Carrie Maldonado – Author

I write books and blogs to inspire, encourage, and entertain!


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Why you and I need to start our own club

I don’t know about you, but I’m a very special, unique individual with a complicated life, an unusual story, a background that has things in it I’d rather weren’t, a messy family, a cluttered house, a big heart, good intentions, a well-developed sarcasm muscle, a sometimes dysfunctional body image, chronic dissatisfaction with certain aspects of society, severe introversion with tendencies towards rabid attention-seeking, not enough time, intermittent anxiety about things I can’t control, and above all a desire to leave a positive impact on the world and the people I love. Actually, part of that was a lie. I DO know about you. I think you’re probably very special and unique too. Just like me. And I think you want the same things. And possibly, you’ve become a bit jaded and discouraged in your search for like minded folks, or a venue for making that impact.

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We were not celebrated here

As I’m fond of telling my children, we go where we’re celebrated (which is apparently NOT the grocery store after #NoBen has ingested too much sugar). I tell my kids and my coaching clients that if you can’t find a tribe, make your own. That’s pretty much the impetus for my new venture. I want to make a tribe, but I have some serious limitations in this. Such as:

 

  • I have a kindergartener and twin 3-year-olds, so I’m not really available mornings or afternoons.
  • I’m a leadership trainer/coach as well as co-owner of a fitness business, so I’m not really available during the day.
  • Even if I was available, I’m pretty awkward in social situations, so if it’s not a structured event I’ll be pretty fidgety.
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My research disguise

But all that being said, I also KNOW that isolation drains us emotionally and spiritually and in every area of my life, I can tend to get unique-itis, or feel sorry for myself-ness and the only known cure for that is honest and authentic community with like-minded people. So I need my tribe, and my tribe needs me. Honestly, I would have launched this all about a year ago, but then I decided to do some ‘research’.

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Why are people so MEAN online?

Basically, what I learned during that year is that the tools that can be used to bring us closer and share our similarities can also be used to savagely rip people apart. I’ve seen articles on sleep training that have degenerated into both sides accusing one another of attempting to murder their children. Now I have friends who (correctly), let babies cry it out, and friends who (incorrectly) think that that is terrible (see what I did there?), and if we can’t even discuss THAT without name calling and threats, what are the chances of any kind of meaningful discourse?

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Coffee is life

Ahhh…but that’s when I realized…we already have a million resources where we can vent our political angst, and medical resources to learn that it’s okay to sleep train your baby (or not) etc., etc. Nobody needs more of that. What we do need is to sit down over a virtual cup of coffee with some friends to laugh at the crazy things our kids do, make fun of the ridiculous expectations Pinterest has of us, and maybe share some of our fears and aspirations.

 

My interests at this stage in my life are pretty basic, and common to a lot of us, I think. I want to know:

  • How to enjoy my life more, despite the chaos
  • How to figure out my gifts, and the best way to contribute them, whether it’s in the workplace, volunteer arena, or the family
  • How to use the limited time I have to get as physically fit as possible, starting where I’m at, with continual progress
  • How to get my kids to eat healthier without spending more time or money than I have
  • How to operate in grace, and speak life to others.

 

I’ll end with this story. Earlier this week I was up at 2:00 am with the committee in my head going off about how I’ve ruined my children with my impatience, how I’m a crappy wife, horrible mother, lousy friend, and on and on and on. I got through it as I do, by remembering what God says about me, and turning it over to Him. The next morning at drop off, I started chatting with another Mom, whom I’ve just met. She shared about what a rough morning she had, just the tip of the iceberg, mind you, as she was watching my reaction. I was SO glad to hear it, and I talked to her about some of my challenges. We ended up having a very encouraging, and brief talk about losing your grip, getting it back, and trudging on. Now, I know nothing about this woman other than a few basics, but we connected, and we helped each other.

