The Pretenders

Did you know that one of the most authentic relationships of my life is with you?

I sit here every week writing exactly what I want to say. 

There are no pretenses. 

No adjusting my words. 

I just tell you things as they are. 

As the years have gone by, I understood the importance of this letter in my own life. 

It is the one place each week, I can count on to be real. 

I have often struggled with living inside a dishonest world. 

When people say something they don’t mean, it feels like a betrayal. 

It is often the seemingly harmless pretenses. ‘I love seeing you.’ Or, ‘let’s hang out together again.’ When they really don’t mean it. 

I happen to believe what people say. 

I am a literal person. 

If you show interest, I believe that you are interested. 

If you tell me you like my hair, I believe that you do. 

If you make a promise, I believe you will keep it. 

So when I find myself in places where pretenses are at the forefront of my experience I feel a lot of loss. We live in a play pretend world that nobody prepared us for.  

I came back home last night after experiencing many new adventures, making new friends, and visiting places I had never been to. 

In the last two months, I traveled to Greece to see my family. 

I saw a rocket go to space up close. 

I spoke at a conference where politicians, celebrities, and public figures spent three days together. 

And I came back knowing that finding people outside the Matrix is rare. 

You can feel connection, friendship, and meaning but 9 out of 10 times, it won’t last. 

9 out of 10 times, it won’t be more than a short-term occasion that ends on the day it starts. 

In the last two months, I had plenty of new connections and friendships. 

I experienced such beautiful moments. 

I felt excitement that I can’t even describe. 

I had the time of my life. 

I even felt like I belonged at times. 

That I finally found my tribe. 

I spent time with new girlfriends, mentors, public people, cousins, aunts and uncles, parents, dogs and cats too. 

I had moments of pure joy and contentment. 

I took my MFA art homework on the road. 

I made book deadlines sitting at airport gates. 

I met with my team no matter where I was. 

I continued facilitating my classes as I was running from one place to the next. 

I kept everything moving forward while searching for meaning, for new friendships and connections. 

Always looking for some kind of human Nirvana. 

I didn’t find it. But I did find myself. 

The most trusted player of the game of my life. 

I played the play-pretend game without becoming one of the pretenders. 

I looked people in the eyes. 

I meant everything I said. 

I didn’t make promises I had no intention of keeping. 

I walked inside every conversation wanting to know the other person better. 

I showed up without ulterior motives. 

I tried to leave everyone better than I found them. 

And that has to be more than enough. 

In life, you will meet groupies, pretenders and users. 

But now and again as you sit inside the game, someone will come along who is not a player. In the two months of traveling, moving across the globe I may have brought home with me 2 new friends, dare I say 3.

Here’s to finding yours. 

Remember they are out there, they are looking for you, just as you are looking for them. 

You and I are a special kind of human. 

We mean what we say, and say what we mean. 

And you will always find us outside the Matrix. 

 

With honesty,

Christina 


Short and Sweet

This is a first. 

But I have been flying, traveling, experiencing, living so much that this letter did not get to be written today. 

Instead, I am sending you a short note to tell you to drop anything that is not important and go do something fun. 

I don’t care what it is. 

But don’t tell yourself you don’t have time to see a friend, to try a new ice cream flavor, to be free of the to do lists. 

And as for me I just landed in Oakland and I have to go celebrate my friend’s Kristine Carlson movie Premiere Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff. 

So in honor of my life, her life, and your life this is the length of today’s letter. 

 

With the presence of life,

Christina

P.S.

Make sure you watch the movie on Lifetime TV and grab Kris’s book Heartbroken Open. 


Hidden Rooms

Oh the worlds we never see. Infinitely surprising. 

Devastatingly never ours. Some of them, impossibly foreign. 

Further than our physical bodies can get to. 

But also vaster than the confines of our minds. 

There is so much safety in staying inside the same world. 

But with so much unknown loss in it. 

Unknown because we could have not imagined ourselves living another life. 

I realized that no matter what has happened to us, however lost we are, we are in pain. 

In tragic sorrows, we can enter a different life, even if it is inside the one we are living. 

Sometimes this stance gets me in trouble. 

Especially with those who do not share the belief that we can defy our current circumstances. Even for an evening. 

I was one of those people.

The pain of loss blinded me and took away every key to any room that I could have escaped to.

But just imagine this, for just the length of this letter. 

What if there are mini lives waiting to be lived inside the one you are in? 

Like, hidden rooms in a house. 

I promise you they are there, and they come with new feelings and emotions. 

If only you dared to go into them. 

If only you believed they were worthy. 

Plentiful. 

For a little while. 

For a moment’s solace. 

