Camila McConaughey: Empowerment to Do What We’ve Never Done Before - Jen Hatmaker

Camila McConaughey: Empowerment to Do What We’ve Never Done Before

Episode 05

Fierce women are all around us—we are them, we raise them, we’ve been mentored by them. But lifestyle expert and entrepreneur Camila McConaughey takes that to a new level by cultivating a loving, open, supportive community called Women of Today. The ultimate example of a fierce woman, Camila moved independently from Brazil to the U.S. at only fifteen, determined to take the world by storm. After stumbling into modeling, Camila hustled, and she hustled hard. She lived her life to the very fullest, experiencing all she could, because those life moments are things that can never be taken away. She clung to faith to keep the discouragement at bay when things got hard, and she prayed diligently for God to reveal her bigger mission: “You take me where I’m supposed to go.” She’s a proponent of the spirit of trying, the experience of living, and innovating in every way possible, and she’s on the show to share what magic can happen when we’re comfortable and confident enough in our own skin that we can turn our efforts to the other women around us who need to be lifted. 

Episode Transcript

Camila: The biggest lie I stopped believing about myself? That I wasn’t capable of doing things that I’ve never done before. 

Jen: Welcome to the Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire series on the For the Love Podcast. Today, we talk with lifestyle expert Camila McConaughey about unlocking our bodies and finding freedom through good food and movement. 

Hey everybody. It’s Jen Hatmaker here, your host of the For the Love Podcast. Welcome to the show. I am so delighted to have you today. 

This is a series we’re in called For the Love of Fierce, Free and Full of Fire. We’ve built this podcast series around different elements of the book’s content, which should seem pretty clear from the title. I am so excited and interested in the community of women who are free, who are absolutely liberated in their own lives, who have ownership of their gifts, of their talents, of their wants, and needs and convictions and beliefs, and they are exactly the same on the outside as who they are in the inside. It’s just an exciting vision. These are the women that, in my experience, are bringing the world back to life in every possible way. These are the ones. These are the ones who are living true. These are the ones who are flourishing, and thus their people are flourishing, their relationships are, their careers. It’s just, this is the most important work I’ve ever put my hand to.

In this series, I’m so excited to bring you the next guest. I think she’s going to be new to some of you, and I am excited about that because I think you’re going to experience her in the same way that I did as I first started digging into her work, and what it is she does, because she is the epitome of the book’s content, to be honest with you. Her name is Camila McConaughey. 

Camila McConaughey as in Matthew’s amazing wife, Camila McConaughey. She is an incredible mom, a dedicated mom. She’s a lifestyle expert, and she is a really gutsy entrepreneur. She’s an innovator and an interesting thinker and a creator. She was actually born and raised in Brazil. Her dad’s a farmer to this day—we’re going to talk about that—which is where she, of course, originally developed this strong connection to food and fresh local ingredients, which is a big part of her work too.

I asked her about—you’ll hear this in the interview—how she moved to the U.S. at fifteen, independently. Fifteen, cleaning houses, working two jobs, not a word of English. I mean, she was scrappy and gutsy and absolutely full of grit. She built everything that she has from the ground up. I loved talking to her about this today. You’re going to love her show. 

Now, she’s just established herself as this incredible lifestyle expert. She’s built this outstanding community called Women of Today. It’s my favorite thing that she does, which we’ll talk about at length. She’s been everywhere talking about it, The Today Show, Rachel Ray, The Chew, The Talk, everything. It’s her heart behind it that I love the most.

She loves women. She grew up in a culture of collaboration where women share, where they are open, where they are teammates, where they link arms and build community together. As she’s saying this, you guys, I am like, “Yes, yes. That’s what I think, too. That’s how I believe, too. That’s my value, too.” I mean, I so connect with her vision for women, with her entrepreneurial spirit, with her incredible commitment to serving. You’ll hear her talk about that, but she’s just like a Renaissance woman, basically unstoppable.

I’m so happy to meet her and I’m so happy to introduce her to you if you’re new to her. Please enjoy my conversation with the very vibrant Camila McConaughey. 

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Jen: All right. What a delight to meet you, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being on today.

Camila: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Jen: So Camila, I have told my listeners a little bit about you, but honestly, it’s just like I’ve barely touched the surface of who you are. I love your space. I love what you’re doing. I love how you’re leading. I love what you care about. I think your story is so incredible. Just so inspirational, so interesting is your life, your tenacity. 

