Creative Living

Puzzles + Hard Work: What My 5-Year-Old Taught Me

After picking my oldest son up at school last week, I surprised him by taking him to Barnes & Noble where he likes to buy new puzzles. We found him a 12-pack of 500, 300, and 100 piece puzzles to work on and he was ecstatic. He practically bear-hugged the box on the ride home.

Unable to wait, he began working on a 300 piece puzzle of a lion. He asked me to help him, so we got started and soon found ourselves getting stuck because it was proving hard to bring the pieces together at times. We had to keep referring back to the picture on the box because we’d forget what the image looked like.

We’d try putting one piece with another, nothing…then another piece and searching for yet another piece, and nothing. This went on for awhile and then I got distracted with my other son and had to leave the table. I encouraged my son to keep working which he didn’t resist because he loves these sorts of things.

He worked tirelessly, never leaving the table except for an occasional snack or bathroom break or drink, but soon returned to the scattered puzzle pieces. After awhile, I passed by and saw the lion and surrounding sunset and brush coming together little by little.

I cheered my son’s diligent efforts and thought in that moment how in many ways, the things you work toward in life – your goals and dreams-  are no different.

When you have a vision for something you want (Sailboat anyone? Tuscan Villa?), you have the gist of what you might have to do to make it happen, and so you begin your quest. 

As you work, you hit bumps and obstacles along the way, but the key is to keep working (and believing), especially during the seemingly most challenging moments. Those moments determine your will for how bad you want what you want. I’ve often dealt with this as it relates to my writing and business-building efforts for The Convivial Woman. It’s no easy game to play but I keep playing it!

What “puzzle” are you working on in your own life?

Keep putting the pieces of your “puzzle” together…if one piece doesn’t fit, try another, and another, then search for another. If you need to, take a break – either temporarily, or sometimes from it all. If you’re committed and passionate enough, you’ll return to the work at hand and your focus will return. Trust in the dips and valleys of your personal journey.

You WILL have plenty of moments of frustration, confusion, uncertainty, but if you take action to pick up where you left off, or in a whole other place, your focus will be renewed. You’re meant to get lost in the process because not everything is within your control.

Remain vigilant and committed to seeing your goals – whatever they may be – to completion. The ones you’re willing to quit are the ones you don’t want as bad, so why feel bad? If you need to, find a new goal to build your confidence.

When your patience gets tested, when you feel like giving up, when you aren’t figuring things out, or the details are just not coming together, remember that creativity is an enlightened form of problem solving and your role is to trust and stay committed.

If a 5-year-old can show us the way of a good work ethic, then we can certainly follow his lead.

Cheers to you and your dreams and the work ethic they so desperately need!



Five Words To Avoid Saying

“I’m not going to change.”

When it comes to the person you are, you will always be you.

But when it comes to the person you were born to be, the person you have the utmost potential to be, you can never say those five words because you indirectly stunt your growth.

We must change to change the world we live in.

Do you want to play a role in those changes?

Then become more aware of your behavior.

Be more…







more open to adapt to changing environments, relationships, circumstances, etc., if you want to make a difference with the short time you have on earth.

It’s your one and only chance.

What if you said,

“I am willing to change.”

Your habits, beliefs, forms of communication, appearance, language, environment, and perspective can all change if you make the choice to do so. It all starts with you.

When it comes to your personal sense of discipline and the habits you learned growing up and in school, remember this: those ways of “being” are not your entire make up as a person unless you choose them to be.



Indifference is the biggest dream killer

Indifference to someone’s ideas, thoughts, dreams, desires, concerns and fears can kill so much between cherished individuals.

When someone shows courage and speaks a deep desire, a wish, or they share a long-time or completely new dream with you, understand that THAT is an honor if you are on the receiving/listening end.

When someone trusts you enough to share something so close to their heart AND something they fear, keep in mind that by speaking up, they have just walked across a tight rope, then leaped over a self-imposed safety net that existed to keep them exactly where they are in life.

