Beyond Words

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

The Gospel According to the Four Gospels January 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:53 am

One way

Have you ever wondered why there are four gospels in the Bible? Did you even know there are four separate gospels?! Today during mass Father Izzy talked about this and it was very enlightening. Instead of my normal “Sunday Scripture” quote, I thought I’d share some of his wisdom with you.

He started by saying someone once asked him why, if the story is the same, are there four gospels. As many of us know, the four gospels, written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are similar but different. Father Izzy suggested remembering their themes by the “Four M’s.” Matthew writes about our Lord’s majesty, Mark’s gospel details how mighty He was, Luke focuses on His mercy, and John’s gospel is full of mysteries. Father also reminded us that although that is the order of the gospels in the Bible, Mark’s was actually the first one written.

I’ve previously learned that Matthew’s is the longest of the four gospels and that his account is very structured and rule-oriented. Matthew, we must remember, taught many of the Jews the Christian faith. His gospel is often considered the “heritage” of Jesus and consists of well-organized sections and includes “The Golden Rule.” Mark, on the other hand, taught non-Jews so his writings are very too the point and often suggested for youth and teens. He liked writing about the “good news” of Jesus but never mentions the birth of Jesus. Luke was a doctor and was very motherly. His gospel is all about Jesus’ powerful healing and love. Luke favored the lowly and his gospel reflects this in his encouragement and compassion. John’s gospel is different from the other three in many ways and he was very philosophical. It was the last gospel written and is an account of Jesus’ public ministry.

There are many books written on this subject and one could go on and on about the written word. Perhaps the best way to learn about the gospels is to read them and study them. That’s why they were written in the first place and that, my friends, is the gospel truth.


Music to My Ears January 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:00 pm

Flying back from our recent Christmas vacation I was listening to music on my IPod and on came Robert Earl Keene’s “I’ll Be There for You.” I was in a melancholy mood and the song struck me in an emotional way. It is the sweetest love song and listening to it made me think, “I wish someone would write or sing me a love song.”


That is so true. I’ve always been an admirer of great song lyrics but I was never a big hair band or Elton John fan because their lyrics were lame or made no sense to me. But, this girl from New Mexico discovered Bruce Springsteen way back high school because of his words. To me, he was (and still is) a lyrical genius. I had no relationship with the east coast at the time, but his words resonated with me. Still, I am not ashamed to admit I got down to many a disco song and have a host of Britney Spears hits on my ITunes. In short, I am a lover of music albeit not all music. My ITunes may have everything from “My Girl” to “My Fair Lady,” “Like a Prayer” to “Living on a Prayer, Petula Clark to Kelly Clarkson, rock ‘n roll to Kid Rock and all things country, but I’m not big on jazz, R&B, or hard-core, degrading rap. I do, however, appreciate the talent behind Eminem. I also don’t really get into Christian rock but I love a traditional church song. Go figure.


What is it about music? Certain songs are ingrained in our memories. Whenever I hear the song “Never Been Any Reason” by Head East, I immediately think of driving to Stillwater from Norman during college with my friend Lynn. We did it one time and undoubtedly heard several songs on the way, but that one stuck. I have no idea why. So very many songs can instantly remind me of a person or place…from years ago…I’m not talking weddings, first dates, or amazing trips. I’m talking driving to Stillwater! I also know the words to countless songs but can’t tell you what I ate for breakfast two days ago or some of my best friends’ phone numbers. Music is magical.

I have always loved music and it’s always been (excuse the pun) instrumental in my life. I still have my Partridge Family albums and I distinctly remember buying “The Best of Bread.” One of my fondest memories from high school is when I worked with the local radio station on a music montage for a big game against our rival team. I worked at the radio station in college and now I live in “The Music Capital of the World.” Sadly, even though I can sing, I can’t play a lick on a guitar or piano. I feel a New Year’s Resolution coming on!

When we first moved to Austin 27 years ago, Smitty and I were frequent attendees of live music events, near or far, big or small. When I made the decision to leave the TV news industry, the first job I took was that of Publicist at The Frank Erwin Center. To this day, it was probably the most fun and favorite job I ever had…perhaps tied only with my first TV job in Oklahoma City. I “had” to work every concert and promote the likes of Cher, U2, George Strait, Bon Jovi, and yes, Bruce Springsteen. What was not to love?! I was in heaven.


Times have changed. I became a mom and the job didn’t quite fit my new mommy schedule. Austin has grown increasingly bigger and more crowded so events are often more of a hassle than a pleasure. Smitty and I have gotten older so the club scene isn’t what we look for in our social life. We still love a live show every now and then, have passed on our love of music to our daughter Kristen, and I’m proud to say her taste in music is more often than not, quite good!


