Beyond Words

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

The Halfway Point March 26, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:00 pm

Well, we’re officially halfway through Lent. How are you doing with your Lenten sacrifices? Have they gone wayward much like New Year’s Resolutions do, or are you still giving up and giving more?


Why do we give up things during Lent?


Giving up things we like is said to help us realize that the pleasures of this life are not what we live for. We are traditionally encouraged to abstain from contraptions and trappings that take our attention away from God and anything that distances us from God.


Most followers also abstain from meat on all Fridays during Lent and the reasons why vary. Some say it’s a way of following the apostles in saying no to our wants in order to say yes to Jesus. Abstinence from meat also reminds us that Christ offered his own flesh and blood for us on the cross. And yet another tradition holds that years ago only the very wealthy could afford meat and fish was a poor man’s meal. By choosing fish over meat during Lent, we are reminded of that Jesus lived a very simple life and preached humility.


The purpose of fasting is also to open up space inside of us to make room for the Holy Spirit to work. Spiritual writers use the analogy of a stringed instrument in that unless the body of a cello is empty, it cannot produce beautiful music.


In the middle ages, meat, eggs, and milk were forbidden during Lent. That’s one of the reasons we celebrate with Easter eggs. After 40 days of having no eggs, they became part of Easter morning breakfast traditions. Eggs are also symbols of new life, which is what we all received on Easter Sunday.


In addition to fasting, we are asked to offer up prayers and almsgiving. Prayer is said to be our relationship with God, almsgiving is our relationship with others, and fasting is our relationship with ourselves.


So why 40 days?


You really need look no further than the bible for the answer, as 40 is a very significant number throughout scripture. Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai, the Great Flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights, the Hebrews wandered in the desert for 40 years, and Jesus spent 40 days in the garden praying and preparing for God’s plan.


If you look even closer at all of those, one thing sticks out: they all involve pain and struggle. Our Lenten sacrifices shouldn’t give us pain, but they should remind us that God uses suffering to bring us closer to Him.


There’s something else that takes 40 days to complete: birth. When a pregnant woman reaches her 40th week, she is considered full term. Ironic? Probably not.


Lent hasn’t always been 40 days long however. In early times, the fasting time leading up to Easter was as short as two days but got gradually longer and longer and by the 4th century, it officially began six weeks before Easter. Fasting is not required on Sundays though, so Ash Wednesday and the three days following it were added, giving us today’s 40 days of Lent.


Okay, but why is it called Lent?


The English word “Lent” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “Lencten” meaning “spring.” It is also derived from the German word “Lenzin,” which means “long” as in the lengthening of days as spring approaches. It can also be looked at as a time during which we can work on lengthening the time we spend in prayer and charity.


Lent is practiced all over the world, so naturally there is a word for it in almost every language. Most of those words have something to do with the number 40. In Italian it is “quaresima” and derived from the Italian word for 40, quaranta. Same with Spanish, where is it “cuaresma” and similar to “cuarenta, the Spanish word for 40. In French they call it “careme,” which is similar to “quarante,” the French word for 40.



Lent is a time to renew your mind, body, and spirit. It’s also a time to grow in your faith and prayer life. And, it’s not just a Catholic thing. Observed in Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Eastern Orthodox faiths, Lent officially began on Ash Wednesday and will end on Holy Thursday, March 13.


There’s still time to make those amends and find that spirituality. In reality though, there is always time for them. Lent simply reminds us of the importance of doing so but if you’re like me, a timetable and deadline are pretty much all I need to succeed at something. And the way I look at it, if Moses, Noah, and Jesus could all do it, so can I.


Green With Envy March 17, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:30 pm

Happy Friday and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! We are all Irish today and there’s a good chance you are wearing something green as you read this. Forever connected with Ireland, Patrick was a gentle and humble man who was actually born in Scotland. Ordained a bishop, he was sent to Ireland to preach the gospel and used the shamrock to teach people about the Trinity. The simple, green plant grows abundantly in Ireland so he cleverly used its three separate parts to explain the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Soon after hearing Patrick’s message, kings and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity and Catholicism.


Ireland was sold, and today we all are just a wee bit Irish, but did you know there are more Irish people in the U.S. than in all of Ireland? An estimated 34 million Americans claim Irish ancestry but the population of Ireland in just over 4 million! St. Patrick is said to be buried in Down Cathedral in the County of Down in Ireland, and ironically we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the day he died.