Do you remember how scary it felt to share a deep desire or a dream you had with another person?

We have to take great care with one another’s heart’s desires.

When someone speaks up and declares how they feel, what they want to change, and what they intend to do about it…know that they are taking the first crucial step of busting out of a box they have been comfortably sitting in for who knows how long.

Your thoughts become your reality, so by taking the faint whispers of your heart and putting them out in the open for another person to hear and know, you are declaring your desire to change the story you’ve been telling yourself and the world.

You are deciding to begin anew, to recreate yourself.

That someone, that dreamer, can be you.


If you are the one who is lucky enough to be on the listening end in that grand moment, YOU are a chosen one, you are the secondary ears and eyes for that potential vision, and if you care enough, you can play a role, a part in their success – you can be a co-creator of their happiness.

They have spoken ALOUD what many are afraid to admit – what they want, need, yearn for, fear.

I’ve been that dreamer speaking my desires and dreams aloud to certain individuals for a long time now and I have learned to decipher between those who care, those who don’t, and those who don’t KNOW how to care.

When I first embarked on my path to writing for the best city news magazine in Dallas, I was excited about simply getting my foot in the door and wanted to share how I was feeling with a friend. When I began talking about what I was doing at the office, my friend cut me off, flicked her hand and said, “Oh, you’re just fetching coffee for them there!”  Talk about getting shot DOWN, huh?

Being as self-aware and emotionally driven as I am, those sorts of moments hit me deep, because I would never dream of doing that to a friend.

Every single one of us is a dreamer.

Not everyone of us is a doer, though.

That has nothing to do with ability, but about the choice to take action.

The dreaming for 2013 has already begun for so many…what are you ready to make happen?

Depending on how self-motivated you are, and especially who you surround yourself with, who you choose to hear you out when its dream-speaking time, is a big factor in going from dreamer to doer.

For that reason, it’s important to be attentive, be conscious, be considerate, be open, be available when someone chooses you.

There is a reason they have chosen you, and its not convenience.

Don’t be indifferent.

One day, it will be your turn to speak up. If you dare.

However well you listen can determine how well you will be heard when your time comes to share what’s in your heart.

Your dreams are fed by the amount of nurturing you do for another person’s dream mapping.

Don’t be indifferent.

Be willing to dream with them.

We are all in this together.

P.S. if you’re ready to embark on a quest to the masterpiece within you, take the first step and grab your copy of my book ‘Convivial’ – its one experiential read that can set you on your way  to the creative, convivial life that awaits you.


A sign you’re living true to you

I just read this article by Jessica Valenti titled She Who Dies With the Most “Likes” Wins?

After finishing that read, I wanted to jump out of my seat and high five someone close by but unfortunately it was only me and my laptop in the room.

Why the enthusiasm?

It felt so damn good to hear Jessica paint the picture of my experience as an opinionated, outspoken woman…

someone who has often been disliked rather than liked when standing firm in who I am and for what I believe.

I feel vulnerable sharing this, but I have to open up.  (more…)


The World is Your Classroom…Take A Front Seat

I just came across this article on the Huffington Post called The Rise of College Alternatives and it was yet another reminder and comfort to me about the choices I have made in the last decade of my life.

I am a student of life, but in a different sense.

I didn’t make the list of students graduating summa cum laude . I was farrr from it. But that didn’t mean I lacked a thirst for learning. I just didn’t focus on ‘making the grade’.

When I was a sophomore in high school, you would’ve seen me in the library perusing many different sections or flipping through the pages of thick poetry books, looking up words I’d circled in Vogue articles, or reading about the life of Black Panther founder, Huey Newton.

I was simply curious…about everything that interested me.

You would never have imagined that I was nearly failing my chemistry class, even though I adored my teacher who resembled Elmer Fudd. But his adorableness wasn’t enough to get me to pay enough attention to protons and everything else that proved to be a foreign language to my ears and eyes in that class. I just wasn’t into it and knew I wouldn’t pursue it in life.