Yes, Kristen is a music devotee but sadly her ITunes generation will never know the joy of reading liner notes or A and B sides. Today’s kids like music, but things are still different. I will never forget visiting Open House at her high school at the beginning of her freshman year. We were in her ACE class, which was a first semester mandatory “learn the ropes of high school” course, and her teacher told us not to be alarmed if our high schoolers study with music on…”it’s what they do” he said. He was right. Kristen, to this day, studies with her earphones on and my country music-loving girl prefers Red Hot Chili Peppers during college finals prep!

This may not be the case with everyone though. My co-worker Ana recently told me about her son Max’s school research project in which he studied the effects of different types of music on someone while reading. Surprisingly, the project wasn’t for a music class, but AP Biology. Apparently music is a science!

To me, it will always be simply a love. A love of lyrics put to a rhythm that touches your soul and can sometimes even change your life. Who, after all, can argue with “Blow away the dreams that break your heart. Blow away the dreams that tear you apart. Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and broken hearted?” Sounds like good advice to me. As a matter of fact, sounds like music to my ears.


Tuesday’s Tip January 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:31 pm



A Hurtful Tour de Force January 20, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:59 pm


It’s dominated the national news for the past few weeks, and here in Austin it’s been non-stop talk and literally hit home. It, is the Lance Armstrong scandal. And yes, it is a scandal…a huge one. I’ve had time to think about it and am finally ready to write how I feel.

Although I live in Austin I wouldn’t call myself a huge Lance fan. Don’t get me wrong, I admired him and thought highly of him, but I wasn’t one of those sporting yellow spandex. I did, however, purchase yellow “Livestrong” bracelets and I remember going with friends and family to a parade in honor of Armstrong in downtown Austin after his first Tour de France victory. Kristen was little but knew the enormity of the event. She and her friends were proud to hold up their homemade posters as Lance and his wife Kristen waved to the thousands along the Congress Avenue parade route. Austin was proud and so were we.

Soon after, and as Lance continued to win Tour de France after Tour de France, you couldn’t escape him or his name in Austin. Those cute little pink flamingos people put in their yards? In Austin, they were yellow and yes I bought one. “Lance Armstrong Bikeway” was officially named and you really couldn’t drive anywhere without running into cyclists probably pretending they were Lance. So many people began riding bikes in Austin that the City of Austin created a new Bicycle Coordinator position. People flocked to Armstrong’s “Mellow Johnny’s” local bike shop (the name is a take on “yellow jersey” in French) and bike lanes began popping up everywhere.

Then, seemingly overnight, Lance and his wife Kristen filed for divorce. Rumors spread that he had been the furthest thing from a good husband. He began dating singer Sheryl Crow and was turned Hollywood. He became a baby daddy. But, he continued to win, even as doping charges became louder and louder, and we all continued to cheer him and believe him. Maybe the real dopes in this doping scandal were really us.

Armstrong adamantly and consistently denied all accusations, and now as we all know, was flat out lying. He sued good friends and supporters who he knew were telling the truth! Narcisstic is putting it mildly. I watched the Oprah interviews and was struck by his lack of humility. I naively thought he would appear more contrite and broken. When he applauded himself for not calling one of his former supporters “fat” even though he’d called her other degrading names, I thought to myself, “this guy still doesn’t get it.” As I sat in a doctor’s office the day after the interviews, the doctor himself, whose kids attend the same school as Armstrong’s kids, called him what I consider the most fitting word: a punk. With the exception of a moment or two, throughout the Oprah segments, Armstrong displayed the same arrogance that cyclists all over Austin do as they demand equality on the roadways but refuse to follow the laws of those very roads. The apples don’t fall very far from their bike-riding tree.

I also couldn’t help but notice the melancholy tone of his voice anytime he talked about Kristen. He seemingly admitted that she’s a Christian living a Christian life and he wasn’t and isn’t. What if he would have been the husband she deserved, had stayed with her, and had avoided the perils of fame and ambition? Maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t be writing this.

Instead, we get a Lance Armstrong who arrogantly posted a Twitter pic of him relaxing in his Austin home amongst his 7 framed Tour de France yellow jerseys, even as the doping allegation heat was boiling around him. I remember seeing that pic and thinking “WTH Lance?” If I didn’t already know it before that, I knew right then and there he was indeed a punk.

Still, out of bad came good. The Lance Armstrong Foundation has helped millions and I hope will be able to continue to do so. My heart aches for the volunteers and benefactors whose lives he’s wounded. I also feel for his children as they tackle the horrific nightmare that their dad, who they held up so very high, is a cheat and a liar.

