Exclusive interview with author "Veronica Carrera"
“140 Miles of Life” Underscores the Power of Resilience, Details the Incredible Life of Veronica Carrera
After finding success with a speech about her life - losing her mother at a young age, being raised in the Mormon Church as a member of the LGBTQ+ Community, and competing in the Ironman race - Veronica Carrera realized that her story resonated with many. She decided to begin writing a book with the same title as her speech, “140 Miles of Life,” a reference to the Ironman race. Her book captures the struggles she faced, the challenges she overcame, the physical and athletic achievement she accomplished and provides a message of hope for anyone struggling with grief, prejudice, or their identity.
What inspired you to write your story?
A few years ago, I participated in an International Speech competition for Toastmasters, and I made it through a few rounds with the title of my speech, “140 Miles of Life.” I tried to share in that 7 min speech about childhood and religious trauma and using the Ironman race to frame the story. A few times people in the audience came to me and asked me, “have you ever thought about writing a book?” But I had not, so I politely thanked them and forgot about this.
But after the death of my grandma 4 years ago, my heart broke wide open. Grandma raised me after my mom died when I was 9 years old. She was my second mom and during this time of sadness, I started to write. I did not have a purpose other than wanting to write our story and as I kept on writing, so much was coming to me. I realized that grandma’s death allowed my heart to open in deep and meaningful ways and I found purpose as I wrote the book. By the time, I got to the end, I experienced other powerful things in life and my life had transformed in significant ways - my consciousness expanded beyond my expectations and I saw my life as a gift and I wanted to share my experience with others to help them transcend their own circumstances and find healing so that they can live their best life.
How would you describe your book, “140 Miles of Life”?
I will describe my book as Dr. Jeff describes it below a journey of pure Power. Power of Self, power of spirit & power of determination. It discusses childhood & religious trauma, racism, and all these “isms” are overshadowed by the power of healing, forgiveness, and love. The book attempts to re-write the narrative on people of color - the distorted beliefs that make people think that people of color are less than just for being born with this skin. But the book attempts to re-write this narrative and remind our people that we stand on the shoulder of giants, that despite the challenges, we must remember who we are and rise to our full potential.
The book also takes you deep into the dogma of one of the most mysterious Christian institutions, the Mormon church, and why it is so difficult for many to leave the institution. It also issues a clarion call to recognize the realities that drive far too many LGBTQ youth and adults to commit suicide under shame from their churches and families.
Last, the book finishes with an unexpected twist but offers the readers a different way of connecting to their own inner light and ultimately finding healing and love.
I am adding endorsements below to support my narrative.
Plain and simple, Veronica’s journey represents pure POWER. Power of self, power of spirit, and power of determination. She is an inspiration to everyone who strives for what is right in life and those who want to rise above opposition. You cannot truly change the way things are unless you have lived through the way things are. Veronica has LIVED! Her spiritual path has led to physical endeavors that have enabled her to break though stereotypes and not only dismantle but destroy the framework that has impeded the LGBTQ community from success and acceptance. But Veronica is here to say “NO! Acceptance isn’t the goal, but integration. Integration of the soul through pure love and universal connection.” As the Chief Medical Officer of the world’s leading plant medicine facility, I can attest to the beautiful transformation that occurred for Veronica prior to her stay at Rythmia and solidified by her inward spiritual quest. I highly recommend that you not only read Veronica’s transformative story, but also allow your soul to be influenced by the joy and triumphant cries of equality and purpose of existence. Veronica’s story is the story of us all. Of humanity, of being, of living, of accepting, and of loving.
Dr. Jeff McNairy. Psy.D., M.P.H.
“140 Miles Of life by exemplary Veronica Carrera is a truly well-written book, packed with life lessons and wisdom gems. This is an incredibly engaging read in which you will find yourself moved and inspired by Veronica's journey. This book is about RESILIENCE and COURAGE. No matter what your life circumstances are, you always have the freedom to choose LOVE over anything else. I loved this book and every true seeker will love it also. Thank you, Veronica for your sacred YES and for being an embodiment of light in this World.”
Paola Castro. Spiritual Coach, Author & Speaker
Veronica's deeply touching and personal story is an apotheosis of profound triumph over heart wrenching adversity - not only a triumph of personal power, but also a triumph of love, a triumph of her huge and beautiful human heart, and ultimately a triumph of the soul. As she demonstrates the breathtaking courage it takes to say yes to walk the true path of love and transformation, her story will leave you thoroughly inspired and connected to your own greatest humanity. I couldn't put this book down.
Seneca Moore, PhD, Founder and Coach at Optimity Coaching & Collaborative
Where are you from originally? Can you talk about your experience as an immigrant?
I am from Guayaquil, Ecuador. I explained in my book how it was to grow up in Ecuador, but I grew up in a culture that was about community. Neighbors were like our extended family, and we took care of one another. Education was important and I grew up in a place and time where we prioritized school over anything else. My schoolmates who lived on the same block or very close would get together almost every night to do homework together and getting top grades on assignments and tests was celebrated and was expected.
People in Ecuador are warm, we don’t go into a conversation asking about your position or what you do in life to make money, we want to know the human being and I think that is very common among Latin people. I do not want to generalize at the same time, but we come from a culture overall where we value the person.
Can you talk about your Mormon upbringing and how it impacted you?
