I Am Woman, I'm a Wordsmith

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

40 Days to a Better Person February 9, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:31 pm

Lavender2

 

 

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the day Lent officially begins and the day many of us vow to “give up” something. Lent is not just a Catholic thing, as many would believe, but is also observed in Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Eastern Orthodox faiths. Considering that its purpose is to draw us closer to God and to be more Christ-like, what’s not to recognize about it by all believers?

 

Ash Wednesday

Why the Ashes?

To address the elephant in the room, Catholics around the world will gather in churches tomorrow to receive blessed ashes on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. The ashes come from burnt and blessed Palm Sunday palms and symbolize the “ashes to ashes” scripture from Genesis 3:19. They also remind the faithful of their sinfulness and the need to make changes in their lives. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends Holy Thursday, March 24. Sundays are not included as days of abstention or fasting.

 

Now that the specifics are out of the way, let’s move on to the more spiritual aspects.

 

 

Lent

Give Up and Give

In mass this past Sunday Deacon Dean gave a sermon that was the kind of sermon I wish we got every week. I left church feeling both fed and inspired. His message to us was to use Lent as a time to grow closer to God step-by-step, day-by-day, so when the day comes that we take our final step, it is an easy one. Loved the analogy.

 

But why do we “give up” something at Lent? Tradition has it that we abstain from things that take our attention away from God. We try to watch less TV; eat less; and waste less time on computers and phones texting, emailing, and endlessly scrolling through social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Sunday’s sermon so eloquently suggested we fast from things like those that distance us from God and instead use the time for more proactive and good things. It got me thinking.

 

What do I habitually do that distances me from God? In today’s ever-growing secular and spiteful world, so many things. So very many things.

 

Giving up certain foods is what most of us automatically think of. When I was growing up, we’d always give up candy. This made the sweet treats in our Easter baskets all the more rewarding. As I’ve grown up, I still give up a certain sweets (Swedish Fish and any and all gummy candies, which I love, if you must know!) as well as other things that may not take me away from God, but are sacrifices nonetheless. We sacrifice things during Lent to remind us of what Jesus sacrificed for us: his LIFE! But, what can I remove that takes me away from God? I thought about this in mass and am still contemplating it.

 

One idea I have is to read any type of spiritual book when I go to bed rather than turn to my IPad or TV. When I think of it that way, choosing the IPad or TV over praying or reading definitely leads me away from God. Bingo. I’m gonna give it my best shot! Maybe I’ll even start to like it.

 

Lent is all about just that: conversion. The goal isn’t just to abstain from something during the 40 days of Lent, but forever. It’s kind of like going on a diet or a fitness program. Your goal shouldn’t be to eat healthy only while dieting or to exercise only while trying to lose weight, but to take on those habits daily and regularly. Giving up sinful things and negative habits during Lent can be as difficult as giving up sodas, chocolate, or fast food, but eliminating them from your life all together is even tougher.

 

So, avoid those unhealthy sodas and mindless computer games, but how about also giving up things that take the joy out of our lives like resentment, complaining, pessimism, worry, anger, pettiness, and even gossip. As Deacon Dean said on Sunday, rather than seeing homeless people at your car window at a stoplight as an annoyance, think of them as an opportunity to serve Jesus. He suggested giving them socks and underwear as they have nowhere to do laundry so once their undies get old or soiled, they have no choice but to throw them out. How hard is it to keep sock and underwear in your car? Not very.

 

We tend to look at those homeless souls as icky and dirty, but none of us are genuinely clean and pure. Consider Lent as an early exercise in “spring cleaning” and look at what you need to “clean” out in your “temple.” We all have cobwebs lurking behind all of our good intentions, but as they say, your beliefs don’t make you a good person, your behavior does.