And then for more. Yes, for more. 

Once you start occupying these rooms they grow on you like a new book you didn’t expect to like. Like a museum you never thought you would get lost in. 

Like a desert you never believed could comfort you. 

I live inside many rooms. 

I draw and paint in one. I write books in another. 

I teach in the main living room. And help people in the kitchen. 

I go to space in the hallway, and raise my daughters in the library. 

But of course, some of them are dark and heavy and I renovated them to lead to hallways full of stars. 

And so it goes. And so it is. You have to not stay in one room. 

If you did, you may as well live in a mansion and only use the first floor. 

With no views. Or the balcony with the evening breeze. 

To bring this to a close, just remember you are here to live more than one life. 

To love more than the people you already do. 

And to do it all, all at the same time. 

Not after. Not later. Not one day. 

Now, in the midst of your hard day. 

In the middle of your ok job. 

In the day after your break up. Your mom’s passing. 

Your brother’s accident. Your sister’s meltdown. 

While your bank account is empty. 

Especially then. Go on. 

Find that library room in your house, and look for a story that will take you so far away, you would forget your last name. 

 

With hidden rooms, 

Christina

P.S.

I just did a talk at an online conference called BRAIN SUMMIT: 20+ global experts (including myself!) have come together to teach us how to empower our emotions, stop overthinking, and reclaim our brain from trauma and fear.

You can sign up for it here, and it is free HERE.


Five Cupcakes On a Tray

Be yourself. 

Be you, they say. 

Live your life however you want. 

But that is the thing. 

Who the heck are you? 

What kind of life do you want to live?

The old life is not ever coming back. I checked. 

A thousand times.

This is about the versions of the future you get to choose from. 

Often, we don’t even know there is a choice. 

Nobody told us. 

By the time we let ourselves believe that we have options, we have already missed our chance a few dozen times. 

Let me explain this a little more. 

Imagine someone walking up to you with 5 cupcakes on a tray, all different flavors. 

They offer you one. 

You ask if they have your favorite kind. 

And they say no, they don’t. 

What do you do next? 

Do you have one of the 5 cupcakes left on the tray?

Do you say thank you and have none? 

Or do you ask if the kitchen at the back would make you the kind you want? 

Oh I know, I know what you are thinking. 

Come on, Christina. Who asks for that? 

Well let me tell you, there are some people who do. 

And sometimes, the answer they get is, yes sure. 

What kind would you like? 

But let’s go back to the tray with the five cupcakes. 

Here’s what you didn’t know. 

The tray started out with 50 cupcakes of different kinds. 

The five left were just leftovers. 

Dark Chocolate Bacon. 

Sweet Potato Cider Cupcake, 

Licorice and Peppermint. 

And a milk chocolate avocado. 

You were getting ready to choose one of them. Or say no thank you. 

Weren’t you? 

Imagine now this was about your life choices. 

The Life Tray. 

Would you bother to find out if there are more options available to you? 

Would you even think it was possible? 

We live in a world that by the time the tray gets to us most of the things we wanted were taken by others. 

We see them walking around living the lives we wish we had. 

But what if this time, the tray comes, you smile and say: 

These look great but I would much rather have something else. 

Can you make a vanilla, cherry, and burnt marshmallow cupcake? 

BOOM.

Specific. Detailed. 

Crystal clear about the kind of cupcake you want. 

Honestly, it took me a while to find myself here. 

Or find her here. 

You see, it is no longer me who is showing up when the tray of cupcakes comes by. 

It is someone else. 

Someone I have never met before. 

She arrived a few days ago. 

And to my surprise. 

She came with her own cupcakes. 

Lemon cream flavor. 

Who knew? 

I certainly didn’t. 

Whoever you’ve been. Whoever you are. 

Be ready for who you could be. 

There is a version of you, you could have never imagined waiting her turn.

 

With a lot more than 5 cupcakes, 

Christina

P.S. If you have lost a spouse. Listen in to this week’s podcast. It has already been loved by many. LISTEN HERE.


The Partial Truth of Virtual Relationships

Every friend and every relative, lives a whole other life inside our minds. 

There, they occupy worlds that have nothing to do with reality. 

These worlds are not play pretend, or unreal. 

They just appear more real to us.

They inhabit an intimate interaction with ourselves. 

We can hear their whispers. 

We ‘know’ their thoughts.

We often believe our mental version of them more than their real physical counterparts. 

But when the two versions come face to face in physical reality, we question which version is more real. I just spent a week physically living with 5 friends. 

Prior to this week, the versions of them inside my head were more frequent visitors than their physical reality ones due to the pandemic isolation. 

I had created very different impressions of them since I only had virtual data available to me before this week.  

