I Am Woman, I'm a Wordsmith

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

Scheduling God April 12, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:03 pm

calendar book

“Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are Lord.  Help us to spend them as we should.” 

Ps. 90:12

 

Of all the many Lenten emails I received daily several really made me stop and think.  One of those instructed readers to “examine your calendar and your checkbook.  What do these tell you about the gods you serve?”  Ouch.

 

I pretty much live and breathe according to my calendar.  Make that calendars.  I have one in my kitchen, next to my desk, on Google, on my phone, and for work.  Sometimes I make myself crazy updating and syncing them, but in the end they actually bring me peace of mind.  I love the serenity of knowing I will not forget something because it’s on my calendar.  I’m a “write it down” kinda girl and what better place to write something down then on my calendar?

 

Checkbooks.  For many they are thing of the past but our household still uses one and keeps it updated religiously.  Manually.  In pencil.  I know, crazy right?

 

In glancing over my calendar and checkbook though, how many entries do I see devoted to God?  Naturally I don’t have to write down “go to mass” every Sunday because that’s a given.  I do write down the Sundays I volunteer as a Hospitality Minister and the monthly bible study I am blessed to be a part of though.  In the checkbook I found donation entries to our church’s weekly offertory.  But is that all?  In looking deeper, I don’t think so.

 

“God does not call the equipped. He equips the called.  Go serve!”

 

I received that message from my friend Jane one day online and I loved it.  It inspired me that day and inspired me to take a second look at my calendar and checkbook.

 

Does helping the Austin Dog Alliance yesterday evaluate potential therapy dogs serve God?  I like to think so.  Does teaching my preschool class the real meaning of Easter and all about Jesus count?  I certainly hope so.  What about recent donations to Easter Seals and a philanthropic run/walk?  I like to believe those entries in my checkbook are serving the will of God as well.

 

To me, giving my time, talents, and treasures to a bigger cause serve God whether they are on my calendar or not. I also like to think they help lead us on the path of holiness.

 

To be holy is to be consecrated, according to some wise notes I received at my bible study.  We are all set apart for a purpose but the challenge is to act holy.  As they say, “actions speak louder than words.”  Way louder.

 

So, our daily task and calendar entries should maybe be asking what our mission for the day is and to “be a saint.”  Ask yourself, “am I in a state of grace?”  “What can I do today to help others?”  “Have I prayed today?”

 

It’s difficult to be or do any of the above if you are filled with resentment or bitterness though.  Start by eliminating self-pride from your life and adding more humility.  It’s important to remember you are not living for yourself.  We are called to be disciples and I was surprised to learn that one of our most important tasks is to do everything we can to get our spouses and children to heaven.  Wow.  Turns out family is way more important than many of us think and spending quality time with them is holier than we think.  Family is important to me and goes much further than my husband and my daughter.  I love and pray for my mom, my sisters, my nieces and nephews, and everyone in between.  Without them, I’m so much less.

 

Praying to eliminate unforgiveness in your life and in your heart is also important.  We all need to give forgiveness and ask for forgiveness.  It starts with justice and surprisingly doesn’t mean you trust that person again or release them from any debt you feel owed.  It simply means you are no longer going to hold onto the pain and the lack of forgiveness that hurt you.

 

“Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be.  My whole lifetime is but a moment to you and all my busy rushing ends in nothing.” Ps. 39

 

Adding more time for praying to your daily calendar is also critical. Slow down and pray.  Talk to God.  Listen.  Wait.  I start each day by reading my “Jesus Calling” devotional and find it truly talks to me and centers me.  If we don’t take time to pray what does that say about our daily task calendar?

 

Another way to look at things is to ask yourself “am I firmly rooted in Jesus?”  We all want to be that tree planted by the waters from the book of Jeremiah, but in order to do so our roots must be firmly planted in God in order to bear the fruit that pleases Him.

 

Honoring God is both challenging and simple.  How do you honor God?  By going to church?  By studying the bible?  Those are both great things, but don’t forget to honor God by what you do.  Make the decision to honor Him in all you do today and every day because you are His representative on earth.  Make Him proud.  Make Him smile.  Now that’s something to put on your calendar!

 

The “Good” of Good Friday April 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:21 pm

 

Easter1

What is so “good” about today? Today Jesus died.  It’s a somber, dark day. I remember growing up my mom always said the weather was gloomy on Good Friday. And it was. This year it’s predicted to rain on Easter Sunday. What does that say? What is God trying to tell us?

 

The reason we call Good Friday “good” is because, as my Lenten reading said today, it is not the end of the story. “Sorrow does not get the last laugh.” I love that!  We Christians know that Sunday is coming and bringing with it the real goodness of the world. We just have to believe.

 

Still, how much do we actually know and understand about Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday? Do we really grasp how tortuous it was?  It is shocking.  It is horrible.