 

 

I Am Third1

Lastly, Deacon Dean reminded us that we are encouraged to offer up Prayer, Almsgiving, and Fasting during Lent. Prayer consists of our relationship with God, Almsgiving is our relationship with others, and Fasting is our relationship with ourself. Isn’t that how we should always prioritize things: God, others, and self? Tomorrow is a good day to start.

 

 

Accepting Our Differences January 31, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:51 pm

XCrayons skin

“Happiness comes to those who are fair to others and are always just and good.”

Psalm 106:1

 

 

“We are ALL brothers and sisters.” That was the message of today’s gospel and homily and they were both eye-opening and timely. They also go hand-in-hand with the above crayon photo, which is trending as the new and improved variation on skin colors and the coloring of them.

 

Leading off with the popular 1 Corinthians 13 “Love is patient, love is kind, love is not pompous or boastful…” reading, mass then turned to the gospel and Luke 4:21. In it, Jesus is not accepted by some even in his “native place” and He scolds others for not accepting lepers, foreigners, or anyone different from themselves. Fast forward to today’s world and you can’t help but see the correlation between the lepers of Jesus’ time and today’s refugees and immigrants.

 

Father’s homily was powerful and riveting. Sitting there, I’m certain I wasn’t alone in asking myself whether I’m welcoming to others. Do I tolerate differences? Do I accept even though I disagree? I’ve always joked that as a conservative Oklahoma Sooner living in uber- liberal and home of the Texas Longhorns, Austin, Texas I have no choice but to do just that if I want friends and co-workers who like me, but in all seriousness and in matters more important, yes but sometimes sadly no.

 

I’m human and have no shame in my game admitting that the global refugee crisis concerns me. Do I believe many of them are innocents? Yes, of course. Do I fear that hidden among them are potential terrorists and enemies of the free world? Absolutely. Would Jesus accept them? Probably so. Would he condone the recent string of rapes and sexual assaults committed by them in Germany, Sweden and other countries that have welcomed them with open arms? Probably not. Do I want them next door to me? Sadly, no. Do I want them living next to my daughter. Again, no.

 

Does all this make me a bad person and a non-Christian? I pray not. What about you? Think deep and think hard about it and be honest with yourself.

 

 

“Comfort those who are scared and help those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

Always be joyful and always keep praying. This is God’s will.”

1 Thessalonians 5:14

 

 

Father also spoke about St. Francis calling everyone his “brothers and sisters” and encouraged us to do the same. All people…the rich, the poor, the gay, the straight, the right-wing, the left-wing, the black, the white. It’s a tall order but one we must strive to fulfill. Again, I struggle with doing so every day. I struggle on congested roadways. I struggle as I watch the news.  I even struggled in mass today as a young child made loud noises and was allowed to walk up and down the aisles all during mass. This annoyed me. His doing so was very distracting to me. Then I thought, “Would Jesus want him and his family in mass even though he was disruptive?” Yep, and double yep.  Back to “love is patient, love is kind,” right?

 

 

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

Mother Teresa

 

 

Driving home from mass Smitty and I talked about judging people and being judgmental. What exactly do they mean?

 

Basically it’s having an overly critical view of someone and judging them too quickly and too harshly. It’s one thing to disapprove of someone’s actions and think you are better than them but it’s a whole other ballgame to do so based on what’s commonly considered right and wrong. It’s a fine line and one we all walk on a daily basis.

 

As you start your work week try to be less judgmental and think of ways you can maybe be more patient, more kind, less rude, and less self-seeking. I promise to do the same.

 

 

 

Tuesday Tip January 26, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:23 pm

Pretty kind etc

Pretty generous, pretty patient, pretty polite, pretty decent.

 

Write or Wrong? January 23, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:03 pm

Cursive1

Happy National Handwriting Day everyone!

 

I can hear you now. Yawn. Zzzzzzzz. Boring!

 

But wait (in that annoying infomercial voice), not everyone is as interested in handwriting as me, but what about if it affects your children’s learning abilities and your memory as you age?

 

Maybe I have your attention now. Maybe not.

