided where we forgive and ask to be forgiven.

that some of us discover a love that has been there for us all along.  And let it in.

that some detach lovingly from someone who may no longer be healthy for their journeys.

that none will blame herself for having this disease or mistake the disease for who she is.

that some may be brought to their knees to God with a new faith, gratitude and willingness.

that we may come to consider the connection between our minds, our body and our spirits.

that we will enjoy every single, simple, precious and gifted moment  of our lives.

and that we will share with each other the pink  linings.  cancer is no gift.  but the linings are our lifeline of connection and hope.   a friend of mine told me she went to a “thanks for the memories, mammeries” party  given for her friend three nights before her second surgery.  a once in a lifetime party for sure.  you won’t find paper napkins to match the theme.   the guests mixed sorrow with silliness and laughter.  and on the flip side of the surgery, a celebration.   for me, it was my loss of a young woman who left behind her young daughter that inspired me to find my pink lining and initiate she colors my day and the pink crayon to support breast cancer awareness and research funds for the entertainment industry foundation’s women’s cancer research fund and susan g. komen for the cure. i hope you will support this cause and share your pink linings here and with others.  this month and every month.  until the big cloud of breast cancer can no longer be seen in anybody’s sky.

peace and blessings

“e” is for enthusiasm…

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

…also for exuberance and excellent.  which are a few of the joyous feelings i am experiencing  having just read a new book called “the wave:  in pursuit of the rogues, freaks and giants of the ocean” by susan casey.  this is not so much a book review (although one may come later), as much as an enthusiasm review.  the kind of book report i suspect i may have excitedly given at school when i was a young girl.  i can hardly remember.

but now, this book, the wave took me out to sea on a masterfully written  adventure, carrying me on a 120 foot monster water wheel wave that  opened me to moving beyond living in the moment.  it invited me and all to “explode in the moment.”   which means to me when the music plays, i am not just listening, i am dancing and singing.  to explode into the moment, fear can no longer be an important word in my dictionary.  granted, i will not in this lifetime ride  waves like the surf masters in “the wave” do,  and only a half a handful ever live to do so – because these ones are e – for extraordinary.  but in my own life i can be as stoked as they are.  this book awakens to me that i must be.

and all this from a book!  no bells or whistles or special ring tones.  it doesn’t come with batteries and it doesn’t tweet.  it only rocks my soul and reminds me of the joy in my own young daughter’s eyes as she masters reading and discovers news worlds between the crisp pages of her new books.

as i write this, i am in new york in part to celebrate the wave’s book signing and party  with the author who is also my friend.  of course, in part this adds wonderfully to the excitement.  how wonderful to celebrate the success of a friend you love.  but how i wish i could be with my daughter too, who is back home with her dad.  i would love to celebrate my enthusiasm with her.  to speak to her of the oceans and their great power and the mammoth sea animals and what scientists and surfers and susan show are the messages about our planet the waves are teaching us.  i can hardly wait to get back home for this reason.

but here is one message i will share with you that my daughter does not need to try to understand:  i believe as imperative our need to save our oceans is our job one – to protect our enthusiasm. it is so easy in these times to not consider that.  we may be afraid to feel something like childish, or experience it when we do, naïve or plain jaded about the possibilities of living and exploding into at least some of our moments.  but without enthusiasm, nothing has, can or perhaps ever will be accomplished. that’s the fact.  we must exercise this part of ourselves to survive.  whether that comes from reading a book, playing with an app, enjoying a movie, a kiss, the smile of a child, or zipping yourself into a wetsuit and hitting the waves.  as malcolm forbes so eloquently put it, “people who never get carried away, should be.”

i’d love to hear from you how you allow yourself to be carried away. and god speed.  let’s all enjoy the ride.

beauty is as beauty does…

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

after my  thirty years in the cosmetics industry founding, creating and developing cutting edge  beauty products for two very successful companies; i know that simple  statement  to still  be the bottom-line. beauty is as beauty does. my companies changed the game, but the rules are still the same. for a beautiful, youthful face – kind generous actions, given freely from our hearts, will trump any beauty ritual. our acts of hate and disregard can make us look and feel very unattractive. our acts of compassion can make us very, very beautiful.

and then, there’s angelina jolie.  yesterday, i saw online the news of one of the iconic beauties  of our time in pakistan. i was reminded that among jolie’s responsibilities as actress, mother and philanthropist, she is also the goodwill ambassador for the united nation’s refugee agency. in that capacity, she was in pakistan to visit desperately in-need victims of the recent floods there.   wearing a burqa in the midst of a crowd of women and children who cannot find their parents,  her head and part of her face covered,  jolie’s beauty seemed to me even more otherworldly than when i’ve seen her on the red carpet. in a make-shift press conference, she told the people of pakistan she was there to help bring the world’s attention to what has been the greatest disaster in that country’s history.  her beauty and history can garner attention.  that is a part she can play.  so what is our part?