 

Several years ago I came across an article titled “A Physician Testifies about the Crucifixion.” I’m sharing what I learned from it today.

 

Dr. C Truman Davis researched the physiological and anatomical aspects of our Lord’s passion because, he says, “I had taken the Crucifixion more or less for granted.” Haven’t we all to some extent? Even scripture leaves out the truly grim details of a crucifixion death because torture and execution by fixation to a cross was so common back then. But, what did Jesus’ body actually endure during it all?  What was the actual cause of His death?

 

It all began in Gethsemane, whereas Luke wrote that bloody sweat emerged from Jesus. Luke is the only one to mention this in his gospel and ironically, he was a physician.  Still, expert after expert has tried to refute this possibility, to no avail. The phenomenon is called Hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, and is known to occur when one is under the amount of stress and agony that Jesus was at that time.

 

Soon after Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiphus, the High Priest.  Now the physical torture began. A soldier struck Jesus across the face.  Palace guards blind folded Him and taunted Him.  The spit on Him.  The hit Him.  He is defenseless but said nothing.

 

Battered and bruised, the following morning a dehydrated Jesus is taken before Pontius Pilate and preparations for His scourging begin.  He is stripped of His clothes and His hands are tied to a post above His head.  Roman soldiers then use a flagellum to beat Him.  The short whip consists of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached to the ends.  They whip Jesus at full force with the whip, starting with His shoulders, then His back, then down His legs.  As the beating continues, the subcutaneous tissues are deeply cut and start to bleed.  Underlying muscles tear and the balls of the whip produce large bruises, which break open and bleed when struck with the whip.  The skin on Jesus’ back is by then hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue.  It is determined that He is near death so the beating stops.

 

Jesus is close to fainting when He is untied.  He slumps onto the ground.  The Roman soldiers throw a robe on Him and place a stick in His hand.  They then get some flexible branches with long thorns on them and braid them into a crown.  The crown is placed on Jesus’ head, which begins to bleed.

 

The soldiers mock and hit Him and then take the stick from His hand and drive the crown of thorns deeper into His scalp.  They then rip the robe from His back, casing excruciating pain as the bloody wounds reopen.  It is then that the procession begins.

 

The heavy patibulum of the cross is tied to Jesus’ shoulders and our Lord begins the slow journey along Via Dolorosa.  The wood of the cross gouges into His already lacerated skin and the muscles of His shoulders.  He stumbles and falls and tries to get up but his human muscles have been pushed beyond endurance.  Finally the centurion selects onlooker Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross the reaming 650 yards to Golgotha.  Once there, Simon is ordered to place the patibulum on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backwards with His shoulders against the wood.  The nailing begins.

 

Most depictions of the Crucifixion show the nails going through the palms of Jesus’ hands, but they actually went through His wrists.  A heavy, square, wrought-iron nail is driven through the first wrist and then the second; all the while being careful not to pull His arms too tightly to allow flexion and movement.  Jesus’ left foot is then pressed backward against the right foot and with both feet extended and toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed.  Jesus is now officially crucified and the cross is lifted in place.

 

As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating pain shoots along His fingers and up His arms to explode in the brain.  The nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves.  He pushes Himself up to avoid this torment and then places His full weight on His feet.  This causes searing agony as the nail tears through the nerves between the metatarsal bones in His feet.

 

At this point His arms fatigue and great waves of cramps sweep over His muscles, knotting in deep, relentless, throbbing pain.  He is now unable to push Himself upward.  Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act.  Air can be drawn into the lungs but cannot be exhaled.  Spasmodically, He is able to exhale.  It is during these periods of life-giving oxygen that He uttered “”Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” and “My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?”

 

It is not over though.  Jesus suffers hours upon hours of this limitless pain, cycles of joint-rending cramps, partial asphyxiation, and searing agony as the ripped flesh on His back rubs against the rough timber of the cross.  Slowly, His pericardium fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.  The loss of fluids in Jesus’ body has reached a critical level, the tortured lungs frantically try to gasp small gulps of air and the heart struggles to pump.

 

Jesus can feel the chill of death creeping throughout his tissues.  His body is now in extremes and he whispers, “It is finished.”

 

With one last surge of strength though, Jesus presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deep breath and utters His last cry, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  Our Lord is gone.

 

Shockingly, the legionnaire then drives a lance through the fifth interspace between Jesus’ ribs to make sure He is dead.  He moves the lance upward through the pericardium and into Jesus’ heart, which releases blood and water.  This escape of fluid from the sac surrounding the heart is evidence that Jesus did not die the usual way of crucifixion, by suffocation, He died of heart failure.  Jesus, died of a broken heart.

 

As we remember our Lord’s passion, our hearts should ache and break.  I am humbled to think He endured such pain for me.  For you.  For all of us.  Who does that?  Jesus does that.  That my friends, is what’s good.