 

Declaration-of-Independence

 

Either way, today is National Handwriting Day and I’m all over it. Especially the lost art of cursive writing, which in my opinion is a shame. I distinctly remember the white on green cursive ABC letters that hung in my childhood classrooms and I treasure recipes I have of my mom’s written in her handwriting. Printing out a recipe off the computer just doesn’t have the same sentiment. And what about historic documents like The Declaration of Independence? They just wouldn’t look the same typed out. On a more current note and considering all the personal data protection concerns we face, what about forgery? It is waaaay easier to forge a printed signature than a cursive one.

 

Still, think about it: when was the last time you actually wrote something? I still write thank you notes. I still write out my grocery list. And, I’m handwriting all of my student assessments. I’d bet the house that most people email thank you’s, enter grocery lists on their phones, and print work materials off their computers. All this, even though putting pen to paper is proven to help kids learn to read and helps adults learn new concepts.

 

Cursive comic

 

The Lost Art of Cursive

But, cursive is fast becoming a correspondence relic and what some consider a 21st century skill. The writing may be on the wall for cursive, and it’s not pretty. Do we really want future generations to be unable to read our country’s historic documents? Remember shorthand? Well, cursive may not be far behind even though the physical act of writing helps students improve fine motor skills that help them get through life. It also develops letter recognition, which is a strong predictor of reading success. The spill-over between writing and reading is undeniable and yet it seems the keyboard is taking over. So is Common Core.

 

Oh Common Core, the set of uniform (and controversial) educational standards that have been adopted in most states and that do not support the teaching of legible writing after first grade. After that, it’s all about keyboard proficiency. It’s an effort to improve America’s schools, but not everyone is on board the keyboard only trend.

 

Cursive letter

 

Get it Write

Psychologists and neurologists alike warn educators that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development and that it is way too early to eliminate handwriting curriculum. A New York Times article reported that children read better when they learn to write by hand and that writing also makes them better at generating ideas and retaining information.

 

Apparently the brain likes handwriting so what’s not to love?

 

A study at Indiana University proved this by showing a letter to children who had not yet learned to read or write and asked them to draw or write it down. They could either trace the letter, write it freehand, or type it on a computer. While doing so they were placed in a brain scanner, which showed that those who wrote freehand exhibited increased activity in three key areas of the brain while those who typed or traced the letter showed no similar brain effect. In short, when they wrote the letters they used brain regions known to help reading skills but they did not use these areas when they typed or traced the letters. Mic drop.

 

The brain is also affected by handwriting in that seeing a letter written in various forms is way more beneficial than seeing it the exact same way every time we read it, like on a computer despite the many font choices. No two letters are the same every time we see one and yet if all kids see are typed versions, their ability to distinguish variations diminishes.

 

There is also a difference in how the brain relates to cursive and printing and the distinctions are leading some researchers to believe it may even lead to a potential treatment for dyslexia. In alexia, or impaired reading, some people who are unable to process printing can read cursive and vice versa. In addition, students with difficulty reading may develop difficulty with writing, part of what’s known as dysgraphia. Everyone focuses on dyslexia, but alexia and dysgraphia should be equally researched and developed.

 

So much is being discovered, that a whole new field of research called “Haptics,” in which the interactions of touch, hand movements, and brain function are studied.

 

And it’s not just school-aged children who benefit from handwriting and who may be in jeopardy if it’s eliminated. A UCLA study showed that college students learn better when they take notes by hand rather than on a laptop and other research showed that writing by hand allows a student to actually reflect on what is being taught, which in the end helps them better understand the lesson as a whole. In adults, memory and learning abilities are greatly enhanced with handwriting.

 

Another benefit of handwriting something is ownership. Personal style and individuality results in a sort of “I did this” attitude and a proud, confidence-building moment. Everyone can type something in Helvetica but not everyone can artfully write and illustrate. In addition, writing is said to be something akin to playing an instrument and while not everyone has access to an instrument or can afford music lessons, everyone has access to pens and paper.