I wonder if you would mind just talking a little bit about your stories from the beginning. Just tell my listeners a little bit about what it was like for you when you were a kid in Brazil. It’s such—obviously—a formative part of who you are. If you can tell us a little bit about your parents, who sound incredible and special, and what it was like growing up up to the point where you came to America.

Camila: Yes, absolutely. It’s a long story, I’ll try to make it short. Well, I was born and raised in Brazil in Belo Horizonte, which is a big city in Brazil, but my whole family comes from a small town. My mom is from a small town, then my dad is from an even smaller town. My whole father’s side of the family, they’re all farmers. My dad’s still farming today, he lives on a farm. That’s the life they live. It’s a beautiful thing, actually, how they go about it down there. 

At age fifteen, I had family here in the United States. In Brazil, it’s like the quinceañera, you know…

Jen: Yeah, of course.

Camila: …when you’re fifteen, that’s our sweet sixteen kind of thing. You choose a big party or you choose a trip. Always being the adventurous one, I always took trips. I mean, I used to take trips by myself at age, I don’t know, age fourteen, fifteen. As a parent now, I don’t even know how my parents did that. But I’m grateful that they trusted me and gave me that freedom. 

So with my adventurous spirit, I wanted to do a trip, and my mom was coming to the United States to visit my aunt, and they gave me a ticket to come with her and to help out the family. We had a situation with the family happening over here. We came over to help, and that was my gift.

But I got on a plane, and I don’t know what it was, but I looked at my mom and I told her, I said, “I don’t think I’m coming back.” My mom just looked at me without a blink and she said, “I know you’re not.”

Jen: Wow. Did she really? Crazy.

Camila: Yeah, she said that. She said, “I know you’re not.” We came to visit, we stayed with my aunt and my uncle at the time. Then my aunt, she used to be a model in Brazil, she dressed me up one day that I was here. We were just supposed to be here for two weeks. She dressed me up one day. I was a very tomboyish, like, very tomboy growing up. She put me in this tight gold dress and high heels, I could barely walk on them, and she took me to modeling agencies. And one of the agencies took me in at the time.

Jen: And you’re fifteen.

Camila: I was fifteen. Yes. 

Jen: Gosh, wow.

Camila: It was a whole process to start working as a model. I couldn’t start modeling for quite some time, for a few years. I come from a middle class family. Growing up in Brazil, we had people that worked at our house that took care of everything kind of thing, but it wasn’t a situation where I could call my dad and be like, every month, “Pay the bills.” So I had to figure out what to do.

Jen: You hustled.

Camila: I hustled, I sure hustled. I grew up in an environment where my dad always said two things very early on. He would say to me, “You need to know how to take care of a house, because it doesn’t matter if you’re the queen. If the staff doesn’t show up, what are you going to do?”

Jen: That’s good.

Camila: Yeah, and it serves me really well in this self-quarantine time that we’re having right now.

Jen: No doubt! No doubt.

Camila: The second thing that he used to always tell me was, “If you marry a man for his money, you are a high-class prostitute.”

Jen: Oh yeah, I saw you say that.

Camila: I was like, “Whoa.” To hear your father say those words early on, like, prostitute? What do you mean? That was branded very early on. 

So one thing I knew how to do was how to take care of a house, so I went and worked as a housekeeper because I didn’t have a word of English. All I spoke was, “Hi, how are you? How much is this?” And, “Sorry, I don’t speak English.”

Jen: Yeah.

Camila: But it was definitely a big change. I left everything I knew and everybody I knew. But for whatever reason, it felt like it was something, that was the place that I needed to be. It wasn’t like we were having any crisis of like, “Oh, I need to escape the country,” or anything like that. It was just, it felt like this was the place that I needed to be. I don’t know why, but I just knew that that was what I needed to do. 

Jen: I actually love that part of your story, because we know you where you’re at now. We see what you have built, what you have created. We see you on the other side of success. We see you with your beautiful family. But I left thinking about you fifteen, sixteen, working two jobs, burning the midnight oil, going to class on the weekends—and way before any of that, way before you had an inch of success. 

I am so curious, if you can pinpoint what it was either in you, or what it was you were thinking, or what your parents had instilled in you that allowed you to stay so focused on hope, on where you thought you were going, on what your dreams and aspirations were in that moment. Because that had to have felt not just exhausting, but probably discouraging. I wonder what it was in you that allowed you to keep going right there at that time and at that age?

Camila: For me, I think faith was a big thing, because I always wanted to do better. I knew deep inside that I had a bigger mission, I just didn’t know what it was. And I trusted that with time, as long as I did the right thing, it would be revealed to me what it was, right? 

