Beyond Words

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

Desperately Seeking Memories July 31, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:28 pm



“Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another.”  Madonna



Has it really been 30 years since Madonna released her first album?  Say it ain’t so!!!!  If I didn’t feel old before, I certainly do now.


July 27, 1983 was the date that then unknown Madonna Louise Ciccone released her self-titled album and the rest, as they say, is her-story.  Her story is one that forever changed the face of music and a story that continues to be unfold.


I was living in Oklahoma when Madonna’s rag-tag-Lower-East-Side style hit the radio and lit up MTV. (the network actually showed videos back then!)  Unlike many, I didn’t dress like her because I was graduating and working in TV, but I wanted her confidence and her swagger.   I loved everything about her and to this day, “Borderline” is one of my favorite songs ever.  Her film “Desperately Seeking Susan” captured my imagination and set off my love affair with New York City.  I adore the song “Get into the Groove” from the movie, I followed her romance with Sean Penn, and even liked her in “Dick Tracy.”  Madonna owned music and specifically MTV, whether it be in her “Like a Virgin” wedding dress or successfully competing with the likes of Michael Jackson, U2, The Police, Cindy Lauper, and others whose albums helped make it one of music’s most exciting and influential times.




Fast forward 10 years or so and I was living in Austin and working at The Frank Erwin Center.  By then Ms. Ciccone was unmistakably a one-name wonder and had morphed into a glamorous Marilyn-like music mogul.  I remember loving “Vogue” and doing the dance with co-worker Liz and anyone I could find who would do it with me.


Then, Madonna got nasty, and I don’t mean cruel.  She released her “Sex” book and “Erotica” album and my respect for and admiration of her ended as quickly as her movie career did.  Things picked up for her a bit years later with the release of “Music,” and I really like the song “Don’t Tell Me” and its accompanying video,  but it’s never been the same for me.  Today’s version of Madonna bores me.  I’m not impressed with her style, her music, her phony British accent, or her ever-changing plastic surgery face.


“Rolling Stone” magazine once described Madonna’s voice as “irritating as hell,” but keep in mind this is the same publication that just put an alleged terrorist on its cover.   She may be more ambitious then talented, but she’s talented nonetheless.  She is the top-selling female artist of all time and has sold more 300 million albums…300 million!!!!  Early on she invented her own brand of controversy, singing about an unwed pregnancy in “Papa Don’t Preach” and dancing with saints in “Like A Prayer,” but she brilliantly mixed those questionable tunes on CDs with beauties like “Cherish” and “Live To Tell.”  At the very least, Madonna single-handedly paved the way for all the subsequent Lady Gagas and Keshas.


Much like Britney Spears will always be Kristen’s all-time fave though, Madonna will be mine.  Unlike Britney however, Madonna does possess some real talent and musical skills.  I’ve always liked that she writes her own music, controlled her own career,  and did things her way.  She sported a “Boy Toy” belt but wore the pants in her family.  She didn’t ride on anyone’s coat-tails or reinvent already popular styles.  She was a style…one that millions imitated.  She also didn’t become addicted to drugs or close down Hollywood nightclubs with fellow wannabees.  No, this is the woman who famously told Dick Clark on “American Bandstand” that she wanted to “rule the world.”  I’d say the University of Michigan drop-out did just that, at least when it comes to pop music.  She may live in England now, but the Detroit native will always be the All-American pop princess and my favorite material girl.




Tuesday’s Tip July 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:04 pm


Money tree

It Doesn’t Grow on Trees After All!


“It’s good to have money and the things money can buy, but it’s good to check in once in a while to make sure you haven’t lost the things money can’t buy.”  George Lorimer



I find it amazing that an entire city (Detroit most recently) can go bankrupt.   More on that another day, but today I’d like to share some financial advice from money guru Suzie Orman.   Americans are still living way too much in debt, making me ever grateful for my husband’s savvy savings habits.  As much as I hate to admit it, his frugality and acumen have kept us financially stable.  If you are not in this boat, perhaps Orman’s “Three Keys to Financial Happiness” can help.  They are:


  1.  Every time before buying something, ask yourself, “is it a need or a want?”  Orman recommends everyone should live without credit card debt and have an eight month emergency fund.  However, if you really need it, buy it.  But if it’s a want, don’t buy it.  From this day forward and until you don’t have debt and have an emergency fund, buy only needs.
  2. Live below your means but within your needs.  Even if you can afford that big home or expensive car, do you really need them?  By living this way, you will find you have extra money…money you can save!
  3. Get as much pleasure out of saving as you do spending.  Take that money you might spend on something you don’t need and save it instead.


Great ideas, right?   Another very easy way to save for a rainy day in a less serious way is to keep every $5 bill you get.  They are not as common as $1, $10, or $20 bills but you’ll be surprised at how they add up if you keep them out of your wallet and in a safe place!


