7.03.2013

My beautiful 20's: A New Mother's Perspective


Carla Delangre was born in Edina, Minnesota. She spent her youth growing up between Florida, California, and North Carolina. She returned to Florida to attend college where she studied Marketing and Theatre, where I first met her. We were college roommates at that time, and became instant best friends. She moved to California a few years later to pursue her passion for food, traveling, and secretly in search of love. While living near that Pacific ocean, she obtained a higher degree as a Natural Chef and found love. Carla has traveled extensively during her 20's and has been shaped by travels to Brussels, China, Thailand, Haiti, France, Italy, and Germany. To say she is passionate about food, natural health, and animals would be an understatement. She currently lives in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, has just given birth to her first child, and works as the Vice President of a Natural Food Company. You can read more on that amazing company here and watch her in action here. She is easily one of my heroes on learning how to balance love, career, and family. As my friend for 12 years now, maid of honor at my wedding this past July, and one of my biggest supporters as I bumped my way through my own 20's, I cannot imagine being the person I am today without having had her in my life. 

She is without a doubt the type of best friend you dream of having. When I asked her to contribute to this blog on what she has learned from her 20's, here is what she sent me...


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What My 20s have taught me by Carla Delangre...


The decade of my twenties has been a life lesson journey that has given me so much to be grateful for. I’ve found independence, traveled the world, deepened friendships, worked through childhood pains, and found a sense of adulthood. I’m incredibly grateful for the people that enriched my experiences, both positive and negative. Each person played a vital role in my realizations and understanding of life and how I wish to live it.

I’ve held extremely varying jobs in my 20s that I am extremely grateful for including: Veterinarian Technician Assistant, Stable Hand, Waitress, Home Décor Salesperson, Au Pair, Events Coordinator, Personal Chef, Gym/Spa receptionist, Executive Assistant, and now Vice President of a company.



Starting my twenties in West Palm Beach Florida where I met two of the most important friendships of my life, I attempted college life. I was a naïve and smaller thinking person, full of reservation. My fears caused me to hide in a shell. I moved from Asheville to North Carolina where I left a 5+ year boyfriend that I was convinced at the time I would marry. But, before signing off my life to him, I had an itch to live on campus somewhere, in Florida where I grew up as a child and have some fun experiences. He begged me not to go, but my Taurus stubborn ways pushed even harder. It was the best decision I could have made. I met a handful of girls that changed my life forever. Two in particular that I’m convinced are my soul mates. We met each other in one form and within one year we all transformed into deeper beings and helped each other’s journey into opening our minds and our hearts to greater things than what our childhood had provided. I had never experienced that much fun in my life. 

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Being raised in a house with a younger sister and an older brother that was severely handicapped, I never felt I had the right or the ability to cut loose and be a kid. My family always said I was born an adult. I think my mother needed major support with my brother and I inherently knew this. I was changing his diaper and my sister’s by the time I was 5.  I knew how to cook dinner, clean the house and care for my brother all by the time I was 7. College was finally a place where I had no responsibilities, nothing holding me to needing to be the adult and have everything ready and clean for when my mom arrived home. Andrea was my door into having the time of my life. We had so many adventures and laughed so hard we peed our pants almost daily. You’d think our bladders would have gotten stronger but it was the laughter that took over every time.  She helped me to not care so much about the little things and see what it felt like to be purely wild. We never drank, yet I’m sure most campus students thought we were wasted when they saw us jumping into fountains in front of the Donald Trump Towers. She tore down my fears and brilliantly showed me what fearless fun was truly like. I am forever grateful to her in what she brought out of me. She has an incredible gift of bringing happiness, laughter, and freedom to anyone she meets.




At the same time, I met Shenell, another roommate of ours. She was deeper than I had ever imagined a person could be. Some of our conversations would leave me thinking for days and reflecting on things that I never thought of before. She had a similar situation to mine in that her brother had the same condition as my brother. The difference is my brother was born this way and hers had a condition later in life that left him as debilitated as my brother. Both of our brothers had the same physical function. Both wore diapers, had to be fed foods that they wouldn’t choke on, wouldn’t speak, and constantly kept the family on the edge of our seats with scares to the hospital. She was the first person that I found could relate to me on a level that no one else had ever done before. Our father’s didn’t participate in the care of our brothers so we took it on ourselves to help our mothers. When we talked, it was never a pity party but a moment of understanding each other and being real about our perspective and experience in our families. Being the “responsible” sibling in a family with a member that had our brother’s condition is something only a few people get to experience. It is challenging to see our needs before theirs.  You feel selfish if you push to have something for yourself. But we both have incredibly strong and insightful mothers that pushed us beyond this preconceived limitation we put on ourselves and made us go to a college that would give usanother experience outside this house of obligations.