So now you know the story behind the saint, the holiday, and why you are wearing green today. Green is definitely tied to St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s also tied to jealousy. You know it, you’ve heard it: “green with envy.” That my lads, is nothing to celebrate.



Envy can cause major problems and even wars. It can make us physically ill and it wreaks havoc in relationships. The strain it puts on us brings out the worst in us. Living in a state of “green with envy” leads to saying mean things to others, thinking malicious things about others, and maybe even acting out negatively toward others. In a word, it’s bad.


Still, most of us struggle with envy at one time or another. We envy someone else’s possessions, successes, and life in general. Their kids are smarter, their house is bigger, their job is better. The many faces of jealousy come in the way of wanting something we don’t have such as money, power, beauty, or even fame and prestige. But all of those begrudging thoughts get us nowhere and ultimately make us feel blue.



You see, regardless of how much we covet what others have and strive to top them, there will always, always be someone better than you in some way. Always. And, as Michael Dell so eloquently said, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, find a new room.”


That’s why the constant comparing of your life to someone else’s results only in you feeling inadequate. The only thing comparisons do is point out what you lack and how you don’t measure up. In your mind that is.



I’m as guilty as anyone about doing this. I think it’s human nature to do so and especially if you’re a Type A personality like me. I live for perfection and everything in its place. If and when I do something, I give it my all and truth be told, I secretly hope someone notices and appreciates my efforts. Interestingly, I’m not super competitive and try my best to be happy with what I have. Where I stray is home décor. I know. It sounds crazy and I love my home, but I’m forever finding new ways to decorate and embellish. I might also occasionally stray to the evil side of envy when it comes to my family. Don’t we all?


So, how can we, in today’s “bigger and better” world, avoid that pukey shade of green with envy? One way is, when you feel envy rearing its ugly head, sit back and honestly ask yourself, “What am I jealous of?” “Who am I jealous of?” “How do I compare myself to others?” “Why do I do this?” Also, keep in mind that those people in the gated mansions have problems and struggles just like the rest of us…they just deal with them surrounded by luxury. But remind yourself of one of life’s most reliable rules: money does not buy happiness. With more money comes more pressure and with fame and power comes more responsibility.


At the same time, think of ways you can be like those you are jealous of. That friend who has the perfect body? She likely works out and eats right. Get off the couch, put down the ice cream, and just do it. Those material things you think you need so bad? Maybe they were earned by hard work and saving money. Still, there are some ways you just won’t have what they have, be it wealth or health, but keep in mind there are people out there praying for what you do have and what you maybe aren’t appreciating.



That’s when you should make a list of all you are thankful for and proud of, all of your accomplishments, and all the things going right in your life. Instead of being envious and jealous, be grateful and confident. In doing so I think you’ll find all those Joneses you are trying to keep up with are probably no better off than the Smiths. Hey, I’m a Smith! Time for me to keep up only with who I am and what I’m blessed with.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all and may you reap the blessings of his prayer.



Hashing Out Hashtags March 7, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:44 am


Did you know that if a nation existed whose citizens were only Selena Gomez Instagram followers it would be the 16th biggest country in the world, with a larger population than Germany or France? What? That’s just cray-cray!


If the first thing you thought after reading the above paragraph is “Who’s Selena Gomez” or “What’s a follower,” you can stop reading right now and go back to your flip phone. If you know just who or what I’m talking about, hashtag read on!


As the rest of us know, or maybe don’t know but are interested in knowing, “followers” are those who are connected with you via social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Instagram. They “follow” everything you say and post. Ms. Gomez has more than 100 million of them, more than any other Instagram account holder. Take that Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and anyone with the last name Kardashian or Jenner. These diehards follow the singer’s every word, every photo, and every hashtag.


Hash what?


Hashtag. You know, that little tic-tac-toe or pound sign you see everywhere and right in front of words on social media? Well, it’s called a hashtag, it’s all the rage, and it’s got rules. Yep, there are right ways and wrong ways of using hashtags and I’m here to enlighten you, my millions of readers. Yeah right, Carla. #dreamon.


So, what are hashtags and how should you be using them? Wisely and carefully.


Hashtags are basically words or phrases used primarily in Twitter and Instagram posts as ways of tagging those posts to similar topics posted by others and creating searchable links to find them. For example, you post a photo of your new Golden Retriever puppy and include #goldenretrievers in the post. Well, if your account is public, your post will join the posts of others who also included #goldenretrievers in their post. And, if one of your followers clicks on that hashtag, they will be directed to a page full of photos that mention the identical subject. At the same time, hashtags allow you to easily find content that you’re looking for en masse. Some people find this cyberspace way of connecting with and engaging with others who have common interests a very exciting discovery mode.