And don’t take me wrong, I’m still working on it. I feel like the mission keeps changing, right? Over the years it keeps changing. But I had the times where—because I went from cleaning houses, to working in restaurants, to then modeling, moving to New York, then I’m living all over the world—nothing was working. 

I had two fundamental moments for me. It was one of those situations that’s like, Oh. I was in Brazil, it was my first time going back to Brazil after four years or five years without seeing my dad. I went back and everything is done, I have the papers, everything’s approved, I’m just going to get my passport stamped. I get there and they say, “Oh, it’s all this…” Anyway, it was these bigger problems that I had no idea were happening that the lawyer did wrong. So it was one of the situations where it was nothing I could do over there in Brazil. And I remember making a phone call to a different lawyer, on the street, on the payphone in Brazil outside the consulate. I got off the phone with him, and he was like, “There is not much we can do for you there.”

I remember getting off the phone, hanging up the phone. Right there at that pay phone I just prayed, and I said it out loud. I said, “God, if you have a bigger mission for me, you get me back there. And I will stay focused, and I will fight for whatever it is, and I’ll keep trying my best to do the right thing. But you take me there, you get me the solution, because it’s out of my hands. If that’s not it, then keep me here, and let me go back to being a kid, let me go back to being a teenager.” I prayed really hard. I cried and I just had a relief feeling, and I walked back inside the consulate and this lady came out and she helped me figure it out. We got all the information. Somehow everything worked out.

Jen: Wow, that very minute.

Camila: I was the last person out of the consulate, after they closed I was inside, and I walked out of there at nighttime with my passport stamped.

Jen: It’s incredible.

Camila: Ready to come. 

Aside from Jen:

Quick break for a read aloud, a little storytime from me, because I think what Camila was just talking about is so real. Like, when you have this dream, this vision for your life in your head, and you are just coming up against like obstacle after obstacle after obstacle, it is easy to want to throw in the towel at that moment. When you’re fifteen, living in a country where you don’t speak the language, cleaning houses, and just kind of scraping to get by, right? Like, that is where discouragement lurks.

And it makes me think about the people that we have in our lives who are either going to cheer us on in that moment, not just when we’re succeeding. It’s easy to have cheerleaders then. I mean, back then at that spot where it’s not working yet, where there is no success to be seen yet, that’s a good time to evaluate the people in our life, because they’re more or less going to react in two ways. They’re either for you, or they’re going to pile onto the discouragement. And honestly, in my experience, their reaction usually depends on two things. Are they actually in the arena? Or are they on the sidelines? And those generally arc together. And so I wrote about this in Fierce, Free and Full of Fire. Here is what I wrote. Here’s a little read aloud from it:

“When folks are running their own race, they are thrilled to see other runners lace up their shoes. It’s the ones in the camp chairs on the sidelines with a Natty Light booing the new runners and hoping you’ll get disqualified. How much power do you want to hand over to those guys? While it is good to be prepared for any number of reactions, decide in advance that you are not asking for permission. Now, you may appropriately be open to feedback, of course, but not dismissal. This is a huge part of becoming an integrated woman. You have agency over your own life, and it’s not up for grabs.”

Okay, it’s not. It’s not up for grabs. It’s true, you guys: you own your own life. You own it. No one else does. Okay? All right. Let’s get back to Camila.

Camila: The other one was when I was in New York working as a model, and nothing was working. I went through a cold stage, nothing was working, and I was really tired of swimming, swimming and dying right before you get to the beach. My family was having problems. By then I had already moved my mom and my father and my brother. Slowly, everybody moved to the United States. There were some problems going on over there. It was just a crazy time, and I decided to leave New York and come to stay with my family in Los Angeles to help out with the situation.

I remember getting on the plane one more time, just crying and going, “I’m tired. I can’t keep doing this.” I remember praying and saying, “You take me where I’m supposed to go.” 

And sure enough—I used to say that I would never leave New York ever. I was going to marry somebody in New York. At the time, I only dated dark-skinned men. It was like, That’s it. I was in the hip-hop kind of thing. I landed in LA, and as soon as I landed, I had three voice messages about jobs, which LA was not a place that had a strong market for modeling. I just started working, and it kept me here in LA, and I was able to help my family. In that time that I was here, I ended up staying way longer than I was supposed to. At that time, that’s when I met Matthew, my husband now.

Jen: It just is what it was supposed to be all along.

Camila: Yeah.

Jen: How did you guys meet?

Camila: We met at a bar.

Jen: That old story.

