Traveling with the young and wise

WE HAVE HAD AN ADVENTURE! And bless life, we sure needed it.

As to whether that adventure needed to include a younger-than-average traveler and an older-than-average traveler, we should discuss the pros and cons.

Firstly, let’s do a quick recap on the Baker-Giovanniello European Holiday for those that didn’t know we were going to traipse around the world for a 2 week vacation across three countries. It all started when I had a baby – a tiny little dictator named Eku. And because I am SO loved by all overseas, as well as in America, people wanted to see the little mini-me, as much as I wanted to show her off. But that required planning, planning, and some more planning.

Luckily, I was met in this challenge by a fellow traveler, one far superior to me in most things,  and she designed a vacation that included a stay deep in the Pyrenees mountains.

And planned she did.

Suddenly, Evelyn and I were en route from Oakland to London to Spain and to France. But with one horrible call from Expedia to discuss my cancelled flight, and now travel plans including a 9 hour layover before a 10 hour flight, I made an executive decision to bring my Mom along for the voyage as I’m a sissy…and I was smart enough to know that I needed help.

And suddenly, the trip was upon us, and my Mother, daughter, and I took to the skies to travel as a first-time, three-some, and we were all excited and me, totally apprehensive. Who takes a toddler on a 10 hour flight and is SANE!?!

I actually can’t say who was the better traveler, Mom and E. Evelyn was a cool and cute as any 20 month can be, and my mom took all-the-shit (mostly from me),all-the-time and never batted an eyelash. She had been around the block once…or twice…and knew what she should take in stride. I could not have been more impressed with either.

And travel we did. Granted, not much once we hit my beloved England. I came down with a “summer cold” which left me leaking from eyes and nose to such a degree that I couldn’t go out much and made those that I love so dearly, and had come to see me, stay for a limited time so to not get them ill or take away from precious nap-time. (Jet lag for a kiddo is NO JOKE!)

But then it was time to really hit the discount airline travel situation and get fucked in as many places as possible. During a hideous check in, admittance through the security lines, the pat downs OF BABIES, the SMALL ASS SEATS and BAG LIMITS allowable on Ryan(fucking)Air, until we finally landed in Girona, Spain.

From there, my life took a turn.

Already I had felt a change in my sour and depressive behavior as of late. The second I landed in London, there was a lifting of my spirits, which only increased when I landed in Europe proper. I then got the chance to drive from Spain to London in a manual car, I suddenly felt as free as an actual bird. Like I could do anything. And I literally wasn’t doing more than driving.

Once arriving at our mansion (what else can I call it? Chateau is too grand. Castle has too much space. Maybe we call it an estate…); once arriving at the estate, I was spell bound by the simple beauty that a stone house set in the mountains of the Pyrenees could emit. It felt like we had emerged to any era or time. Sure the house had TV in the play room, a gorgeous pool, and stove top that would make an top Chef jealous. But it also had ancient, massive fireplaces in each room and huge wooden beams that looked like they were carved from trees older than the earth. Modern, sleek furniture and a vibe that this was modern house trapped in an historical novella.

We spent a glorious week by a pool in hotter than hell temperatures, when we weren’t making like tourists in tiny Parisian towns, filled with museums (nudes galore!), cafes, and flea markets to our heart’s content. I ate hard salami, cheese and drank rose until I was actually I’ll. And then got up the next day and did it again. Ohhhhhh, the salami. 

It was heaven. Cara Lyn’s version of heaven. (minus being sans Roy).

But the really victory was getting back to America. And what a success story it was.

You see: when trying to leave 3 countries in same day becomes the “plan”, RETHINK IT IMMEDIATELY.

I had the bright idea to wake up at 4am, drive 2 hours from France to Spain, go directly to the airport to fly from Barcelona to London, and then London to California 2 hours later.


Thank god no one listened to me. Our host convinced us the REALLY smart thing to do was leave the morning before our flights, drive to Barcelona, sleep in a hotel by the airport and do the horrendous travel day as fresh and calm as possible. Bless Baby Jesus we followed her instructions as just the drive from the Pyrenees to Barcelona was one of the more stressful things I’ve ever taken on.