Pretty much created by Twitter, the hashtag was designed to organize posted content by topic and keywords. This not only allows fans to find similar subject matter all in one place, it allows brands to track and measure their reach. The idea proved so popular that other platforms are now hashtag homes. Many brands and bloggers live and die by them. One place they are extremely commonplace is Instagram. Everyone hashtags their posts, but are we hashtagging the right way?


I know of what I write because I’m as guilty as the next poster in hashtagging perhaps incorrectly. Trust me, my millennial daughter loves to remind me that I don’t have to hashtag everything. Let’s remember that a hashtag’s main purpose is to group your post with similar posts. They are not ways for you to be cutesy or witty, although isn’t it fun to do so? Hee-hee.


Instagram Instances

Let’s focus on Instagram, a platform I’m familiar and comfortable with. Just like Facebook and Twitter, you have a profile and a news feed and people can follow you and like your posts. Unlike Facebook, you can only access Instagram from a smart phone or compatible tablet. The emphasis of Instagram is sharing only photos (and short videos) and your feed consists only of photos you post and the short comments you attach with them.


Instagram was created as a way of posting photographs mostly by companies and bloggers. A designer might post a photo of a dining room they’ve staged and hashtag #diningroom, #tabledecor and #dining rugs. An exercise studio might post photos of yoga poses and tag #warriortwo, #downwarddog, and #childspose. Followers can then click on those hashtags and see similar posts. That’s how it’s supposed to work. As with anything though, it has literally gone viral and now everyone and anyone has taken it to new levels.


If you log onto Instagram right now, you’ll see posts by celebs and friends, all bearing hashtags ranging from #proudmom to #lovemydog to #feeltheburn. You’ll also see some like #roadtripwiththefam and #annismybestfriend. You might also run across #just kidding instead of simple “just kidding” sans any hashtag. Some of those are okay, some not so much.


If you’re wondering how to do Instagram hashtags in a good way, you’ll notice a big difference in tags your friends include and tags professionals include. Check out this post by Heather Scott Home & Design. It’s perfection.



Now check out my recent post, which includes tags that are more clever and less product or service centered.



When I post something, I tend to either post a photo I took and really like or some interesting words. I love words and cannot get enough of thought provoking quotes or sayings. I also think of my Instagram page as an extension of my blog in some ways. I will always post a photo from a recent blog and tag my blog site in it as well as hints as to what the blog is about. Do I need to be on Instagram? Probably not. I don’t have a particular or highly sought after brand; I simply like photographs, like this one I recently posted with more straightforward tags:



I am not alone. Through smart phones, everyone is a photographer. You really can’t eat a meal or attend an event without someone taking a photo. As for the rich and famous, don’t let their photos fool you. They are most likely taken by someone whose job it is to capture their boss in the best light and then post it with perfectly worded captions. Some famous people post their own stuff; many do not.


When a photo is posted, it probably needs explaining and maybe in a hashtag. The hashtag is a major player in popular culture and is increasingly vital to the way we communicate socially. The word can be found in both the Oxford dictionary and the Scrabble Dictionary. Marketing-wise, every brand and company is on board, with some like Breathe Right nose strips actually incorporating many hashtag mentions in a clever TV ad. And who hasn’t seen Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake mockingly act out the overuse of hashtags? #veryclever #veryfunny.


It’s interesting to note that the word Instagram was chosen as a way of combining “instant camera” with “telegram.” Although it’s only been around since 2010, the free mobile app now has more than 600 million active users and was acquired by Facebook in 2012 for approximately $1 billion. It’s estimated that around 60 photos are uploaded every second and the total number of pictures uploaded now exceeds 1 billion. Holy selfie shots!


Part of the attraction is the many filters Instagram allows users to, well, use. You can tweak and edit your photo with more than 20 filters that instantly add brightness, contrast, and overall attractiveness. Ironically, if you don’t use a filter on a photo you post, you hashtag #no filter.



Hashtag Do’s and Don’ts

So how should you use hashtags? Number one, the fewer the better and the shorter the better. Remember, the intent of a hashtag is to get your content shared on sites with similar content. If a follower can neither easily read or remember your tag, your battle is lost before it even began.