Camila: We met at a bar on Sunset Boulevard. It’s a really cool story, but I’m going to tell you that I butcher the story pretty badly. My husband is the best one to tell the story. I have been told that he—gosh, oh my goodness, what is his name? The guy with the radio, he’s got curly hair, Howard Stern.

Jen: Oh, Howard Stern. Sure.

Camila: I’ve been told that Matthew gives a very good…

Jen: Telling of it?

Camila: Yes. I haven’t heard it, but it might be worth checking out, because I’ll do a horrible job telling this.

Jen: Oh my goodness. Okay, we’ll link to that so we can hear his version of it. My kids always tell me—because I’m the storyteller in the family—they’re like, “Mom, when you tell the stories, it’s like ninety percent how it really went and ten percent embellishment.” I’m like, “Well, so what? That’s my prerogative. If that’s how I want to tell it, that’s how I want to tell it.”

Camila: And you’re like, “But it’s good, right?”

Jen: It’s good. People like it. It’s more fun. I’m like, “Our lives are ninety percent interesting and ten percent boring, and so we’re going to up that ten percent.” 

One thing that I really love about your work is you’ve got this entrepreneurial fire in your belly, which is, you just are a creator and an innovator, and you keep making things up. Your handbag business with your mom, which she still runs right? Your mom still runs it this minute?

Camila: Yeah. She’s still doing it.

Jen: Yes. Your own line of organic food for babies and kids. You’re a business creator. When did you start cultivating that spirit of creation, of innovation, of business? Is that something you saw in your future? Did that come along the way? Did you pick that up? Because then you went on, as you mentioned, to travel the whole world. You’ve been everywhere. You’ve lived everywhere. Where did that inspiration come into your life?

Camila: Yeah. Look, I grow up, my mom, she’s a creative person, she can do anything. She has many different jobs in the arena of fashion. And I mean, she used to work for all the major companies in Brazil designing, but she can also do interior designing, she can do anything, the woman. So I grew up around that, but I think that from a very early age, again at fifteen, leaving everything, going to a different country, having to find solutions daily for things, then when I started working as a model, I lived in Israel and Greece and France, Italy, whatever—you name it, I lived all over the place. Again, going to this place, not knowing the language, all they gave to us would be like, “Here’s a map, and he has 100 bucks. You have to make it last for a week to survive.”

I think that spirit of trying, you always have to find solutions and make things the best scenario possible. I think that that spirit just got branded on me just because that’s how I was living. Again, I always want to do things better and do things right. It doesn’t mean I always succeed at it, but I really do try to do it that way. I think that a lot of those things come with the business, with the food. I was like, “Okay, we need a solution for this. This is not how people are supposed to do it.” With the handbags, it was more of a fun thing, but it was more a solution actually for my mom, because I was seeing my mom not being happy. We’re like, “Let’s find a solution. Let’s build this.” We did it for over ten years. We did a QVC, we had a whole thing going.

I think that it was really how I was raised, watching my mom being creative, and then combined with having all my adventures around the world and having to figure out solutions. So I’m very solution-oriented, and also I don’t get fazed by things that much. It annoys the crap out of my mother. My mother’s always like, “Can’t you stress out?” And I’m like, “Why? The real drama is going to come.” So I think that combining those things, I think that’s where it comes from, I believe.

Jen: I love that. I love when innovators are not super risk-averse and not overly connected to a really specific outcome, but rather like, “Let’s put our hand to this. Let’s start building it. Let’s see what happens. It’s going to work. Part of it’s going to work, part of it’s not, we’ll adjust as we go.” To me, those are the greatest people to work with, because there’s not a preconceived outcome that you’re just white knuckling to death until you get to it, but rather you let it grow and let it be what it’s going to become.

Which brings me to this: I really want to talk about Women of Today, this incredible community you have built. Really, really amazing. Women have been pitted as one another’s competitors for so long, and so I am very interested in communities where connection is valued and women are sharing and there’s so much give and take and mutual respect and that’s what you’ve created, and I feel your passion for it through your space. Can you talk a little bit about Women of Today, how that began, and why that community means so much to you?

Camila: Yeah, absolutely. Look, I think that the biggest difference that we are doing at Women of Today is that we’re not talking to you—we’re talking with you. The conversation does exist, and it’s not about, “Oh, let me find out what’s eccentric. Let me create press bites and what’s controversial,” or, “Let me sell you a bunch of stuff,” that’s not it. It’s really about creating this community that helps each other out, that learns from each other. I come from a culture that’s very open. The conversations are very open when you need something, when you’re looking for something. Living all over the world, what I’ve learned is that when I would be in other countries, or even in the United States in the South, I would experience that openness of like, “Hey, I need help with this. Where do I get that? This happened to my family or my child has this.” Or, “Hey, I need a recipe for this. Hey, my hair is falling out. What do I do?”