i have tried to show my daughter that life requires no grand stands or home runs to make a difference in the lives of others. something as simple as her telling a woman well beyond her own years “you smell nice” or “i like that pin on your sweater” is enough. anything that brings a smile to another’s face is a gift of beauty.  to another as well as to ourselves. few will ever have angelina jolie’s beauty.  and although believe me, i’d be lying if i said i wouldn’t like to know what it’s like if just for an hour; i still know beauty is in the details of life.  my life. and whatever  small gestures i can make to help others.

it makes me think of a very moving dalia lama quote i recently saw that said, “since periods of change such as the present one come so rarely in human history, it is up to each of us to make the best use of our time to create a happier world.”  i have come to learn that more than a feeling, love is an action. this is the project miracle.

what small action can you take this week to help make your world happier and your beauty shine through?

the miracle of the moment

she colors my day

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

wonderful news. i just had a clean report on my mammogram. mammograms are a miracle of invention. that the technology was given a name that sounds to me like  your breast is going to be put in an envelope and delivered by western union, is another story. for women over a certain age and men who can also be at risk and victims of breast cancer, mammograms are the best method we have as of today for screening and diagnosis. they help save  countless lives. that’s a story that cannot be told too many times. pass it on.

and then there’s the one about anxiety. a tale i have known something about and have suffered with personally. the experts say that anxious feelings are normal when taking medical exams. it is not uncommon that our blood pressure may go up. i don’t doubt mine has many times before. the poet, t.s. eliot said, “anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.”  as a self proclaimed “creative compulsive” and someone who has also created two very successful businesses, i know this to true. and when it comes to taking a medical exam and especially the mammogram; my blessed, creative mind can come up with thoughts and images that make the blood curl. like too many of us, i have lost beloved friends to this disease.

but then, at this mammogram, something miraculous happened. i got nervous only for a moment when instead of routinely bringing me into the doctor to review my results, they wanted to first run an ultrasound on my right breast so the doctor could get another look. for the very first time ever, i felt uncomfortable but not scared to death. as i laid back down on the table, i heard myself surrender to whatever the prognosis was going to be. i said, “ thank you.”  thank you, god, for this caring doctor and for the privilege of having access to good medical care.  and thank you, also, for everyday. and this one, too. and in that moment, i felt no fear. i was completely in the moment. surrender does that to a person. after a few minutes when the doctor pronounced the words, “all clear”. we both felt better.

please share this blog and story with someone who may need to read it today.  and visit, please www.shecolorsmyday.com this is part of our project miracle.  it supports the research of thousands of people who work tirelessly each day to discover a cure for breast cancers as well as the hearts and souls of those who may be affected this day by the disease.

make a joyful noise

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

i have been spending  a wonderful summer vacation  in new york city.  i don’t  come to manhattan  looking for peace and quiet.  i come to change it up.  this is an island with no shortage of noise and noisy people trying to be heard above the noise.  what comes with it is also an unmatchable energy, innovation, invention and rhythm.  and then there is “Stomp – The Musical” that my daughter, grace and i went to see the other day on broadway.   if you aren’t familiar, stomp is a group of performers who create an extraordinary symphony of music , dance and colors using  unconventional percussion  instruments from brooms to garbage can lids, poles, to pounds of sand, bananas, basketballs and seemingly endless possibilities – including, literally, the kitchen sink.  as a child, i loved banging on pots and pans and so did grace.  they were our favorite and most fascinating household instruments.

now these professionally played pots and pans were dazzling to listen to plus the muscles on the arms of these musicians  were strong and beautiful to look at. it reminded me how strong our spiritual muscles can grow when we create our own rhythms, break a few rules and take a risk to dance to the beat of a different drummer.  our dream  takes off and we may  have someone or thousands of people snapping their fingers and clapping along with us. i know this to be true from how we started  philosophy.

theodore  roosevelt  said, ”do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” when i first read that quote  it took time  to sink in. it helped me open to the truth that the answer to my needs is often right in front of my nose. but always  somehow my need,  (not always my want),  is always supplied. a garbage lid, a spatula drum stick, a stomping foot to keep the beat. in the beginning years of philosophy,  we were told we needed models and professional photo shoots to show our new products. but we just didn’t have the budget for it. what we did have was our own pictures. lots of them. granted they were our pictures from childhood but they were already shot, free and became part of our brand.  To this day they work.

Stomp is a dream of two gifted people. once upon a time, thousands of years ago, the stick was an origin of rhythm and music . and so, thank god, we go.  the beat goes on.  our dreams are the mother of invention. we make a joyful noise.  and we do not give up faith that all of our needs will be met  one by one, right where we are to help us keep making it.