Shenell’s growing perspective on life was all-inspiring. She reflected parts of myself back to me that I never recognized before. She asked me questions that didn’t impose her opinion but allowed me to expand on my own thoughts and realizations of myself. She has the ability to see through bullshit and get to the core of what something is and call it out.

I have never met two more real people in my life than these two ladies. They are both incredibly strong in their character and I will forever honor and love them for this. My growth with them allowed me to face the terrible ex-boyfriend and get through a risky break up, move back home and face my skeletons, and learn how to start to find my own path.



After a little over a year in Florida, I moved back to Asheville where my family seemed to need me more than I needed to be away. I worked in the family business of selling sea salt and stepped back into a role of caring for my family. But this time I was bringing back my strength. I kept times of wild fun for myself and went out dancing and started to experiment in drinking. I took time to reflect on my self when needed and took up piano again. I may have left Florida without a degree, but I came back to Asheville with a new sense of self and awareness of life.
Working in the family business was an introduction to the real world over night. 

In my limited knowledge of business and events coordinating I was given the role to handle all travel, expos and events. Along with being my mom’s assistant. I felt a constant need to prove myself to myco-workers regardless of being the bosses daughter. I went to expos and events where we had long days of networking and pushing the family product and long nights of fancy dinners with CEOs and COOs and CFOs that led the Natural Products industry. I shadowed my mother and learned her dance in the business world. 

My eyes were widened and I saw her as a genius and someone I didn’t know if I could live up to. She was so knowledgeable and so sharp and so charismatic with these suite type people. She had to deal with men that challenged her choices as and some that flirted with her and tried to cross some sexual boundaries. But through it all she maintained the charm and was able to always come out on top without compromising herself or her character. I was in awe. My “house wife” mother was a savvy businesswoman and held her own in this ocean of suits. Keeping in my mind my mother never went to college. This talent and quick thinking was a natural knack for her. It took everything in me to keep up. I traveled the world with her and learned more about business in her shadow than I could have imagined in a classroom.




I was then given an opportunity to study French and live in Belgium with my mother’s international attorneys’ best friend. They had two little boys, 3 years old , and 5 years old. I moved in with them for two months as an "au pair". It was one of the most challenging times of my life. I worked 7 days a week from sun up to sun down. The Children challenged me and spoke Dutchwhen they didn’t want to listen to me. They were smarter than I thought. I was tired and felt very alone and isolated as these two little boys were my world for 2 months. The adults seemed to look down on me for my French speaking skills and lack of formal education. I cooked, cleaned and eventually won the hearts of the boys over. I started to really tap into my cooking skills and enjoyed making dinner for the family each night. The parents even hosted a dinner party and requested I cook for their guests. I made a cheese cake that was a flop but I was still proud of my attempts. I had only European recipes at my fingertips and had to try and convert the grams and Celsius to the cups and Fahrenheit I was used to. I even taught the boys some English including “Supercalifragilisticexpialidoshis” from Mary Poppins. I bought the boys the dvd for them to see an American movie classic. They loved it.


After my Julie Andrews role I moved on from the Belgian family and traveled alone around Europe. I started off in Amsterdam where I smoked some pot, ate some delicious Swedish pancakes and walked the red light district just to observe. I shopped and talked to the locals and really immersed myself in the city. I only spent two nights here as sometimes I felt a little scared to be on my own.

Then I traveled down to Paris where I met up with a girl my mom and I met on a train during our travels in Europe. She was a beautiful girl that worked at Disney World in Paris. She brought me into the park and showed me around so I could explore the idea of getting a job there. I used to work with horses so she wanted me to audition for one of the Annie characters in the dinner theatre show. I think she thought I was much more talented on a barebackhorse than I had led her to believe. I met her boyfriend and friends and we had dinner and drank in her apartment until the sun went down.

Before I knew it, it was passed midnight and the last train to Paris from the park was about to leave. She insisted I stayed with her and not travel so late, but I felt guilty that I paid for a hotel room that I wasn’t staying in so I left.  There were only a handful of people on the train including a very shady boy/man. 

I wasn’t sure of his age, but he did not seem right. He watched me the whole way back to Paris. It was the last stop and he and I were the last passengers left. I exited the train and found myself in an underground world that looked very different than the daylight hours for the metro. I walked quickly away from the creepy man and towards the exit I remembered I entered in earlier that morning. At the top of stairs I found a chained gate that wouldn’t let me up on to the streets. I felt it was odd that this was locked so I tried another exit and found a similar locked gate. My heart started to race and I kept my head low and jetted to another outlet. 

A man started to make a beeline towards me so I ran in another direction throughsome double doors. This is where I found hell. Dozens of homeless peoplegathered around fire pit trash cans and doing god knows what. It felt like an erie horror movie because all their heads looked up at me in unison as if they knew I didn’t belong.  I went back through the doors to see the same man wanting to ask or talk or do God knows what to me, so I ran as fast as I could to another exit. There wasn’t a singleworker or employee of the metro in sight. 