 

So, although keyboarding may be fast and efficient, it may also diminish our ability to process new information, and as Yale psychologist Paul Bloom told the New York Times, “With handwriting, the very act of putting it down forces you to focus on what’s important. Maybe it helps you think better.”

 

Sounds like something “we the people” should be thinking long and hard about. Maybe cursive is the “write stuff” after all.

 

 

Sick and Tired? January 22, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:22 pm

Flu shots

Snowstorm Jonas is currently wreaking havoc in America’s south and mid-Atlantic and is climbing its way north and east, bringing with it crippling snow, heavy icing, damaging winds, coastal flooding, and “thundersnow.” Businesses are encouraging staff members to head home early and airports up and down the eastern seaboard are cancelling flights. If you do get on a flight, you might want to stock up on flu medications.

 

Although this winter has been what experts call a “slow” flu season, it’s storms like Jonas that can tip the flu scales into high mode. Here’s why: when blizzards hit people stay inside. When people stay inside they spread more germs. No, you don’t “catch” a cold because it’s cold outside. You get a cold or the flu through viruses spread by germs. Days spent inside allow germs and viruses to spread more readily and easily and THAT’S why more people get sick in colder months. Schools also come into play as they are now in session; meaning kids are together and probably not so worried about spreading their germs. Viruses also spread more easily in dry air and cold weather has dryer air, so do heated homes. In warmer months, we tend to be outside more but “summer colds” are not uncommon, especially during rainy seasons in tropical places when people stay indoors.

 

So far the U.S. has not seen a scary flu season like we have the past three years. Last year was especially bad as the flu vaccine that many received was not effective against the strain of flu that was going around. Although very rare, it could happen again.

 

 

XXXNot funny when you're next

 

Most doctors agree that your best bet against getting the flu is getting the flu shot. You want to get the vaccine before flu season hits, as you become protected about two weeks within getting the vaccine. Prevention is key. As an added bonus, the flu vaccine may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke for a whole year. Here’s how: when you get the flu your body produces inflammation to fight it but too much inflammation can make your blood vessels unstable, which can result in heart attacks or strokes.

 

 

Flu sleep

 

If you do come down with the flu, drink plenty of water and get lots of rest are what most doctors “prescribe.” And although Tamiflu may relieve symptoms and even shorten your flu cycle, most doctors reserve it for patients who are really sick, vulnerable, or weak, such as those with immune disorders, the elderly, or pregnant women. The rest of us will most likely leave our doctor’s office without a Tamiflu prescription. As for how much water you should drink, most physicians say to divide your weight in half and get that many ounces of water each day…even when you’re not sick.

 

In addition, even though grandma may be wrong about “catching” a cold if you go outside with wet hair, she is right about using a humidifier. Humidifiers help by keeping the mucous membranes in your nose moist, which relieves congestion. They also moisten the air, eliminating the aforementioned and dreaded dryair that viruses thrive in. I also like to use peppermint oil when I’m sick. Peppermint has menthol, which gives it that minty smell, and sniffing it is believed by some to “unstuff” a stuffy nose. It’s also relaxing.

 

And from the TMI department, doctors interviewed by Redbook magazine say keeping your nose moist also keeps the tiny hairs inside of it called cilia, moist. These little hairs actually fight off viruses by preventing them from entering your body. They literally move around and act like a shield and they work best when they are moist. Who knew?

 

Since colds and the flu are passed by contact between people, please people, stay home as long as you can if you get sick and keep your kids home if they come down with something. No one wants someone hacking and moaning in the office or sniffling and sneezing in the classroom. Stay home and stay away from people.

 

Once you are on the road to recovery, be sure to clean and replace. Clean your bathrooms, your sheets and towels, and replace things like toothbrushes and water bottles. Even though once you catch a particular strain of the flu you become immune to that strain for the rest of the season, others in your home could be infected and you could catch something else.