If you can imagine me literally driving up to the machine, throwing any and all currency at the coin slot, and jamming through the gate regardless of needing to take a follow up ticket or slow down to the hollers of the attendant, that’s what happened.

When we arrived in Barcelona, we allowed ourselves one glorious afternoon and evening wandering the streets, eating gorgeous tapas, and finally shopping, before going back to our hotel where we spent a HORRENDOUS night trapped in deadly air-conditioning, forced to cover Eku in towels as we had NO blankets and no means to turn the air down.

My mom woke to me sobbing in the middle of the night after holding E for hours while she bawled from exhaustion. And my mom is NOT to be trifled with. She marched down to the reception the next morning, refused to pay for the room, and hauled E and I out to the airport without one more word (#bosslife).

It didn’t get too much better after that.

The last image I want to paint is being told that we couldn’t connect to our California flight  once landed in London, without having to go through immigration, checking-in, and going back through through security  to our flight in 1 hour and 30 minutes.

TEARS, SWEARING, and my mom going HEAD-To-HEAD with a security beast who eventually beat us and took our mini-tequila bottles for being over 4 ozs.(NOT TRUE- We needed that tequila to live!)Then,  RUNNING AT FULL SPEED across Gatwick to make our flight, my mom squat low to get more leverage, and me tossing E around in the damned Ergo like a potato prepped to be mashed – No one was happy.

But when we finally got to the gate, I immediately started my insane laugh-cry, overwhelmed with relief that WE MADE IT. WE COULD GO HOME! Still, I couldn’t stop hysterically laughing, with tears streaming down my face, from the sheer madness of it all. I forgot that traveling is a bitch.

Then, we only had to wait 11 of the longest hours of our lives on that hideous flight, with a passed out baby on my chest, and no earphones to watch decade-old films (remember discount airlines) while we counted down the seconds. 11 hours = 39,600 seconds.

I will say that if I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t waste even one second to think about it. I know Eku won’t remember this trip, but my mom and I will never forget it. The memories we made together as 3 generations of Stuart-Baker-Giovanniello’s was the absolute best gift I’ve been given in a long time. It reminded me of how lucky I am and to SHUT THE FUCK UP with all the complaining and moaning.

God, even I get tired of hearing it.

So, here’s to new beginnings, no matter when you get them. Xxxx




E.B. White’s Beautiful Letter to a Man Who Had Lost Faith in Humanity

Dear Mr. Nadeau:
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
E. B. White

Being Poor is So #2012

Hi all. I’m sure you’ve come to this blog so that you can hear a woman, with a good paying job, living in a nice home, with all the comforts she could ever wish for right at her finger tips BITCH ABOUT BEING POOR.

But hey, I like to keep it real so that’s exactly what what you’ll see here today.

Honestly, I’m so over being “broke”. So over it. I could roll this whole feeling up into the being-an-adult-is-about-compromise-and-sacrifice argument, and it would actually make sense.

Well…not really.

Why is there so much that I’m suddenly responsible for every year that I get older? The baby is an obvious one, I need to save money for her to go to college, pay her day care, get diapers from the compostable delivery service, buy her special food, and maybe a toy or book here and there. I get that I have to pay an insane price for my rent in the Bay Area. I get that my dog and husband need to eat…and drink. Gas is poison and it take hours to get anywhere, so that siphons many of those dollar bills I make dancing nightly.

…kidding on that last point, should you have missed that.

But the rest of it? The not being able to save money? The never making enough from my job? The strain of not being able to travel – which is my ONLY real material love in this life that I cannot and will not live without. Even a quick jaunt down to LA is a couple hundred buck adventure that, at this time, we cannot humor.

That is devastating. And causes me a level of anxiety that I can’t really explain or share with others in the personal way that it affects me.

Trying to figure out how to make it all work so that we can prepare for a future while not suffering too much in the present, is a balancing act I have yet to figure out.

So when I see TV shows on tiny living, I like it.

When I think about a remote job where I could manage on $500 a month in, say, Indonesia, that sounds like a life I’d like living.

Winning the lottery sounds awesome.

Making an invention that the Shark Tank eats right up from my hands – that sounds like a good life. (FYI – I actually have a million dollar idea, and I am looking for an engineer to build it because…you never know…).