I wasn’t the best student when it came to what was always required of me, but I still never questioned my need for an education, for a degree.

When I graduated high school, I wasn’t able to ask my parents to borrow money to go to school (I’m still laughing about that one, Mitt) nor did I have a concrete plan for college. I was completely on my own when it came to that, but there was never a doubt that I would go or that I would finish. I was American and having the opportunity of a college education was ingrained in me.

I ended up getting guidance from a fellow college friend who walked the campus barefoot just to prove that he could. He helped me register and schedule my classes – interestingly enough, we had two classes together and he wanted to keep that pattern going the following semester because of his feelings for me, but his revolutionary ideas weren’t impressing me anymore.

Where he saw being bold in the face of authority or disdain for anyone’s upward movement in life, I saw limitations and struggle surrounding him and the life he was leading. That was not how I wanted to feel in my own life, so I eventually changed the company I was keeping.

When I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Finance, one thing I was grateful for was to declare myself debt-free from that experience. I worked in Banking and found a company that paid 100% of my college fees. I’m talking, they covered tuition, books, and even my cap and gown. It was a fantastic deal plus I was getting real world experience in the Finance world while educating myself.

There are always trade offs, though. I can’t look back on my college days and recant stories of me yelling in the lunch cafeteria “Food fight!!” or going to thriller parties with  my nerd boyfriend from Lambda Lambda Lambda. I was too busy mixing and mingling from 9 to 5 like Melanie Griffith once did…as a total “working girl.”

I didn’t have the dorm life, the roommate you either love or hate, the parties, the football games, but when I left college, I LEFT it behind me…no debt, no creditors, no loans, and had a degree to call my own.

The choices YOU make in life shape YOU and determining the path right for you is all in your hands.

After getting my Bachelors degree from UT Dallas, I went back in to pursue a Masters in Aesthetic Studies- which is pretty much like an interdisciplinary studies degree where you curate the curriculum of your choice in the Arts. It was a whole other world and I knew UT  Dallas was not known for its liberal arts program, or for much of anything liberal arts-related; it was a commuter school primarily for working folks and best known for its computer science and business programs. So I canceled that higher education plan out. I wasn’t willing to move forward, because I didn’t feel it  was the best route to take.

So I went alternative and threw myself into the world. I went to Mexico and mingled with published authors, returned to Dallas to work alongside magazine editors at the best city news magazine in town, then went entrepreneurial and started my own personal concierge service, then got into the blogging scene. Who knows where I’ll go next, but that’s the beauty of life…it always changes and I am more than willing to go with that kind of flow.

Many routes that I’ve taken have actually felt more like detours, leading me down paths that have brought me knowledge about life and myself that no college education, professor, or former boss ever offered me.

Experiencing my life, making unconventional choices, becoming a mother, writing my first book, heartbreaks, and trusting in the unknown and my own intuition have been my best forms of education.

I highly recommend you pay more attention to what you want to learn, what calls your interest, what attracts you, who speaks to you, and follow that pathway. This is the very concept of living that I discuss in my book ‘Convivial | A Quest for the Masterpiece Within‘. Have you gotten your hands on a copy yet?

College degrees are a great accomplishment, but they don’t solve everything and they don’t entirely bring you the knowledge you need to live a convivial life.

This is truly a different economy. You’ve got to adapt to it. Your curiosity for learning, for delving into new environments, for connecting and building relationships with others, your willingness to adopt new habits and outlooks, your desire for continual improvement, your openness to criticism, your ability to be proactive and creative, and your courage to face your fears is what will take you through life successfully.

Determine how you best learn.

Declare the world your classroom.

Take your seat up front.

Pay attention to the lessons.

Choose the best teachers…

Life, Love, and your very own heart. 


Dare to Create Conflict

Do you shy away from conflict? If yes, don’t worry…there’s no need to lower your head in shame. You’re not alone in your desire to avoid disagreement or upsetting another with your opinions. I have certainly had my moments throughout life. But I’ve got a curious question for ya.