I go through a lot of these details in the book. But when I got baptized when I was 14 years old, I truly thought I had found the true church of God. Mormons have some great values, so I have a lot to thank them for. I did not grow up drinking or smoking and having sex before marriage was out of the question. Mormons value family and they are taught to live honorable lives.
At the same time, there is another side of the religion, which you will find details in the book, but once you go deeper into their beliefs and history, you will find unexplainable things such as the Mormon temple masonic rituals, their belief in indigenous people and people of African descent- The book of Mormon teaches that “dark skin is a punishment from God.” The book touches very lightly on polygamy, but it touches upon this subject. Lastly, the church’s stand on homosexuality as a terrible sin, being a crime next to murder.
I also went on a Mormon mission and attended Brigham Young University, a private Mormon University. You cannot get more Mormon than this! I became the top woman missionary in my mission and therefore, I became a leader from a young age and attended the Mormon Temple and then went to BYU and taught at the Missionary Training Center - the most prestigious Mormon institution. At Brigham Young is where I had my first relationship with a woman, another student.
I loved my faith for many years and tried to hold on tight to my beliefs, but I knew I had this painful secret, or I realized over time that I was attracted to women. We were taught that if we prayed hard enough, fasted, and dedicated our lives fully to the church, that God will bless us by getting rid of these sinful feelings. But in a futile attempt to get rid of my gayness, I realized that the only way was to do what the church advises, stay celibate for the rest of my life and I was determined to do that. But I ended up falling in love with a woman at BYU and later leaving her in an attempt to restore my standing in the church and be forgiven. But later in my life, I fell in love again with other women and my life became filled with shame and guilt. It became a never-ending turmoil and pain until I went to a really dark place and contemplated suicide. That day I was 37 years old. So, from 14 years old to 37 years old, I held on tight to my faith, until I broke and that day when I almost lost my life was the turning point and I walked away from the church. However, although I had left the church, it took me years to undo this deeply rooted belief that I was not good enough, that who I was, was not good.
When I look back, I cannot believe I was able to walk away and I am grateful for the grace I have received from life to help me find a new way of being, for all the healing, light, and love.
I read a post recently from a Mormon guy who is gay and never left the church until he was told he had cancer. He posted a picture of himself in the hospital with tubes on his arms doing chemotherapy and said something like this, “Because I believed this institution that I should be alone…that being gay was so wrong, I now find myself alone in the hospital, without a partner, doing this alone…”
I hope that our stories help others find their way and save lives.
When did you first realize your sexual orientation? Did you face discrimination because of it?
I started to feel that there was something different about me when I was 14 right after I entered the Mormon church. Because I grew up in a very conservative environment, at that time, we are not allowed to date, but I remember meeting someone in the church and having these confusing feelings and they scared me a little bit.
I faced incredible discrimination in the church. I mentioned that when I was at BYU is when I had my first relationship with a woman. If anyone at Brigham Young University found out that we were in a relationship we would have been expelled from the school. My girlfriend was from Switzerland so she would have lost her visa and not be allowed to graduate. Someone turned us in to the bishop and we were interrogated - it was like an FBI interrogation - and you will read in the book that I had to do everything possible to keep us in school.
On one occasion when I confessed to another bishop, he became upset that I had this sin and handed me a book on overcoming pornography and I asked, “what does pornography have to do with homosexuality?” and he answered, “It is all the same, they are both a sexual addiction.
Can you talk about your career? What is one trait you would ascribe your success to?
Given where I come from, a girl who did not grow up with a father and who lost her mom at 9 years old, and then came to the States to live with my father, only to face more opposition because his wife did not want me there and I ended up for a short period of time in a foster home, it has been a blessing that my life is what it is today. I ended up graduating from BYU with a French degree. Then, I ended up working for the top financial service institution in the world, Bloomberg, and became a very successful sales executive and then I became a leader. I would say in some cases, I was the only woman of color who was a leader in certain professional settings. Then, I did an MBA from Cornell University where I was nominated for their top EMBA. I transition out of Bloomberg and went to work for Garner, the top tech research company in the world, and then LinkedIn, where I am in a director role for a global team.
The trait for my success is that I work really hard to succeed, but I do it with integrity. I think as I get older is less about working too hard, but finding my own inner balance, my connection to my own self, so that I can show up my best to others. I believe I am authentic and my spiritual belief that I am here in this world to serve others translates into my professional life as well.
When/how did you find the courage to begin sharing your story with the world?
When grandma died, I realized that life is short, and it made me think about what truly matters in life and that is to live a life with purpose. But even with this notion, I still had more lessons to learn and as my book was ready to be published there was a moment that I panicked wondering what people are going to think, especially people I work with, but that all went away as I meditated and felt this renewed inner strength, and I was reminded of my purpose. I am clear that God or that higher benevolent presence gave me this life and I have been truly blessed, but my life is that gift that I want to leave for others who may find themselves in similar circumstances or for those who may not understand so that they can live life with more compassion.
What is one key message you hope will stay with readers upon reading this book?
My book is dedicated to: To All Those Who Seek The Light Within.
I want everyone to know that they are enough, that there is healing, and that we must forgive to release others and for us to be liberated to live our best life.
What other projects are you working on?
I bought a mountain in a 5 blue zone area in Costa Rica. The town is called Samara beach. I want to build a holistic healing center there. I am in the beginning stages of the project, but I have a few friends who want to do this with me.
To learn more about Veronica Carrera and her remarkable journey, please visit her website here.