When the two came together I could not believe their differences. 

My inner versions of them were at best partial. 

Normally these versions get adjusted often, but since we have been isolated in the last year there had not been any recent adjustments. 

The inner versions evolved without any real data, or real connection and interaction. 

I gave them my own narrative, I wrote their words out, I came up with what they must be thinking.

These women were so much larger, smarter, kinder, complex and brilliant than I ever imagined them to be inside my mind. 

The version I was getting from the zoom calls was not enough.

But it was enough to feel like it was all there was. 

My dear friend, we have lost so much more than connection throughout this pandemic period of our lives. 

We have been inside a part time adventure in relationships that can only go so far. 

I don’t know how you will do this, but you must find a way to the physical counterpart of the mental version of the people in your life. 

You must interact with both, but mostly with the physical one. 

The mental version of your family and friends is influenced by either your fears or your dream versions of who you want them to be. 

But they are never accurate, or true.

The pandemic didn’t just take away our connection with the people we love or want to love, but their true version of them. 

There was an imbalance that was invisible to us all. What a loss. 

Even if it is with a mask, 6 feet apart, go and be a part of the physical world and experience people outside of the digital reality as much and as often as you can. 

The loss you experience when this doesn't happen often enough, is so much bigger than you can imagine. 

I am already planning my next adventure, in close quarters with some of my new best friends. 

 

I hope you are too. 

With physical proximity,

Christina


The Loss of Living A Singular Life

Where should I start from? 

Where does the beginning sit in a new story? 

Is the beginning at the start of the new experience, or at the end of it. 

I have been away inside new adventures for the last few weeks. 

I swam in turquoise waters in Greece. 

I witnessed a rocket blasting off to space at Cape Canaveral with a friend inside of it. 

My eyes going from one world to another, adjusting to the new view. 

Something happens when you change reality dramatically. 

Where nothing is left the same. 

People. Places. Streets. Words. You. 

Skies. 

All speaking a new language. 

Your inner compass becomes turbulent. Until it stabilizes.

But the beginning is not here yet. I can’t find it. 

The beginning is not inside the adventure. I looked. 

Maybe there will never be a beginning to think about again, because I will not need to begin again. 

Is that possible even? 

We seek new beginnings because wherever we are, is no longer needed, wanted, chosen. But what if you made your life exist inside many realities, where you leap from one to another. A new beginning would become irrelevant. 

Wouldn’t it?

Loss would be minimized. 

Love would become everything, everywhere, everyone. 

You won’t have time to not love, as something new will always show up ready to be loved by you. 

In the last few weeks I met people from all over the world, living lives I have never seen before. 

Wanting things I have never wanted, because I didn’t know they existed. 

Living in a singular world creates immense loss. 

I am just realizing that a monogamous relationship with life is not healthy. 

We have created the concept of a new beginning because living a linear existence meant that we had to end one world to begin another. 

What if we don’t have to? 

What if we exist in many streets, and homes, and places, and most importantly inside many stories. All at the same time. 

I don’t want to end my adventures. 

I don’t want to begin anything else. 

I just want to continue whatever this is. 

Because this right here, feels like coming home. 

 

With no beginnings, and no endings,

Christina


Loyalty Is Rare

Heartbreak is tiring. Exhausting. 

Consuming. Deeply confusing. 

It is hard to understand. 

You will often wonder why certain things have to happen. 

Especially if you are a good person going about your day, expecting the best and doing your best. 

It will be the most heartbreaking for the good hearted ones. 

The lovers. The givers. 

I am easily heart broken.

I live in a constant invisible fragile state, especially when I am with other humans. 

It feels like walking through a battlefield with bombs ready to detonate. 

When my heart breaks it screams. It rolls in the mud. 

It throws itself into the big ocean.

It becomes a tsunami that doesn’t end. 

An immortal fire. 

It screams like a newborn. 

I really don’t know anything anymore. 

Life will surprise you and then it will change you. 

It will kick you and then it will teach you how to tend to your wound. 

It will hang you upside down and drop you on your head. 

It will shock you and then make you forget. 

It will put you to bed only to wake you up with the loudest alarm. 

And all of this will come at you from every part of your life. 

Even the safe parts. 

The parts you didn’t expect to hurt you. 

Those parts will break you the most. 

Because you could have never seen it coming. 

You would have bet your life on its loyalty to you. 

But loyalty is a very rare value. 

Almost an endangered species. 

Because of that, I have built inner worlds with resting spaces. 

I have replaced loneliness with solitude. 

Venting with writing. 

And loyalty loss, with personal integrity. 

The more time on the battlefield, the more certain I am about myself. 

