As I was putting together the pieces for this interview, I thought about the beauty of wearing the name of a flower, like Cami does. Then is when I learned that the Camellia flower is a symbolic expression of love & positive thoughts and it all made sense.
It all made sense.
Originary from Bacău, Romania, Camelia Păduraru – or Cami, how I like calling her – has been a wonder and an inspiration since the first day I met her, more than 4 years ago. The warmth in her presence is almost palpable, embracing you with kindness and amazing vibes. She’s loving and humble, yet immensely ambitious, crazy curious about the world. We haven’t seen each other for some years now, but, as you may know, the connection with some people just doesn’t fade away.
Conversations with Cami are mind-crafting, heart-warming, soul-searching, life-inspiring. She’s always been a learner, even after she became a teacher. As she relates in the rows below, in teaching others, we teach ourselves, exposing us to a very simple, yet deeply conscious truth. She takes her spiritual energy from travelling, from people, but mostly, from her self-discovery experiences.
As much as I am inspired by her and her journey, I will let you emerge into a world of mindful living, in the guidance of Cami, a truly inspiring Creative Human.
Conversation with a life wanderer
Cami, thank you for making the time to take us on a journey through your life, inspiring us with your ideas and great energy that you send out into the universe. As life usually is made of a beautiful randomness of things, we’ll fly among different themes & questions, as if you were to paint the first draft of a gigantic canvas.
Creative Humans: First of all, let’s start with a little self-reflection moment. Or, better said, paint a sketch, in words, of who you are.
Cami: I thought I was never good at painting, nor at knowing who I am. ☺
If I were to reflect, I’d say that I am the moments that touch me, and the moments I touch. The people I’ve met, the loves I’ve lived, the places I’ve connected to, the books I’ve read, and the songs I’ve let permeate my being. The unknown roads I take. And the unknown roads I haven’t taken yet.
I am the emotion of the night I packed everything, took it to my parents’ place in my hometown, came back to Bucharest, left my empty room behind, and then departed to Turkey, having no clue how it was going to unfold. The feeling I woke up each morning to, having no idea what the new day would bring my way.
The taste of meeting otherness. The noisy, crowded streets of Adapazari bazaar, the warm smell of cinnamon Sahlep on the cold windy boat ride across the Bosphorus, the Muedins call to prayer echoing around our flat at 5 a.m. I am the guitar that played folk songs under a Hungarian sky, full of stars. I am the joy of riding the bike around the green fields of Tata, listening to Ne Nzz Htra, reading Women Who Run With The Wolves, and mildly connecting to the wild nature of the human existence.
I am the awe of breathing the streets of Florence in November, exactly when receiving the news of winning a substantial grant for my recently launched business.
I am the fascination of discovering the art in Paris for the first time, the skin touched by the heat of the Nevada desert, a long, deep conversation at Sinca Veche, the river Ganga fire ceremonies in Rishikesh, and the moment I could articulate my mission in one sentence on Brooklyn Bridge. I am the light of an aha moment I experience, or I catalyze for my students.
Oh, and many cups of coffee. Preferably short, black, and intense.
I’m an explorer, a traveller, a genuinely curious human being that actively seeks to tap into the unknown, and connect to the magic of the day-to-day life. I’m an Entrepreneur, a Teacher, a Healer, and a Mystic.
I am all these things, and yet I am none of them. I am just the space between two breaths, each moment I am alive, and present in the now.
I am what I choose to be(come), and what I do each day is part of discovering who I am.
Creative Humans: What is creative living for you?
Cami: I strongly related to Elizabeth Gilbert’s definition of it: the life where you consistently, routinely, persistently, take the path of curiosity instead of the path of fear.
To me, creative living is what I happen to discover when I have the courage to rise above my own story, and make decisions based on imagination, rather than based on past experiences, attachments, habits, fear. It is when I manage to quiet my mind so well that I begin to hear that soft voice inside subtly asking hey, Cami, what is that?, or Cami, what if you tried this?, or how would living that make you feel?