Having a job that pays me a salary that is equal to the costs of living in the Bay Area, that sounds legit.

Knowing that my savings account was actually able to hold 6 months of our lives if we lost everything, would be such a relief.

No car payments – rad.

No cars – even MORE rad. (radder? Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that one.)

Seeing Adele in concert, no matter how exorbitant the ticket scalpers charge for tickets, would bring a permanent smile to my face.

And of course, extra dollars for all the trips I have to make to live this life properly, would be welcome and appreciated.

Waa waa waa

In the end, I know that in order to get a least a few of these wishes under my belt means tightening it up, and actually living within my means.

Be stingy. I hate to say it, but I have to ease up on being generous.

Be aware of what is a necessary and what is crap/fun/fruitless/exorbitant/excessive.

Be honest. We can’t go/dine/drink/watch/karaoke this time, maybe the next round.

Budget. budgetbudgetbudgetbudgetbudget. And don’t forget to budget.

And always put things in perspective. I do know how lucky we are, and how wealthy in comparison to so many millions of people. It’s a pill I’m working really, really hard on figuring out how to swallow, and when I figure out how to do it, I’ll share all here.

Until then, don’t be mad when we do all the wonderful free things out in the world. Today I took my kid to the rose garden in Berkeley, for free. And it wasn’t a life changer, but it was nice and we had fun.


I am sending you all mental money trees for your backyard. Make sure to water them. Xxx










I Don’t Get No Respect

My parents wanted me to learn a few, very valuable lessons while growing up. I say:Thanks for caring, Mom and Dad.

One slogan we used often in our family was that no good deed goes unpunished. Very relevant then, and incidentally, forever. There was also the shoulder shrug when we declared that Murphy’s Law was in affect. Now I feel like the one truth that’s catching me in the gut happens to be a biggie: It’s lonely at the top.

Now I need to preface that in no way am I at the top. Nope. Nopenopenope.

But I am suddenly someplace where the air is a bit thinner and I’m virtually hiking solo. (I knew I’d make this into an Everest parallel somehow-could feel that coming). I recently got a new position in my organization and I LOVE IT. Like, shout from the rooftops, “LLLLOOOOOVVVEEEEEE YYYYYOOOOOUUUUU JJJJJOOOOOBBBBBB!!!!”, love. I work in training and development, I get to think about ways to help professionals learn their jobs better, faster, easier, and I’m good at it. Well, at least I think I’m good at it.

My first proper project is coming to full term. In fact, next week she’ll be born unto the world; a beautiful, healthy, mentoring program, created, implemented, and taught by me. This is my pet project, my little bambino, my pride and joy. And God forbid, anyone call her ugly, underdeveloped, or basic.

I’ll cut the bitch who calls my baby “basic”.

But this little projo of mine is being rolled out without anyone every giving it a real review. People are…wait for it…trusting me with this program, putting faith in this POA, and I have all the feelings associated with something so foreign to me.

No one micromanaging me or my time.

No one taking the red pen to the guts of this babe.

Not one person wanting the change this, or update that.

It’s glorious.

And scary as shit.

Why? Because what if it fails? (It won’t). What if the expectations of this program are so high in the galaxy that when I deliver the performance of my life, I get minimal applause and possibly an egg or two thrown my way? Eggs stink. I don’t want to stink.

But it’s really sunk in these last couple of days that by wanting a challenge, by fighting for autonomy, and begging for responsibility, I better deliver the goods. All the goods. Fresh tasting, juicy, flavorful fruit. Grown by the great state of CLG, delivered on time, and with a seal of authenticity.

If the program is awesome, everyone else will get the credit for taking the issues it addresses into hand and making the right choices to make change and forward progress. But that victory won’t reach me down here. I’ll hear all the cheers, but still stand in line to get cake just like everyone else.

And if it sucks…well, if it sucks I will never, ever, ever hear the end of it. There will go the trust and support I have built up, giving me all the freedom in direction and choice that I love with this new job. Out the door will go future possibilities to try something great again, and bring it to life. Never again will I get “pregnant” with a pet project baby.

How fucking sad.

So, no pressure CL. Just do great, don’t make any mistakes, out think everyone else, surpass the never-discussed expectations, be amazing, and get ‘er done. Climb this personal Everest and push out your little baby plan, all in a days work.

