Waking of the Canoes


Spring has arrived and tomorrow we will be re-introducing the Blue Heron canoe to the water. Many Tribes around the PNW are doing the same.

Some Tribes believe that after canoe pulling season, canoes are to be put away to rest for the winter; others say, a canoe never sleeps. Either way, come spring there is a Waking of the Canoe ceremony.  We gather together with our canoes and ask the Creator to bless the vessel and give us safe travels and a good journey.

As I stated before, the waters can be dangerous and adequate preparation involves not just the physical component, but the spiritual as well. One cannot underestimate the power and might of the sea. Our Ancestors knew that very well.

Will you please support my campaign?



My Journey to Bella Bella, B.C.

Dear friends,

I’ve been presented with the opportunity to participate in the 2014 Tribal Canoe Journey to Bella Bella. A once in a lifetime opportunity, this journey will cover 550+ miles crossing the waters of the Pacific to the Heiltsuk Nation in the Central Coast region of British Columbia, Canada.

More than 50 Tribes from as far north as Alaska and as far south as Oregon will be participating in this grand event — all culminating in a week long Potlach where we will share our songs, dances, and build new and lasting friendships.

Being on the water has always been an important part of my life — ultimate peace. Last year, after traveling down the Columbia river on the Chinook Canoe Journey, I realized that I’d been neglecting the very thing that gives me deep fulfillment far too long.

I’ve come to understand that a canoe is not simply an object of transport, rather it is a vessel for healing, empowerment, self-determination, youth and community development. For the youth in particular, canoe journey is a metaphor for our journey through life — providing them with the skills needed to live life to their fullest potential away from alcohol and drugs.

So here’s where I need your help:

Our journey will begin on June 22, departing from the Lummi Nation in WA.

This will not be an easy journey. Paddling for 8-13 hours a day is exhausting and painful both physically and mentally. We rely on the lead puller and skipper to guide us through, but every single person in the canoe plays a crucial role. There are dangers both at sea and on land. The cold temperatures, water, and strong winds are a perfect conditions for hypothermia. In addition, we will paddle through and camp in the Great Bear Rainforest — the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth and  home to grizzly bears.

Participating in Tribal Canoe Journey will keep me focused on the things I’m most passionate about: working with youth, cross-cultural dialogue, music, adventure, and storytelling.

All money raised will go towards:
1. Waterproof cameras: video and still, batteries, SD cards
2. Waterproof clothing and gear
3. Video software

4. Fees related to journey: ferries, support boats (gasoline),
food, ground crew, travel insurance

Simply put, none of this is possible without your support. I’m reaching out to friends, family, and community. Any donation, big or small is GREATLY appreciated and I will certainly pay it forward ten-fold. If you can help, please click the link below!




New Contributing Blogger for the Huffington Post!

Hey everyone,

So honored and grateful to all of you who read my blogs. I truly appreciate it. I’m happy to say that I’m now a Contributing Blogger for the Huffington Post! I’ll be editing old blog posts and writing new ones. I hope you’ll follow me there as well!



Conquering That Which Took Me Down.


As many of you know, 2012 was off to a bad start after embarking on a solo hike in northern Washington that landed me in the emergency room with a broken ankle.

In case you missed it, here’s the story: To Hike Alone.

A Pacific Northwest Trail and the area where “The Cascades Touch The Sea”, Blanchard Mountain, is a 7 mile hike to gorgeous views of the San Juan Islands and Samish Bay. With a 2000 ft. elevation gain and plenty of switchbacks, it’s a considerable climb to the top. It’s also a training point for those wanting to summit Mt. Rainier.

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Determined to conquer this bastard of a mountain and overcome the fear of falling again, I decided to return exactly one year after my accident.

I’ve hiked much tougher terrain in my years, but I wasn’t hiking Blanchard Mountain just for the sake of hiking. Like last year, I was looking to challenge myself both physically and emotionally. Taking a little more precaution this time, I set out to find some hiking support. Initially it was a team of four women, but in the end, it was just me and my great friend, Sarah.

So in 28 degree weather packed with snow in various places, we hiked to the top in just under 4 hours. While the trail is pretty clear and easy at first, it changes quickly and before you know it, you’re climbing over tree stumps and crawling over slippery rocks and boulders. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t scared, but I did it anyway. While there are other trails that finger off of Blanchard Mountain waiting for me to explore, at this time in my life, having one successful hike was monumental.