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IMG_5092See, shame is a cockroach that light chases away. We can be light to each other just by listening, withholding judgment, and saying ‘yeah, me too’.  I don’t want or need a place where I am lectured or put down. I am too grounded, too old, and too irreverent to pull off politically correct, and too kind to want to be mean, so I tend to like communities with diverse points of view, but little pretension. I enjoy people who’d rather laugh at themselves than at others, and who practice the most important commandment.

And I bet you do, too…so stay tuned, because this is going to be ….AWESOME!

If you are excited about this too, please…share like you’ve never shared before!! (You, too, Mom!)  and let’s connect on Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook!

PS I’ve written, 10 tips on dealing with multiple (conflicting) priorities. If you’d like a free copy, just click here!

cool party

 

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An(other) open letter to churches on being relevant

Dear churches,

So, this is a little awkward, but I need to tell you something you might not want to hear. Kind of like that friend in high school who really, really, wants to impress the guy with the leather jacket who smokes so she starts smoking and wearing skintight leather pants to fit in, and you can’t help but feel scared for her because even though it seems like she has won, and will be popular and loved from now on, you know deep down she’s living a lie and will probably end up a pregnant high school drop out with lung cancer. So church, when I see you turning into Sandy from Grease, I can’t help but want to say something, because I didn’t speak up to Sandy and have always regretted that.

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Carrie M.It’s not like I’m looking down on you, because I’ve done it too, so I get it. I’m a writer, and now I write my books to try to show through story how God takes us as we are, loves us, and give us His power to enable us to be our best version of ourselves. At first I worried-a lot-that I’d offend people by talking about Jesus, so I watered down the message. I’d hide it in humor, or use more of a ‘spiritual’ approach, lest I come off as too religious and drive people away. I did that with Grace Group and it wasn’t until I realized it and changed it substantially to speak my truth that it turned into a book I was proud of.

 

mad godSee, I grew up in a culture that told me religion was all about pleasing an unpleaseable and intolerant God by giving up everything fun and pleasurable. I ended up adopting a concept of God as this old man up in the sky judging me and gleefully punishing me or threatening me with hell. My response was to opt out. Since I couldn’t and didn’t want to please that God, I took my ball and bat and went home (not realizing that this isn’t a game you can actually opt out of).

Unfortunately, you are judged every day anyway. If you’re not popular, or successful, orsocial media rich, or skinny, or you don’t have 100,000 followers on social media, or you’re not a sexy rebel, then people can overlook you at best, and make your life a living hell at worst. I don’t think I’m the only person who tried to overcome fear, anxiety, and a feeling of not being good enough by a) trying myself to death to change and be good enough and please the masses or b) numbing myself with food, booze, relationships, work, or other assorted things to make myself think I was having fun and not actually dying of anxiety and fear. And ultimately feeling like a complete fraud and failure who passively, and then actively, tried to die just to escape it all.

cool partyHere’s where you come in church. Like I said, I know you mean well, but when you try to be hip and cool, it’s not all that helpful. It means I have to keep the fake face on, because I’m not hip and cool, and you’re just another place that stresses me out because it feels like deep down, you’re just a shiny, happy way to feel better about myself without offering me any real solution because you don’t want to piss anyone off.  All you really do is tell me to give up my vices, which are my coping mechanism for dealing with life as you and the world offer it.

Here’s what did work for me, in case you wondered. Having people who understood the pain, shame, and guilt of living the life I’d been living because they’d lived that life too. What helped me was the people who’d been like me and knew it was wrong and acknowledged there was a need to change, and had learned how to let God change them. They focused on the hope that change was possible. They encouraged me to learn what God wants for me, and how much He wants me to have it.

nice godYou telling me I was a great person wouldn’t have appealed to me any more than telling me I was a horrible one. I knew something inside me needed to change, I just needed help believing that I didn’t have to be the one to change me. But shame isn’t love, and that won’t turn someone’s heart to God either. What really saves people is the ultimate message of the gospel, which is that God already KNOWS everything about us, and never expected us to be good on our own anyway. He loves us, warts and all, and wants to help us elevate ourselves into a better way of being through letting Jesus take the punishment that deep down we know we deserve, so we don’t have to hide from God, thinking he’s mad at us.