But some days it feels like I don’t get no respect. And because of that, it’s real lonely at the top.

CL xxx

When You Meet Your Future

Sometimes a song just gets trapped in my ear and I can’t shake it. There was a beautiful rendition of “In Your Eyes” on The Voice (I love music, and this is the ONLY show in this genre that I like, ok????) that made me break out in goosebumps and hunt for the original, by the incomparable Peter Gabriel (not to be confused with Phil Collins). For no other reason, I hope you enjoy it and have a great hump day. CLx

Love I get so lost, sometimes
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are

All my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
The heat I see in your eyes

Love, I don’t like to see so much pain
So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive

And all my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light,
The heat I see in your eyes
In your eyes, in your eyes
In your eyes, in your eyes
In your eyes, in your eyes

Is One a Bad Parent For Pushing Them Over?

I will be the first to admit it, I don’t want Eku to get any bigger. I’ve said this every, single, step of her life, but as she is now RAPIDLY growing, learning, and developing – I’m even more set on the fact that I refuse for her to get older. Grow bigger. Leave me.

Two days after Eeks was born, we had a nurse come to check her out at our home. She did the usual nurse type activities – scrutinized Roy and myself, checked out the thermostat, looked at the where the baby would sleep, checked over her body, and weighed her. Proudly she announced, “Wonderful, she’s gained two ounces!”, and handed her back to us.

I promptly burst into tears.


Who did this little asshole think she was? Growing on my watch, oh HELL no! She had to stay itty bitty. Teeny weany. That’s how she was first delivered to me, placed upon my chest the most scrunched up, red faced, little bean of a baby. She was small, 6.11 ounces, and she was as perfect as I knew what that meant at the time.

And then she started to grow. Slowly, at first. And coupled with the appalling loss of sleep and general irritation, I missed some obvious milestones, at first. When she started to become CHUNK, and her little body filled out with so much chub, so cute you could die. Then she would wiggle, on her back, back and forth, just feeling comfortable in her space. That led to the rolls, the head lifts, sitting up, the caterpillar scoot, and finally the crawl.


Then in February, she started walking.

And then – I suddenly felt that my little baby was gone. In one year and one month, my tiny person, the same tiny person place upon my bosom at moment zero, was no longer that little being. She was a big girl. And no matter what person rolled their eyes and noted, “she’s still a baby, chill out, CL”, I knew in my heart that it was not true.

So, maybe it was weird when I solemnly asked my two WONDERFUL daycare providers to just gently shove her over as she took her first tentative steps. Not hard! Not aggressively! Just a slight bump so that her uncertain legs would be unsure how to support her wobbling weight and she was topple over, like a small Jenga tower. They laughed, thinking, I’m sure, that my joke was exactly that, and not the pleas from a first time Mom to stop her baby’s process in its tracks.

Maybe stop reading to her too, just in case.

And let’s put the kabbash on teaching her new words and sounds – that feels like getting bigger too.

But mostly, let’s just keep her from getting that confidence on her own two feet so that the first thing she does is run away from Mommy.

My heart is breaking.

But things I’ve learned since those first steps in February. She may run from me. A lot. But there are also the days when we will play hours on end, the Running-Back-To-Mommy’s-Arms game, which involves squeals of joy and countless smiles every time she returns to my embrace. And embrace her I do. So tightly, with such need.

Because she is my baby. My first born. The first true light in a life that never know what brightness could be until she came to me.




And as she lay sick last night in my arms, cuddled so close, and her body heat swelling with mine, I felt my baby again. But this time I didn’t want her to stay small. I wanted her to be the fighter she’ll have to be to survive this INSANE, INSANE world (Trump for President????). She’ll have to walk. She’ll have to run. Forward and backward to meet all the exciting and critical parts of her life.

No more gentle bumps, no more little taps. No more stalling her progress, no matter how hard it is for Mommy.

Eku needs her strength and her power – and as her mother, that is what I’ll strive to give her everyday.

Always with love, CL xxxx


It Comes Back to Love

I’ve been feeling out of sorts lately.

In fact, maybe this lately is actually years. And until yesterday, I couldn’t quite pinpoint why I was feeling so off, why I wasn’t feeling like myself for so long. For so many years.