Last year’s adventure was a bust, but not this year. I conquered that which took me down.


As I stated earlier, I was seeking a physical and emotional challenge. Physically, I was testing my stamina and strength. Emotionally, I was eliminating past negativity, hurts, and mistakes.

Nothing makes me happier or brings me greater peace than being in the outdoors — It’s God’s Country. I know 2013 is THE year of new beginnings filled with love, positivity, renewal, and awesome adventures!


~ Carlita


How Education Isn’t Preparing Students For The 21st Century.

A month ago, I was invited to write a blog post for One World Youth Project, an organization based in Washington D.C. linking schools around the world to build generations of discerning, empathetic, and empowered global citizens. Sadly, OWYP suffered budget cuts resulting in the loss of much of the staff and my blog was not published. Many people contributed to it and I would like to share it here.


I’m  honored to be serving as guest blogger for One World Youth Project. The topic I’m writing about is controversial and remains at the forefront of the educational debate. Let me just state right now that I like to keep it real. There’s no point in beating around the bush when it comes to important topics such as education. So here we go…

How Education Isn’t Preparing Students For The 21st Century.

As an educator with fifteen years experience, I can’t even begin to write the myriad of ways our current education system is failing our youth, but in an effort to keep it short, I decided to take a poll among my colleagues and evaluate the consensus.

Here’s what they said.

“Test prep is short term retention of facts. Regurgitation of facts can’t solve problems. Problem solving requires creating new pathways to move forward.” Brian Harris, Musician – Portland, OR.

With an emphasis on higher test scores and No Child Left Behind, we’ve ironically left so many children behind with their inability to do one thing…think critically. Much of our youth is unable to think outside the box or as my colleague stated above, “create new pathways to move forward.” This is a huge challenge in today’s younger generation. We see it in the classroom, in the job industry, and in everyday life. They struggle to apply skills in new ways, imagine possbilities, or take risks. Their social and academic growth is stunted.

“Students don’t know how to collaborate or live and thrive as a community.” Nathan Olsen, Musician/Writing Specialist at Heritage School – Salem, OR.

Tests are centered on individual performance and so are many school projects. They focus on the me, myself, and I — leaving kids to fend for themselves. It’s no wonder we don’t know how to live and thrive as community. We can’t think like one. I’m all about independent thinking and empowering our children to be strong individuals, but somewhere along the line we’ve created a chasm within our community. This is one of the reasons cross-cultural dialogue is crucial because developing nations understand the concept of community. Whether out of oppression, necessity, or the simple fact that we’re all in this together, they’ve figured it out.

“There is no love of learning.” Lynn DeMarco, Program Coordinator at Low Income Housing – Seattle, WA

A point so true, yet sad because the kids who have no desire to learn likely did at one point, but once the system decided they weren’t learning fast enough or getting the adequate test scores, it killed off any ounce of desire left. I can’t tell you how many students cross my path every year believing they’re stupid thinking they’re done with learning. Seriously, they resign themselves to the belief that they’ll never be as smart as their peers. To them it’s embarrassing enough being alienated in some remedial learning class, so why try?

Learning becomes a competition rather than a yearning.

This is where creativity in the public schools plays an important role. You see, if creativity wasn’t being stifled to the point of extinction, a child might learn to “create” and foster habits of mind that embrace individual strengths and encourage collaborative learning. The fact is, there will always be someone smarter than you. Every single person develops at a different rate and with different gifts, talents, and skill sets. This isn’t a thing of good, bad, or better — we’re meant to be different and we should celebrate that. Furthermore, fostering creativity fosters a love of learning.

“Lack of courageous conversations about racism and white privilege.” Carla Moreno, Educator/Social Media Consultant/Vocal Coach – Salem, OR

Let’s face it, racism still exists. In my opinion we’ve mastered the art of political correctness at best — and that isn’t a good thing either. Where are the conversations about white privilege and institutional racism? Take a look at the disparity in educational and financial resources for people of color and lower income. Consider the conditions of many of our public schools. How about district rules that require kids to travel halfway across the city to attend school because they didn’t make the list to their neighborhood school. I once had a student who took a bus, train, and taxi to attend school. At the end of the day, he spent about 2.5 hours traveling time. By the time he made it to my afternoon music class, he was stressed, angry, and done.

