I Am Woman, I'm a Wordsmith

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

Think About it Thursday: To Care or Not to Care September 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:14 pm

“Who you are speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

I read something on-line today that included the following poem written by an anonymous wordsmith:

 

A wise old owl sat in an oak

The more he saw the less he spoke

The less he spoke the more he heard

Why can’t we all be like that bird?

 

I tend to go to either extreme of that wise old bird: I speak a lot or I am silent.   I live by the rule “Let your speech be better than your silence; otherwise by silent.”  Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem “putting it out there” but sometimes I have nothing to say or maybe nothing nice to say.  My momma taught me well, but today, I’m putting it out there.

 

Do I sometimes say too much and go too far? For sure.  Am I opinionated?  Totally.  Do I think I know it all?  Not at all.  In fact, there are few things in life I enjoy more than an enlightening and enthusiastic discussion or debate on anything anyone is passionate about.  If it’s the silent me you want, start with the small talk and keep it going.  I hate small talk.  Can’t stand it.

 

Proverbs 10:19 says “He who restrains his lips is wise” leading one to believe that there is a definite link between wisdom and listening. I agree.  As I tell my little preschoolers, “If you’re not listening, you’re not learning.”

 

I love to learn almost as much as I love to listen to rain while reading a book. I have an insatiable appetite for fun facts and anything interesting.  Every year my New Year’s resolution is to learn something new.  I don’t like to be criticized though and am the first to admit I have very thin skin.  Maybe that’s why a recent comment to something I posted on Facebook got me thinking (and in my best Carrie Bradshaw imitation):  “do I speak my mind too much?”

 

They say it’s easier to express anger or anything negative in the written word rather then face-to-face, making social media the perfect place to do so. A few days ago I shared a post and after several “I agree” comments, I came across one that baffled me.  I’m still confused as to what it really meant but I am sure of one thing:  it wasn’t complimentary.  Considering who it was from was even more hurtful and added weight to the sting I was already feeling.  I love and admire the person in so many ways and we have enjoyed a long-time friendship.  I’m still not sure what to make of it.

 

“Preach the gospel, and when necessary use words.” St. Francis

 

My intent is never to be offensive; I am just really passionate about certain things and enjoy “sharing” them with others.   If you don’t agree with them, that’s fine, I am not offended.  Many of my friends have belief systems totally in opposition to mine but we are still able to enjoy a civil and fruitful friendship.  At the end of the day, I prefer to focus on what holds us together, not what tears us apart.   It’s called respect.

 

What if

 

How could I, in all honesty, be anything more than honest and upfront considering I’ve forever encouraged my daughter to “speak up?” I must practice what I preach.   I’ve preached to not only speak up but to believe in yourself and in what you feel.  Obnoxious and rude, no.  Mannerly and intelligent, yes.

 

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As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that eliminating the unnecessary “shoulds” in my life start with “I should care what someone thinks of me.”  How refreshing to get rid of trying to please everyone, feeling I have to be sooooo super grateful to everyone and for everything, and striving to meet other people’s expectations rather than my own.  I no longer say “yes” when I really want to say “no” and I’ve stopped doing things I actually don’t like but for so long thought I “should” like, so I poured myself into them.  My husband loves golf and many of my girlfriends do too, which meant I “should” like golf more than I do.  Uh….no.  I should spend time with someone I don’t really like all that much.  I can’t.  Just can’t and won’t.

 

I also know I can’t fix everything, even though God knows I’ve tried! Not my circus, not my monkeys.  Not my problem!  I also realize I won’t win every argument or change everyone’s mind or behavior, and that’s okay.  I say what’s important to me and agree to disagree or maybe even go as far as “you may be right.”  Done.  Easy peasy.

 

Trust me, I’ve taken the class in people pleasing and graduated with honors with a degree in “Disease to Please” in the past, living by the mantra “I’m only okay if you think I’m okay.” That’s the old me though.   Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be “that” older woman, but I have better things to do then try to win everyone over and care what people think about me.  It’s not so much that I don’t care what others think, it’s more that I finally really care about what I think.  I am also too old for the drama.

 

One of my favorite quotes has always been “Be who you are and say what you feel, those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” by Dr. Seuss and amazingly, the older I get the more it rings true.  I think Dr. Seuss would be happy to hear this.