As many of you in my inner circle know, I love counseling and chose to go whenever I can because I’m not the best in working out my own stuff. Whether it be about marriage, the urge to flee (aka travel), anxiety, personal happiness – all of these are example topics of real conversations I’ve had with more than one counselor. In yesterday’s session we were discussion walls; the walls we build around our self, the protection we feel we need from both inside and outside vigilantes, the safety we believe we’re installing by making the walls as tough and as high as they need to be.

But in having this convo with my lady, we made the discovery that my walls, my protective barriers, were currently, and had been over time, causing the ME that I KNOW and that OTHERS KNOW to disappear.

Disappear. Go away. Develop into something and someone else. Change me. Mold me into a different person. Make me different.

Maybe for many folks out there, this is a GOOD MOVE, a HEALTHY CHOICE to build up some walls. Barriers aren’t all bad, in fact, we need barriers on some levels to keep us safe from the things and people that unconsciously (and consciously) want to keep us down, harm us, weaken our spirit. I have to learn about barriers and how they can HELP me. Consider it like a filter: let the good in, the bad out, and monitor the flow for what works best for you.

The example I have for a filter is regarding social (fucking) media. I love it, I hate it, it makes me happy, it ruins my life. This is all real and true. So how can I enjoy what the people I love share, but not be harmed or maimed by what others deem appropriate to share?


But what happens when the walls and defenses we have built up over the last month or our entire lifetime get taken down? What can we start to see when we peel the onion, keeping the good barriers, but losing the overprotective/defensive walls that are keeping us afraid, tired, beaten down, lost?

You start to see you.

Do you remember the you from your happiest of times? Can you recall clearly who you were at that time and what made you tick? Does even thinking about that start a chain of bodily reactions that possibly leaves you feeling happy? Joyous, even?

Maybe it was when you were a child and life was so carefree, you couldn’t even know what you would be losing as your grew because you never knew you had such liberties to begin with.

Or were you in the early stages of adult hood, and so filled with all the exciting prospects of your life to come that you seemed and felt INVINCIBLE, that the world really was your oyster, and you were going to achieve, win, AND succeed – no matter what. There was no true idea that other people would want you to fall, that life would hand out bitch slaps whether deserved or not, that things couldn’t/wouldn’t work in your favor.

For me, I remember being happy when I really sit and give it time. However, once I tap into it, I can vividly recall when I was full of empathy for others, believed in the power of doing good and having that karma come back to me, and contributed to the good of society starting with my bubble.

And then for many, many reasons over time, that was lost. Swallowed up by bad choices, mean people, detrimental randomness, and failure.

Enter fear, embarrassment, skepticism, doubt, shame, fatigue, loss, anger, resentment, and suddenly – POOF!, you’re gone. You are gone.

And who is this new person? The one that eminates dark changes and maybe just all-around yuckiness (the scientific term, of course).

I have been so put out by the yuck, by all the energy I put into protecting myself that I totally, completely, and utterly lost way.

I made myself disappear.

And the person who has been living my life isn’t the best version of me – so she must go away. (ba-bye!)

And what I have found, as my layers are being dissected and dispersed, is that love is my root in and to the earth.

What I have is SO MUCH LOVE for everything around me…Ok, most things around me. (Trump does not get my love! Bah Humbug!) What had separated me from the masses for the majority of my life was my ability to LOVE GREATER, EMPATHIZE HARDER, and WELCOME WIDER than my peers. Each person has their own personal quality to give in this life, and mine just happens to be though love.

Through joy.

Through truth.

Through happiness.

My Mom used to say to me growing up that being happy isn’t a way of life and that FLOORED me. But now her tune is not the same – she’s had a cup of my punch and likes it. And just like that, love wins.

So really, what all of this means is that I’m sorry if you’ve missed me. I’m so sorry for having gotten lost in the this maze of worldly bullshit that managed to sink it’s yucky talons into my tender flesh and pull me down. I’m sorry if you lost me in the madness and the both of us assumed I was never coming back.

I’m sorry.

And I’m not saying I woke up today AWESOME, FIXED, and BRAND NEW. But I did wake up better.




That’s a good way to start…again.

IMG_6115Love to you all,

CL xxxx