Creative living is what happens when I choose to take the road least taken, and step out of my comfort zone. Acts of courage that take me to places where the old me can no longer work, and it has to disintegrate to make room for a new, expanded one.
Creative Humans: Four years ago, we met for the first time and I was amazed by your passion for how the mind works. Four years ago, at about the same time, you started something more than a business – Crafting Minds – that seems to have grown really beautifully. Tell us about what led you to this business idea and how your life happened around it.
Cami: Freedom has been very important to me since forever. I remember that growing up, the thought of living the life that most people around me lived caused me a lot of distress. I couldn’t imagine going to a workplace that had close to nothing to do with me. 8-10-12 hours/ day, 5 days/ week. I wanted to be independent, and have no boundaries with regards to how much I could grow. So, I thought to myself, That’s probably possible in a business I would own, but there’s no way I can see myself able to build that successfully, and meaningfully.
At the same time, there was probably a calling. I needed to make a difference. And I knew it had to do with people, and the universe of the mind. I was 15 when I asked my Logic teacher to teach me private lessons. She was confused. So were my parents. Why do you need them?, they asked. How to explain curiosity? I invented a good reason: I’ll probably need them for my University admission. So the journey began with learning Psychology, then Philosophy. I was mesmerized with the dialogues, the experience of knowing myself, with the habit of reflecting, questioning everything, and seeing multiple facets of a given reality. I had no idea I was already building the muscle for what I call today critical thinking, emotional freedom, and coaching.
In the meantime, I was getting aware of some of my own wounds, hurts, and limitations. I was still a student at the Communication and Public Relations Faculty when I was acquainted with the field of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). It was a 7 days accelerated training, where I went expecting cool information for the geek in me. And I got that, plus an earth-shaking experience. Healing a physical symptomatology called chronic stomach ulcer was just the first effect I experienced as a result of letting go of negative emotions, repressed anger, fear, and a toxic identity I had build around being ill. I was beginning to become a new me, more confident, responsible, and free. I started challenging my limitations, one by one, and slowly I began seeing how I could empower others with these resources as well. I started dreaming of how the society would look like if more people were less fearful, less angry, more conscious, and connected to their humanity.
So I continued my trainings to the next levels, I started receiving coaching inquiries, and in 2012, I got my Trainer certification in the US, that allowed my to start teaching, and helped me build the business skills that were needed. And that’s how Crafting Mindswas born.
Of course there was a lot of self-doubt in the process, many ups and downs, but somehow I felt guided. And it felt the right thing to do, for me. It’s been four years now, and I can humbly say that I contributed to touching the lives of over 2000 people, throughout over 3000 hours of workshops, trainings, and private coaching sessions. And so, I contributed to accelerating my own process of growth. I live the reality of how “In teaching others, we teach ourselves”.
I developed a lifestyle that suits me, and I coagulated an empowered community, that thinks differently, takes action, and lives consciously, in a growth-stimulating environment.
I cant stop learning, wanting to know more, and more, and I almost always connect a city break to a training, or a training to a city break, or an extended holiday. And now that I feel quite independent, I’m working on developing a more realistic and nurturing relationship with the world, which I discovered to be healthy interdependence.
Creative Humans: Are you living your dream?
Cami: Difficult question. It feels like my dream and I are living each other.
Creative Humans: Do you think we choose our dreams or our dreams choose us?
Cami: To me, its more like a dance, a continuous relationship between two dynamic entities drawn to each other. The Zen story about the Oak Tree really touched me with respect to this issue:
They say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time. Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all begins, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into the tree. This is you.
Everybody can see that. But only a few can recognize that there is another force operating here as well – the future tree itself, the dream, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being, drawing the seedling forth with longing out of the void, guiding the evolution from nothingness to maturity. And so, in a way, it is the oak tree that creates the very acorn from which it was born.
Creative Humans: Who – of all the people you’ve met – helped you shape the favorite thing about yourself?