So church, please don’t water down your message, or try to scare me into being your friend. Just tell the truth. You might be surprised at how much people will appreciate it.

Believe in yourself, church, and what you have to offer. It will be better in the long run, I promise. And stay away from that Danny guy.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this blog, please share the love, and let’s connect on Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook!

 


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Kindergarten? Wait, what?

So my firstborn is starting kindergarten next week. I know millions of kids have started kindergarten before but our situation and my child is unique. You see, she is my firstborn and is the cleverest, smartest, most awesome kid in the universe. No offense, I’m sure your kid is pretty good too, but I told you we are unique. So no one really knows how I’m feeling entrusting this miracle of nature to someone else’s hands for six hours a day. Every day. The struggle is real.

Sigh.

You couldn’t possibly understand how it feels. See, I had Bisky late in life after thinking I couldn’t have kids, and I put a successful career on hold to be there with her until school starts. No one else has ever gone through this before. For the first time in five years I won’t have her home all day and I don’t know how that will be.  One of the hardest parts about parenting is that by the time you figure anything out the little suckers grow up and you don’t know what you’re doing again. I loved this season even with all of its dichotomies. On one hand I had the freedom to go to the park in the middle of the week, or do all the fun stuff during off times when it wasn’t crowded because all school kids were in school. On the other hand, I didn’t really take the opportunity as much as I wish I had because of the time constraints of a consulting business and because twins.

Sigh.

Which brings up another point no one else will understand, which is guilt and regret. Why didn’t I listen to everyone who told me how fast this time would pass and to enjoy every minute? I know, I know, at the time I thought they were sentimentalists who just forgot that every minute isn’t necessarily enjoyable. I mean, twins and a toddler for goodness sake! And threenagers. And oh my gosh the attitude of a four year old who knows EVERYTHING. But still…those days are gone. I don’t regret a single time I didn’t schedule an appointment with a client to play with the kids, but every hour I spent working and not making memories feels like a betrayal of the worst kind.

Sigh.

What do you mean, I’m being dramatic? Like I said, you just don’t understand. Every other Mom has it all dialed in, with everything on the Mommy bucket list checked off as she confidently bundles her baby off to kindergarten knowing she did an amazing job and her kid is prepared in every way. This is not the case for us. My child still needs me. She’s not ready. She still needs me when she gets an owie, or she’s shy. Her teacher won’t understand that when she’s hostile and rude it’s because she feels guilty about her behavior and not that she’s a brat. She won’t understand that she needs extra time for transitions, and doesn’t like socks, or that her drawings need a very long time to explain because of all the details of the back story.

Sigh.

And no one else has younger siblings at home who idolize big sis, who will be by turns devastated that she’s gone all day, and devastated that they’re not big enough for kindergarten too, and maybe a bit relieved to be freed from oppression. This cross I bear, I bear alone. Unfortunately, there is no bright side. My baby is being ripped away from the safety and security of my arms and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Sigh.

But I don’t want to hold her back, and I sense that beneath the anxiety she’s ready for a new challenge.

And she’ll have 8 other girls in her class.

And she will probably do well with some structure.

And she does respond pretty well in social environments.

I just wish there was someone else who has been through this, ever, so I would know that what I’m feeling is normal and that it will turn out okay.

Sigh.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this blog, please share the love, and let’s connect on Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook!

PS I’ve written, 10 tips on dealing with multiple (conflicting) priorities. If you’d like a free copy just click here!


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They call me Mommy

It starts at about 6:00 am.

“Mommy!”

The cry is confident, knowing that it will be answered promptly. They might want (yet another) glass of water. More likely they’re ready to get up though. I feel like a jerk, because I’m not happy about this. I was counting on getting another hour, hour and a half of ‘me time’, and the early morning call from my bosses means no me time today. Again. As I walk up the stairs, I try to get into gratitude. How amazing is it that these little people even exist, let alone know they can count on me to be there for them? I never thought I’d get to be Mommy, and to so many people!