Jen: Totally.

Camila: Whatever.

Jen: Whatever the thing is. Yeah.

Camila: The conversations are more open, and if the person didn’t have the answer, she’ll be like, “Well I don’t have the answer, but I know somebody may have it. Let me connect you guys and you guys can have that conversation.” That chain is to be more open, to where the majority of the places in the United States that I would go into, it would be very closed up. You had your group of friends and the conversation won’t go outside of that. 

So Women of Today started just in those spaces. It’s funny because people still ask me, “What’s the business plan? What is the thing?” I was like, “Well, there is no business plan, because it’s a community base. The community’s going to tell us what they’re looking for next.” 

It’s an exchange of things where we create things, we share things that were sent to us. People send us questions and they want to learn about this, they want to learn about that then we put it all together. We also do events, the events have been a major part of it now. Again, it’s a very different format of event. It’s not an event that you go to, and you sit in the audience, and you just listen and you don’t have a voice. It’s an event where everybody gets a voice. So it’s very—again, it’s all community-based, everybody should have a voice. Everybody should be able to weigh in and put their opinion and their feedback and their knowledge. Those have been extremely special. The amount of things that have come out of those events or stories are unbelievable.

And we do a lot of giveaways. I’m a big believer in experience. I’m a big believer. It’s one thing I told my dad very early on when I was living in Italy, and I wasn’t making much money, and my dad was very worried about me. He was like, “What are you doing? You need to come back home. You’re not making money, blah, blah, blah.” 

I said, “You know what, Dad? I’m not making money, but the life experiences I’m gaining by all these places I’m living, and people I’m meeting, and the things I’m learning,” I said, “Nobody can take that away from me.” I’m a big believer that if you provide experiences for people and they’re meaningful, that memory or whatever that emotional connection they had, nobody can take that away. We do a lot of that with our giveaways.

Jen: And it’s so interesting because you found yourself in that line of work in some of those countries who very deeply—just like Brazil—value community, value connection, this sort of open, big wide table type of community, which has obviously served you well. 

If you had to say, “This is one thing inside the Women of Today community that has surprised me the most, or been the most wonderful result, or the thing that makes the whole community really hum along best,” [what would it be]?

Camila: Oh my gosh, there are so many examples. I’ll try to pick a couple here for you. A lot of the giveaways that we do, or a lot of activations we do, we always have a call to action. The call to action is not, “Click here and follow.” It’s like, “You need to donate to a charity, to a family that doesn’t have food right now. It doesn’t matter what the amount is, it could be a dollar, it could be five dollars, but you need to donate.” And it’s amazing, when we do those things, how much activity happens on donations and how much we’re able to help within a matter of, like, just five days. You know what I mean? The last one we did was five days and we helped over 700 families.

It’s like last minute, “Let’s do it.” Five days, boom. But the amount of activity that happens when we call to action to help others, it’s really impressive within the community of Women of Today. 

We do a special Mother’s Day giveaway every year, and it’s a big experience. It’s usually a trip, it’s a spa thing and all that stuff. But we tell people, “In order to qualify, you need to nominate somebody that is a mother figure or something,” but they have to write it down for us. They have to write a letter explaining why that person deserves it. And we sit in the office, we read all of it, we all cry all day or multiple days, whatever it is. But what that has created is that after the first year we did, I was like, “Okay, well, all these beautiful letters…” And we only have a certain amount of winners.

I sent an email back to everybody and I said, “Listen, you didn’t win, but you need to share this letter with the person that you nominated. You need to share with them.” That has created such a ripple effect in the community of reconnecting, of joy. Some people were going to a lot of hard, hard, hardships. It’s crazy. But how they reconnected, how they’re helping each other and all of that, those stories like that. Then from the events, you come out of the events, you have people that start doing business together, consulting. It’s so many stories, but I think it always amazes me the connection and how we are able to connect with people on a genuine level.

Jen: That’s so great.

Camila: Like in these times now, we’ve been doing this live feed five days a week on my personal Instagram, where we do a session five days a week at 11:45 Central where we do mobility works, so stretching, breathing, some exercise, but nothing crazy because we don’t want anybody to get hurt right now. Just last week we did a Zoom call with fifty of some of those folks. At the end of the call, we did a laughing meditation, everybody’s laughing, and at the end everybody’s like, “Wow. I feel part of a community.” Everybody had a voice and got to speak, and at the end they’re all like, “We all need to stay connected,” and they’re going to interact with each other from that Zoom call, you know what I mean?