As you are reading this, I am on the long flight to Athens where my sister picks me up to drive me to my parents home. It is time for me to go back for a while. 

To close my eyes.

I will also take a three week pause from writing Friday’s letter. 

So I can be immersed in the experience of my one and only family. 

Where unconditional love and everlasting loyalty is still there. 

I hope you spend the last few days of summer with the people who love you and if that is not available, may you build worlds inside yourself that are safe, loving and loyal to you. 

Being loyal to ourselves may be the hardest thing of all. 

 

See you back here in 3 weeks. 

With a beautiful breeze on my hair and a knowing about who I am that can never be shaken. 

Christina

P.S If you haven’t read all the past letters, they live here

P.P.S If you are not subscribed to this letter go here.


Living Out Loud At Long Last

When you inject life in your world it bounces off on multiple surfaces at first. 

Remember if you are still in the Waiting Room and you invited life to come back, it will try to find you in the confined space. 

Sometimes we step out of the Waiting Room in quick bursts. 

On our way back inside, life comes in through the door with you. 

Now imagine if you have been reentering for a few weeks, the life you are creating requires time for a new job, new friends, new home. 

Dating. Clothes. Self care. Time to yourself. Meditation. 

Life’s friends are many and the Waiting Room is too small for them.

It is also why it feels overwhelming at first. 

Why you will want to kick her out. Don’t. 

Just start moving out of the Waiting Room slowly. 

Spend more time letting go of the old schedules and routines. 

Don’t let the survivor self convince you that you still need that friend who is rude to you but always apologizes. Just because you have known her all your life it doesn’t mean she gets a pass. Don’t be fooled with any thoughts in regards to your missing out on your old life. 

One thing I know for sure is that when we say goodbye to an old identity we also say goodbye initially to the comfort of the familiarity of that self. 

It hurts to change. 

It makes you want to run back to yourself, back to that Waiting Room, back to the familiarity of those walls and the non living existence. 

Life is painful and why we avoid it. 

I have been reentering so much lately that it is a little scary at times. 

My survivor self is keeping me up at night. 

It is questioning me. 

Can you really live out loud Christina?

You won’t be able to keep up. 

You will break. 

I responded back the other day and said ‘If I break myself from living so loudly then let me break. Let me break inside a firework. 

Let me exhale inside a big canvas. 

On my way to the beach. 

Inside the words of my new book. 

In the midst of helping the homeless, the grieving, and living in the most unapologetic way.’ Now you know why I need a strong body, why I am training, why I drink all that water. 

At 2 am last night I submitted my last homework for my first semester of my MFA. 

I was listening to opera and witnessing myself showing up outside of that Waiting Room. 

I will be working while traveling a lot in the next month and my mind is pushing back, but here is what I think. 

My life could end at any moment. 

It could leave me not just by my heart stopping but from any type of illness or injury. 

One day I may not be able to draw, write, speak, help, live, sing, move. 

But what I do know about that day is that I will have no regrets. 

I am walking myself to my 50th year of life and I will skip, and skateboard, fly and live like my life depends on it. 

Because it really does. 

I hope you let life break you and end this journey one day inside a big and loud firework. 

 

With life bursting at the seams 

Christina

PS. I hope you had the chance to listen to the conversation with my daughters about grief

PPS. I speak in length about the Waiting Room in my book SECOND FIRSTS. I hope you have it. 


Oranges and Fried Eggs

In the last few months I experienced one of my most significant Life Reentries to date. 

I taught myself self care for the first time. 

It started with exercise, then it moved to food choices, to my work, my routine, and it landed me on my childhood dream.

This journey had many blind spots and I could only see a couple of days ahead. 

I was patient with the not knowing, patient with the slowness of this type of reentry especially when my body was changing. 

There was no deprivation. 

No rules or diets. 

Just nourishment. 

There were no hard core workouts, just fun ones. 

And that is when the deeper reentry started to take place. 

Once I prioritized myself consistently for a few weeks something prompted me to question other parts of my life. 

I realized that I always overworked, over pleased, over delivered. 

But not to myself. 

I did as a mother to my children, as a caregiver to my first husband, as a teacher to my community, as a writer to my readers, as a human to other humans. 

I wondered, what would it look like if I gave to myself the kind of giving I had given to others. So I started doing just that. 

The first thing I had to give to myself was time. 

Once I did that all of a sudden I gave myself a whole list of things. 

I gave myself an orange a day. 

I love oranges, and I had stopped eating them because I was so worried about the sugar in them. 

I gave myself pizza. 

If my family was having pizza I had pizza too. 

Before, I would be the one not eating the delicious pizza that everyone else was having. 

