Thank You Good Morning America!

Carla: I had hoped I’d have a new job today, but that is not to be. And I’m okay with it. Really. I am.

I found out yesterday that I had not been chosen, so I’ve had some time to think about how I feel about that. Here’s what I’ve got.

1) Yes, I’m disappointed, but I didn’t lose anything. This process has been…life-altering. Not because this was the job I’d hoped for all my life–although it was a great job and I would have been fantastic at it :). It has changed me because it’s helped me reclaim my Carla-ness. I don’t think I realized how buried I’d become in the last 15 years, how covered up and hidden.

It hasn’t just been motherhood. It’s been my work, it’s been trying to make new friends, it’s been dealing with depression, it’s been all kind of things piling up and covering over some essential parts of who I am. And I really liked those parts. I have missed camp counselor Carla who wasn’t afraid to make a fool of herself in front of 300 junior highers; actress Carla who could sing her lungs out at the drop of a hat; bold, brave Carla who moved across the country and took chances and believed she had an amazing life ahead of her.

But in the last few months, as I’ve written advice and made 30-second video clips and sent them off to be judged by total strangers, I’ve slowly uncovered that person. I know this sounds so arrogant, but when I was younger, I truly believed I was something. In some ways, it was a coping strategy to survive life in a small town where I often felt like I didn’t fit in–I had that “just you wait” voice in my head. That voice–and the belief I was talented and interesting and smart–faded as I moved into adulthood. It felt too bold to believe those things and no one likes bold. The GMA process has taken more confidence than I knew I had, more not caring what other people might think, more boldness than anything I’ve ever done before. And it’s been amazing. I am better, more me, than I have been in such a long time. With the help of amazing friends, Marianne Williamson, and (I can’t believe I’m admitting this) Katy Perry, I feel like I have reclaimed my “muchness.”

2) I’m going to Jennifer Hudson the hell out of this. As you’ll recall, J.Hud came in 7th place during Season 3 of American Idol. Do you remember who won? Maybe. But does Fantasia Barrino have an Oscar? No. I don’t know what’s coming next, but I know that it will be something good. Even if that “something” is exactly the life I have right now, that’s fine with me. But I also believe the immortal words of Maria Von Trapp: “When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” Something will come from this and I can’t wait to see what it is.

3) I’ve become a tiny bit more comfortable in my own skin. No one likes criticism, especially a people pleaser like me, but in the face of a handful of nasty comments about my faith, I’ve had to remind myself that I know who I am and who I’m not and no one else gets to define that for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have written and deleted about 20 rebuttals to the people who seemed determined not to like me or to portray me as someone I’m not, but I’ve resisted getting sucked in because I don’t have to prove myself to them. There have been a few other times in my life when someone has said something about me that is patently false and I’ve learned that the best defense is to keep being myself, to let my character speak for itself, and to trust that other people can see a petty attack for what it is. It still feels horrible, but maybe a little less horrible than it used to.

4) I’m going to work on that people pleasing thing. I can’t be all things to all people and I think my efforts to do so have been a big part of the loss of my muchness. You can’t be brave or foolish or sing your heart out when you’re worried about what other people will think.

I tell you all of this because I hope each of you can find something that helps you reclaim your muchness. I wish I hadn’t let mine get so covered up. I wish that 15 years ago when I started letting other things bury it someone had told me not to let it go. If they had, it might not have taken something so large-scale to bring it back. If you’ve lost yourself in motherhood, in your career, in your marriage, in the details of life, it’s not too late to dig your way back out. Figure out what thrills you, what scares you, what wakes you up, and go after it. My wake up started with an online application for a contest. You never know where an impulse will lead you. So follow one! And tell your friends to do the same. We are so powerful, so full of goodness, so “much.” Imagine what could happen if we unleash it!

Caryn: Carla, I do think it sucks that you didn’t get this job. You graciously say, “Thank you, Good Morning America,” But I vengefully say, “Hello, Today Show.” (Except that really, my heart will always belong to the WGN Morning News and to Arthur, Martha Speaks and Curious George in the morning. This is neither here nor there.)