Jen: Yeah, totally.

Camila: Some people were at home by themselves, very lonely, and going through a hard time. Little things like that, it makes a world of difference to people.

Jen: It sure does. I love that you used those as examples, because that’s exactly my experience with women is that there are a lot of really destructive narratives in our world, very baked into patriarchy, that have long since just told women that we are each other’s enemies or that women cannot be trusted, or that we have to fight for our few seats at the table, that women are our competitors. But my experience with women—and I’ve led them for years—is exactly like yours. What I see is that when women come together, it is powerful beyond measure. It is beautiful. There’s so much reconciliation inside of it, there is collaboration, there’s so much good to be had, so much beauty, so many things that are true and wonderful. Anytime we can provide places for women to come together like you have with Women of Today, I think it’s some of the most powerful work we can do on earth right now, and just the beginning of so many good things, the beginning of so much healing. 

Camila: Let me add something to it though. Another thing that’s different about Women of Today, too, is that we’re inclusive. We have men as well, because we all know that this is not about excluding, this is about including, and it’s about community and humanity. If we can include everybody and make everybody a part of it, we all know that having great men and great women from all ages, again, it’s about community. I’m not trying to divide it. It is called Women of Today, but it encompasses everybody. It really does.

Jen: Totally. I always have these rogue male readers and followers, and they’ll come to live events, and I love them so much. In fact, I’m getting ready to release a book, and I have a launch team and it’s like, it’s fifteen or sixteen hundred women and one man. His name is John. Shout out to John. We all just love him. We circle around him like a bunch of hens, just constantly tending to John, making sure John is welcome in the community, and he’s one of the greatest members of the whole squad. 

Camila: That’s awesome.

Jen: And so I couldn’t possibly agree more.

One thing that you really serve your community with is something that you and I both share, which is a love of food, and cooking, and life around the table. I mean, of course, as you mentioned, your dad’s a farmer, so food has always mattered to you. That’s always been an important part of your family and of your life. I’d love to hear you talk a little bit about food, what it means, maybe just in your family and then maybe greater in the community. Then since we’re all just at home right now, like home, home, home, home, home, home, home, cooking, cooking, cooking, cooking—what’s something you’re making right now that the rest of us should try at home?

Camila: Oh my gosh. I am doing a lot of recipes that will last us a long time and with a lot of things from the pantry. Or how we keep the produce lasting longer. But being from Brazil, I am doing a lot of beans. I actually just posted two recipes on my Instagram. One is beans. I made the beans with ribs and sausage…

Jen: Yummy.

Camila: …black beans. It’s really good. You can make a big batch of it, and you eat some, and then it freezes great, and the whole family loves it. It’s easy. It is so, so, so easy to make. Then I also posted a recipe of a coleslaw with no mayo.

Jen: I saw that.

Camila: Our family loves it, too. It’s one of those things, again, thinking of things that when you go to the store to maximize your things so you don’t have to go to the store all the time, like cabbage. Cabbage will last you a long time in the refrigerator. Then once you use it, it will still last you a few days in the refrigerator. That coleslaw, I did it last week. I think we ate that for four days as a base and sides, you know what I mean?

Jen: Sure. Of course.

Camila: Or eat it alone. But—the kids vary what they eat—the coleslaw, me, Matthew, and his mom, it was in every meal for days and we’re really happy with it, to be honest.

Jen: I did that with a huge pot of essentially marinara, just a big huge pot of homemade marinara. Then that’s just what we ate. We ate it on something or in something for virtually, like, eight straight meals. I’m like, “Guys, this is just what it is right now. This is what we’re doing.” We’re doing all the same things, I’m making a pot of beans today. 

Camila: You need to share that recipe with us, the marinara sauce.

Jen: I 100% have and will. It’s like the go-to sauce. It can be your pizza sauce, it can be your pasta sauce, it can be a dip for your garlic bread. I mean, it’s very versatile, and it freezes well. And so anytime I make it, I make four times more than we need it. But yeah, I appreciate you saying that, because we need to stretch the food right now. When they come into the kitchen they’re like, “What’s for dinner?” And it’s like four o’clock, I just go, “Oh my God, why?”