 

Flu in a man

 

It goes without saying that you should always cover coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow (not your hand, which in turn will spread the germs) and wash your hands often. That commercial currently on TV that shows someone sneezing out a blue cloud of air gunk in an elevator really demonstrates why. Think about it, everything that’s touched by someone has the potential of harvesting germs. This, of course, includes door knobs and elevator buttons, but also credit card machines at stores, pens to sign checks at restaurants, and seat pocket reading materials in airplanes. Yep, we’re back to the airplanes. So what about the seats themselves? I’m not even gonna go there.

 

If Snowstorm Jonas has anything to say about it, millions of flyers may not go anywhere this weekend.

 

Stay safe, stay warm, and stay healthy.

 

Hair It Is January 19, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:02 am

XXXhair stylist

 

While sitting in the chair getting my hair cut recently, my fabulous stylist Priscilla shared some interesting information about hair styles and the whole time I was thinking, “I feel a blog coming,” so here it is!

 

Did you know that, despite the plethora of hair styles out there, there are really only three basic types? In essence, whatever style you have right now is very well a take on the Bob, the Crop, or the Shag. Yep, that’s it.

 

Call Me Bob

54bc048d863c1_-_hbz-bob-lob-katie-holmes 54bc0484e5064_-_hbz-bob-lob-emma-roberts 54bc0497d4b43_-_hbz-short-hair-emma-stone-xl hbz-bobs-lobs-jlo

Let’s start with the Bob, the classic women’s style shown in photos above in which the hair is cut above the shoulders in a blunt and uniform cut with no layers. It’s clean, classic, and easy to style. Think Anna Wintour or Doris Day.

 

 

54bc04867fe26_-_hbz-bob-lob-g-paltrow Alba blunt lob Lauren Conrad lob 54bc048f41b6f_-_hbz-bob-lob-kerry-washington

A distant cousin of the Bob is what InStyle magazine called “The haircut that works for everyone,” the Lob, which is longer than the Bob but still blunt and layer-free. It’s known to longate the neck and have more versatility than the Bob and, with the proper cut, can make stringy, fine hair appear fuller.

 

 

Victoria Beckham

More recently Victoria Beckham made “The Posh Bob” the trend of the moment with her asymmetric cut. Featuring hair that is longer on one side than the other or shorter in the back than the front, the Posh Bob was all the rage a few years back.

 

 

Rihanna pageboy coco-rocha-pageboy-bob-hairstyle-and-makeup-2

Then there’s the Pageboy, popular in the late 1950s and 1960s and making a vintage resurgence today. Never one of my faves, think Toni Tennille or Uma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction,” but Rihanna and Coco Rocha slayed it in the two photos here. Its most notable feature is a thick bang, made famous by ’50s glamour and fetish model Bettie Page. This  association was not acceptable to women’s magazine editors however, so it was sold to the public as the hairstyles worn historically by English pageboys.

 

 

Just Crop It

032913-Anne-Hathaway-400_0 Charlize pixie crop  Robin Wright pixieScarlett Johansson

From there, let’s visit the Crop. This is a short hairstyle made so elegantly famous by Robin Wright’s character in “House of Cards” and in which the hair is cut very close to the head but sometimes long enough to tuck behind the ears. Pieces of a modern crop often go past the bangs, which are also known as “fringe.” Think Kris Kardashian or Princess Di. I’ve had a version of a “Kris Crop” for years now and am pretty sold on it although I have let it grow out a bit.

 

 

548223cde9848_-_best-hairstyles-sharon-stone-0511-xl twiggy4 kaley-cuoco-sweeting-headband-hair-1-main Ellen Degeneres pixie

The Pixie is the “now” version, with everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to Kaley Cuoco chopping their long and glamourous hair into this short and sassy style. I love it and wish I could pull it off. Sharon Stone pulled it off and then some when she showed up at the 1998 Oscars with a new pixie cut and her husband’s white shirt with her Vera Wang skirt. It was insanely elegant and memorable. Twiggy is also a Pixie legend. Her 1960s version is still popular today.