People will forgive him though. Hollywood will hold him up as another Charlie Sheen, Kristen Stewart or Lindsay Lohan. What about sports though? Will athletes feel the same? Sadly we live in a sports world filled with the likes of Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, Ryan Leaf, Michael Vick, and Kobe Bryant. They cry and we forgive. Our fan-filled memories are short-lived, mine included.

I don’t know if this will be the case with Lance Armstrong and I don’t know what I hope becomes of him. I do know I won’t be buying his book or any more of his lies. At the very least I think he should have to work to pay off the people whose lives he purposely damaged. And I don’t mean book tour and luxury locations speaking engagements work, I mean the bike department at Wal-Mart or picking up trash on Lance Armstrong Bikeway. Voluntarily doing these kind of things would impress me way more than 7 yellow jerseys.


Think About It Thursday January 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:08 am

So true:



Tuesday’s Tip January 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:30 am


Quitters Can Win!

During a recent staff meeting my colleagues and I were asked to complete a “True Colors” personality test. It came as no surprise to me or anyone who knows me that I was a fairly dominant “gold” person. In short, this means I’m responsible, practical, dependable, loyal, caring, orderly, procedural, and drum roll please: organized. In fact, sometimes I’m organized to a fault. I’m very scheduled and depend heavily on my calendar and everything on it. But, I recently read that sticking to a schedule, along with other supposedly time-tested time management rules, can sometimes make us less productive, not more.

Steve Prentice, a workplace productivity expert (a job title after my own heart!) says that although following your hourly, daily, weekly and any other agenda might keep you organized, but doing so can also bog you down. He doesn’t advise abandoning schedules and to-do lists, but he does suggest planning out only about 80 percent of your day, leaving the other 20 percent open for the unexpected. He says allow for “breathing room,” I hear “chill Carla!”

Prentice also told “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine (September 2011) that procrastination is not necessarily a bad word. He notes that some people actually do their best work and experience a true adrenaline rush when things come down to the wire. If you are a procrastinator, tackle small jobs while putting off a bigger, more time consuming job. Doing so will not only give you the feeling of accomplishment, but you will get stuff done! Also recommended, and I think this is helpful to anyone, is to write down what needs to be done. This will relieve any worry that you might forget something and it will also ensure that everything needed is accounted for.

Now for the booger of all current boogers: multitasking. I am the queen of multitasking and actually pride myself on being able to accomplish more than one thing at a time. Comparatively, I often tease my husband about his lack of ability to do so. Where do you fall? Do you email and watch TV at the same time? Do you make dinner while doing house work? Can you focus on just one thing or do you need “all hands on deck?” Well, come to find out that multitasking may not be so efficient after all.

A study by the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that those who do two things at once may take up to 50 percent longer to finish what they’re doing than those who do one thing at a time. In addition, Stanford University sociologist Clifford Ness found that chronic multitaskers are less likely to remember details! Wow!

All this may come very hard for you and for society as a whole to grasp and adhere to. We are programmed to make the most of every second and never, ever give up. But, even giving up is being challenged. It seems quitting is not the same as failing anymore. If you find yourself at a true dead end, experts say it may not be a bad idea to quit. So I guess quitters do sometimes win and some winners do quit!

Lastly, it’s highly recommended that everyone take downtime. This doesn’t mean close your office door and watch reruns of your favorite TV show, it means simply take a minute to let your concentration wane. A study by Melbourne’s Australia University actually showed that office workers who spent a small amount of time surfing the web for fun were 12 more productive than those who didn’t.

Maybe it’s time for a new New Year’s Resolution, and that’s to simply slow down and smell the roses. Regardless of whatever you’ve heard or think you know, you can’t do it all. Running in place and running ragged will get you nowhere. Just ask the experts.


The Greatest Day of My Life January 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:22 pm


We all have memorable moments, and I’m no different. But, the “greatest day of my life?” Hmmmm….good question! The day I was born? Graduating from college? Getting married? The day Kristen was born? OU winning the National Championship? I found out in mass this morning that the answer is surpisingly “none of the above.” As a matter of fact, it’s not only a good question, but a God question.

Today, after the gospel reading on John the Baptist and Christ’s baptism, father’s sermon presented us with the idea that the greatest day of each of our lives was quite possibly the day we were baptized. That was the day, father explained, that I was officially adopted by God. As the proud owner of a brand new adopted dog, I couldn’t be happier or feel luckier than to have been adopted by God. Even as a cradle Catholic however, I’ve never thought of it that way. I always considered it the day I was formally and ceremoniously presented to the Catholic Church and our historic faith. But to be adopted by God? Wow! It really was the greatest day of my life! Being baptized also set the stage for the other sacraments, including Confirmation when I literally confirmed myself to God.

