What surprises people about me the most? They see my love for life and are shocked to find out that by age 19, I had endured violent forms of prejudice, two incidences of rape and was still struggling with an eating disorder. Then they discover that I repressed my traumas for another seven years and gained nearly 50 pounds before I finally began to emerge from my self imposed prison. That definitely surprises them the most.
Where am I from? Boston, Massachusetts is where I was born. The product of an interracial couple, unfortunately prejudice was amongst my earliest experiences and lessons. I was always highly intuitive, which made some things such as my father’s family disowning him after he married my mother, incredibly thought provoking. Still I was blessed with the love of my maternal grandmother who inspired my passion for writing and travel while teaching me the value of quality over quantity at a very young age. Mission Hill where I first lived was a tough area, thus my Dad moved us to the nearby suburb of Westford for greater safety. It was there that the common bouts with prejudice turned violent after disapproving neighbors captured and poisoned our beloved family dog. I still remember the sadness and fear that hung in the house. My brief perception of safety was as difficult to mourn as the loss of my loving canine companion.
Moving to the intimate suburb of Franklin, we were also an unexpected lesson in diversity. Despite starting out with verbal threats and hate crimes that caused damage to our personal property things changed however. My father sent a strong message that we were staying and would not tolerate physical attacks on us or our property. It was a turning point. After all, if we’d continued to run we might have all continued running forever.
My father is an extraordinarily gifted guitarist and musician who was teaching music composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston while he was still a student. He’d bring me to work with him sometimes where I’d sip orange juice and watch how much the students loved him, hanging on his every word. I loved watching him jump on the piano to make a point. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I loved the way the students mouths would open and their laughter would fill the room. I knew he was making them feel as good as he made me feel, and it warmed my heart.
My mom possessed a beautiful singing voice, which often echoed throughout the house. She could bring me to tears within seconds —especially when she sang Roberta Flack. Both my parents found solace in music, which created a natural bridge to the world of dance where I found my peace. The moment I hit puberty was when my weight battle began. Being professional meant retaining my figure, and once I noticed physical changes that I couldn’t control I developed an eating disorder. Even though I eventually stopped dancing after injuring my knee, by the time I skipped off to college I was a yo-yo dieting pro. Accepted early decision to Clark University, I was a philosophy major & economics minor who LOVED college until my sophomore year when I was raped. I became incredibly paranoid and depressed after the perpetrator, a fellow student, threatened me not to tell. Growing up with so much prejudice I felt compelled to be as perfect as possible so people would accept me. Frozen with fear and shame, I felt dirty and worthless, so I took a leave of absence at the end of the semester. It was several months later during a night of underage drinking in a Cape Cod nightclub that my world was forever changed after suffering another much more violent and devastating rape.
“The shame of being raped and sodomized was just too much to bear. In an effort to have control over my trauma, I gave it control over my entire life. I believed I couldn't be the person I'd intended to be or achieve the goals I'd once dreamed of, so I repressed the trauma along with suppressing myself, my interests and my dreams for years.” —Charly
Nearly seven years of living as someone else —someone who didn’t have a trauma left my true self walled in like a prisoner no one knew existed until one day an emotional incident provoked me to lose the extra 45-50 pounds I had gained. It was the weight loss that gave rise to the post traumatic stress episodes, prompting multiple inconclusive trips to the hospital. My doctor warned me that something buried was trying to come up, so I set my intention to let it reveal itself. Like watching an old film, one morning I awoke reliving every aspect of what I’d gone through including my final commentary to myself; I can no longer be the person I dreamed of being or have the life I’d intended to have.
Relief was coupled with a sense of dread as my re-emergence of self revealed that every aspect of my life was a lie. Still I heard my own words about what my life couldn’t be ringing in my head. Realizing that I’d simply followed them like a directive I though I had to obey gave me power. I knew if I changed my rules and beliefs I could rebuild an authentic life and I wanted to do it quickly without therapy. When I couldn’t find anyone willing to sit with me for a couple of hours and help me find the other sources and beliefs that were negatively driving my choices, I chose to do the work myself. Using my intuitive gifts and innate strategic skills to “own” my experiences, and use them to empower me from within healed me from the inside out. This is when my life took an incredible turn.
First came the fortune of working with an experiential consulting firm through which I traveled to California, Texas, Australia and New Mexico where I inevitably chose to move. New Mexico is where I healed. Work was tough and money was tougher but each sunrise and sunset spoke to my soul of the beautiful life I could create. An unexpected marriage took me on more adventures… out of New Mexico, on a jaunt through Wisconsin, a longer stay in Nevada and a move to California. Divorce helped me settle in Cali where I’d dreamed of coming since being a young child —especially after watching Laverne and Shirley do it.
All in all my experiences have given me a raw inside perspective that creates a totally unique work style and a fabulous bond with my clients who inevitably become like friends. I pioneered the practice of Experiential Recycling and today I’m sought out by high profile people who desire my insight, and value me as a coveted confidant & advisor with whom they can vent, discuss and strategize anything in confidence. I also help everyday people grasp exactly what’s compromising their results before helping them make corrections and providing simple strategies for their long term success. I cherish my relationships with everyone I work with and I love the fact that my unusual work style creates immediate results for people that last long term. I’m a partner who’s been there and I LOVE the familiarity and camaraderie I’m able to have with you.
As you might imagine my story is overflowing with mini stories. Some are funny, some are scary, some are sad and some are just plain hard to believe. However it was learning how to recycle my experiences into insights that propel me forward, and then teaching others how to do the same through Experiential Recycling that has created the most exciting and fulfilling part of my story. I'm a champion for helping you live the life you love versus studying the one you don’t.
My first book, Thank Goodness You Dumped His Ass—Use Those Mr. Wrongs to Lead You Straight to Mr. Right uses the lessons I learned from love and divorce to provide women with a straightforward, business strategy that empowers them to own who they are in and out of the dating process. It literally poises you to successfully attract the relationships you crave. That led to TV appearances and radio shows, and eventually… the phone call to appear on Opening Act on E! channel to conduct an extremely crucial session with a fantastic singer song-writer by the name of Von Smith. Next came my fabulous agent whom I adore. My second book was inspired by the romantic challenges of my famous clients. Entitled How to Date When You're Famous, it offers dating advice for stars, rising stars and the people who date them. My third book —a hip dating handbook for men is on the way and there are some exciting television and web projects in development too… I'll keep you posted!
In truth we’re much more united by our imperfections than the things we excel at, so give yourself a break. Let go of all that self-imposed pressure to be something you know you aren’t so you can be who you really are and live a life you love. I have a Charlyism in my book that goes like this: “You can fall in and out of other people’s stories or grab the pen and write your own.” It’s never too late, so if you need some help tweaking your personal storyline, call me. We’ll get it done quickly and have a good time doing so ; ) —Charly
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