 

On men, what’s called the “Quiff” could maybe be considered the male version of a crop. Members of One Direction have sported the style as has Bruno Mars. It’s trendy and traditionally pompadourish at the same time.

 

 

It’s In The Shag

lisa-rinna1 shag  Reba shag Stevie Nicks shag Carol Brady

Finally, there’s the shag, the choppy and layered style created  by the barber Paul McGregor. Most commonly layered to various lengths and feathered at the top and sides, this unisex style was made popular by many a celeb, including Joan Jett, Rod Stewart, David Cassidy, Jane Fonda and Florence Henderson back in the ‘70s and ’80s. Henderson’s Carol Brady shag will forever be considered one of the worst styles ever and was “this” close to being a mullet. Don’t tell Billy Ray Cyrus.

 

 

Meg Ryan shag The Rachel1

The shag resurfaced in the ‘90s with Meg Ryan’s messy version, which I love, and Jennifer Aniston’s “The Rachel” from the hit TV show “Friends.” The Rachel had a following all of its own and is one of the most popular hairstyles in history. Flattering yes, but low maintenance it was not. I tried it several times but could never quite achieve Rachel Green’s “friendly” cut.

 

It’s interesting to note how all these celebs grow their hair out and to look at all the different styles they’ve had. Granted, extensions and an on-call stylist help, but here are some different looks and “growing out” stages of just Halle and JLaw:

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Actress Halle Berry arrives at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)  -New York, NY -(Date)- CBS 2014 Upfront Presentation. -PICTURED: Halle Berry -PHOTO by: Kristina Bumphrey/Startraksphoto.com -KBU_14_443571 Editorial - Rights Managed Image - Please contact www.startraksphoto.com for licensing fee Startraks Photo New York, NY For licensing please call 212-414-9464 or email sales@startraksphoto.com  Halle Berry bob  Halle Berry long

 

JLaw pixie NUP_164141_0379.JPG 54bc048b1c230_-_hbz-bob-lob-jlaw  Jlaw long

 

 

XHair

The Men Behind the Hair

You could say Shag designer McGregor was a visionary, and so were Vidal Sassoon and Jose Eber.

 

Vidal Sassoon was not only a talented hairdresser, but a brilliant businessman and charitable philanthropist as well. Tired of the “set” and stiff styles of the 1960s, Sassoon set out to design efficient but fun hair that incorporated the basic angles of cut and shape.His vision was modern and low-maintenance hair that was shiny and straight and he is who chopped off Mia Farrow’s hair into her trademark pixie. By 1963 Sassoon had created what we know as the “Bob,” most notably worn by Dorothy Hamill in a severe wedge version at the time. The in-demand style was actually done for the gold medal ice skater by stylist Suga, but the wedge itself was invented by Trevor Sorbie in 1974 while he was working under Sassoon at his London shop. Sassoon went on to become one of hair styling’s greatest and complemented his customer base with his own line of hair products, gloriously tagging “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.” Sassoon looked good until his death in 2012.

 

French-born Jose Eber will also forever be linked to a celebrity: Farrah Fawcett. Eber wanted to create sexy, carefree, and unstructured hair that was easy to maintain and in Farrah he found the perfect muse. I’m sure neither of them at the time had any idea that her feathered long blonde locks would go down in history as one of the most iconic styles ever. The Charlie’s Angel took her hair straight to the top of fame infamy and lived up to Eber’s motto of “Shake your head darling.” Eber is also credited with bringing the round brush into salons everywhere, allowing full and flawless blow drying to be accomplished in homes across America.

