Beyond Words

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

A Holiday for Hope March 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:37 pm

easter-cross-daybreak

 

Today many will be filling Easter baskets with fake grass, chocolate eggs and stuffed bunnies.  Others will be getting their Easter Sunday clothes ready for tomorrow and traveling to see family.  Today, however, is a solemn day.  It is the one day that there is no God per se.  By the looks of what’s going on in the world however, that seems to be the case almost daily. So, what is Easter?  So many, many things and so many, many meanings.   First and foremost it’s the day Christ rose from the dead, giving Christians around the world a reason for joy and a season of hope.  It is a holiday celebrated by many and considered a most holy day in the church.  The anguish of Lent is removed, flowers once again adorn the altar, and choirs sing loud and proud.

 

easter pooh

 

As a little girl, I loved Easter.  It was the day you got to dress up in a new, colorful Easter dress complete with gloves, hat, lace socks and white patent leather shoes.  What’s not to love?!  I treasured coloring eggs using that flimsy wire egg holder out of the PAWS kit and had so much fun eating “lipstick eggs.”  Much like Christmas and Thanksgiving, families got together and big meals took place in the formal dining room using my mom’s silver, china and crystal.   Granted, some of the formality and our mom’s requirement of perfect manners drove me and my sisters nuts, but in hindsight they did make each meal memorable!  We almost always got baby chicks too.  To this day I don’t know where my parents got them or what happened to them once they grew up, but I do know they made every Easter special.

 

easter lily

 

Other than the religious reality of it all, perhaps what I love most about Easter are Easter Lilies.  They are one of my favorite flowers…ever.  I love how they fill an entire room with their magical scent and how the ones I replant every year in our backyard bloom again and again.  It truly warmed my heart to receive a text from my friend Judy last week saying she always thinks of me when she sees Easter Lilies.  I had no idea but there’s nothing I’d like to be associated with more than an Easter Lily!

 

I’ve never been a big Peeps fan (are you?) but I love Jelly Beans.  In fact, I love all jelly-ish and gummy candies…so much so that I give them up for Lent!  My favorite colors are the yellow and purple ones but I am not a big fan of the white or black.  It’s always fun to have our annual “Jelly Bean Tasting” in my preschool class to see what colors which kids like the best.   The faces they make and the things they use to describe them are so precious.  I also love that this year my little three-and-four-year-olds really seemed to really “get it.”  They knew all about Judas kissing Jesus’ cheek, Jesus’ “big meal” with His friends, the stone being rolled away, and the angel saying “Jesus is alive!”  In fact, they love screaming that part!

 

I have always loved Easter.  Flowers start to bloom, the weather improves, and everything just seems joyful.  Sadly this year is going to be a quiet Easter.  Kristen doesn’t get any time off from school for Easter so she is in Plano celebrating with a friend’s family.  She didn’t get time off last year either, but since Smitty was away at The Masters, I drove up to Oklahoma and spent Easter there.   This year it will be just me and Smitty…and Boomer.  No big plans are made and no ham or pork tenderloins have been bought.   My china, silver, and crystal are tucked away and the dining room will remain empty.

 

Maybe this is God’s way of telling the two of us it’s time to focus on what’s really important:  Him.  Not the bunnies, not the food, not the jelly beans, not even the lilies.   As with the earth and the church year, it’s also a new season; a season to bloom and begin again.  Our nest is empty, but tomorrow we will go to church, eat what we decide to eat, and be grateful for our nest and that He is alive again.  As little Bernice says at the end of “Hope Floats,” our “cup runneth over.”

 

Happy Easter everyone!

 

Sorry, I’m Booked March 26, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:17 pm

 

“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library,” Jean Luis Borges

 

My daughter Kristen recently said something that somewhat shocked me but warmed my heart and made my day.   No, it wasn’t “I love you” or “I made the Dean’s List,” it was “I don’t really like Kindles or Nooks.  I like the feel of a real book in my hands.”   Yowzah!

 

Plato

 

 

 

I am a book person; a true book worm.  I have stacks of books just waiting to be read butI always want more.  I’ve yet to give in to the Nook/Kindle trend.  My dream house would not only include a ginormous closet with lots of storage nooks, but a two-story library too.  You know the old-fashioned, Henry Higgins style room with lots of wood and a rolling ladder.   I’ve heard all the great features of reading on Nooks, Kindles and the like, but a room full of downloads just wouldn’t be the same.