What if your lack of speaking up and sharing how you feel, what you see, what you believe, and what you have discovered for yourself is depriving others of a more enlightened view on life, or you?

I came across this moving talk on (click~>) Dare to Disagree by Margaret Heffernan

where this former CEO of FIVE businesses speaks on the world’s need to be more daring to disagree, to speak up, to break silence, to be willing to see what no one else wants to see. She says,

“When we dare to break silence, or when we dare to see and we create conflict, we enable ourselves and the people around us to do our very best thinking.”

I’m not immune to the fear of conflict, but I am also more than willing to defend my point of view and stand up for myself more than ever now.

When it comes to men-women relationships, I feel strong. I don’t know it all, but I do know how to put myself first and this willingness to keep my personal well-being at the forefront has served me in my interactions with the opposite sex.

However, I have a weakspot for women. You see,  I shy away from conflict with women and find that so ironic. My immense love and admiration for women creates this polar opposite effect for me and when I feel let down or disappointed or offended, I haven’t been the best at saying so.

When it comes to my fellow sex, I venture to see the work of art within each woman I come across, but I’ve been naive to think I would always get that same response back. I haven’t- THAT is for sure.

Could it be because I was bullied as a young girl or that I know women can be masters at the art of rejection and disapproval (ask any guy who’s wanted a date or dance with a female or just watch Mean Girls)?

I’ve experienced jealousy, envy and discord among pacts of women, in friendships, in family, and I know that if I truly show up, I will be either shunned or loved. That scares me and I’ve been guilty of playing small to avoid the less than pleasant feeling of rejection, but that is not the point here.

The point is knowing all of that doesn’t stop me from wanting to play a big game in my life and if you harbor the same sentiments, it shouldn’t deter you either.

When you recognize what you fear, what you hold back from expressing, guess what?

That’s your opportunity to embrace that fear and run with it…FORWARD, not backward and express it, do it, share it, say it, create it, because it is a force, a feeling deep within that belongs to you and deserves to be shared with the world in order to live and truly express your convivial nature.

What are those particular situations that seem to repeat themselves and thus bring about negative feelings within you–you know the ones that play over and over in your mind after you find that you didn’t react and say what you really should’ve said? How do you respond? How can you respond differently?

It’s never easy to open up and acknowledge where your work lies, but if you want to reach the other side of that feeling,- the convivial one, the empowered existence of someone pushing past their fears every day- you need to take a good look inside and figure out where the disconnection remains. Examine why you hold back and what can you do to change it.

You are the keeper of your fears, as well as the one who has the power to take the first step toward vanquishing them.

If we can all reach the belief that we have nothing to lose by speaking up, only everything to gain, then we can be certain and feel confident about creating the discussions, the relationships, the outcomes, and the life experience we wish for ourselves and the world at large.

What fears do you want to find a better response to? In what ways do you want to share your best “thinking” with the world even if it runs the risk of creating conflict?


My Inner Critic The Morning After ‘CONVIVIAL’s Big Launch Day

You know that inner critic inside all of our heads, the one who loves to construct the walls, the glass ceilings, the roadblocks and imaginary obstacles deep within when we set out to fulfill our dreams?

That imaginary bully/mean girl rolling her eyes, crossing her arms, and plotting ways to sabotage your confidence and efforts to be happy, to find confidence within yourself and your abilities, to finish what you start…the negative voices in your mind who love to talk talk talk about everything you can’t do? Yeah, I think you know that character.

Well…just a day after successfully launching my brand new book ‘CONVIVIAL’ and exciting sales starting to come in like WOW,

Here’s what my inner critic, looking ever so small and sitting on the sidelines, is saying today:

“She did it. The bitch did it. She wrote that damn thing and it now exists for the world to read and enjoy. Shit. I need a new game plan.”