So why do I sometimes feel so frustrated?

Is it because I had my kids in my late thirties, after being a self-sufficient adult with nothing BUT me time for so long?  Sometimes I look back on the days of lazy sleep-ins, pedicures, and weekend getaways and I can’t even believe that was me.

Don’t get me wrong. If I was given at time machine and the opportunity to go back and make a different choice, I’d choose the same life I have today. Which is what makes this gnawing disquiet so hard sometimes. I feel disloyal to my kids for wanting a break from them, and at the same time I feel disloyal to myself letting my tank get so depleted that I’m running on fumes, and pissed off about it to boot. My husband gets the brunt of my wrath, which isn’t fair, but when I’m beyond my breaking point, everyone suffers on some level. Whether it’s my overreaction to accidental spills or breaks, or my complete intolerance to the WHINING, there comes a point where no one’s getting my highest and best. In fact, I don’t even remember what my highest and best is.

“Mommy!”

That’s my name now. For a long time my daughter thought my full name was Mommy Maldonado. I thought it was cute (and still do, kind of) but I also get scared when I realize that I feel more like Mommy Maldonado than Carrie. Is Carrie still there? Do I still have anything to offer besides being Mommy? Should I?

I remember so clearly when I was pregnant with Bisky, thinking that I’d bow out of corporate life until she started school. I figured I’d stay relevant through consulting and then jump back in. Now, she’s starting school and I feel like my call and purpose has completely changed. Because of becoming Mommy.

  • Mommy is that chronically sleep deprived woman who still manages to get it all done.
  • Mommy is that working woman who is making everything a priority and pulling it off. Sometimes adeptly, and sometimes by the skin of her teeth.
  • Mommy is the person who gets head butted in the nose and swears up a blue streak and then has to explain why we shouldn’t use those words in church preschool.
  • Sometimes Mommy is the person who gets head butted in the nose and holds back tears so she can comfort the distraught kid who is devastated at the thought that he hurt Mommy.
  • Mommy is the person who is doing what she never thought possible, every second of every day.
  • Mommy is the person who has overcome a past she might never fully tell her kids about, hoping and praying they never make the mistakes she has.
  • Mommy is the person who wonders if she’ll ever be able to commit the time and energy it would take to be ‘successful’ out there, and wondering if she still wants to.

People try to understand, but the only ones who really get it are other Mommies, whether they’re working outside the home, full time in the home, or some other combination. But even before I was Mommy, it was the support of other women that made me stronger and better. Please understand, I bear men no ill will at all. It’s just that there is something so powerful about women helping women. I’ve always been drawn to mentoring women, helping them with their leadership abilities, and helping them find and use their voices. It’s just that now, I’ve been Mommy and that’s not something you can un-be.

I think we as women and as Mommies need a place where we can support each other. I’m reminded of the story of a woman who grew up as a poor minority whose people were despised. She managed to make it up to a place of authority mainly based on her looks, but it was only when she found her voice and spoke her truth that she changed the world. She realized that she was ‘born for such a time as this’. Are we Mommies and women of today really any different from Esther in the Bible? Aren’t we all born for such a time as this, and can’t we all use the reminder that yes, we’re Mommy, but there is no ‘just’ about that.

I have a feeling there will be more on this to come…so hang on. If this got you excited, let me know. Because I think we just might be a tribe.

If you enjoyed this post, please share the love and come hang out with me on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.


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I’m offended that you’re offended that I’m offended…wait, what?

As a writer of fiction who tries to incorporate a Christian message, and as a mother of three young children, and as a human being navigating what may not be the WORST era of human history but surely ranks among the top ten, I am flummoxed (I just love that word, btw) about how to teach my kids to be decent human beings in a world where we have made idols out of our feelings. Not to offend anyone, but I’m starting to get a little offended about how offended people are getting about being offended, or offending, or something.