Camila: I know. I was chatting with a friend over the weekend and she was telling me, “You know, I pull out the slow cooker and I put all this stuff in,” and I’m like, “You’re way ahead of me. I’m sitting in the kitchen just going, ‘What do I do?'” I’m like, “I have no idea what to do.” But it’s good. It’s something, I think, that everybody’s going to come out of this self-isolation time remembering the value of that. It’s a big value of cooking your own food, learning what goes in, understanding what you like, what you don’t like, what works with your body, what it doesn’t, cooking with your family, getting the kids in the kitchen, sitting down for a meal together, and even cleaning up together.

Listen, we don’t love all the cleanups every day, but even doing the dishes and all, creating those routines, sitting down around a meal and taking that time together with no interruption of anything else, it’s so valuable for a family, and it’s so valuable for a individual, too, from the scientific studies of the mechanics of your body to the emotional and spiritual benefits of it. I think I’m big on it, and we always do it, and we’re going to keep doing it. I think everybody’s being forced to do it right now.

Jen: If that’s what it is. I’m with you, I’m a foodie, and I love to cook. But my kids are a little bit older than yours. We’re north of you. We’re at high school, college years mainly. And so what used to be our very standard procedure, which was usually dinner at home around the table together when they were younger when they’re in elementary school, once they hit the high school years, in the normal world before the quarantine, they have a whole life. They’ve got practice and they have games and they have study groups. And so we had lost our grip on really standard family dinners, simply because our kids were growing up and weren’t home at night a lot. But now of course, it’s every single night around the table and it’s been great. It’s been really, really great and I’m enjoying it again. 

One of my friends decided this year that she was going to try forty new recipes, and that inspired me, too, because I get in a rut, especially right now. I think that’s great. You have tons of recipes on your website.

Camila: We have a lot.

Jen: Yes, on your Instagram feed. It’s not hard to get out there and find a new recipe, especially when you talk about your pot of beans. That’s the easiest thing in the world. Put them in a pot, put them on the stove. That’s pretty much it. Chop up your sausage, there you go. I am all for those. 

I wonder, I want to ask you this question before we start to land it here. I like hearing you talk about your mom. I like your relationship. I like how you talk about her artistry and her creativity, and what you’ve learned from her. It’s always interesting to me to see really strong women in our generation speak about the ones who mentored them, and the women who led them well and who taught them well. I wonder for you—besides your mom, who you talk so lovely about—who are some of the other women over the course of your story, really at any point along the way, who mentored you in an important way or inspired you?

Camila: You know, oddly enough, besides my mom, my grandmother and Matthew’s mom. I had more men mentors in my life, in an odd way. I had more men mentoring my life. But in terms of women, I would say my mom, my grandmother, and Matthew’s mom. I mean, Matthew’s mom, she’s eighty-eight, and she has the most positive attitude. I mean, don’t take me wrong, she can be hard to be around, too.

Jen: She could be spicy.

Camila: She’s very feisty, but she’s got a great attitude about a lot of things and the way she goes about her life is very inspiring as well. 

And I have had two older women that are married to bigger-than-life men. They’ve been married for a very, very long time. And they worked, they didn’t work, and they work again. Every so often I have conversations with them about, every time I’m feeling, “Oh, I shouldn’t be working.” Or, “Ah, I can’t stop with the work, but this is important, and blah, blah, blah.” Every time I get into that, I have good conversations with them on how to navigate that portion.

Jen: Yeah, I love the women in my life who are older than me, who can speak into my work also as a working mom, a mom who really loves what she does and has a big career and a real passion for it. Also raising kids, which means the world also. I love it when women can lead as well and tell us what they learned. My mom went back to school—I’m the oldest of four kids—and my mom went back to school when we were all in high school and middle school and elementary school. She got another degree and she got her master’s. I think about that a lot now, as a mom of a big family too.

Camila: That’s amazing.

Jen: Isn’t it?

Camila: That’s amazing.

Jen: I mean, it really is. I mean, I was selfish at the time, so I’m just thinking of my own life. But now with my mom brain, I can look back and think, My mom was probably studying until one or two in the morning, because she was still cooking us dinner and going to our games. I don’t really know how she pulled it off, but I draw so much strength from women who chase their dreams down, even when it’s not convenient, or even when it takes all your waking hours. I love the women who have gone before us.

Okay, I’m going to ask you three last questions. We’re asking everybody these questions in the Fierce series. We have had the most outstanding people in this series. I’m proud of your life. I’m proud of the way that you’re living it. I love how you’re serving the community. I just think there’s so much good that you are creating and putting out in the world.