 

Honest

 

Lastly, something very refreshing about speaking your mind is that you don’t carry around those heavy burdens called secrets. Holding onto secrets can be very draining and damaging but letting them out in the open frees the mind and frees the spirit.   Just make sure you don’t hurt anyone by doing so.

 

So, what do to about a Facebook comment? Do I let it eat at me or do I fully digest it and move on to the next course.  I think I’ll take a cue from Lou Holtz, who cautioned, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday’s Tip: Chances of Rain September 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:48 pm

umbrella beach

 

Happy first day of fall! I just love autumn; it’s probably my favorite season.  I love the colors, the clothing, the football, and the weather.  Oh, the weather.  How it can change on a dime.

 

Last week in Austin we had rain nearly every day, leading to flash flooding.  Before that we were suffering through those dreaded end-of-summer high 90s, so with the rain came not only flood waters but nearly unbearable humidity too.  This week we are back to dry skies and only upper 80s.   Yay us!

 

I’ve always said I love rain, particularly those day-long thunderstorms. Curl up with my dog, some decaf, and a good book and I’m a happy clam.  I think I like rain so much because it’s really the only “weather” we get in Austin.  To me, it’s a nice break from the heat and the sun.  Needless to say I get downright giddy when the weather forecast calls for a chance of showers.

 

What exactly does that “80 percent chance of rain” really mean though? Does it mean there’s an 80 percent chance of rain that it will rain at my house?  Will it rain 80 percent of the day?  Will it rain only over 80 percent of the city where I live?  Do I need an umbrella today?  The answer:  maybe, maybe, maybe, and maybe.

 

A meteorologist I am not, but I’ve researched it all for you and have learned that what a real meteorologist does when forecasting rain is use a formula that combines “degree of confidence” and “area coverage.” How confident is Willie the Weatherman that it’s going to rain in a certain area of town?

 

According to the National Weather Service, “chance of rain 40 percent” means there is a 40 percent chance that rain will occur at any given point in the “viewing area,” the households that receive a particular TV channel that’s broadcasting the weather forecast.

 

How do forecasters get there? By using math with their handy dandy “Probability of Precipitation” method, which describes the chance of precipitation occurring at any point you select in any given area.  In short,  PoP = C x A (“C” being the confidence that precipitation will occur and “A” being the percent of the area that will receive measureable precipitation.)  That’s in the perfect weather world though. In most cases, forecasters use a combination of degree of confidence and area coverage.

 

Here’s how it works: if Molly the Meteorologist is only 50 percent sure that precipitation will occur and expects it will produce measurable rain over about 80 percent of the area, the PoP (chance of rain) is 40 percent. (.5 x .8 = .4 or 40 %.)

 

Confused? Well, it gets even more confusing.

 

If you hear there’s a 20 percent chance of rain, it could mean the weather gurus are 50 percent sure it will rain in 40 percent of the viewing area OR, they could be 90 percent sure it’s going to rain in 20 percent of the area.

 

Okay, maybe that’s why my degree is news reporting and not a weather forecasting. Too much math!

 

In any event, perhaps the best way to interpret the forecast is to remember that a 40 percent chance of rain means there is a 40 percent chance that it will rain in the city or town where you live. When all else fails, just always keep an umbrella handy!

 

 

evacuation route

 

Hurricane? Cyclone?  Typhoon?

Last week’s rain in Austin was thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Odile, which brought heavy rains to the West Coast after hitting Baja Mexico with hurricane force winds. In sticking with today’s weather theme, I thought I’d explain the difference between a hurricane, a cyclone, and a typhoon.

 

Basically they are all the same things. Different parts of the world use different terms though.  “Hurricane” is used is the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, central and northeast Pacific.  In the northwest Pacific, they are called typhoons; while in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea they are called cyclones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Scripture September 21, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:58 pm

Jesus star

I am as guilty as the next person of placing people on pedestals they don’t necessarily deserve and idolizing certain famous people.  But, when it comes down to it, forget about football teams, reality show stars, musicians, and anyone else we entitle with fame, there is really only one who deserves it.  Let’s make Him famous today and every day.

“Even rich men need God.”

 

Shhhhhh! Where’s the Library? September 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:48 pm

Happy September and Happy “Library Card Sign-up Month!” What?  Yep, it’s time to go to your nearby public library and get your library card.  I’m crazy, right?  Nope, just crazy about libraries and crazy about books.