 

 

library

 

My biggest fear is that books will go the way of CDs.  How very sad and tragic that would be.  Thankfully, books, unlike CDs, are historical.   I may miss albums with all their fun liner notes but I don’t really miss cassettes or 8-tracks and I do love Itunes.  But, try as you may, a downloaded version of “The Great Gatsby” will never measure up to an original book version.    There is no denying that William Shakespeare and Henry Faulkner would perhaps love that their works are hitting the masses via download after download, but I’m also certain they’d probably prefer the printed versions of their masterpieces remain available and preferred.

 

I am such a book nut that I have an entire Pinterest board just on books!  I was also one of those crazy college students who never bought used books because I wanted to do my own highlights.  One of my biggest dreams?  To be the proud owner of a library card from the New York City Library!

 

bookstore

 

Novels.  Biographies.  Coffee Table Books.  Cookbooks. Self-help Guides.  I love them all!  I tend to gravitate toward non-fiction but I also love a sweet romance.  The only thing I love more than books themselves is going to a bookstore.  I’ve always said that when I go into a bookstore I’m like metal and the books are steel:  they just stick to me.  I walk in with every intention of buying one book but  I walk out with at least three.   Sadly, bookstores are becoming few and far between.  On-line sales are starting to dwarf those of their retail counterparts and it breaks my heart.  First it was the big chains eating up small, independent book sellers.  Now even some of the big box stores are closing shop.

 

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I’ve always loved to read.  I remember loving “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Little Lame Prince,” and all the Nancy Drew books.  Today I have a small but meaningful collection that includes old copies of “Heidi,” “Mary Poppins,” “Dick and Jane” and many Golden Books.  I tend to hang onto my favorites, which of late have been “Marley and Me,” “The Day the World Came to Gander,” “Southern Lights,” “Around the Bloc,” “Look Again,” and “The Glass Castle.”  Other than the Bible, perhaps my most favorite book ever is “Gift from the Sea.”  I’ve read it many times and each time I do it speaks to me differently.

 

drink coffee and read books

 

Books in general mean so much to me, as does reading.  Perhaps it’s the wordsmith in me but what’s surprising is I don’t really have a tried and true favorite author and often times I can’t even tell you the author of a book I’m reading now or previously.  I’m also not a book snob.  I’m just as happy reading Danielle Steel as I am John Steinbeck.  I love many of the classics but not all of them, and I refuse to read something just because “I’m supposed to.”  As Mark Twain said, “Classic-a book which people praise but don’t read.”  Amen Mr. Twain.

 

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The perfect spot to crawl up with a book

 

I’m always reading at least two books at a time:   one novel and one self-help, spiritual or non-fiction piece.  I will, however, never buy a book whose cover is a film’s adaptation of it.  If I didn’t read it before it became a movie, I probably won’t read it after.  Case in point:  “Forrest Gump” and “Silver Linings Playbook.”  After seeing those two films, and many others, I sure wish I would have read the books first!  On the flip-side, how sad it is to see a movie about a book you loved only to be disappointed.  As they say, “never judge a book by its movie.”

 

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The next best place to crawl up with a book

 

Book clubs? Yes, I’m in one but I don’t read every monthly recommendation, mostly because, again perhaps surprisingly, I’m not a fast reader.  I’m not one of those who “blows through” books.  “Easy reads” can take me three months to finish.  I also don’t want to read anything I’m not interested in.   If there’s anything I hate is feeling like a book is an “assignment.”  I don’t like mystery or sci-fi and I never read any of the “Fifty Shades” books.  Truth be told, after being so proud that the authors of both the Harry Potter and Twilight series were women, I was very disappointed to learn a female wrote “Fifty Shades of Gray.”  I just don’t get it, but that’s just me.

 

book steps

Love this idea!

 

How do you feel about Nooks and Kindles?  Love them but love books too?  Happy to see books go totally high-tech?  Please share your thoughts.  I’d love to know!  Until then, I’m off to read!

 

 

Sunday Scripture March 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:09 pm

palm-sunday-usa

 

Today during Palm Sunday mass, we had a fire alarm.  Yes, a fire alarm, right dab in the middle of the consecration, what we Catholics consider the most sacred part of the mass.  Some of us headed for the nearest exit, others remained in the church, including Father Izzy who stood calmly at the altar and masterfully continued the celebration of the mass.

 

Coincidental?  Accidental?  I’m not sure and I may never know, but I do know one thing:  it should be alarming to all of us that a week before Jesus was crucified as a criminal he rode into Jerusalem as a king.  The very same people who adoringly waved palms at Him ordered Pontius Pilate to “crucify him” mere days later.