Finally, here’s an interesting idea I came across on Pinterest:


Money challenge


Today’s economy makes even saving a little bit difficult for many.  Maybe those old Finnish writers said it best in their proverb, “Happiness is a place between too much and too little.”  Maybe it isn’t even that deep though and all comes down to good ole’ Mary Poppins, when she told Elizabeth and Michael Banks, “Enough is as good as a feast.”    Feast on what you can afford friends and leave keeping up with the Joneses to others.






Think About It Thursday July 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:25 pm

Did You Know

I’m getting weary on writing serious stuff so here are just some fun facts to think about on this Thursday:


  • Each king on playing cards represents a real king in history:  Spades-King David, Clubs-Alexander the Great, Hearts-Charlemagne, and Diamonds-Cesar.
  • Elephants are the only animals that can’t jump and they have no natural predators.
  • Butterflies taste with their feet.
  • Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards.
  • Multiplying 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321.
  • Thomas Edison was afraid of the dark.
  • In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere.
  • Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a “Friday the 13th.”
  • If a star fish’s arm breaks off it grows a new one.
  • The word “cemetery” comes from the Greek word “koimetirion,” which means dormitory.
  • It is impossible to lick your elbow.
  • A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why.


Red Solo cup



  • A person can live without food for about a month, but only about a week without water.
  • Giraffes have four stomachs and an octopus has three hearts.
  • Why is a W called a double u and not a double v?
  • Why are grades always A, B, C, D and F but never E?
  • Earth is the only planet not named after a god.
  • The fastest insect is the dragonfly, which can reach a speed of about 58 km per hour.
  • When troops returned from civil war battles without any casualties, they would post “O Killed,” which later evolved into “O.K.” meaning all is good.
  • The Civil War (or “The Battle between the States” as many in the south still call it) has more books written on then only one other subject:  Jesus.
  • A statue with a soldier on a horse with two feet in the air means the soldier died in combat.  If the horse only has one foot in the air, the soldier died of injuries from combat.  If the horse has all four feet in the air the soldier died of natural causes.
  • Skunks can accurately spray their smelly fluid as far as ten feet.
  • Human thigh bones are stronger than concrete.
  • Honey is the only food that does not spoil.
  • There is a city called Rome on every continent.
  • Hippos can easily outrun a human and are considered as one of the most dangerous animals around.
  • All of Santa’s reindeer were female.  Males spend December without antlers.
  • Pore patterns in human skin are as unique as fingerprints.
  • Pill bugs/Roly-Polies are not insects and are cousins to lobsters.
  • The roar of a lion can be heard from 5 miles away.
  • Cheetahs can accelerate from 0 to 70 mph in just a few seconds and are the only big cats that don’t roar.
  • Polar Bears skin and tongues are both black
  • Birds are the only animals that have feathers but they have no teeth.
  • Sharks and octopus don’t have bones.
  • Of all the words in the English language, the word ’set’ has the most definitions.


And on that note, I’m now all set to set myself down with a set of snacks to see if all of these are dead set true or if they’re just a set of urban myths!   Ready, set, go!






Wednesday’s Words of Wit & Wisdom July 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:52 pm




Tuesday’s Tip July 23, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:27 pm

Don’t Cut the Cord!

Landlines princess phone


A friend recently discovered that her phone line died while she and her family were out-of-town.   Sad thing is, they didn’t realize it for several weeks because they rely solely on their cell phones for all communication.  But, before the phone company could determine what needed to be repaired, my friend was asked to plug a “regular” phone into the jack to see if it was working.  The repairman needed to know what the problem was before being dispatched to fix it…and we all know how long that can be when we know exactly what the problem is!  Unfortunately, she didn’t have a “regular” phone.  She, like many households, no longer has a landline.  She, like many others, also discovered this maybe isn’t the best idea.


Between 2008 and 2011, the number of wireless-only households nearly doubled according to “The New York Times” and “Readers Digest.”  They also reported, however, that experts agree  “cutting the cord” and opting for smart phones only may not be so smart after all.


Take Hurricane Sandy for example.  When the super storm blasted the east coast last fall, hundreds of New Yorkers lined up to use any of the almost extinct pay phones…if they could find one.  The storm knocked out 25 percent of cell phone towers from New Hampshire to North Carolina, leaving millions without cell phone service.  Landlines, however, were not affected.  Most landlines rely on underground copper wiring rather than electricity and radio waves to function and they are almost always more dependable during storms and other communication crisis situations.


Experts also like to remind us that when you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone, the operator will not be able to immediately identify your location, which they can easily do when you call from a landline.  In addition, most home security companies depend on landlines to trigger an alarm.  If you live in a rural area, landlines are considered even more vital, as wireless service is often spotty and expensive the further out you live.




Funny but true, right?  Think about it.  You probably remember your home phone number from years ago but I bet you don’t know your friends’ cell phone numbers that you call daily.  I’m as guilty as you are, but I will say we still have a landline in our home.  In fact, the phone on my night stand is not only a landline, it’s not even cordless!    I also have a pretty pink Princess phone in our guest room much like the photo at the top of this blog.  Yes I’m nostalgic but I am also cautious.  I worry because Kristen won’t have a landline in her apartment this fall and she’ll be in Oklahoma!  But, she will have cable, internet, a tanning room, a movie theatre, and a pool on-site!