 

 

 

The Holiest of Friends March 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:39 pm

Easter Holy Week

Today the church celebrates Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week.  It commemorates the day Jesus triumphantly rode into Jerusalem and was greeted by friends and fans waving palms.  I’ve heard the story for years but just this week learned something new about the day:  those who welcomed Him as He rode into town on a donkey were not the same people who just days later demanded His crucifixion.  In fact, those in the crowd waving the palms weren’t even from Jerusalem.  They had made the journey with Jesus.  They were His friends.

 

This got me thinking and reinforced something that has been on my mind and heart all week:  friends.

 

Friends

 

I totally agree.  I’ve never been one for big crowds or big groups and have forever treasured a few trusted girlfriends rather than many.  Friends are gold to me and I value them immensely.  Sadly though, I’ve become somewhat of a home body in recent months.  I love being at home.  I am never bored in my house.  I’m an expert and happy nester.  I also love writing and surfing the web.  But, writing this blog has not really made me any friends, per se. Still, like I said, I love my friends. I’ve always told Kristen and the kids in my preschool class that you have to be a good friend to have good friends and that no one has to be your friend; you have to make someone want to be your friend.  Note to self:  maybe I need to put a little more practice into what I preach, as sometimes I just don’t reach out as much as I probably should. This I regret and I am vowing to correct.

 

Just this week I had a three hour lunch with a friend I don’t see often but have known for more than 20 years.  It was so wonderful and so rewarding.  I also called a dear friend of mine this week, which is not something I do often.  As I’ve told her before, I’m not a big phone talker but I know she enjoys it so I made the call and was happy to do so. She’s important to me so it’s important that I call her.

 

Last night my husband and I attended Palm Sunday mass and then went to our club to get some take home dinner.  While there, I ran into several ladies whose friendships I value.  Some of the women had just finished a golf tournament and others were just hanging around outside on a beautiful Saturday evening.  I had chosen not to play in the golf tournament for one reason or another but it dawned on me:  I have made many good friends playing golf.  One of the ladies I got to know several years ago when we played in a tennis league together.  It was so wonderful to see them all and made the “Carla you need to get out more” voice scream even louder!

 

FB friends

 

I saw that post on Facebook this week and wholeheartedly agreed with it.  Many people, including my husband, make fun of those of us who enjoy Facebook but through the social media site, I am able to communicate with and keep in touch with friends I probably wouldn’t without it.  Yes, I know it’s not the same as seeing people or talking to them, but it’s better than not being a part of their lives at all, right?

 

I’ve always adored the first “Sex and the City” movie, mainly due to its depiction of solid friendships.  Where would Carrie have been without the support of Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda after Big left her standing on the steps of the New York Public Library on their wedding day?  One of my favorite scenes is when normally polite and demure Charlotte screams “NO!” at Big in the middle of the street and I melt when Samantha feeds the grieving Carrie in her Mexican resort bed.  In a word, priceless.

 

Another movie I love is “Goodwill Hunting” but the following dialogue raises a whole other aspect of friendship:

Sean: Do you have a soul mate?

Will: Define that.

Sean: Someone you can relate to, someone who opens things up for you.

Will: Sure, I got plenty.

Sean: Well, name them.

Will: Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Frost, O’Conner…

Sean: Well that’s great. They’re all dead.

Will: Not to me, they’re not.

Sean: You can’t have a lot of dialogue with them.

 

I’m right there with Will Hunting.  Although I of course have friends who are alive and who inspire me, I do love my books and have them in almost every room of my house.  But as Sean makes startlingly clear, I can enjoy them and learn from them, but they are no substitute for real live friends.  Neither can TV or the internet.

 

Friends bible verse

 

Real friends are those I have in my neighborhood.  Those I work with.  Those I’ve worked with in past years and still get together with.  They are my college girls who I adore and cherish.  They are long-time friends who I “talk” to almost daily whether by text or online.  They are the moms of Kristen’s friends and the wives of Smitty’s friends.  They are those in my bible study and book club.  In short, they are women I do things with.  They teach me things, make me laugh, support me, and comfort me.  I need them in my life and I need to show them more often.

 

Experts say people with strong support networks of trusted friends are happier than those without.  A class at Stanford University recently verified this when it studied the relationship between stress and disease.  In it, it was revealed that one of the best things a man can do for his health is to be married to a woman but for women, the best thing is to nurture their relationships with their girlfriends.  It makes perfect sense to me!

 

 XBarb's

Women connect with each other differently than men do.  We share feelings and we share our deepest, darkest secrets.  Not only does this make us feel good, it’s good for our health.  True support systems and quality shared time scientifically creates more serotonin, the neurotransmitter that creates a feeling of joy in the female body.  In fact, the study showed that spending time with “the girls” is as a healthy as working out and that not creating and maintaining quality personal relationships can be as dangerous to your health as smoking.  You don’t need to tell me twice to lunch or travel with my girls!