 

We’ve all had friends and others we love turn on us and emotionally wound us.  Nothing hurts more.  Each of us has been disappointed and let down by someone we trusted and believed in.  But even Ernest Hemingway said “the best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

 

Trust and forgive.  Two monumental words in the Christian faith.  Trust and believe in that which we don’t necessarily see and forgive even our enemies.  Hard things to do, but Jesus practiced what he preached when, as he stood dying on the cross said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  He forgave those who sentenced him to die.  He forgave his disciple Peter who denied his allegiance to Jesus.  He continue to forgive all who ask.  That’s what we trust and what we believe.

 

Forgiveness quote

 

Forgiveness plays a central role in the Bible.  The very prayer God taught us, “The Lord’s Prayer,” specifically says “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Want forgiveness?  Give forgiveness.

 

I tend to be a fairly forgiving person, which means I can also be taken advantage of.  When I reach the end of my rope, however, I definitely take on the “screw me once” attitude and will probably never trust you again.    Lewis Smedes says “you will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.”  I agree, but sometimes I also agree with this:

 

Give up

 

In the end, I will try to remember “W.W.J.D.” and hope He never gives up on me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Truth Be Told? March 20, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:10 am

hair

 

What’s the first thing you think of when you see someone like actress Sarah Jessica Parker hawking at-home hair color?  Me?  “Yeah, right.”  Garnier Nutrisse may indeed be easy to use and color all those pesky grays, but I find it slightly hard to believe that SJP colors her own hair in the privacy of her home using a $7 box from her local pharmacy.  Just sayin…

 

Ms. Parker, best known for portraying the effervescent and popular Carrie Bradshaw in the “Sex and the City” franchise, is not alone.  Do new Hollywood “it girls” Zooey Deschanel and Emma Stone really use the Pantene hair products and Revlon make-up they each promote in television and print ads?  Maybe they do, but maybe they don’t.  What about Hollywood heavyweights Jennifer Lopez and Halle Barry who have appeared in numerous L’Oreal and Revlon advertisements, again respectively?  My guess would be no, but again, I have no proof.

 

To be sure, some contracts do reportedly require celebrities to wear or use products they endorse but they may also be allowed to pick and choose particular items rather than an entire line.  Other than the hair color ads, the ones that really unnerve me are the mascara ads.  They really make me want to lash out!

 

eyelashes

 

Fuller. Plumper. 100 times longer.  More volume.  Curl-enhancing.  These are just some of the claims mascaras of every brand hope to convince you of.  If you use them, your lashes are said to look fuller and longer through the use of flat brushes, yellow brushes, jumbo brushes…wands of every make and style.  Do they really make a difference, especially if you aren’t blessed with good lashes to begin with?  Have you shopped for mascara lately?  There must be 100 different choices and, in my opinion, way too many.  I’ve used my trusty and traditional Maybelline mascara for as long as I can remember and prefer it over any high-priced or glam-brand styles I’ve gotten in “gift with purchase” promotions. If I had to choose a new one I think I’d suffer from some serious anxiety just considering the plethora of choices.  Does the world really need so many mascara varieties claiming so many miracles?

 

Are there responsibilities regarding truth in advertising in cases like these and others?  There have been instances of some big-name cosmetic companies being called out for falsifying information in their mascara ads.  To most readers, photos used in mascara ads clearly utilize eyelash extensions however, many include small – very small – print disclaimers that lash inserts are used prior to use of the mascara.  My question is, if their products are so wonderful, why do they have to be enhanced with false lashes?  Also, rather than using models with less than enviable natural lashes, why not use people like my daughter Kristen who were born with long eyelashes?  I’m not saying Kristen is model material, but her eyelashes certainly are!

 

According to “Beneath the Brand’s” Rosann Fisher, there are several reasons companies might choose to use a celebrity to endorse one of their products.  First is to launch a new brand, followed by reinforcing an existing brand and then repositioning an established brand.  Who they chose to recommend use of their products is also carefully analyzed.  Factors considered most valuable include the star’s credibility followed by his or her attractiveness and power.

 

One celeb I find somewhat credible and very likeable is L’Oreal’s Andie MacDowell.  The former model and one-time actress endorses everything from the company’s Superior Preference hair color to Visible Line make-up to Line Eraser skin care.  Does she really use them all? I’m not sure, but at least one website calls the Natural Medium Brown 5 shade “Andie MacDowell’s signature shade.”

 

Short of asking Ms. MacDowell personally, I may never know the black and white truth of which personally-endorsed products she or any celeb actually uses. Maybe the truth isn’t so black and white, and is instead somewhere in the “grays.”