So! What dreams have you put on the back burner? What changes are you ready to see take shape in your world? It all starts from within and my book can serve as a guiding light to help you make headway.

Get your peek inside and read a few pages right now!




Behold The Unveiling: “CONVIVIAL” | The Book is Here!

The doors of The Convivial Woman’s virtual bookstore are now open! What will you find inside this ever-evolving turquoise and indigo colored storefront today?

It’s The Convivial Woman’s first digital offering to the world–a book, baby!

She’s brimming with passion and pure heart. A creative gem that has been long in the making. So, come on in! Take a look around and get a feel for what’s in store for you right HERE.


Just in case you missed the elevator above, pop on through this secret doorway that leads you to the private VIP room and get your copy of ‘Convivial” right HERE!


Ever grateful,




On the Eve of Another Victory

Hello convivial world of mine, how does this afternoon find you? I hope it finds you hopeful and thankful.

Now that America has the opportunity of a beautifully white (no pun intended) blank canvas before them, no matter who you voted for yesterday, no matter how you feel about the president, the reality that remains is that your life is your life, so what are you doing with it? How are you going to make a difference, an impact, give hope, create change in it?

Here’s how I plan to start. With the release of my new book…

CONVIVIAL | A Quest for the Masterpiece Within

which will be released on Thursday 8 November across the world-wise web and can be purchased exclusively HERE on my website.

This nearly 200-page book will be thought-provoking, a compelling read for every creative heart and mind, and without a doubt, visually appealing (just as we love all of our digital reading experiences to be). This is the first volume in a series of Convivial Lifestyle Guides that will be published worldwide – hardly a surprise, given the fact that this is the 21st century and the internet now gives us the power to reach and touch the lives of so many people unlike any other time in history.

Expect to be pleasantly surprised by intimate stories on what it means to practice the art of convivial living, down to earth guidance, and get ready for true engagement with exercises geared toward getting you out of your head and into your life.


Be part of this Convivial revolution by sharing this blog post link:

with friends and family on Twitter and Facebook! This isn’t just about my accomplishment of writing a book, but about the achievement of the many dreams I want you and so many others to have as a result of reading my book.


  • Are fond of feasting, drinking, and good company (the very definition of the word Convivial)
  • Crave to live a life according to your own design
  • Want to approach your life in a more proactive and creative way
  • Want to begin recognizing and expressing the work of art within
  • Wish to begin nurturing your creative spirit and the dreams you have put on the back burner
  • Are tired of feeling guilty about making time for yourself, for those moments of bliss and joy you truly deserve
  • Are itching for a chance or find yourself at a crossroads in life
  • Want to stop sacrificing so much of yourself, your time, and your well-being to please others and discover what it means to live a more fulfilling life. (Notice I said “please,” not serve others. We are here to serve for sure.)



SNEAK PEEK of what’s in store for you…

“You took the conventional route and got the results you were after.

But now you’re itching for a change … wondering if there’s more to life than this.

You feel like you might not be living up to your true potential.

You’re creative and maybe even entrepreneurial, but you put your “unrealistic” dreams and talents on the shelf a while back. Get ready to dust them off.

“Convivial” is the road map to your creative life.

In this guide, I share stories of my experiences and how they led to my understanding of convivial living. From these accounts – along with engaging exercises – you’ll unearth your own truths. You’ll discover a sense of what it is to live convivially.”



Be here on Thursday 8 November for the unveiling.


Much love,

Cheryl Chavarria


P.S.  ‘CONVIVIAL | A Quest for the Masterpiece Within’ will be released on 8 November in e-book format and traditional print July 2013.

NOTE: I’m in process of scheduling SPEAKING engagements and collaborating on guest posts/interviews,  so if you have an opportunity/collaboration/partnership you’d like to discuss with me, I’d love to hear from you. Please send email to:


Nothing and No One Is Ever Finished

I’ve got an audio blog that I recorded for you today. After getting some writing done at a cafe in south Austin, I was inspired to share my sentiments on the importance of recognizing when its time to let go during the creative process. Before I share the audio, I want to ask you to mark your calendar for the official

Launch Day of the Convivial Lifestyle Guide | Volume 1 | Thursday 8 November

It will be available for purchase and full download right here on the site in less than two days! I’m so excited I could shart my pants, BUT…I won’t.