Secondly, your page must be public in order for your hashtags to appear on corresponding hashtag pages.


It’s also important to know that you can include numbers in a hashtag, but not symbols like dollar signs. Spaces, punctuation, and emojis are also forbidden by the hashtag Gods. Finally, you can only tag your own posts, not anyone else’s.


Try not to use hashtags to voice your opinion. If you post a photo of the White House during your visit to D.C., appropriate hashtags might be #whitehouse, #washingtondc, or even #amercia, but maybe not #ilovetrump. Just saying.


Reserve the use of hashtags to Twitter and Instagram. Facebook is really not the place for them because the algorithms it uses prioritizes in a way that codes a long list of hashtags as too sales pitchy and they will likely be deemed as spam. If you must hashtag on Facebook, limit the number to no more than two. The same could almost also be said for Instagram and Twitter. Remember, less is more. Too many hashtags could make you come across as desperate.


Don’t be vague with your hashtags. The more specific you can be, the more targeted your audience will be. #vancouverhotels will be much more effective for a hotel chain than just #vancouver.


If you have a brand, by all means hashtag the actual brand name, but also what the brand is about. A company that leases condos on the coast of Florida would be smart to hashtag the company name, but also #floridabeachliving and #floridarentals.


In addition to the pound sign preceding tags, you might see an @, which is considered a reference to another person or company. If selected, you will be directed to that site. For example, if I put @espn on a post, you click on it and will go straight to ESPN’s Instagram page. You can also put the @ in front of your friend’s name to make sure they see that post. If you copy a post you liked, it’s common courtesy to either hashtag the original poster or include a “regramjanedoe” tag.


Hashtag things like cities, brands, trades, and subject matters like weddings and dog breeds. And remember, short and sweet and focus on specifics. Your hashtag is supposed to make finding your content easier, not harder. You want your tag to add content to your post, not convolute it.


Still, stay personal and stay on point. Even though machines and computers will put your post where you maybe want it to go, don’t you also want to do that yourself? Your posts should in a way, speak for themselves and not rely on hashtags to do all the work for you. That would just be #lazy and #uncreative.


If you just want to have fun with your Instagram page and hashtags, do. No one is saying you can’t. In fact, use hashtags to personalize your post by expressing feelings about the photo, explaining the image, and even being clever or funny. Rumor has it that posts with hashtags get more “likes” and isn’t that really what life is all about?







Salt or No Salt? February 22, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:45 am



Did anyone else read that Jimmy Buffett plans to open a retirement community in Daytona Beach based loosely around his famous “Margaritaville” song? I did, and I’m down. The community, set to open Fall 2018, will have a total tropical vibe with a pool with cabanas instead of a park or statue like most town squares and promises to embrace the relaxed lifestyle epitomized in Buffett’s songs.  Music, food and beverages will be big part of the 6,900 home community, and you never know when Jimmy himself might show up for an impromptu concert!

It’s perfect timing to announce his latest venture, as today is “National Margarita Day” and any day is the perfect day to have a margarita.


Considered the perfect cocktail by so many, Margaritas are not only popular, they are legendary. What other drink is the subject of a song that you know all the words to?


“I blew out my flip flop

Stepped on a pop top

Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home

But there’s booze in the blender

And soon it will render

That frozen concoction that helps me hang on…”


Yeah we’ve all sang “Margaritaville” right along with Jimmy Buffett and we’ve all searched for our lost shaker of salt, but do we know why we sing it and why we drink them?


We sing it because it’s a fun song and we drink them because they are the perfect combination of sweet and savory, but who invented the margarita? There are as many legends as to who to credit as there are legendary hangovers blamed on them.




Most historians credit Carlos “Danny” Herrera for inventing the mix of triple sec, tequila, and lime juice back in 1938 at his restaurant Rancho La Gloria somewhere halfway between Tijuana and Rosarito, Mexico. Apparently his customer, former Ziegfeld dance Marjorie King, was allergic to all alcohol except tequila so Herrera combined the elements of a traditional shot of tequila – a lick of salt and a wedge of lime – and made a yummy drink out of them. A few years later bartender Albert Hernandez started serving the cocktail at La Plaza outside of San Diego in 1947, and the rest is salt or no salt history.


Maybe. Yet another commonly accepted margarita origin story credits bartender Don Carlos Orozco with its creation. Orozco had been experimenting with drinks in Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico and offered one to Margarita Henkel, the daughter of the German ambassador. His version consisted of equal part tequila, Cointreau orange liqueur and lime, and its name is self explanatory.