 

Jesus learned who His real friends are and I so have I.  So, to all of you reading this who I count as a trusted friend, thank you.  Please know that I’m forever thinking about and praying for you.  I value you and I can’t wait to see you!

 

 

Landing That Dream Job March 25, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:02 pm

Job hunting funny

 

My daughter is graduating from college in less than two months.  This means many things, two of which are mom is an emotional wreck and daughter is interviewing for jobs.  In fact, she’s taking off tomorrow for a round of interviews in her dream city:  New York City.  Yep, mom is nervous but mom is proud.  Mom is also praying!

 

Looking for a job.  The dreaded four words.  I know many people other than my daughter who are currently doing so.  It’s not fun and it’s stressful.  Unemployment hovers between 5 and 6 percent and even in a “hot” city like Austin, finding work is tough work.  There’s an old and wise saying that “it’s easier to find a job when you have a job,” but what to do when you’re a college student with no job or someone who is unemployed?  You keep your head up and you search for that job!  But, where do you start?

 

Probably first and foremost is to carefully think about what you want to do, where you’d like to work, and what will make you happy.  Be honest about your expectations and what your strengths and weaknesses are.  From there, your search begins and there are many stages in that search.  Let’s start with your resume.

 

 Resume

RESUMES

I’ve written many resumes for clients and I can honestly say the ways they are designed and disseminated have drastically changed in just the past few years.  It’s no secret that the written “snail mail” resume is dead as a dinosaur and that online is the way to go.  Today resumes are posted on and uploaded to a host of job search sites like Indeed and Monster.  Being that recruiters and HR managers will be looking at your resume via those sites and their own in-house ones, along with thousands of others, how can you make yours stand out?

 

Your resume is basically a summary and a capsule – albeit a small one – of you and your experiences.  This is where you tell potential employers how your talents and achievements can benefit their company.  They don’t necessarily want to know that you’ve won countless awards; they want to know how your contributions to those awards can benefit their business.  Using the right words to do this is critical.

 

Incorporating some keywords into your resume that you see in job postings is one way of increasing your chances of making the short list.  Most recruiters use computer software to weed through the cyberspace mounds of resumes they receive so if the job calls for “team work,” “billing experience” or “flexibility,” be sure to add those words in the body of your resume.  Yes, this means you will need to create multiple resumes, but you should be doing so anyway.

 

Keeping your resume to a maximum of two pages is recommended and including additional skills and knowledge such as fluency in a foreign language or expertise in public speaking is also advised, separate from and in addition to your employment and experience entries.

 

 

“Motivation alone is not enough.  If you have an idiot and motivate him, all you have is a motivated idiot.”  Jim Rohn

 

 

Words to avoid using in your resume are any overused and clichéd words such as “hard worker” and “out of the box.”  Employers are tired of them and many, like “motivated,” do nothing to separate you from the pack.  Think of more original and interesting ways to describe yourself and avoid jargon and idioms all together.  There is also really no need to list references or to state “references upon request,” as this in understood and potential employers are well aware that you would never list a reference who wouldn’t glowingly refer you.

 

In short, a well-written resume highlights one’s accomplishments and experience and focuses on results rather than duties or roles.  Saying you “increased sales 50 percent” is more impressive than “supervised a staff of 10.”  One last tip:  add a pop of color to your resume.  Don’t go crazy with multiple hues and wild designs, but rather simply and subtly make subheads or bullets on bulleted items a different color.

 

Social media is also vital in a job search.  Create a LinkedIn profile.  Clean up your Facebook, Snap Chat, Tumblr, and Instagram sites.  A whopping 75 percent of recruiters say their hiring process includes researching candidates online and a sure fire way to not get an interview is to have even one questionable photo or comment on one of your sites, regardless of how old they are.

 

Interview

INTERVIEWS

So your resume did its job and the hiring company is interested in you; interested enough to set up an interview.   Now what?  Three words:  DO YOUR HOMEWORK!  Research that company and the industry it’s in.  Find out its history, accomplishments, locations, and key staff members, especially those in the department you may be working in.  Just as important is what many call the “elevator pitch,” basically a 30-second snapshot of why you think you’re the best person for the job.  Don’t sound cocky or arrogant, but do come across as confident and capable.  Envision meeting who you want to work for on an elevator and having only a couple of floors to make them want to hire you.  Then, ask questions.