Camila: You’re so kind Jen, and we haven’t even talked about Just Keep Livin Foundation, which is our foundation for over ten years. But that’s a different story. We’ll do that a different time.

People can go on the website and look, but it’s after school programs, the charity that Matthew and I have had for the last over ten years. But we can do a different session for this, because I do have to jump in a little bit because I have a call with the mayor’s office. We’re working on helping out with the crisis situation.

Jen: Of course you do.

Camila: We’ll spend time with that in the next session. But it’s a great organization, and we’ve been doing a lot to help people there too.

Jen: Everybody, I will link to that so you can look that up and find out more until we talk about that next time. But just off the top of your head, here’s the last quick questions, and then we will land it here. Here’s the first one. What is the biggest lie you’ve stopped believing about yourself?

Camila: The biggest lie I stopped believing about myself? That I wasn’t capable of doing things that I’ve never done before.

Jen: Yes. I love that answer. You obviously are. 

Camila: If you just push it, it’s hard, but if you push it you’ll be able to do it.

Jen: Here’s the flip side of that question. What is the most freeing, most life-giving truth that you have learned about yourself?

Camila: That I can’t fix everything, and I can’t do everything on my own.

Jen: Oh, may we all figure that out sooner rather than later. That’s still light years from my life.

Camila: I still wrestle with it, but it’s this understanding that you’ve got to be easy on yourself and that you can’t fix everything. It’s impossible.

Jen: That’s good. Thank you for saying that, especially right now. Here’s the last one, and you can answer this any way you want. It can be a really earnest answer, or it can be absolutely silly. It can be anything in between. What is saving your life right now?

Camila: Right now at this moment, with everything that we have going on with this coronavirus, the one thing that is keeping me sane, that is giving me sanity? Our loved ones are safe, our family is safe, nobody’s sick, knock on wood, knock two times here. The hardest thing for me is looking at everything happening and feeling helpless and feeling, What can I do? How can I help? Where can I help? Because it’s so much that sometimes I have these overwhelming days of just, it doesn’t matter what I do, it’s not enough.

Jen: Yeah, me too.

Camila: But right now what’s keeping me sane is me picking lanes of, “Okay, I’m going to help in this part, and I’m going to help in this part.” Whether one is small and the other is bigger, whatever that is, I’m going to focus on those lanes and I’m going to see direct results on it, whether that’s affecting five people, 100 people, 1,000 people, 100,000 people. You know what I mean?

Jen: Totally.

Camila: I think that that is keeping me sane. Like I was saying, jumping on a call with the mayor now trying to resource these masks, trying to get donations, just even doing the little life thing, but it’s helping a group of people, that gives me, Okay, I’m doing something to help, and I think that it’s really important for people right now at this moment to think about that; How can they help in their own community, even in the smallest way possible? 

Jen: I love that answer.

Camila: That’s keeping me sane at this time.

Jen: Yes. Just to hold at bay that sense of being completely overwhelmed and completely ineffectual. If everybody took that approach, if we all just did the one small thing we could do, it would make an enormous ripple in our community right now.

Camila: Yeah. It really does from small to big, everybody does what they can. But it’s the situation of feeling like, Okay, I’m frozen up, because I don’t know so much.

Jen: That’s great leadership. Thank you for ending with that, and thank you for being on the show today, right in the middle of this crazy time, in these crazy days. It was just really wonderful to meet you and to talk to you. I’m so glad to be this cheerleader for your work and your spaces. I will link to absolutely everything you do, listeners, so you’ll be able to find everything that Camila is doing right now. But it’s just a joy to meet you, and thank you for being on today.

Camila: Pleasure to meet you. Thank you for having me.

Jen: Thanks Camila. There you have it. Camila McConaughey, beautiful, smart, interesting, compassionate. She’s a really, really good leader. If you haven’t yet, go spend some time on her Women of Today website and you’ll see what I mean. You will see her values come through loud and clear on what kind of community of women she wants to build and serve, on how she’s turning her community outward to continue serving.I believe in what she’s creating. I believe in her community and in her. I’m so happy that you were here today. I love introducing you to incredible people who are just out there killing it.

All right, you guys, more to come in this series, more to come in this month. We are just trying to bring good stuff to you right now. I mean, that is literally all me and the podcast team talk about right now is, “How can we serve the community? How can we inspire them? How can we keep their spirits up? How can we put really incredible people and conversations in front of them?” That’s just all we’re doing guys, around the clock. 

Okay, with much love from Laura and her team, and Amanda and I, see you next time.



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