 

 

SFe library

 

 

I have always loved libraries. My mom was an elementary school librarian for many years and I fondly remember going to the Santa Fe Public Library and staying there for hours.  I can close my eyes and picture its distinctive green doors and my blue or salmon colored library card.  I also remember the library at Santa Fe High sitting in the middle of the sprawling open campus.

 

 

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And then there’s Bizzell Memorial Library at The University of Oklahoma, my alma mater. I loved that place then and I still love it today.  Its “great reading room” is one of the prettiest this side of The Library of Congress and its “stacks” are chalk-full of history, classics, and a few make-out sessions…none by me though!  I spent a lot of time in “The Biz” and love everything about it, from its statuesque role on OU’s south oval to its gorgeous castle-like red brick appearance. (Its bathrooms are also convenient to pre-game tailgating!)

 

I love libraries so much that I’m currently working with an artist to paint bookshelves on a wall in my powder room.  When guests ask where’s “the library,” I’ll send them right to it!

 

 

NY library

 

 

We all have memories of a library: that confusing Dewey Decimal System and card catalog, the musty smell, and the joy of checking out stacks of books.   Public libraries are not only places to access books and study, but they also offer everything from internet access to job-hunting services.  Sadly, libraries are, in many ways and in many places, becoming things of the past with cities large and small shutting them down.  Yes, the New York Public Library and its famous steps and lions is still doing brisk business (having a library card from it is on my Bucket List!), but probably as many people know it for the location of Carrie and Big’s ill-fated wedding in the “Sex and the City” movie as for any books they’ve checked out or research they’ve conducted.  Much like book stores, libraries are feeling the heat from the likes of Kindle and Amazon.  A happy ending, it’s not.

 

Einstein

 

Think about it, libraries are more than just stacks of books. They represent places where anyone can enter and read about virtually anything.  They also serve as community gathering spots and bring people together.  Generation after generation and civilization after civilization have all considered libraries vital to a community.  Today’s society should be no different; after all, no tech store can beat the likes of this, Prague’s Theological Library:

 

Prague

 

 

The city of Austin is currently building a 200,000-square-foot library and I like what they’re including in it. Yes, it will contain shelves of books, rows of magazines, and digital downloads, but it’s also going to house places where Austinites can mix and mingle without being told to “shhhhh!”

 

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” Walter Cronkite

 

The new Austin Public Library will have a 300-person event space with its own catering kitchen, as well as a full-service restaurant. Awe.  Some!   Visitors will be able to take cooking classes in one of the largest culinary demonstration spots in the city; relax at the rooftop garden; and attend special events ranging from book signings to film screenings to live performances.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is not your grandma’s public library!

 

Ninety-miles south of Austin, in San Antonio, a library of a different kind is turning pages and turning heads. In Bexar County’s BiblioTech, there aren’t any books.  Nope, not a one.  The $2.3 million “library” instead boasts rows of iMacs and iPads to use either in the building or to check out.  It’s the nation’s only bookless public library and is proving very popular.  Digital libraries can be found on many college campuses, but San Antonio’s public one is considered by many as the future.

 

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” Ray Bradbury

 

The future of libraries in indeed precarious. As one of the architects of Austin’s library, Steve Raike, told the Austin American-Statesman, “If the information is really available in the palm of your hand, what is it about a library that is really important?”  He goes on to say that the significance of libraries lies in the fact that they are where communities learn and share.

 

Kathy Lussier, a long-time friend and co-worker of mine back in my TV and PR days, is currently Community Relations and Marketing Manager for the Jacksonville Public Library, Florida’s largest public library. When asked by WJCT what makes her place of work one of the city’s “hidden gems,” Lussier spoke of the “second floor oasis in the middle of the city,” the library’s Betsy Love Courtyard.  “It’s great when kids come to the library with school groups or with their parents, or for people working downtown who want to have lunch in the courtyard,” Lussier said.  “I’ve also seen some beautiful wedding pictures because at night the tress and the fountain are lit up.”

 

Books and the people who read them.  It’s those kinds of things that libraries offer and what sets them apart.

 

 

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As I’ve blogged before and as I discussed with good friends while watching football over the weekend, I am not a Kindle or Nook user. I prefer a real book in my hands and I long for a library room in my house with shelves of books, comfy chairs, and even a rolling ladder. In my home library, my books won’t run on batteries but rather on the merits of the words inside them.  Okay, I do agree that people are at least reading when using tablets, but I also tend to agree with Southern Living’s Rick Bragg who wrote, “Even when a whole library can fit in your palm, the gravity of stories in dog-eared books will never grow obsolete.”  Amen.