 

Yes, most candidates consider the interview as the place where companies ask the questions and applicants sell themselves, but tuck away in the back of your mind the fact that you need to be asking questions too.   Just like a job applicant, a company or position may look good on paper, but is it the right place for you?  It’s tricky, though.  You need to keep the company’s needs front and center verbally while answering questions in a way that clearly conveys what you have to offer and contribute.  Here are some questions most experts agree are both professional and helpful:

 

  • Can you describe a typical day for this position?
  • Why do you like working here?
  • How would you describe the work environment and corporate culture?
  • What is the time table for filling this position?
  • What are some the company’s long and short-term goals?
  • How will my performance be measured?
  • What is the next step?
  • Who currently holds or previously held this job and why is the position being filled?
  • Who would be my supervisor?

 

During the interview, speak slowly and project poise.  Stay focused and be positive and upbeat.  Never say “I’ll do anything” though, because one, that’s a hard promise to live up to, and two, it’s better to talk about your passions, interests, and skills rather than come across as desperate or over-eager.

 

Your resume or referral got you in the door so odds are the interviewer is already interested in your skills.  Now he or she wants to get to know you:  your personality, your demeanor, and your mannerisms.  This is where what you wear to an interview comes into play.

 

Catherine Walsh, Corporate Communications Senior VP of Coty, Inc., told The Zoe Report, “I recommend wearing what makes you feel comfortable.  You should feel great walking in the door.”

 

Great advice, and I would add making sure what you wear meshes with where you’re interviewing.  If your interview is at a design firm, you can get away with a piece of statement apparel or jewelry but, if it’s at a more corporate level, you probably want to stick to classics and neutrals.  Think sensible and simple at all costs.  The last thing you want to do is feel awkward or uncomfortable .  One universal tip:  avoid any fragrance…men or women.

 

It’s also important what you take with you to an interview.  Be sure to bring along several copies of your resume (clean and professionally copied), a portfolio if job-related, a professional and neat notepad, and a classic pen.  Never, ever request any of these items from the person interviewing you.  This will immediately send the message that you are ill-prepared and unprofessional.

 

Before and after the interview, shake hands firmly and extend your thanks.  Always make eye contact.  After the interview, jot down everything of importance such as who you met and what was discussed.  Thank you notes are your last step in the interview process.  I prefer, as do many experts I referred to for this blog, a handwritten note, but in today’s tech savvy society, an e-mail thank you within 24 hours is also acceptable.  It just won’t stand out as much.  Just sure to copy everyone you met during the interview.

 

 Fingers crossed1

 

“Before you own the garage, you gotta sweep the floors.”  Kid Rock

 

NETWORK & WORK

We are all well aware that “it’s who you know” often matters more than what you know when it comes to landing a job, so be sure to network and get the word out that you are looking for work.  Don’t be afraid to accept a “lesser” job if it’s at a company you are very interested in working for.  Once you have your foot in the door, it’s always easier to move up that corporate ladder.   There is no elevator to success.  You gotta take the stairs.

 

If you’ve been out of work for a while or are re-entering the workforce, don’t talk about how long it’s been since you’ve worked.  Instead, talk up your past experience as if it happened only recently and project fresh and timely ideas.  As Catherine Walsh added, “The most important skill needed to succeed is to have big ideas.  You can find many talented people to execute your vision but coming up with the idea is the hardest part.”

 

Good luck and believe in yourself!

 

 

 

My Two Cents March 12, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:33 pm

vigil

 

I’ve heard it and I’ve had it.  I’ve heard the OU SAE story all week and I’ve had it up the “here” with it.  As an OU grad and the mom of a current OU student, yes I’m biased but I’m also sad and embarrassed.  What I am not is unapologetic or insensitive.  Both my daughter and me are or were part of the OU Greek system so this story hit especially close to home.  It mortified me.  It angered me.  At the risk of sounding self-important, here are my thoughts on the whole issue:

 

Did OU President David Boren do the right thing by closing the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house and expelling students known to be involved?  Yes.  Did President Boren somewhat over-react?  Yes.  Once the video went viral Sunday night, Boren was looking head on at a rock and a hard place.  Report the “formation of a committee to oversee the issue” and OU just may have gone up in flames.  I applaud him for acting swiftly and decisively.  I also feel his decision was somewhat unfair to the SAE members now left homeless but who had nothing to do with the sickening video.  I have dear friends whose family members are both current and former members of SAE and they are anything but racist, prejudice, or evil.  Still, they suffer.  But, those boys on the bus learned the song from somewhere right?  I also know that SAE had “strikes” against it already at OU and that perhaps this embarrassing episode was simply the last straw for the uber-popular OU frat.