Still another claim to margarita fame comes from Juarez, Mexico and Tommy’s Place Bar where it is said that in 1942 Francisco “Pancho” Morales mixed the first ever margarita. Mexico’s official news agency and many experts say Morales has the strongest claim to having invented the Margarita and they are sticking to their story.


I also like the story that Dallas socialite Margarita Sames concocted the drink for her guests at her Acapulco home in 1948 and that Tommy Hilton returned to the states and started serving them at the Hilton chain of hotels. But, according to Jose Cuervo, (yes, THAT Jose Cuervo), the cocktail was invented in 1938 by a bartender in honor of Mexican showgirl Rita de la Rosa.


Lastly, one tale begins the drink’s history at the legendary Balinese Room in Galveston, Texas. It was there, in 1948, that bartender Santos Cruz reportedly created the drink for singer Peggy (Margaret) Lee and named it after the Spanish version of her name.


So many origins, so many tales.




Ironically, “margarita” is a German form of the name Margaret and was introduced to Mexico with no Hispanic origin. In Spanish, “margarita” means “daisy so my guess is the drink was named after someone rather than for literal purposes.


The first time a margarita recipe was ever published was in 1953 in Esquire magazine who dubbed it the “Drink of the Month.”  The recipe was:


1 oz. tequila

Dash of Triple Sec

Juice of half a lemon or lime

Pour over crushed ice, stir.

Rub rim of stem glass with rind of lemon or lime and spin in salt.

Pour and sip


That recipe pretty much holds up today, although many say a margarita in its classic form consists of tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau or Triple Sec.


Margaritas are traditionally served in a true margarita glass, which is a version of a classic champagne coupe; but today you’ll find them served in everything from high balls to beer mugs. What a margarita comes in often depends on what kind of marg you order. A “on the rocks” one will normally be served in a high-ball glass but if you order one “straight up” with no ice, you’re likely to find it in a martini-style glass. A true margarita glass will generally hold a frozen marg, but sometimes on the rock versions come in them too. Whatever you order, be sure to say if you want salt on the rim. Personally, I prefer either on the rocks or frozen with no salt and simply order “rocks no salt” or “frozen no salt.”


Margaritas of every kind pack a lot of proof in their punch, even more than Manhattans, which taste like they have so much more alcohol in them. In fact, one standard margarita has just over 33 percent alcohol, about the same as a martini and more than double a bourbon and water, Screwdriver, Mojito, or a vodka or gin and tonic. They also have a lot of calories, but let’s not ruin the day. Tomorrow: skinny margs!


Due to their high alcohol content, it’s not unusual for a restaurant to limit the number of margs you can order. But, don’t tell that to the 2012 California State Fair, which hosted the largest margarita ever according to Guinness World Records. That’s when the “Calarita,” which contained 4,650 bottles (2,100 gallons) of tequila and 8,400 gallons of margarita mix, took a 20-horse-power blender to mix the 25-tall, 10,500-gallon cocktail. Think of the calories in the puppy!



I’m sure many of you have your “secret” and “best margaritas” recipes, but here are a few of mine:


1 small can frozen limeade then, using the empty limeade can, measure 1 can tequila and one can of beer. Mix with ice and serve. Trust me, the beer makes all the difference. If you don’t believe me or are more of a traditionalist, substitute the beer with Cointreau or Triple Sec for sweeter margs.


There’s also the yummy “Cadillac Margarita” made famous at Nuevo Laredo’s Cadillac Bar, which has you shake tequila, Triple Sec, sweet and sour mix, and lime juice with ice. Pour over ice in a traditional margarita and salt-rimmed glass and then “float” Grand Marnier on top. Delectable!


So enjoy a margarita today and think of all those who came before you. But, whether you order salt or no salt; rock, frozen or up; drink responsibly and don’t drive. Salud!







Vests With The Fur February 21, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:48 pm



Even though much of the nation is currently experiencing winter or extreme weather, I’m enjoying a beautiful sunny day. Still, it’s never too hot to think about fashion and since it’s still winter, how about a blog on something wintry? Like say, fur vests!


I know, I know, so unlike me to go with something as nontraditional as fur vests but remember, I do love all things sparkly and glitter, so why not?


It all started when I got a text from a darling friend of mine asking if I thought she was too old to wear a fur vest. I thought about it and we went back and forth and decided that, no, a woman of any age can rock one…as long as it’s done age appropriately. Isn’t this the case with everything though?