 

My hair

 

I don’t know about you, but I just loved learning all of this. Whether we’re talking Beehive or Bouffant, French braid or French twist, Chignon or Bun, Buzz or Bowl Cut, Corn Rows or Dreadlocks, Updos or Wings, Mohawk or Payot (those curly locks near the ears that many Orthodox Jews wear), they will all forever be in the dictionary of common terms and symbolize generations uniquely their own. Perhaps newer terms like “extensions” and “blow-outs” will join them someday or maybe they’ll be replaced by trendier terms just like “frosting” became “highlights” and “bangs” became “fringe.”

 

Whatever the case, here is my “Hair Style Hall of Fame” and “Hair Style Hall of Shame”

 

Hall of Fame: Halle Berry, Meg Ryan, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston (always has great hair!), Kris Kardashian, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Patrick Dempsey, Bradley Cooper, Anderson Cooper

 

Hall of Shame: Kate Gosselin, Donald Trump, Crystal Carrington, Carol Brady’s shag, Keith Urban, Donatella Versace

 

Hall of Fame Icons – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

HamillDorothy Hamill

FarrahFarrah Fawcett

CherCher

Kelly ClarksonKelly Clarkson (“skunk stripes” during her “American Idol” season)

548223c110085_-_best-hairstyles-bo-derek-0511-xlBo Derek (corn rows in “10”)

The Rachel1Jennifer Aniston (“The Rachel” from “Friends”)

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Actress Halle Berry arrives at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)Halle Berry

twiggy4Twiggy

Crystal-Gayle-Hair5 Crystal Gayle (remember her hair for miles?!)

diana-bob-haircutPrincess Di

kate_gosselin_300x400Kate Gosselin

 

Me with different hair styles courtesy InStyle on line. Which do you like best?

1Kiera Knightley 4Jessica Alba Kristen Wig Shaelene Woodley              Bob                                 Lob                                Shag                             Crop

Helen Mirren Kate Katy Perry   Pink!                                          Catherine                            Katy Perry

 

 

Less is More January 10, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:03 pm

Flowers

“The bigger your career gets, the smaller your life gets.”

 

 

I came across that quote while reading an interview with Adele, and it caught my eye.

 

Big career = small life.

 

Hmmmm…pretty prophetic and troublesome yet in many ways, true.

 

At very young ages we are told to strive for the top and go for the best. We are rarely told to go for life and not just make a living. As a friend said last night at a dinner party with friends, “no one rings the bell at the top telling you it’s the top.” He was referring to the real estate market, but I believe it also rings true about careers and goals…and life. At what point do we tell ourselves, “I’ve done it. This is good?”

 

When do we ever have enough?

 

When are we ever satisfied?

 

Look around, all ages are almost always wanting more. Toddlers want more toys. Teens want more freedom. Twentysomethings want more technology. Seniors want more time. Last night’s Power Ball would have (supposedly) made someone’s life much better. I won’t argue with the fact that money can make for a better life on many levels, but exactly how much money is enough money?

 

We also talked about this last night and as we went around the dinner table asking each other what they would do if they won the lottery, I loved one friend’s answer of “I’d make a lot of people happy.” Bingo. He gets it. (For the record I said a private plane and chef.)

 

As I mentioned in a previous blog, there’s now a condition called “destination addiction,” in which one constantly strives for the next perfect place or the next big thing, never slowing down to appreciate where or how he or she is. It’s sad really and it’s fairly prevalent.

 

XSubtract

 

January is the month we all make our New Year’s Resolutions and I’m right up there with the masses listing all the things I’m going to do and accomplish in 2016. Here’s where I today am firmly applying the brakes, altering plans, and changing my mind.

 

Rather than doing something new this year, I’m going to do something less.

 

What about making a resolution list of things I’m NOT going to do?

 

How about taking things out of my daily routine rather than adding to its already jam-packed state? Besides, most days I’m pretty fulfilled so why mess with that?

 

Will I really benefit from all the things I said I wanted to do at the beginning of this month or will they just stress me out?