 

Seeing the video for the first time via a text Sunday evening made me sick to my stomach.  I also immediately said “this will be on the nightly news by tomorrow.”  There are just some things today’s society does not and will not tolerate:  berating or insulting African-Americans, gays, and Muslims.  Sadly, had the frat boys sang “there will never be a Catholic SAE,” the video would have remained on the implicated girl’s phone and the world would have never seen it.  Adding fuel to this viral fire is that people just love to hate on Greeks.  Kinda like the Texas A&M Aggie subculture, if you’re not in it you don’t get it and if you are in it you can’t explain it.  If you have tried and true distain for anyone with letters on their shirts or a Greek affiliation in their past, you are displaying a level of prejudice yourself.  To say you hate them is saying you hate me.  And my daughter.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I know what those SAEs did was wrong on so many levels, but I also feel somewhat bad for the two expelled students. One minute you’re living the college life and the next minute you’re back home with mom and dad with no place to go and your entire beloved university livid with you. What they sang was horrific, but did doing so merit their entire lives being ruined?  Did anyone die?  Were any laws broken?  Will they ever be able to attend another university?  Is it right that they have been forced to leave their family homes due to violent death threats?  Do two wrongs make a right?

 

I’ve been reading a lot about this all week, but my favorite was a blog by SMU Professor Maria Dixon who wrote that perhaps a better and more beneficial punishment would have been to make all SAEs sing their dreadful song in front of their beloved black cook and then let him tell them how it makes him feel.  Bingo.  Perhaps the two “ring leaders” should have been required to stand in front of their adored football and basketball teams and apologize. Ouch.  Then, shut down the fraternity but send fraternity members back to class and back to life.  Punish them but teach them.  Inform them and show them. Make them think but make them feel.

 

Maya1

 

Dixon also talks about the fact that many young men and women arrive at universities across America having never really associated with anyone except people just like them.  They live in suburbia, are put in private schools rather than neighborhood public schools, then are dropped off at much more diverse college campuses and expected to “get it.”  Yes my daughter is in a sorority and grew up in the suburbs but she also went to public schools and has seen her share of diversity and culture.

 

Another issue that needs to be addressed and that the “OU SAE” deal has brought to light is that kids today are “okay” with words and language that previous generations would never have approved of much less so pervasively permitted.  We have become desensitized to everything from the “f-bomb” to racial slang and no one seems to care.  How is it fair for Gen-Xers and Millenials to listen to music that repeatedly employs the “n” word but then be reprimanded when they use it…unless of course they’re black…which makes it all the more confusing and somewhat hypocritical?  If the “n” word is such a horrible word, and I firmly believe it is, why isn’t it totally and completely banned from society, including in rap music and in movies?  I’m as offended to listen to Lil Wayne say it as I was hearing an SAE say it.  Why was it okay for OU football player Eric Striker to use profanity and insult white frat boys and sorority girls in his reactive Snapchat video?  Do we all want to make it acceptable to be punished for not only what we do but what we say?  Hold on tight, I feel a slippery slope coming.

 

Am I justifying the busload of SAEs?  A strong and emphatic no!  What they did was deplorable and deserves consequences that equally discipline them and wake everyone and anyone up who associates with them and that kind of behavior, my daughter included.  What I don’t justify is that OU is now associated with being racist.  The University of Oklahoma did not sing and post a racial slur, a small group of students did.  Let’s get that straight.  OU severely punished them so perhaps the university should be applauded rather than condemned.  The so-called “four star” football recruit that reportedly changed his signing allegiance upon seeing the video?  I call B.S.  He’d been talking about doing so for weeks.

 

I arrived on the OU campus a naive Hispanic woman from New Mexico who know nothing about sororities and fraternities but quickly and fairly found a home in one.  Never, ever did I hear or was subjected to any racial taunts or actions. Is the Greek system segregated?  Yes, but there are many houses that aren’t.  There are also several exclusively black fraternities and sororities.  Whether they have any white members I don’t know.  Everyone everywhere has their “groups.”  There is nothing wrong with that.  What is wrong is when any one of them becomes bigoted or profoundly immoral.   Are those young SAEs bigots?  I’m not so sure.  Is Al Sharpton?  Probably so.

 

Oklahomans have been dealt many historic blows.  They are not haters and they are truly nice and genuine people.  I’m generalizing and making this claim based only on those I know and am well aware that all Okies aren’t good just like all SAEs aren’t bad.  Still, protestors are continuing to march at OU, spray paint private property, and harass those involved.  I’m not sure what they want though.  Those involved have been punished and we’ve all felt the pain of the shocking and depressing events.  Wrong is wrong and what’s done is done. Let’s pause but let’s also move on.

 

One of the first things I asked my daughter was “what would you have done if you were on that bus?”  As we discussed things, I also told her that perhaps the biggest lesson learned from this whole debacle is not that “racism is still alive” like many have claimed but the lessons learned regarding social media.  If you don’t want it on CNN or Fox News tomorrow, don’t say it or do it tonight.  The fact that it was downloaded and uploaded ad nauseam shouldn’t be what troubles us though.  What’s most troubling to me is that it was considered fun and okay by so many on that bus to sing and clap along. My hope is that they are feeling true remorse and to remember that we are all brothers and sisters, and not just Greek ones.