Each volume in this series of guides will have its own distinct title which I’ll be announcing in my next newsletter to everyone on my private mailing list in the next few days.

Are you signed up for my private mailing list? A convivial society is just not the same without you, so be sure to join in the fun, because I cannot WAIT to share this experience with you and do not want you to miss out.

Okay, so back to what I promised…




After listening, can you think of a time you felt afraid to let go of something so dear to you and what happened when you finally did release the fear?







Convivial Moments: The World From My Lens + A Lil’ Some Some

Last night, I was going through some photos I’ve taken and it occurred to me that having them sit idle in my computer folders do nothing for anyone. Why bother taking the opportunity to capture a moment, which is my preference when it comes to photography, if I don’t share it with the world? So, today we’ll share some love. Like, literally some love I captured at the Ft. Worth Stockyards one hot May day.


Back story:

I was walking to my car ready to get out of the hot sun when I caught this alleyway located in between some shops and restaurants. I honestly just wanted to capture the lines, shadows, and colors that I saw, but it just so happened that a young couple was strolling toward me in the distance.

While I stood with camera at  eye level, adjusting the lens to ready myself, the couple kept getting closer. I’m sure they couldn’t help noticing me and the man did something totally unexpected. He stopped, turned to his girl and leaned in for the kiss. I was like, “WOW!” and began shooting.

It was an impromptu moment of mutual inspiration for me the photographer and the man who took his chance to create a convivial (and unforgettable) moment with his woman. Ya gotta love men who take initiative to conquer their world.


Advice From Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Junot Diaz

In 1995, I read a short story written by a then up-and-coming writer, Junot Diaz  in The New Yorker titled How To Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie) and I never forgot this Dominican-born wordsmith. The now Pulitzer-prize winning author, Junot Diaz came to Austin the last week in September and made a pit stop at Book People. I was lucky enough to catch him while he was in town.

I knew there’d be something powerful about being in the same room as Junot, a man who has endured this solo pursuit known as the writer’s life that I am coming to know so well. I arranged a sitter and made plans to be there–I even put on a necklace for this occasion.

At 15, Junot made me laugh and any girl can appreciate that. But more than that, his story felt close to home. It reminded me of my brother and all of the guy’s from our block in Chicago trying to get girls. He pin-pointed the vulgarity so common among teenage guys perfectly. There’s no denying he puts the time into his craft and continues to share the best stories.

This is the power of words and true art. Once it reaches you, I mean, truly sets off emotion in you, then its the real deal and a moment to remember.

Now he’s published a third book called This Is How You Lose Her. It was  interesting to see the diverse crowd gathered to hear him speak and read that night. He’s funny, humble, and his language is raw. He is who he is.

I had yet another full circle experience when I got the chance to ask Junot the question, “Who supports you?”

I had to ask, because the man’s been on his own creative quest for at least 20 years and I know staying in the game that long is no easy feat. When you make the choice to heed the call of the creator in you, to share what you’ve got deep inside of you with the world, because you are compelled to do so, it can be a very lonely pursuit. And for that reason, you need people in your corner to keep the fire lit under you. He let us know that two women were at the heart of his writing. “They vett all my shit,” he said.

Want to hear Junot’s full response on the need for supportive networks in the pursuit of your creative calling? LISTEN HERE

Some of my favorite quotes from the audio clip below:

“To stay in this game, you need your ovaries well placed.”

“You’ve gotta have the heart.”

“You’ve gotta believe this stuff matters.”

What artists inspire you and why? Share your favorites in the comments below and let me know if anything in today’s blog or the audio clip speaks directly to your experience.  



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