But I am prouder of you that I can easily express—for the reasons you outlined about. What you did took guts. To put yourself in a position to be judged publicly—to be VOTED on (Even though the votes obviously meant nothing) and to subjected to comments about your faith, family, hair or whatever to follow a dream or calling or whatever you want to call it is terrifying. Something that keeps many people from ever venturing forward. And yet you did it and you handled it with grace and humor—and, as you said, total Carla-ness. It was awesome to see.

And good things will totally come from this! Especially now that you’ve been outed as a Fundamentalist/Extremist, think of the Christian TV avenues that will open up for you! Carla hosting 700 Club? Yes. Yes. I think so.

Carla: Thank you my friend.

29 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by stacytr on February 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Carla, I have always thought you were ‘much’! But your words really speak to me — I have been thinking a lot about this lately as I feel motherhood has sucked up so much of who I was. Don’t get me wrong — I wouldn’t trade back for anything — I adore my husband and love my kids so much it hurts sometimes. But I haven’t been able to figure out how to find myself in the midst of their needs. And I truly need to do that — I miss me.
    Thank you for your post. I know wonderful things will come from this — and that GMA got it wrong — but that you will be (and are) more than ok.
    I’m glad I know you!


  2. Love You Two. Carla – I do think this is a door opening, not closing and not just because you re-discovered your wonderful Carla-ness. I am full of affection and admiration for you.


  3. Posted by mamaleesie on February 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm


    I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the transparency in what you wrote above. So many of us are afraid to allow others into ‘that circle’ – yet, the fact that you expose yourself to many is a VERY beautiful thing (heck – I do it every day on dang FB-ugh).

    Of course I think they should have chosen you. However, I am finding the coolest part in this whole thing has been twofold:
    1. You are finding a piece of “Carla” that hasn’t been around for a while.
    2. The amount of support/kudos/encouragement/love that you have been shown by the people who have walked this journey with you is flippin’ INCREDIBLE. I can’t tell you how happy I was to read the comments of support …. what an awesome feeling.

    You just pretty-much rock in my book (and about 25,000 others books, as well).


    P.S. I kinda see you stickin’ a little close to home and starting your journey on Twin Cities Live. 🙂


  4. Posted by Gregg Koskela on February 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Wow! Yes, yes, yes. I’m moved and grateful for this. Thank you, Carla!


  5. Posted by Sarah Brookner on February 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Carla, I enjoyed reading this. You speak for many women. I too believe it’s the opening of a new door. To think that there were 15,000 other people who applied for this position! There’s a lot of “wow-ness” in that! It’s hard to be ourselves sometimes. It’s hard to take care of ourselves sometimes and still feel like we are taking care of the people we love. From the outside looking in, it seems like you got it all goin’ on honey. And I mean that. Your kids are lovely creatures and I think that speaks volumes for what kind of person you are (not just what kind of mother you are!) You are such a brave person to put yourself out there for all to see and open that door to criticism. Many people would never, ever take that risk. I admire you for that. While it sounds like it opened the door to some unfortunate nastiness from the funsuckers in the world, you also discovered some really wonderful things. Yes, to be ourselves is a beautiful way to be. Onward.


  6. Posted by Julianna on February 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I think God is FLINGING that window open somewhere. You’re absolutely amazing — and it didn’t take your journey to GMA stardom for me and TONS of other people to notice it. We’ve all known it all along. But the most important thing is that YOU have rediscovered it. “Muchness” is a powerful concept. (Next book idea?) 😉


  7. Thanks so much for processing all that you went through and have been thinking since finding out the news, and for sharing it with us. I love your word “muchness” and I love that you are rediscovering what that is for you! Let Liz have GMA–I know that God has used this to prepare you for something even bigger and better! I love all the courage and heart that you displayed through this and that we were privileged to witness. You. Are. AWESOME MUCHNESS personified. =)


  8. Hey Carla,
    I don’t know you, but I know you’re super cool and awesome on the word of my friends Rachel and Colleen, and from following your story. Before reading your blog, I was thinking about you all morning – thinking you’re going to go and do something big…without ABC. On your own terms, and it’s going to be awesome. Whatever it is, go you!