 

 

 

Tuesday’s Tip: Adding Texture to a Room March 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:00 am

 

You could say it started with a window.  While browsing through a magazine some weeks back I ran across this photo:

 Cornice

I loved it: a linen-covered cornice board edged with nail head trim. I have cornice boards in my family room and this idea screamed, “Carla, do this!” So what did Carla do, she got on it!

 

First I removed the plaid fabric that was draped over checked fabric and then called a professional. She came over, assessed the project, and promptly quoted me a price that was not only shocking but borderline insulting. Really, I thought. To cover something that’s already in place? Then insult met injury as she proceeded to give suggestions on other parts of my room. I felt like I had taken my car in for an oil change and was told I needed a new transmission. Not happy. Not impressed.

 

I kindly thanked her for coming over and extended the obligatory “I’ll be in touch.” Then I put my mind to work on Plan B. Enter my friend JZ.  JZ is not a rapper, but an excellent seamstress. I told her my idea, she said it was sooooo do-able, and that was that. We bought some wonderful upholstery fabric, went to work, and at the end of the day I had two fabulous “new” cornice boards.

 

Back to the “professional.” Although I didn’t appreciate how proud she was of her abilities and cost of putting them to work for me, I did take her suggestion that I add more texture to my room to heart. This did surprise me a bit though, as I feel I have lots of color and pattern going on in what is a somewhat small room, but okay, I thought, I’ll check it out.

 

I could have consulted my college friend Christie who is a professional designer and so talented, but being the computer hack that I am, I went straight on-line.

 

What I found was something I wasn’t crazy about. I Googled “texture in rooms” and one after another, the images were of rooms I didn’t find very appealing. I dug deeper though and discovered that texture can be done subtly and traditionally. Now we were talking.

 

RZoe pretty

Photo: Rachel Zoe Report

Texture It Is

Think of texture as “touchable.” Leather is touchable. Burlap is touchable. Think also of contrasts through a variety of textures. Soft and rough. Shiny and dull. Texture is such an easy way to make a room interesting, especially if you are not big on color. It also adds personality to a space. It adds flair.

 

Furniture is one way to incorporate texture into a room, but accessorizing is a much more affordable and less obvious way of doing so. Hang a throw over the back of a chair. Place some glass on a wooden table. Add a rug. Plants scream texture and you can add another a favorite of mine: anything tufted such as a sofa, headboard, even a fun ottoman.

 

I’m dying over this sofa:

20055160810927094_V9FQPeAz_b

 

And these rooms: (photo courtesy Houzz)

living room   Texture-Threve Interiors  Texture-The Design Tabloid

 

I follow a blog called “The Inspired Room” and came across some ideas regarding texture that I could wrap my decorating brain around. Melissa recommends adding layers of texture and says that the key to a “beautifully warm and comfortable home” is to add layers to every room. She also says that when a room lacks those layers of texture, it can fall flat, regardless of any other décor or expensive accessories you’ve put in it. Yikes! I had my work cut out for me!

 

Adding Texture

Fears aside and mouse in hand, I found that adding texture has many benefits. It adds dimension to a room and appeals to both our visual and tactile senses. In short, it makes a room more interesting and invites guests to touch and feel. You can do this by adding rugs, an interesting paint finish, attention-grabbing art, a unique piece of furniture, or an array of bold fabrics.

 

Perfect little corners of texture: (photo courtesy The Inspired Room)

152348399864802583_Idole3hW_b       Texture-The Inspired Room

 

But wait, except for a rug (which my husband is completely against) and an interesting paint finish (which I’m not a big fan of), I have all of this. Growing up in Santa Fe made me an art lover and I have lots of it throughout our home. I feel I also have plenty of color and pattern through a plaid wing-back chair, a floral comfy chair and ottoman, a ticking sofa, a wood and iron table, a painted end table, and my husband’s big leather chair. Maybe I’ll add some fun pillows, but anything else puts me smack dab on the fence.

 

While I decide, I thought I’d share with you some ways you might want to add texture to your surroundings, whether they be your home, office, or anywhere else. Depending on your style, I’ve put together some personal tips and some from “Better Homes & Gardens.” Enjoy and let me know if you have any fabulous ideas!

 

Traditional

If you want to establish elegance and have a traditional style, dress up your décor with woven wools, smooth silks, hand-tufted rugs, fabric trims, gilded frames, cut crystal and polished wood.

 

Country

For a country style, your goal should be to establish comfort. By adding layered rugs, chenille, ticking fabrics, weathered woods, and dimensional artwork you will be well on your way to creating an inviting interior.

 

Modern

Note:  It’s important to know that “modern” means a period of time regarding design and “contemporary” refers to what’s in and what’s trendy.  They are two completely different styles.

