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Interview | Carrie McCarthy

In her search for both beauty and meaning in her interior design work, Carrie developed a process called Style Statement to help her know her clients better, and to help her clients know themselves better. Then she met Danielle LaPorte, who loved the Style Statement concept and had a background in media and communications, and Carrie & Danielle, Inc. was born. Their mission is to help people tune in to their authentic selves. Now, years later, there’s a Carrie & Danielle Website that’s packed with resources and supportive suggestions, and they’ve written and designed a beautiful book called Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design. [Update in May 2009: Carrie can now be found at her Style Statement website.]

“A Style Statement integrates the various aspects of your being in an effective balance. It consists of two words: the first word is your fundamental nature, 80% of who you are. The second word is your creative edge, your distinction, the 20% of yourself that makes all the difference.”

~ Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte, Style Statement

Carrie’s Style Statement is Refined Treasure. Danielle’s is Sacred Dramatic. Their book is filled with more examples and with the how-to for finding one’s own Style Statement. Carrie homed in on mine a few years back: Timeless Connection.

You have a very public persona for a highly sensitive person (HSP). How does your high sensitivity affect you regarding being in the limelight?

Being an HSP is about being responsive to the environment and to emotions. When I’m in the public eye, I’m intuitive about what’s going on. When I’m giving a presentation, I connect with the energy in the room and am aware of what’s happening and of wanting to be of service to the group through my awareness. I can pivot easily in such situations, shifting the focus as needed, because I’m so responsive. I’m responsible, response-able.

Being an HSP and being response-able is both a gift and a challenge. Really, it’s all about overstimulation and how we respond to it. Overwhelming situations, like too much noise, feel like pressure on my brain, and I want to do something to stop it. When I’m overstimulated I tend to need to retreat and hibernate, but that’s not always possible.

I think HSPs can succumb to the response-able aspect of being an HSP to the point where we over-respond to other people and over-respond to being highly sensitive. For example, I had a meeting today in a café and the music was so loud I asked them to turn it down. They refused, and I said, “Okay,” and let it go, because the restaurant is not all about me.

How to you deal with being overwhelmed when you go to New York City for business events and meetings, for instance?

There are some stimulations I love. I love to be stimulated by beauty, for example, so New York City is great for me because I find so much beauty there. But if I’m in a situation that’s all about doing business and connecting, I need more frequent rest and I need time alone. I make sure I get lots and lots of sleep. I request solitude by saying, ” I’m going to pass,” and, “I need some time to myself.” I’m comfortable saying what I need, and the people close to me are used to me being that way.

Your husband, Cameron, is not highly sensitive. How do you manage your different levels of sensitivity in your relationship?

Cameron is the opposite of me. He loves to have music on all the time. He’s very social. He’s a connector with the world and with people. One way we deal with our differences is that, in addition to our apartment, we own property on an island where Cameron goes while I stay home alone. And I’m very clear on a day-to-day basis about what I need. I request times for us to talk and to be together. I set up connecting dates with Cameron, times for us to simply be with each other. Another way in which we’re different is that he likes to call me at least five times a day. I answer when I want to talk, but otherwise I let it ring. Basically, we have agreements, and it works.

One of the reasons Cameron admires me is that I’m very independent. He’s very supportive of my independence. He goes to dinner parties or events without me, and that’s okay with us both. I like my time alone and I also love spending time with him. Neither of us is needy.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

There’s a lot for me to learn about being sensitive emotionally. I still sometimes find that aspect of being an HSP difficult. Emotional sensitivity is about being aware, but not owning the information coming in. It’s about selectively accepting input. The challenge for me is that intuitively I know when someone is uncomfortable and not living true to themselves, and I feel their pain and displacement. I sense people’s discomfort, even if they don’t notice it or don’t care. I feel it in my body, and sometimes it’s hard for me to be around that person. I would like to respect such feelings about other people but not feel chained to them – to be able to be strong in seeing my knowing as a blessing.

What message of encouragement would you like to give to other highly sensitive people?

It’s important to be aware, to create boundaries for yourself, and to be flexible, because it’s not all about you. We live in a world of community. Identifying your specific sensitivities helps. Knowing my specific sensitivities helps me create situations that work for me. For example, I know that a lot of my overstimulation has to do with visuals. I know I need light and windows. I need to see soft colour palettes. Also, I need fresh air and time in nature. I’m sensitive to smells and to others’ emotions. Knowing what triggers my sensitivities helps me be in community more successfully.

What are three of your most favourite books of any kind?

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. This is a breathtaking book. I just read it for the first time this summer.

On Becoming a Leader, by Warren Bennis

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, by Albertus Seba


  1. Hi Grace!

    Ohmygoodness, I’m so glad to know about you (via Carrie’s post on their site)! I’ve identified as an HSP for years now–had no idea there was a Vancouver centre for us.

    On another (somewhat public relations related) note: if you’re ever interested in interviewing a writer/yoga teacher…I’d love to be interviewed! Besides my blog, I also write for, Shared Vision, Journeys West magazine, and C&D. You can see more of my work for C&D at


    Lindsey :)

    Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 9:41 am | Permalink
  2. Lindsey, thank you for your comment. It’s nice to know about you, too. I’ll be in touch via email soon.

    I’m not sure what “Vancouver centre” you’re referring to – unless you mean that you now know more HSPs living here (yay!). There IS the Pacific Northwest HSP Network, though – – which you might also be interested in. It’s “Pacific Northwest” because it’s based in Washington State, but includes (at least the lower) the British Columbia coast.

    Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 11:49 am | Permalink
  3. Alison wrote:

    What a lovely website. I love the purity of it, its very.. Timeless.

    Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 5:48 pm | Permalink
  4. I’m delighted you think so, Alison.

    Friday, October 31, 2008 at 11:57 am | Permalink

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