The list goes on and on, these concerns and others aren’t new in the education community. While blogging forums, articles, education journals, and professional development workshops bring these concerns to light, it’s not enough. It’s so important to realize how all this affects our students, teachers, administrators, community, and society as a whole. In all honesty, we can’t throw the blame solely on the education system, it’s our responsibility as global citizens to prepare the next generation for the 21st century.

Social Media For Musicians: Social Media Etiquette


Social media etiquette is something that slips many people’s minds. Why this is so, I’m not sure, but if you’re trying to expand your online presence for your band, music, or business; it’s important to remember some basic manners. Knowing this may eliminate some misunderstandings and misconceptions about social media, its purpose, use, and effectiveness.

While many of the things listed below seem common sense, somewhere in the pursuit of online freedom of speech, we’ve lost respect and a sense of direction on how to relate with one another. As a result, we harbor negative feelings about social media in general and often misuse a tool that was meant for good.

Social Media Does Not Replace Real Life Relationships.
Although the rise of the internet has changed the way we communicate today, it was never meant to replace real life interactions.

Social media is no different.

In this landscape, people gather together online to share interests and/or activities. Think of it as an online community where each person is represented by their unique profiles, bios, photos, etc. Interaction is still very present and important, or at least should be. Get to know your audience.

Respond For Goodness Sakes!
I’m always amazed at how lax some people can get on this. Gosh, some people just downright forego responding altogether.

This goes back to the first point above: social media does not replace real life relationships!

If you’re in a business and have clients and fans, why in the world would you ignore them? I’m pretty sure this isn’t something you practice in your real-life business affairs. If you fail to respond in a timely manner, you lose out. It’s as simple as that. Not only do you lose out on making new fans and clients, but you jeopardize your credibility and trustworthiness.

Manners Please…
I stand amazed at the liberty some people take in berating others, insulting them, and just being plain rude.

I mean seriously, what do you think you’ll get out of this?

I believe manners are something you learned in kindergarten and it applies to all life situations, people. No one wants an ass for a friend.

Don’t get me wrong, sharing our opinions is not a bad thing, but some people do it with a sense of entitlement, jumping in on a conversation not having built a relationship with anyone and with no regard to people’s feelings. Imagine a stranger on the street throwing insults at you without rhyme or reason and without even knowing who you are.

Manners pave the way to relationships and demonstrates to your fans that you respect and value what they have to say. Most importantly manners, or lack of them, say a lot about you. You’ll make a bigger impact after you’ve spent time letting people get to know you.

By the way if someone posts or tweets a negative comment to you, respond accordingly and respectfully. Use it as an opportunity to reassess your business tactic — of course you can’t please everybody, so just take it with a grain of salt.

Remember The “Social” In Social Media
If all you’re going to do is push your agenda and broadcast your tour dates or sell your music and nothing more then once again, you lose out.

First of all, it’s a pretty selfish thing to seek out people for the sole purpose of promoting your stuff. Is that how you make friends in your everyday life? I don’t think so.

Your fans love your music, but they also want to know what makes you tick. What else do you like to do besides make music? Have a sense of humor and social-ize. See what I did there? 😉

Share things that inspire you, say something new, share someone else’s success story, business, or music. Don’t inundate your fans with your entire album. Create teasers or pick a favorite single and tell a little bit about it. What inspired you to write that song? Ask your fans what songs they’d like to hear from you? Get them to talk about their favorite songs from other artists.

Time Is Of Essence
In the last 5 years, I’ve moved halfway across the country to various cities and states. I’ve done it all by myself too. Naturally, making new friends is hard and building lasting relationships is even harder.

It takes time.

And so in the world of social media, it takes time to build a lasting relationship with your clients and fans. It’s easy to get frustrated and in the land of instant everything, we expect to see results…NOW!

That’s not going to happen and you might as well deal with that fact. This is why it’s important to devote time to really learning the social media landscape, be creative in your posts, listen more, speak less, and engage.

What social media rules do you abide by? I’d love to hear your thoughts.