You’ll find and see fur vests everywhere as they are hot as ever (excuse the pun) and ways to wear them run the gamut. At first I told my friend that the look just wasn’t me, but maybe it is. Doubtful, but maybe.


The great thing about a fur vest, at any age, is that one can glam and dress up any outfit. Put one on with jeans and a t-shirt and you instantly become not sloppy but stylish. Belt one over a knit dress for a modern look, combine one with leather pants if you’re looking for an edgy look, pair one with a floaty dress and boots, or add a chunky sweater and leggings to one and you’ll find yourself in a comfy and casual look. So many options and so easy!


Fur vests, whether real or faux, are not only fashionable but warm. But unlike bulky coats, they are more part of an outfit than outerwear. They are also fabulous layering pieces that will make you feel part boho hip and at the same time, French chic. They also can make your arms look thinner than they maybe are.


Think about it: you’re wearing a shaggy vest over a flowy blouse so guess what: the chunkiness of the vest will overpower the visual of your arms, letting them appear long and lean. Who doesn’t love that?!


Styling-wise, there are just a few tips to consider. If you are on the petite side, choose a vest that ends at your hip bone, which won’t cut off your legs, giving the illusion of long, lean legs. Petite women should also take into account the scale of a vest and avoid any that are boxy.


So, whether you go faux or real is up to you, but another choice to made is animal print or a sheared look. Quality is important with the first, as inexpensive can easily turn hoochie momma but with shearling, even inexpensive options often trend upscale. Whatever you do, think real world not red carpet and never, ever go full-out Russian princess. Keep it all low-key.


Here are just a few examples of fur vests done right:

img_1436 fur-vest-look-5 faux-fur-vest-and-dress-533x800 faux-fur-vest


3  vest-with-fur-collar-anthropologie  4 fur-vest


Go with your gut and you will know when you find the right vest and the right ensembles for that vest. Don’t try too hard and don’t force the look. If it screams you, embrace it. If it’s not your deal, scream no thank you. Have fun!




On a side note, I read a post today that goes hand-in-hand with today’s post and one I wish I had written. It was titled “What Not to Wear After Age 50” by Rage Michelle on and it is brilliant.


Basically she wrote, “Google ‘what not to wear after age 50’ and you will have your pick of thousands of articles telling you what looks terrible on your old body. We could spend hours studying the clothes we shouldn’t wear and the slang we shouldn’t use and the makeup techniques we need to retire. But you are over 50. Wear whatever you want. If you’ve made it to 50 and still need to consult articles on how to dress appropriately then you are so missing out on one of the best things about being over 50. One of the best things about getting older is realizing that we don’t have to spend our energy worrying what other people think and we get to be comfortable in our own skin. Still, there are a few things that women over 50 really shouldn’t wear:

    • The weight of the world. If you must, perhaps just carry the weight of a few smaller continents.
    • Shame and regret. These are especially hard to wear after 50.
    • Rose colored glasses. By the time we hit 50, we need to suck it up, take those glasses off, and punch reality into submission.
    • Too many hats. When you wear too many hats, it’s easy to forget which hat you’re wearing.


I couldn’t agree more and will be following them from here on out.





Step Up! February 17, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:59 pm


You either love them or hate them. Either way though, you really can’t avoid them and they are considered “the” way to get in shape. I’m talkin steps. Stairs. Whatever you want to call them. I wouldn’t go straight to I hate them but I certainly don’t love them. In a weird way, I’m kinda obsessed with them.


I wasn’t so obsessed with them on my recent trip to San Francisco though. Funny thing happened on the way to Alcatraz, Coit Tower, dinner, lunch, and everywhere in between: you have to climb a lot and climb a lot of stairs. What makes this doubly hard in the City by the Bay, is most ways of getting to those stairs are very hilly…as in straight up and straight down…again and again. And again! I quickly learned how out of shape I am and how in shape my friends are. Can somebody please call an Uber? I’M ON VACATION!




I “felt a blog coming” when I huffed and puffed up the above steps to Coit Tower, when my design friend showed us photos of one of her client’s stairs that have her grandkids’ names on each riser, and when I saw this set of eerie steps at Alcatraz:


I couldn’t help but wonder where they lead to and the stories of those who climbed them. Goosebumps.




“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Martin Luther King, Jr.