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been very inspired to write this blog the past few weeks. I don’t know why. I have tons of ideas but just haven’t sat down to put them on paper. My days and weeks have been busy but today’s mass inspired me, and here I am.

Today father also talked about having a personal mission statement. Companies have them, schools have them, and even families have them. But a personal one? I need to think about that one. As I ponder what I mine will consist of, what about you? What does your personal mission statement include? What do you consider the greatest day of your life? May they both inspire you daily.


New Year, New Hope January 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:18 pm


Happy New Year everyone!  It’s officially 2013, and despite the negative connotations of those last two digits, I am hoping this year is one of all things positive.  My dad loved New Year’s Eve.  I remember him and my mom getting dressed up to go out with their friends to celebrate and coming home with noise makers for us.  Still, I’ve never been a big New Year’s Eve celebrator, and this year was no different.  I do, however, always make those requisite resolutions come January 1 and again, this year is no different.


A resolution I always make that I have a pretty successful rate of accomplishing is learning something new every year.  I’ve taken an Italian class, ice skating lessons, have learned to cross-stitch and golf, and dabbled in yoga before yoga was cool.   This year, as I did last year, I hope to learn how to shoot a gun.  I know the timing is perhaps questionable but it’s something I’ve wanted to do and hope to finally scratch off my list this year.  As always I also hope to get healthier.  I need to eat better, exercise more, and lose weight.  I started yesterday and can’t wait for Coach Kim’s boot camp at work to start up again next Tuesday.  I don’t love exercising and I love all foods that are bad for me, but I also don’t love being overweight and unhealthy.


Why are resolutions so hard to keep?  Maybe we make them too unattainable.  Maybe we are imperfect and weak.  It all got me thinking back to Kristen’s high school yearbook senior ad.  I wonder if what I wrote in it qualifies as resolutions for every year:


“Always remember to pray, dream, believe in yourself, believe in Santa, never give up, help others, respect yourself, stand tall, be grateful, be kind, be a lady, say grace, be honest, speak up, ask why, attend mass, vote, work hard, never settle, laugh, dance, sing, listen, keep your heart open and your eyes looking up, and never forget the house that built you.”


I also added the following quotes and scripture:


May trouble neglect you and angels protect you.


Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.


“In everything you do, put God first and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”  Proverbs 3:6.


“For I know the plans I have for you.  They are plans for good and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11


They all sound easy enough, right?


My niece Tessa, whose married to a man from Japan, informed me that, according to the Chinese Zodiac, 2013 is “The Year of the Snake.”  Hmmmm…what do I make of that?   I hate snakes!  Apparently under this belief, 2013 is meant for steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary to achieve what you set out to do. The Snake is the sixth sign of the Chinese Zodiac and is the enigmatic, intuitive, introspective, refined and collected of the Animals Signs. It is a studious creature, preferring quiet predictability to ruckus and mayhem. Peaceful solitude is also its preference.  Snake or no snake, that’s what I’m hoping for in 2013.


I’m also happy to say I’ll be having “high tea” with my friend Mary from Scotland tomorrow.  This seems most appropriate being that “Auld Lang Syne” was originally a Scottish  poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, as the traditional way to celebrate the start of the new year at the stroke of midnight   The song’s title is in “Scots,” the language spoken in Lowland Scotland and not to be confused with Scottish Gaelic, which is spoken in the Highlands, and may be translated into English as “old long since” or more idiomatically, “days gone by.”  Consequently, “for auld lang syne” could be loosely translated as “for the sake of old times.”  Singing the song on New Year’s Eve very quickly became a Scottish custom that soon spread to other parts of the British Isles.  As Scots emigrated around the world, they took the song with them.  Beginning in 1929, Canadian band leader Guy Lombardo  is often credited with popularizing the use of the song at New Year’s celebrations in America through his annual broadcasts on radio the song became his trademark.


So, as this new year begins fresh with new hopes and new dreams, perhaps Denis Waitley said it best with, “There are two primary choices in life:  to accept conditions as they exist or accept the responsibility for changing them.”  As I leave you with a prayer for 2013, I pray we all make choices that are healthy, resolutions that are attainable, and decisions that make a difference.


“Prayer for the New Year”

Give us the kindness to hear with compassion and to offer support, loving comfort, and care.  Give us the courage to do what is needed and the wisdom to choose what is right and most fair.  Give us the vision to see what is possible.  Give us a faith that will help pave the way for a present that’s hopeful and a future that’s peaceful.  Give us a heart to bring joy to each day.