I finally went back to the metroplatform in hopes of finding a maintenance person and just my luck, I found alittle old man sweeping. I begged him in French to help me find an exit. His compassionate and with humor in his eyes of seeing my panic he guided me out an exit. Finally I found myself above ground and on the dark streets of the back alleys of Paris. I thought this would make me feel better, but shortly I realized I was far from one of the main streets and had no idea where I was. So many dark corners left my stomach in knots hoping nothing would jump out at me. Thankfully, I made it home safe.


Then for my birthday one year Shenell surprised me with aplane ticket to China to visit her in Shanghai. I went there for two weeks where we then flew to Thailand and traveled all over. Bangkok, Phuket, and Chang Mai were our three destinations. It was an incredible experience. We ate so much food, saw so many temples and met so many perverts. Thailand is full of perverts. The local people were beautiful though, so kind and hospitable. The food was delicious! We even had a cooking class in Chang Mai and made authentic Pad Thai! We attempted to ride the mini Thai ponies, we met a huge ox and baby who almost gave Shenell a heart attack. We went to monkey island and saw where Dicaprio’s movie, The Beach, was filmed.


We also spent time in Shanghai where I was shocked to see how the Chinese live. I was floored by what I saw to be a lack of awareness of life, health and humanity on a daily basis. Being there for only a few days it was easy for me to judge and be offended by the appearance of their society. When I arrived, a few experiences left me feeling slapped in the face including, an experience on the subway where I was repeatedly run over by little old ladies. But Shenell had such a different understanding than what I was observing. Regardless of their racism towards her, she was able to see into their hearts. She took me to a friend’s house where I was able to see the softer side of the Chinese culture. This woman and her daughter were warm and welcoming. They served us delicious food and tea. The daughter was beautiful and proudly showed us her accomplishments- even at her young age (I think she was under 10 years old). It was a beautiful insight to their home life. Once again Shenell saw through the bullshit, and was able to see straight into the hearts of the people around her.

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Shortly after I returned from my Asia trip I got the call from my mother that my brother was not doing so well. As I mentioned before, he was born handicapped and with severe brain damage. He had never spoke a word or sat up on his own. He was 4 years older than me, but I was the one changing his diapers by the time I was half his age. I fed him, bathed him, dressed him and more. Without a doubt though, he was my most humbling teacher of my life.
He came to this earth alone with my mother and died in her arms 28 years later. His passing was a profound moment for me. Shenell intuitively knew that he passed away and she jumped on a flight from China and arrived at my doorstep the following morning as a surprise. Her arrival meant more to me than anything else in my life. She held space with me and just let me process his passing. 

















My other friend Cole designed a tattoo for me that I got the day after he passed to remember him. His message was short but powerful… ”just be”. At the moment of his passing my mom put a crystal in his hand for each of us to have that he was close to. My crystal was a natural pink crystal in the shape of a heart. Cole designed the tattoo to resemble this. It’s the best tattoo I could have ever wanted and I think of my brother, “Bubby” every time I see it.

After a few years of this “bootcamp” professionally, I started to itch again to have a path of my own. I decided to go back to school and chose a culinary field. I was accepted into the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC and was en route moving with a boyfriend at the time. Things fell through with that situation and I ended up moving to San Francisco and attending the Bauman College for the Natural Chef program. 

This is also the time that I met my future “Baby-Daddy” J. Working at the frontdesk of a gym/spa and going to culinary school at night, my co-worker was insistent to hook me up with her boyfriend’s friend. Judging her boyfriend, I was very apprehensive to go out on a date with anyone he may call a friend. But fate still had us meet one night when he came in to workout with some buddies. Our eyes locked and there was an instant connection. He seemed different. He asked for my number for months and I was still apprehensive and not ready to date yet, but one day I gained the courage and gave my friend (co-worker) the green light to give him my number.  Our first date was pretty much a blind date since we only had a glimpse of each other months before. It was Halloween and he took me to a three-story costume party. We had a great sushi dinner and the conversation was easy and incredible. It was the most fun and relaxing date I had ever been on. We clicked immediately. 



From that date on, we were inseparable.  It’s been almost 6 years and through many challenges that kept us apart, our love was much stronger. Now, expecting our first baby together, we are living our dream of love and family. This is an exciting end to my 20s. I’m working for my family business as Vice President where I am constantly learning from amazing experiences and I feel incredibly blessed to have this life.

We are due in May and we are looking forward to inviting little Maya Dominique just before my 30th birthday. We named her after my favorite poet Maya Angelou and my brother Dominique.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths wetake, but by the moments that take our breath away.
- Maya Angelou


*Update: Maya Dominique was born a happy healthy baby. Welcome to the world Maya!