Staircases are not only necessary evils, many of them are famous. I have three favorites: Santa Fe’s “Miraculous Staircase” in Loretto Chapel, and Santa Scala and the Spanish Steps in Rome.


loretto-chapelBeing that I was born and raised in Santa Fe, that famous spiral staircase is both very familiar and special to me. My mom attended Loretto Academy and climbed up and down those stairs as a choir member.


The staircase is considered miraculous for many reasons, including its two perfect 360 turns with no visible means of center support as well as the fact that no nails were used in the structure; a structure made of wood not common to the area. Then there’s the mystery about who built it. When Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft so carpenters were called in to address the problem and recommended using a ladder due to space constraints. Not satisfied with that precarious idea, the Sisters of Loretto prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of their novena, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks.



spanish-steps  vatican  santa-scala

Another city that has its share of Catholic lore is of course Rome, which my daughter and I visited following her semester in Spain. We will never forget running into some of her friends who also studied in Spain ironically on the famed Spanish Steps, as well as pretending to be Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” on them. The Vatican is also home to many stunning stairways, but the one I cherished the most in all of Rome was the Santa Scala, or “Holy Steps.” The steps can be found in the non-touristy Lanterna area and legend has it that Jesus walked up them before facing Pontius Pilate. Today, people crawl up on hands and knees. I still get chills thinking about seeing them.



Two other set of steps that caught my eye long ago are Paris’ famous lantern steps and the Potemkin monster-of-a-staircase in Odessa. Squeal!

paris-lights1   potemkin-famous-steps-in-odessa



Film has also given us some famous steps, including those Rocky gloriously ran up and the ones Scarlett ran down in “Gone with the Wind” right before Rhett told her, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

rocky gone-with-the-wind-atlanta-house-red-staircase




“There is no elevator to success. You gotta take the stairs.” Caridee


Not all staircases are famous but many are fun and fascinating. Take these for example. You have boxwood perfection, a Parisian piano for your feet, a lovely heart, the tops of steps with encouraging thoughts, book titles, a crazy rainbow palette, and a staircase with a slide. Yippee!


topiaries stairs-piano   heart   tops1 books-steps rainbow-from-traditional-home  slide-stairs


How fun would it be to do something like those in your home? Granted, they may not be your cup of tea or perhaps a tad too much, but it is fun thinking about unique banisters, risers, balusters, runners, and the likes for your home.



For risers, consider doing something different with them like these with numbers, tiles, and a gradient pattern. And how cool is the lighted staircase?

stairs-with-numbers   stairs-with-tiles1  teal-gradient-stairs_gal stairs-with-lights1



Staircase-wise, this contemporary black floating staircase and really cool jagged one are both so very interesting but I gravitate more toward the middle Craftsman-style and the last more traditional look.

fun cool craftsman better-homes-and-gardens



Glass is also an option. Out of these two, I find the first one amazing but the second one more me.

modern glass



When it comes to what to put on your stairs you, of course, can go with wood, carpet, or tile, but why not try a unique runner like these from Domino Magazine and Elements of Style? The middle one is pure perfection.

stairs-with-grass-domino-mag elem-of-style-stairs anteloperunner2_560px



And call me old school, but given the right room and décor, nothing says “grand” like a traditional some stair rods. And how cute are these runner clips?

traditional-staircase stair_rods_web stair-clips



Balusters and rails are where you can go fun without looking crazy. I’m raising my hand for the ombre balusters.

tree-banister rope-bannister oar-banister1  ballistar



I also like the idea of adding storage under your staircase; a normally wasted space. That bookshelf, floor, and light fixture! Swoon!

70bd651dc4750840918f78f1b998167e  space_under_the_stairs storage-space-books



And who doesn’t love this New York City fire escape-style shelf?




I can’t even say how gorge these entry stairs are. They give new meaning to “grand entrance.”

verandaentry1 verandaentry 14c8b2900138b0393ec33259c1c53804



If you’re a bride, think long and hard about having a photo shoot on a magnificent set of steps like this one:




Exterior banisters are a whole different blog, but I couldn’t let this gem of a simple iron piece of work and an insanely flawless porch go by.

exterior  porch_railings_with_flowers




“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and He delights in his way.”

Psalm 37:23


Lastly, there’s the proverbial stairway to heaven, and not Led Zeppelin’s. It is said that prayers are the stairs that lead us to God, so despite my aches and pains, I guess I’ll say my prayers and take the stairs.