I’m sure some reading this will give me a ‘hell YEAH’ and some will think I’m a bigoted hater, so my disclaimer is that I honestly have no agenda against any group per se, other than ones from any camp that insist on polarizing issues into two sides, expressing intolerance for opposing views, and being mean. If I have any overriding credo, it’s that mean people suck (sorry for using the ‘s’ word, Mom, but a credo’s a credo).

As a parent, I want my kids to know that you treat everyone with respect and compassion. I want them to know that most people think of themselves as good, and can exhibit traits of astounding goodness. And that the same people can exhibit traits of astounding evil. I have no reservation about teaching my kids that ever since humans decided they had the power to decide (know) what was good and evil, i.e. that truth was relative, it’s been a downhill slide, leading to where we are today.

These opinions come out in my writing too. Sometimes subtly, and sometimes loudly and often (I feel) downright bumble-y and awkwardly, kind of like when I try to wing my eyeliner, but it gets hidden in my new eye-wrinkles, so I just look like a had an accident. I used to feel okay about expressing my opinions, and thought of myself as a burrito…a lot of things jumbled together, sometimes too spicy, and not for everyone. But in an eat-clean world, burritos are viewed with suspicion, revulsion, and a general desire to ban them from the menu.

I believe with everything in me that I can think someone else is wrong, or did a bad thing, and not hate that someone. People should be able to go about their lives without worrying if I approve of them, and that my approval is not needed for them to make decisions. By the same token, I don’t think anyone should be allowed to throw bricks at me, lock me up, or chop off my head if we have different beliefs, and I’m perfectly fine with not being allowed to do that to them either. (Disclaimer: I sometimes do want to throw bricks at people who believe they have the right to walk really slowly in front of me in crowded venues. But I don’t, okay? I just don’t. It’s called restraint and I think there should be more of it).

The problem is that it seems like I am in a rapidly dwindling minority about the whole right to an opinion without hating thing.

To give an example of about the most controversial topic I can think of (because hey, burrito), just the other day, I saw someone on Facebook share an article that was anti-abortion. One of the commenters advised the poster that she should be careful, because someone she knew might have had an abortion. It was only after the poster shared that she, too, had had an abortion that she was ‘allowed’ to have an opinion. What???? This is the crazy that I’m talking about.

First of all, can’t someone think abortion is a bad thing to do without having done it herself? If she didn’t have one, but said she thought it was bad to have one, why can’t she say so? Because it hurts someone’s feelings that she thought they did a bad thing? It’s not like you’re going to DIE if someone thinks you’re wrong, is it? Actually, given the news lately, I guess that’s not true anymore…that’s where we’re headed.

Here’s the thing, though: I can think you did a bad thing without thinking you’re a bad person. It happens about a million times a day when you’re a parent. If I thought my kids weren’t worth loving every time they did something I didn’t like, I’d have given them away by noon the day after they were born.

If we are all supposed to think the exact same thing all the time, and never disagree, why are there different colored cars? Hmmmm??? Riddle me THAT Batman. How long before someone gets offended because my having a silver car means I don’t like their purple car, and therefore I’m a purple car-hater and shouldn’t be allowed to have a car at all. Or what if some of the purple car people wake up and believe that their cars are orange, and insist I call their cars orange too? And what if I say okay, knock yourselves out, but I still think your car is purple, and THEN they say that I hate orange and that they’ll sue me if I say that I think the car is purple? Or, what if it turns out I’m wrong, and what I think is purple actually IS orange? Why can’t the purple – I mean orange – car people go about their business, knowing what color their car is and not really caring about my opinion? It’s obvious (or is it), that no one should be be allowed to prevent anyone from having cars just because we disagree on what color they are. Right? Right??

So at the end of the day, all I really want is for people to read Grace Group and send me a review…hahaha kidding. Not kidding. And to have beliefs, stick by them, and not be mean. And to  make a point of NOT walking right in front of me at a slower pace than me. That is all.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this blog, please share the love, and let’s connect on Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook!