 

Those books and daily devotionals I said I was going to read every day? Just the sight of them stacked up next to my bed indeed stresses me out. I feel like I’m back in school and they are my assignments. So, each morning I’m back to my original two from years passed and will read the others when I feel the urge. That gives me peace. The peace I thought I would find by making sure I read several of them every day, at various times of the day, in various rooms in my house.

 

Walking 30 minutes every day? I have done that some, but not daily. I’m okay with that though. I’m trying and I’ve enjoyed doing so. I sometimes also prefer to sleep in the mornings or come home from work and read a book or simply “be” rather than go for a walk. I’m okay with that too. Sure, am I envious of friends who have a daily work-out routine, genuinely enjoy doing so, and have the bodies to prove it? Of course, but I’m not them and I want to be okay with that. I’m Carla and Carla does not love exercise. This might make Carla heavier than she’d prefer to be but it doesn’t make Carla a bad person.

 

In all honesty though, if there is one thing I would like to do is looking forward to exercising and taking the time to do it. I just don’t. Never have. Don’t know how. I was doing yoga at our club and loving it but they changed the classes and now they don’t fit my schedule. I did the personal trainer thing but even though I know it was a healthy thing to do, I didn’t lose any weight or see changes in my body. I refuse to do any of those weight loss and/or diet programs because everyone I know who has just gains it all back. The other problem I have: I love to eat and sadly I do like bad foods. Kale or kale chips? I’ll almost always chose the chips. I also don’t enjoy cooking and especially the prep that goes with it (hence the chef answer to “if I won the lottery) and as an empty nester it’s easy to go for what’s easy and as we all know, what’s easy is rarely what’s healthy. I will continue to search and strive though in hopes of finding that one thing that motivates me and moves me, both literally and figuratively.

 

In the meantime, I’m going to think about what Iris Murdoch once said, “One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.” That I can do: small and joyful treats…getting them and giving them.

 

I’ve also decided I’m officially removing the words “should” and the phrase “have to” from my vocabulary and replace them with “want” and “get to.” No more “I should go to yoga” but rather “I want to go to yoga.” Instead of thinking “I have to go grocery shopping” I will work on realizing “I get to go grocery shopping.”

 

I kinda wanna do less, not more.

 

I’m done with guilt and I’m done with assignments.

 

I’m done with checking things off a list.

 

I’m too old for that and I’m too bold for that.

 

“Collect moments not things, earn respect not money,

enjoy love not luxuries.”

Aarti Khurana

 

Rather than doing the right things for the wrong reasons (I have to, someone else does it, I always have done it), I’m going to focus on doing things for the right reasons (that book inspires me, that activity enhances my life, I actually enjoy it) and hope for the best. As with anything – a job, a marriage, a hobby – your heart has to be in it in order for it to be successful and satisfying.

 

You could say I’ve had a sort of epiphany about my life (and coincidently the Feast of the Epiphany was this week). I don’t want my life so full anymore. I almost want it emptied out so I can fill it back up with the right things. I am ready to be “filled up” and I am willing to have something poured into my life that’s life giving, not life taking. Busyness does not bring happiness and happiness needs reflectiveness.

 

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in these feelings of being overwhelmed and under fire. Many of you probably feel empty too at times and maybe it’s because we are all trying to fill our lives with the wrong things: titles, achievements, busyness, activities, bigger and better possessions. You know because….we’re supposed to want those things cuz they will make us whole and happy. Not!

 

So, I resolve to…

Decide what I envision myself and my life to be and work on obtaining that vision through positive and enjoyable steps.

Have fresh flowers in the house year ‘round.

Call my mom more often.

Live by my values regarding respect, relaxing, and rewarding myself.

Live each moment and treasure the doing, not the getting it done.

Be kinder to myself and kinder to others.

Don’t expect too much of myself.

Accept me.

 

After all, the future is not some place we are going, but a place we are creating. Remember, life is about balance and our real wealth is what we invest in for eternity.

 

 

 
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