A Sinful Sunday? February 5, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:17 pm

Editor’s Note: You may or may not have noticed my blog header has changed to “Beyond Words.” You may or may not have also noticed I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been in a bit of a lull regarding just the right words and just the right topics to write about. You could say the “write” words just haven’t come and, at the same time, I’ve been thinking of changing the focus and title of my blog. Sitting in mass this weekend I heard just what I needed to hear and voila: I’m back! My new “Beyond Words” blog will continue to be more of the same with maybe a few tweaks here and there. You need do nothing different to receive it and I can still be found at I hope you continue to read my words and as always, let me know when I get off the “write” track.





Happy Super Bowl Sunday…or as Father Larry said in his sermon, “the superest of all Sundays.” Well, kinda.


We all know it’s merely “super” because either the NFC team (New England Patriots) or the AFC team (Atlanta Falcons) will go home tonight World Champions. Again, kinda. Not really “world” champions, but Super Bowl Champions. It’s a day to be with family and friends and to eat, drink, and be merry. It’s also a day when, as Father explained, the 7 Deadly Sins rear their ugly heads.


Of course there is Gluttony. We eat foods we know we shouldn’t and we eat way too much. Many of us will also drink too much.


There is Envy. We are all envious of those pesky New England Patriots, their famed quarterback and coach, and all their past Super Bowl heroics. It’s said the only people rooting for the Patriots today are Patriot fans. The rest, are envious.


We will show Anger when the team we’re rooting for calls a bad play, turns over the ball, or when the other team scores.


Patriots fans will be full of Greed today, as they hope for their fifth Super Bowl victory. Quarterback Tom Brady will also be vying for his fifth Super Bowl title, which will make him the most prolific NFL QB in history…Super Bowl ring-wise at least.


Fans on both sides of the field will most likely display Pride as they cheer on their hometown boys.


The rest of us are sure to exhibit Sloth; sitting in front of televisions for virtually the whole day. Work? We’ll get to it tomorrow. Laundy? It can wait. Today is a day for America to take the day off!


As for the last of the deadly sins, Lust, let’s hope we don’t partake in it, if only that we lust for our team to win and not that Brady gets hurt!


All of this is, of course, fun and the game of football, but look ahead and as soon as tomorrow, and we are likely to be guilty of those very sins in our daily lives.


Do we work so hard to make more and more money that we neglect our family?


Do we eat even when we’re not hungry and serve ourselves whopping portions of what we do eat?


Do we get angry driving in traffic and envy those driving nicer cars than ours?


Are we so full of pride that we have lost our sense of humility?


Do we lie around watching mindless TV rather than going for a walk or volunteering somewhere?


And, do we lust after things that are immoral or just plain wrong and have impure thoughts or actions?


If you answered yes to any of those, no fear; you are not alone. At the same time you might tell yourself “no harm, no foul” if I cursed at the driver next to me or if I am proud of my accomplishments. The problem is, all these sins are the roots of greater sins such as murder, adultery, theft, and others.




So how can we avoid being sinfully proud, envious, and the like? By praying. It’s that simple. Simply pray every day. Pray for the gifts of the Capital Virtues.


Chastity will help you overcome lust and the infected acts it encourages.


Generosity will make you less greedy. Start by detaching from things of this world.


Temperance will overcome gluttony by helping you live in moderation.


If you have the gift of Brotherly Love, you will be less envious, which will lead to less badmouthing and a genuine happiness for others.


Anger can be weakened by meekness, which will help you control resentment while cultivating patience.


Humility will topple your pride and help you rely less on your will and more on God’s.


If you feel you have the sin of sloth, pray for Diligence and the ability to fulfill your duties in life, even when they are tiresome.


Whatever you do, don’t get overwhelmed. Instead, start with just one or two and watch how the others will be none too happy to creep into your life.


As I read my Facebook and Instagram pages these last few weeks, I see an incredible amount of envy, anger, pride, greed, and the need to insult and degrade. It is both alarming and disturbing how much hate and bitterness prevails. I have been guilty of them myself, but learned a good lesson on Friday.


As I was getting my hair done, my stylist and I were talking about the current state of our country, and after a lengthy discussion, I mentioned how I think it’s unfair that the “winners” of this election are being inundated with insults and abuse by those not victorious and are not allowed to be openly happy and celebratory. I was expecting a “Yeah, that’s just not right,” but instead my very wise and astute  stylist replied, “maybe it’s an opportunity for us to be humble.” Bingo.


What a great place to start.