 

 

 

Irish Eyes Are Smiling, But Why? March 17, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:24 pm

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!  Tis the day to celebrate all things Irish, drink green beer, and wear something green or risk get pinched.  But, why on earth do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and just who was this saint who Christians and non-Christians alike know of?  Here are some fun and interesting facts about St. Patrick:

 

 

saint_patrick-xudy0c

 

Patrick wasn’t Irish!  He was born in Britain to wealthy parents who were Roman citizens living in either Scotland or Wales.  He was a humble, pious and gentle man.  When he was 16, young Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders who took him to Ireland and sold him as a slave.  He then spent many years herding sheep but turning to God in prayer.  When he was 22 he escaped and made his way back to England where he spent 12 years in a monastery.    Legend has it that he had a dream in which the people of Ireland were calling him back.  The dream is said to have been the voice of God encouraging him to spread Christianity across the Emerald Isle and convert the pagans.  Patrick left England for Ireland and began preaching the Gospel, building churches, and converting many, including Kings and entire families and villages.  He continued to do so for 40 years, living in poverty and enduring suffering until he died on March 17, 461.

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day, therefore and surprisingly, is celebrated on the day he died, not on the day he was born.

 

 

Patrick used the shamrock as a way to teach the trinity during his travels.  The simple green plant grows abundantly in Ireland so he cleverly used it to explain that the trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – although three separate entities are really just one, much like the three parts of the one plant that is a shamrock.   His idea was so convincing that even pagan rulers quickly converted to Christianity.

 

 

The shamrock is a popular Irish symbol but it is not the official symbol of Ireland.  Since medieval times the harp has represented Ireland and when it became an independent country in 1921, it adopted the harp as its national symbol.

 

 

There are more Irish people in the U.S. than there are in Ireland!  Well, sort of.  There are an estimated 34 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry, but the population of Ireland is only 4.2 million.

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day originated as a somewhat political holiday rather than a religious one.  In the mid-19th century, Irish immigrants faced discrimination comparable to what African Americans encountered, sometimes even worse.  As a showing of solidarity, American Irish immigrants organized themselves and commemorated St. Patrick’s Day with annual parades and festivities to demonstrate their political and social might.  Today some of the day’s largest celebrations can be found in Boston and New York City with parades the standard and green beer overflowing.

 

 

Irish law from 1903-1970 considered St. Patrick’s Day a religious holiday, requiring all pubs be closed for the day.  This means drinking was not a part of original celebrations!  The law was reclassified as a national holiday in 1970, opening the doors of drinking establishments and the tradition of green beer.  However, in the diocese of Ireland, it is still considered a holy day of obligation, meaning Catholics are obligated to attend mass and receive the sacrament on that day…perhaps before visiting the local pub!

 

 

St. Patrick, along with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures, but he is also recognized in the secular world.  He is not only revered by Catholics though.  He is honored with a feast day in the Episcopal Church and is also venerated by the Orthodox Church.

 

celtic cross2

 

In order to make potential Irish converts comfortable with his teachings, Patrick incorporated many traditional rituals into his lessons.  For example, fire was sacred to the Irish, so Patrick superimposed a sun onto a Christian cross.  Today this cross, called a Celtic cross, is one of Christianity’s most popular.

 

 

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and is a parish church for many.  The Fifth Avenue Neo-Gothic icon is also one of Manhattan’s most popular tourist attractions, on par with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

 

 

While on his evangelizing journeys, Patrick is said to have carried a wooden stick with him and would thrust it into the ground wherever he was speaking.  In one place, Aspatria, his message took so long to be accepted that the stick supposedly took root and grew into a living tree.

 

 

St. Patrick has never been formally canonized by a pope.  During his years on earth, canonizations were done on the diocesan or regional level but churches everywhere consider him a saint in heaven and he is in the List of Saints.

 

 

St. Patrick is said to be buried on Down Cathedra in the County of Down in Ireland.

 

Irish

 

 

 

Friday Funny March 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:09 pm

Thinking of of St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday…

 

St. Patrick's

 

Think About It Thursday March 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:49 pm

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I saw the following essay posted on Facebook recently and feel it is the perfect “Think About It Thursday” post.  I will admit I didn’t use cloth diapers on Kristen and I don’t remember glass milk bottles, but I do remember our family’s push lawn mower and my mom’s clothesline, which she still uses to this day.  With Austin’s brand new ban of single use bags, this couldn’t be more timely.

 

Being Green

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled.

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of the brown bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings.

But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts, and used wind and solar power to dry clothes on a clothes line. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV or radio in the house, not a TV in every room.  And, the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working and playing so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away a whole plastic razor when the blade gets dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into 24-hour taxi services. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint or our friend’s house.

Isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?!