  9. I can’t even begin to reply or I’ll shed tears. Big crocodile ones. All I will say is that being your “twin” and all…I hope some of this post rubs off on me.


  10. Posted by Ron on February 4, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    You said it for us. Thank you.


  11. Posted by Jo Kjetland on February 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    C, in my heart and in my mind, you have never changed. However, may you continue to be the woman God made you – in all your Carla-ness – and may you continue to inspire others along the way to walk in the freedom you’re walking in again.
    Love you!


  12. I loved this post. I discovered The Myth of the Perfect Mother this summer, read it…twice, recommended it, discussed it with friends, changed because of it. A friend who read the book on my recommendation found this website and passed it along.

    I declared this my year of facing fear. Doing things that scare me, things that I love, things that are mine. I’m scared of criticism, so I’m opening myself up to it, with the knowledge, like you said, that I’ll still be me. So far, I’ve opened an etsy shop, started a new blog, and submitted photos for an art show.

    Thanks for this post. It’s one I’ll probably read twice.


  13. Posted by becky on February 5, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Carla, what a beautiful post! Sounds like you’ve been on an incredible journey… can’t wait to see what’s still to come!

    And if you ever want to grab a bull horn, don a vintage diner waitress uniform, and hand out canteen cards to practice finding “camp counselor Carla” (which is pretty much how I still see you), I’d be happy to laugh at your jokes and hang all over you. You can braid my hair anytime.


  14. Posted by Shari Lemieux on February 5, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Dear Carla, we have never met, I read your blog through Rachel Greenhouse’s (another lovely lady I have never met). I have also experienced the loss of my “true” self; only it took me until age 48 to figure that out! Much of the loss was due to my trying to conform to a husband’s desires and to my skewed concept of what a Christian woman/wife/ mother should look and behave like. This “squelching” of myself has causes untold misery and chronic health issues. My “awakening” began when a Christian lady prophesied over me that my “sparkling”, God-given personality had been smothered, and this was causing a lot of mental/emotional and physical problems. God, in his great mercy, has also shown me many “burden removing, yoke destroying” truths regarding who I am in His sight, which has delivered me from many false understandings. And God has given me a wonderful man who appreciates, values and encourages my uniqueness. I pray that we are all able to throw off the shackles of greyness and let our inner “bling” shine!


  15. Posted by Shari Lemieux on February 5, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Well, I posted my comment before I viewed the GMA video. Now, having seen the video I say “Good answers”, “Brave woman”, “Way to go” and “Congratulations Carla”!


  16. Posted by Wendy on February 5, 2011 at 9:21 am

    You don’t know me, and I don’t know you…although after reading your reaction above, I feel like I do know a little of your heart. I went to Jr. and Sr. High school with your husband and am a “friend” of his on Facebook- which is how I came to know about this GMA thing in the first place. It is a shame that you weren’t chosen – it seems that you would have rocked that job! But I want you to know that your words are inspiring and it is so refreshing to hear you talk of it never being too late to reclaim yourself and follow your passion or at least do what truly makes YOU happy and makes you, well…you. I imagine you will turn this into something really good for yourself and I wish you so much luck and joy in your endeavors! Take care and thanks for the inspiration!


  17. Carla,

    Wow, this article and comments above are why I have held you close to my heart since I met you in college. In college, I appreciated your Carla-ness. I, too, have felt that I have lost some things, and been buried. I think it’s easy to do. And your advice is beyond brilliant and inspirational. Fling that door and window wide open sister and let God’s grace and your true destiny come on in. You are an amazing woman, Carla and I am VERY proud of you. You have handled this journey with so much grace.