Cami: It was probably Alina, my Logic teacher, who challenged me to go to the Philosophy Olympiad, while my profile was Math and Computer Science. That installed in me the unshakeable belief that if I have a good strategy, I can learn anything I put my mind to.
Then there is a certain softness in my presence that contains the energy of a huge powerhouse inside when it comes to whats really important to me. There’s the ability to rise strong, to reborn from ashes. These ones, I don’t know who helped me shape them. It feels like they have always been there.
Creative Humans: Say you would go live for 6 months in a really poverty-stricken community, with little or no access to education and poor living conditions, how do you imagine your living and how would you contribute to this community?
Cami: Stop. Look. Listen. Connect.
Ask these questions:
What do I have?
What do they need?
And where do these meet?
How can I bridge the gap between the two?
You know, I imagined that many times. I would connect first. I would be there for the people, trying to figure out what they need most. Maybe its food, maybe its water, maybe its medical care, but maybe its being seen, feeling heard, gaining trust there’s light at the end of the tunnel, feeling they matter, and someone cares. I’d sit with them, and Id share whatever I have and they need. Perhaps I could teach English, cooking, gardening, knitting, or other basic skills that would help them thrive. I would learn how the situation of the community relates to the broader area, and then see how it could be helped prosper. And maybe I’m totally off with what I’m saying, and the roles would be reversed, and this community would be the one to actually contribute to me, teaching me about real fragility, and vulnerability.
Creative Humans: Generally speaking, how do you think the creative humans community could change the world?
Cami: I’m no longer sure the world needs to be actively changed. It’s in the nature of nature to transform, and it’s through massive human interference that’s been altered so badly. So, the best contribution to bring as an individual seems to be just being YOUR self.
Creative Humans: Living passionately, in your opinion.
Cami: Deeply caring for something. Having a why, which is generally greater than yourself, and which overcomes the challenges of any how.
Creative Humans: What is your greatest fear and how do you relate to it?
Cami: Despite my diligent practice that’s helped me overcome many fears along the way, one that’s still strong in me is death. Letting go of what it is, to make room for what it could be. The Unknown. How do I relate to it? With practice. Kundalini Yoga has allowed me to start transcending the earthly plane and access a reality that’s eternal, infinite, and free. Some call it Soul. Keeping the connection with it is still a challenge, but I do my best to stay aware, and live, not just exist in the world.
Creative Humans: What makes you feel the most free?
Cami: Flying. Travelling. Loving. Connecting. Witnessing the mystery.
Creative Humans: Your India – Yourself. How did going to India helped improving your well-being, your well-living?
Cami: It slowed me down. It made me realize in how great of a rush I was, continuously, and with no particular point. Just like that, from reflex.
It taught me how to breathe, and it made me realize that I don’t need to/ I don’t have to anything. That’s where another layer of freedom opened up for me.
It showed me how the nastier things become, the closer a breakthrough point is.
It taught me to appreciate more, and worry less.
Made me realize the difference between being happy, and being content. Being happy generally depends on external things, and lasts very little. Contentment springs from within, and it is not subjective to external changes.
It connected me to subtler nuances of what I feel and it blessed me with a few experiences that really taught me how to trust. It made me understand what my previous peak moments were really about, what was I seeking, and how to find it anytime, within.
It taught me to be patient, and accept that each individual has its own rhythm, and mine is not better, nor worse than others.
It shifted me to a different space, where I began to grasp the reality of how the sage does nothing, yet nothing is left undone.
Creative Humans: How do you see your relationship with the Universe?
Cami: My relationship with the Universe is a witty friendship ☺ Good laughs, good conversations, good fights, followed by turning my back and ignoring him for a while, then coming back and hugging. With plenty of love. Infinite kindness, wisdom, and care.
Creative Humans: What do you know for sure, Cami?
Cami: Absolutely nothing. ☺ I tend to seek and cling to different types of certainty, but I realize they’re all illusory.
Again, thank you for being part of this community now, as well, and may your visions & ideas craft a better world! 🙂 Thank you for making me part of it! Let us shine and be ourselves, they say its the only thing the world really needs from us!