 

 

If you’re a library and book lover like me, here are some interesting thing you might want to check out:

 

Ann Patchett’s book, “The Public Library,” a photo and essay collection about America’s public libraries.

 

The Texas Humane Legislature Network’s “Paws for a Purpose” on-line auction fundraiser, specifically Austin artist Craig Hein’s “LIBRARYdor Retriever” entry, which is covered with the titles of thousands of books:

 

Craig's dog

 

Thatcher Wine, a Boulder, Colorado bookseller who custom designs client’s bookshelves into works of art. Here are just a couple of his creations:

 

golf course books       Hemingway1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgive and Forget? September 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:01 pm

Forgive rocks

 

 

Forgive. It’s a very big word.  Perhaps one of the biggest in any language spoken.  I, of course, am not talking about the number of letters in it, but the meaning behind it.

 

I thought about forgiveness a lot last Thursday, September 11, and I almost wrote this blog on that notable day. But I had to think about it all and I came to the conclusion that it would make an appropriate Sunday Scripture blog, so here it is.

 

For many, the motto of September 11 is “Never Forget.” That’s a given, but what about “Never Forgive?”  My knee jerk reply is “no.”  “No way.”  The day was too monumental, the actions too horrific, and the pain too immense.

 

In day to day living however, we are called to forgive. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” is what Jesus himself taught us to pray.  We are reminded to forgive others because we all need forgiveness ourselves.  How can we receive something we are not willing to give?

 

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It is so very hard sometimes though, right? Forgiving someone who has betrayed you, lied to you, cheated you, or hurt you in any way is downright nearly impossible.  The heart hurts and the head remembers.  Asking for forgiveness is one thing, but forgiving someone else is another.  But, to love is to forgive.  Forgiving can also prove very freeing.

 

“To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do.” Job 5:2

 

On the other hand, holding onto resentments can be paralyzing, counterproductive, and self-destructive. That’s when we need to turn not only to the person we are feeling resentful towards, but to God.   It’s at those times, when we feel the most hurt and the most vulnerable, that we should ask God for healing.  We need to ask Him to help us make peace with our anger, our hurt, and our broken spirit.

 

I am a very emotional and sensitive person. My feelings are hurt very easily and I often take things way too personally.  When I’m hurt by someone, I’m hurt bad and have a hard time getting over it.  I’m getting better and better at thinking “it’s not as bad as you think it is” but saying that and believing that wrestle in my head.  Sometimes I just have to say “so what” and get on with life.

 

I also like to remember that I can either let a hurt make me bitter or make me better and that holding onto resentment ultimately hurts me more than the other person. More than likely, he or she has moved on and so must I.  It’s the healthy thing to do and it’s the right thing to do, even if I haven’t received the apology I was hoping and waiting for.

 

 Apology2

 

 

Forgiving doesn’t have to mean minimizing the seriousness of the offense. That’s the problem many of us, including me, have with forgiving.  We think that by forgiving, we are justifying the hurt.  That is not the case.  Don’t ever say it doesn’t matter when it does and don’t ever let someone keep hurting you again and again.  Forgiving someone also doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship reverts to its original state.  It just means you are bigger than the hurt caused you.  Being forgiving and being tolerant are two different things. Forgiveness is something you can do privately and not involve the other person.  Reconciliation, however, takes two.  Both sides need to be open to apologizing and open to forgiving.

 

  “Apologizing doesn’t always mean you are wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego.”

 

Apologizing.  Yet another big word and one whose meaning we long to avoid for life.  Don’t fool yourself though.  You will need to apologize many, many times so you might as well do it right.   Never ruin an apology with any type of excuse.  “I’m sorry I lied, but…” just won’t cut it.  Sincerely and honestly own up to your mistakes and transgressions.   Whoever you’re apologizing to will see right through any transferring of blame and disingenuousness. If you don’t mean it and have no plans to make true and effort-filled amends, don’t say it at all.

 

Apologies

 

 

When offering an apology, you must show genuine repentance, offer to make up for the hurt you’ve caused, and then work on rebuilding trust, which is sometimes as easy as forgiving.  Once trust is lost, it’s difficult to get it back but, it’s not impossible.