PS I’ve written 10 tips on dealing with multiple (conflicting) priorities. If you’d like a free copy, just click here!


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The ultimate guide to writing while traveling with twins and a 5 year-old

If you have twin three-year-olds and a five-year-old (or some similar combination) there’s a good chance you might choose to take them on the road for some alleged family fun this summer. If you have other obligations, you might be tempted to think you can fit those obligations in at some point; maybe on a segment of a three-hour car ride, or on a two-hour ferry trip, or even once you reach your destination to enjoy the alleged downtime and relaxation. If that’s you…you’re a certified lunatic! What were you thinking? You do this every time, and you know darn well that laptop won’t be opened even once! What are you, some kind of rookie mom? Oh…sorry…that was just my higher conscience stepping in. Ahem. Anyway, here are some helpful tips for trying to get stuff done while on vacation with a bunch of little people.

Be organized. Be organized like you never have been before. Make sure you know at all times where the snacks, blankies, water, and electronic sanity-savers…errr…devices are. But it doesn’t stop there. You also need to anticipate their every whim, and this is where it gets tricky because your sneaking suspicion that they are conspiring against you is not just sleep-deprivation-induced psychosis. They are. They definitely are. This means when one asks for water, and you ask if anyone else wants water they will say no. They will not want water until you’re sitting back comfortably again. I know what you’re thinking. Why not just give everyone their water at once? Hahahahaha. That’s playing right into their pudgy, sticky little hands, which they will instantly use to throw said water onto the floor. It’s a revolving game of ‘ask for the stuff’ that will entertain them for hours. Note: this really has nothing to do with getting work done, because we all know that no matter what, you will be at the mercy of your tiny little masters no matter how organized you are. They outnumber you. 

Remember that there are places without internet. You might think that this goes without saying, but here’s why it matters and why you must take these preventative measures. If you want to get work done, you need your little love bundles to have something to do besides destroy your sanity. This is where devices come in handy. But, sometimes your little monkeys do stuff to their devices that require you to restore them to factory settings. This means no games or downloaded videos will remain. And you might forget this before your trip and only have the games you happened to put on each kid’s device before the trip. If these happen to be different for each kid, this is a catastrophic event. I don’t think this requires further explanation. Avoid this by downloading as many games as possible that DON’T REQUIRE INTERNET ACCESS (this part is probably most important). You should also make sure that each person has the exact same games even if they don’t like those games because they will love them if they don’t have them. Note: this has nothing to do with getting work done, because the cacophony of weeping and gnashing regarding the inevitable device glitches will always shatter your sanity and concentration.

Prepare yourself for the incessant, restless energy that comes from kids being stimulated beyond measure by vacation food, irregular sleeping hours, and the thrill of kitty cats to torment. This is not a bad thing. In fact, try to enjoy it. Although it can get noisy, maybe slightly less noisy than a squadron of overhead jets, it is also where you can create memories that last a lifetime. This is not the time to try to get work done. This is the time to play pirate ship on the hammock, jump on the trampoline (note to self or Dreamy husband, do not lose yourself completely on the trampoline to the extent that you almost fall on and paralyze #noben for life), and play water balloon and squirt gun fights. Note: this has nothing to do with getting work done to the extent that this is not the time of place. Even for you, you workaholic.

So this leaves the car ride home. You fool, this is impossible. There will be too much crying about not wanting to leave to get any work done. You will not get work done in the car on the way home. Period.

Your only other option would be to get up at 4:00 am and cram some work in before your workout, that you will still do because come on, you’re still you even on vacation. That’s fine. Just remember to hit save. Okay?

So that’s it! The ultimate guide to getting work done while traveling with kids. How do you fit things in when you’re traveling with kids…or do you? Comment below, I’d love to hear your experience! 

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this blog, please share the love, and let’s connect on Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook!

PS I’ve written 10 tips on dealing with multiple (conflicting) priorities. If you’d like a free copy, just click here!