I gave myself fried eggs. 

Oh my world, why did I not have fried eggs before. 

I now eat them every day with two slices of toast. 

While giving myself permission to eat all the things I loved I also got smaller. 

Much smaller. 

I gave myself a brand new shampoo. 

The kind that smells like you are getting your hair done at a hair salon. 

I gave myself a pair of shorts. 

The kind that I hadn’t worn in years. 

A two piece bathing suit. Dare I say a bikini? 

I gave myself time to read fiction. 

Time to go and sleep under the stars in the middle of nowhere. 

I gave myself the outdoors. 

And then one day I gave myself time to study art. 

Late in the evenings. Where I forget it is 2:00am and I have been sitting there for hours drawing myself inside another life. 

I want you to know that oranges and fried eggs have magical powers. 

They ignite reentries and can make your dreams come true. 

They can start a revolution. 

They can give you your life back. 

But you have to be willing to give yourself the time to start. 

To move. To taste. To indulge. 

To not deprive yourself. 

To not abandon your own comfort and care. 

And then get ready for the ride of your life. 

 

With no regrets,

Christina


Running Naked in The Streets

It is a deliverance of self to break free from serving a life that doesn’t give us an inner autonomy.

I recently experienced such a thing. 

I delivered myself to myself, finally. 

What that entails cannot be explained in simple terms. 

It is a form of redemption that can only reign after we overstay our old worlds. 

In pain. In deep sorrow. 

Deep relentless inner captivity and outer servitude. 

Oh friend, the hardest thing to know is that we can’t let ourselves out because most of us don’t know we are in captivity. 

Until we feel a type of anguish that has no specific ache but comes over routinely and not triggered by actual events. A constant nag. 

At first you can prolong your life in captivity without it getting in the way of your servitude. 

But the longer the anguish takes place the more you start to look for the open windows. 

You start to question some of your long term decisions about your life. 

I learned that starting with those may feel like torture but they do provide a shortcut to your freedom deliverance. 

In the beginning, your life will darken. 

The room you occupied starts to appear for what it really is; a waiting room in disguise. 

You will consider unlocking the doors but that thought may as well look like a wild bear as it is frightening to even consider. 

Unlocking the doors comes with a loudness that rings through the halls of your world. 

When you start the unlocking, it won’t be undisclosed or concealed from everyone else. 

Freeing yourself from the outdated choices of your life feels like running naked in front of everyone you know. 

That very thought takes you from unlocking the covert operation to forgetting where the door even is. You go through a period of denying the truth of your servitude. 

Going back to the subterranean life is better than what this feels like. 

And for what, you think? 

What are you really fighting for? 

Your haven is a non local place with no form at this point. 

You can’t point at it and go there. 

It is a formless thought and a repetitive anguish in your heart that comes out of nowhere and stays until you fall asleep. 

While at the same time your outdated world calls on you with all the responsibilities of the life that was built under different times, and different yous. 

A very different you built the world you occupy today. 

Right about now you start to realize why it doesn’t feel good anymore. 

The daily torment comes from living in someone else’s house, with someone else’s wishes and dreams. Unlocking the front door and leaving means the whole town will wake up to see you run out without any of your belongings. No clothes. No money. No respect. No understanding. No empathy. No validation. No cheering. No nodding. Nothing. 

It is you and your new naked self, like a fugitive. A drifter. With no place to go. 

When you start to consider this option, know that you are getting ready for your escape. 

At this stage you are approaching your breaking point. 

You start to chew over the two options, obsessively. 

Stay in perpetual anguish or become a naked drifter. 

When the naked drifter option starts to feel like not such a bad choice, you are probably in the worst emotional shape. 

But one unexpected night, as if you were born to do this you unlock that loud door. 

You wake everyone up with it as you step out of your old world ready for the life of a drifter. 

Ready to sacrifice everything for your redemption. 

But that’s it right here, the sacrifice is never as big as you think it will be. 

There is a kind of bliss that your bones, your flesh, your being, your mind starts to feel pretty soon after the first mile or two in your journey. 

You rejoice. 

You go from a prisoner, to a drifter, to a divergent, to a place that has no locks. 

Until it is time again for your next reentry. 

Your next habitat. 

But now you know, when that first daily anguish starts to set in, you are already late. Your old world has given birth to a new one, and the longer you stay back, the harder it is to run naked in the streets.        

 

With many lives and even more reentries,

Christina 

PS. We are taking a short break from recording new podcast episodes for the month of August. But I highly recommend that you listen to the conversations you missed. Especially if you need help with unlocking that loud front door. LINK: http://www.dearlifepodcast.com/episodes