 

“It is an insult to Go to think your sins are greater than His mercy,” Mother Angelica

 

If no sin is too big for even God to forgive upon reconciliation, we should all find a way to forgive others and even ourselves.  As Pope Francis said, “we are all sinners. The problem isn’t being a sinner.  The problem is not repenting of our sins.  Not being ashamed of what we have done, that’s the problem. “

 

Shame. Another short yet very big word.  We don’t like shame and we certainly don’t like to admit being ashamed of our actions.  We also don’t like to ask for forgiveness for those actions.  But, just like letting go of resentments is freeing, so is asking for forgiveness.

 

Forgiveness. Do it and ask for it.  Others and God are waiting.

 

 

 

Tuesday Tip: The Danger Lurking in Antibacterial Soaps September 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:01 pm

Antibacterial soap

 

School is in session and flu season is just around the corner.  Dorms and locker rooms are full of germs and a new respiratory virus is making headlines.  If you’re thinking of reaching for that antibacterial hand sanitizer or soap to protect yourself, you may want to think twice.  Yes, it might keep the germs away, but at a risk.

 

It’s been 35 years since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration elected to eliminate the chemical called triclosan from soaps.  But, the FDA has failed to enforce or even formalize those 1978 recommendations so the unnecessary and possibly unsafe ingredient is virtually everywhere, particularly in antibacterial soaps.

 

Under the proposed FDA guidelines, manufacturers will have to prove that the chemicals in their products are safe and, somewhat even more importantly and problematic for them, that they’re more effective than soap and water.  If they can’t verify both of these claims, they will have to reformulate their product, remove the antibacterial claim from their product, or remove it entirely from the market.

 

Research after research shows that triclosan could interfere with our hormone levels and may even artificially increase the effects of sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, resulting in increased possibilities of breast and prostate cancers.   In animal studies, the chemical has been shown to affect metabolism, brain development, sperm count, the onset of puberty, heart function, infertility, and weaken skeletal muscle.  Altered behavior, learning disabilities, and even resistance to antibiotics are also common results of triclosan studies.

 

Antibacterial soap bottle

 

Originally created for use in hospitals to protect patients with weak immune systems from disease-causing bacteria, antibacterial cleansers can actually significantly decrease natural body bacterial resistance when used in healthy households.  Think about this:  levels of asthma, eczema, and allergies increase in homes that are overly protected against germs.   A person’s immune system must learn how to respond to disease-causing bacteria in order to have proper balance and germ-fighting stimulation.  More infections in early childhood may actually lead to a decreased number of allergic reactions.  Today’s kids are so germ free they are always sick and dangerous bacteria are developing antibiotic resistance, resulting in what many are calling a global health crisis.

 

So why use it?  I guess because it’s easy and it’s everywhere and it’s kinda hard to avoid products that promise to kill bacteria, right?   You’re probably not surprised to know that triclosan is found in most standard cleaning products, but did you know that products ranging from lipstick to toothpaste, body washes to shaving cream, make-up to cutting boards, and shoes to powders have all been shown to have traces of triclosan in them? In fact, “Scientific American” magazine reports that triclosan was measured in 75 percent of Americans sampled.  That’s a lot of Americans!

 

And don’t for a minute think that by mixing the two – antibacterial cleansers and plain ole soap – that you are getting twice as clean, as triclosan becomes less effective when combined with soap!  Experts worldwide agree that hand washing is the most effective way to prevent bacteria, germs, and disease and the longer you wash your hands, the more successful you become at killing bacteria.   In fact, the Mayo Clinic says there is no proof that washing your hands with antibacterial cleansers kills any more germs than regular soap.  And, there is no data that has proven that using antibacterial cleansers in your home is of any benefit over using standard cleaning supplies.

 

Guess I will stop looking for that “antibacterial” claim on dish soaps and household cleaners, but I will probably still carry a small bottle in my purse to use only in those dire situations where soap or water are not available.  I’ve even heard that simply quickly rubbing your hands together under water will kill most germs so soap isn’t always necessary.   Like anything else, moderation is the key.

 

I am not a doctor or an expert, just a blogger sharing information with you.  My advice:  use antibacterial products wisely and use them sparingly and opt for plain soap when given the choice.

 

Sunday Scripture September 7, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:58 pm

Happy Opening Day NFL fans!

 

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