A modern approach is big on making an impact, which you can do by incorporating shag rugs, smooth leather, sparse fabrics, light woods, glossy surfaces and shiny metals into the room.

 

Romantic

Ambiance and charm are key here. Hand-hooked rugs, embroidered fabrics, vintage lace, painted furniture, wicker, ruffles, and trims all play a big role.

 

Rustic

Bring the outdoors in by having exposed ceiling beams, lots of raw materials like timber stools and end tables, and unadorned windows as long as the view is a good one.

 

In the Mood

All of the above establish your style, but texture can also set the mood of your room. Looking for a more feminine mood? Then choose soft, fine fabrics and embellished furniture. If it’s a masculine feel you’re wanting, use rustic metals and rich woods. Formal can be created with silky pillows and velvety slipcovers while a comfy vibe will include anything fluffy and furry. Raw, natural materials easily add a sense of calm and warmth to a place and are popular in both formal and casual settings. By mixing neutral patterns and textures you can also add depth to your décor and create a room oozing with both charm and polish. BH&G also recommends every room have a focal point, which texture can help create, such as a lattice table, a large piece of art, or even an interesting rug in an otherwise unadorned room.

 

When adding texture, consider combining similar touches like fabrics and trims on pillows or groupings on a coffee table. You can “harmonize” a room by blending comparable characteristics such as naturals and carry it throughout you room, from the window coverings, to the paint color, to lampshades, and accents. You can also repeat textures and patterns. Placing a leather sofa in front of a table sporting stacks of leather books works well, as does setting a wicker basket next to a wicker chair. For real drama, envelop a lovely velvet chair with velvet drapes.

 

Or, do the complete opposite and mix it up. There’s nothing I love more than mismatched chairs around a table or a formal table surrounded by casual or fabric-covered chairs. Traditional Chippendale chairs covered in a check fabric would add whimsy and flare to the long-time dining room darlings, as would mixing up styles. These eating areas are great examples of mixing it up and doing it just right:

Rustic meets glam             Dining room Texture-Houzz   elements of style1

(photos courtesy Houzz and Elements of Style)

 

Combine painted furniture pieces with upholstered ones or antiques with something modern or contemporary. Or, dress up or dress down any cabinet or dresser simply by adding the right drawer pulls. Still, you may want to pick something rough like a sturdy leather sofa and pile it high with satiny pillows. Finally, how about placing a gorgeous antique sideboard in an otherwise informal room? The possibilities are endless.

 

It can feel overwhelming at first, but relax. There are many ways to incorporate texture into a room. Here are just a few easy ways that you or anyone can accomplish:

 

Windows.  This is what got me started! I love window treatments and was happy to learn that the right ones can add texture to a room. Fabric is my treatment of choice, but textured blinds, flowing sheers, or heavy plantation shutters all do the trick. Pick your style and always remember they are flexible and changeable.

 

Rugs.  In and of themselves, rugs are texture and they come in an assortment of fabrics and varieties. Go crazy with an animal print or fur rug or stay neutral with something in jute or sisal.

 

Walls.  This is where you can have some real fun and add some tangible interest to a room. Bead board and Wainscoting. My favorites. Wallpaper. Yep, it’s back and in a big way.  Grass cloth. Yes, please! Even painted paneling, but not your momma’s paneling. I’m talking shiplap and contemporary. Other ideas include adding molding, ornate (not country) stenciling, and one of my favorites: exposed brick.

 

Don’t stop at the common areas of your home either. Bedrooms naturally lend themselves to texture. In fact, beds with layers upon layers of texture are the coziest of all. Think about adding a chenille or other touchable throw on top of your duvet cover and satiny sheets. Toss in some interesting throw pillows and revel in the results.

 

I love both of these rooms, Erin Gate’s guestroom and Rachel Zoe’s bedroom:

ErinGates guest room   RZ-Bedroom-800

 

Bedrooms and a guest room after my own heart: (photo courtesy Elements of Style)

 

Elems of Style master - Collette bed  Xguest room

Shiplap and more:

bedrom

 

And don’t forget the bathroom! How sick is this marble mosaic-tiled shower, powder room, animal print chair and rug, and fireplace next to the tub?! Take me away…now! (photo courtesy Houzz)

Bathroom - Marble mosaic tiled shower Texture-Houzz1     bath8 bath3

 

 

Bottom line, be bold and don’t be afraid to have fun with texture but keep in mind that too much of it can be overwhelming so be careful and don’t go overboard. Also, remember that the more textured and patterned an object is, the heavier it will feel and the bigger it will appear. As with any décor, don’t overdo it and consult a professional if you can. Texture:  you can do it and it will do wonders for a room!

 

 

Friday Funny March 6, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:08 pm

Pinatas

Happy Friday!

 

 
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