  18. Posted by Steve B. on February 5, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Well done and well said. And if they raise the age limit for American Idol auditions next year, I fully expect to see you singing your heart out when Idol goes to Alexandria.


  19. Posted by Carrie on February 5, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Carla, I know I haven’t been in your presence in about 10 years, but you had powerful muchness! Still, I love your response to this – to look at what you gained and find that it’s what you always had to begin with. (Hm, that’s ruby slipperesque.) BTW, your response doesn’t surprise me at all. You are one of the loveliest, most positive, most grounded people I’ve ever met and I can’t imagine you looking anywhere but up and forward.


  20. Carla, you totally defined what producing my solo show for the Fringe did for me. It’s really tough to muster up that courage and put your heart on the line, especially when you know that there are many who’d love to criticize you. I totally believe that dreaming big is a character asset, and that criticism from most people is evidence of how terribly they must be nitpicking themselves.

    Thank you for your transparency, your courage, and your enthusiasm to try something new. It’s been an absolute joy to follow along.



  21. Carla,

    I have been working on saving a public swimming pool in south Minneapolis for the past year. Two weeks ago, the MPRB gave our little organization Minneapolis Swims the lease to the swimming pool pending a successful two-year funding campaign. We need to raise a LOT of money before the MPRB will let us renovate this pool so we can provide swimming lessons for the children in the poorest and most racially diverse neighborhood in Minneapolis.

    I’ve always had the opposite problem as you in my life. I’ve always felt inferior and afraid to fail and like I didn’t deserve to be successful. But this project has forced me to face my fears and do things that surprise myself. We have a $2.1 million dollar bonding bill before the state legislature, a bonding bill that everyone is saying is impossible this year (and it may be) but it has bipartisan authorship and a lot of good support. We are forging partnerships with various state and national organizations. We, common people from the neighborhood, (felons, failures, chronically impoverished, unimportant people) that have come together and become empowered to lobby and advocate for this pool. We have made public, televised presentation. We are talking to public figures. We are lobbying at the state capital. We are talking to the mayor. We are meeting with business leaders. And I feel scared more than I want.

    “You can’t be brave or foolish or sing your heart out when you’re worried about what other people will think.” I get it Carla. What a beautiful and inspirational post.



  22. Posted by Jen Vickerman on February 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Carla, I have heard about your accomplishments through Rachel Greenhouse. Just wanted to say, “Job well done!” Looking forward to having you speak at a Magic Wand Collective event in the near future!!


  23. Thanks Carla… don’t know you that well but feel I know you a bit better now. I had no doubt whether they picked you or not that it would be the same level of Victory for you and those of us rootin for you. Go Carla!


  24. Posted by handt on February 9, 2011 at 8:24 am

    thanks for your honest reflection on your journey…. it’s too easy to lose part of ourselves gradually… your post has awakened the gasping for breath photographer in me which i know will awaken the songwriter in me (which has gone away for awhile)..which in turn will awaken… get the idea. the losses happen so incrementally that we might look at a photo from 15 years ago and wonder where we went. thanks for keep it honest.


  25. Posted by Linda P on February 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Carla, As an old friend it’s been fun to check out your blog and see what you’re thinking about, though I haven’t made a comment before. I also enjoyed tracking your run with GMA and appreciate the spirit with which you’re reflecting on the experience. I’m wondering if the loss (or suppression) of “muchness” is as much to do with a stage of development as with being distracted by other things. Perhaps it’s a natural part of life and growth. I wonder if we actually couldn’t find that “muchness” without going through the various other stages preceeding it–getting educated, married, having children, experimenting with careers–all that seems to feed into this new point in life where we can look again at who we truly are and who we truly want to be. That’s one reason I’m loving my forties. And I’m with you, it may very well be simply leaning into the life I already live with a new sense of who I am. If the GMA experience contributes to that process for you (which it definitely seems like it has), hurrah for that.


  26. “Thank You Good Morning America! The Mommy Revolution” was in fact a relatively awesome article, .
    Continue creating and I will continue reading!

    Thank you ,Charity


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