Call me silly; call me old-fashion, but I think I will always have a landline.  What about you?  How many of you have joined the “cell-only” population?  Have I made you think twice about your decision?  I didn’t think so.  Call me and we can talk about it!


A Match Made in Heaven July 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:35 pm

wedding matches

Today is my sister and brother-in-law’s 35th wedding anniversary.  I just saw the photo of their wedding day that she posted on Facebook.  I remember that day.  I was a bridesmaid and loved every minute of it.  I love her and loved being a part of their wedding.   I also love my brother-in-law.  He, the father of two boys, has always been so sweet and patient with my daughter.  I will say their marriage has been unconventional in many ways, but it works.  He has travelled a lot for his job; sometimes living in other states and countries some of the time.  All the while my sister was home raising her two boys and doing a great job of it.  For so many years she was my maternal role model and I learned so much from her.  Although I don’t see her as much as I wish I did, I spent a lot of time with both of them in the past…whether it be a summer in Spain, a road trip to Utah, or weekends in College Station.  We shared a lot.  What I’ve also always admired about them is that they seem to truly enjoy spending time together, even though at times it is few and far between.  They accept their situation and make the best of it.  They prove that although being married isn’t always easy or perfect,  it is worth making it through the hard times.


I have been married only once and to the same man for 27 years and still have faith our box will remain full.  Some years are memorable, others have been tough.  Still, marriage is important to me and I take it, and the commitment I’ve made, seriously.  In between mine and Smitty’s immediate families, there are no divorces.  Our parents were each other’s “one and onlies” and all of our siblings remain married to their first spouse.

Like my sister, I was somewhat of a “single” mom for much of Kristen’s growing up years.  Smitty travelled often and since we only have our one girl, the majority of raising her fell on my shoulders.  But, like my sister, I loved doing it and know I could have never have been as involved in Kristen’s life and devoted so much time to her if it weren’t for Smitty’s job and hard work.  He always says I’ve had way more influence on her, but I always remind him we both did, as without him, I couldn’t have.

What makes a strong marriage?  Everyone always says “communication,” but that answers always felt a little vague to me.  I prefer to think it’s a solid combination of shared interests, mutual respect, and similar values.  Yes, talking things out and honesty are important, but if you have those two things but nothing in common, what do you have?

 Marriage couple

That’s a photo of John and Ann Betar of Connecticut who are officially the longest married couple in the U.S.  John is 101 and Ann is 97.  They have been married 80 years!  Wow!   How awesome is that?!  What I love the most about the photo is that they are smiling and holding hands.  Very sweet.


So just how can that king and queen live happily ever after in their castle?  I’ve always liked the quote that says a “perfect “ marriage is simply a relationship between two people who refuse to give up on each other.  I guess that pretty much sums it up, but what about keeping the romance alive?  I have no answers for that but I do know that I have an entire Pinterest board on weddings and yet I have no intention of being in one ever again and I’m not planning on Kristen walking down the aisle any time soon.  I can’t explain it!


First Corinthians

Those were our wedding vows.  I still love it and it still hangs in our master bedroom.  I also love Gretchen Rubin from “The Happiness Project’s” five mistakes to avoid in a marriage.  They aren’t your standard “don’t cheat,” “date your spouse,” and “love each other,” but they are just as important:

  1.  Avoid constantly craving appreciation and recognition.  Don’t always rely on your spouse to feed your ego.  Make yourself feel good and be proud of yourself!
  2. I have a very short fuse and become irritable very easily, but snapping at each other is a big no-no.  You say things you’ll regret later and maybe even things you don’t mean.  Breathe and think before speaking.
  3. Studies show married people treat each other with less civility than they show others.  Basic consideration and warmth go a long way.  Start at home.
  4. Are you a “score-keeper?”  Do you keep track of what you’ve done and what your spouse has or hasn’t done?  If so, stop!  Even St. Therese of Lisieux said “when one loves, one does not calculate.”
  5. I think probably the mistake so many of us make so often is simply taking our spouse for granted.  What if that spouse was not here tomorrow?  Would you be proud of how you treated him or her today?


I also like these snippets of wisdom:

Father daughter Man son

Marriage is tough.  No one said it would be easy.  But, unless there is abuse or infidelity, it should be considered a sacred vow.    Maybe it all comes down to not focusing so much on each other’s weaknesses, but rather on each other’s strengths.   Happy Anniversary Coral and Gabby.  May you enjoy 35 more!

Father daughter pic in Thu

Man son pic in Thu


Hollywood’s Smart Cookies? July 20, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:27 pm



I recently saw the movie “The Bling Ring” with my daughter.  For those of you unfamiliar with the film, it’s a true story based on high-profile robberies that a group of L.A. high schoolers conducted in the span of one year.  Victims included Hollywood and tabloid heavyweights like Orlando Bloom, Paris Hilton, and Megan Fox.  In all, the teenage tyrants stole more than $3 million from many a movie star’s home and got caught only because they were dumb enough to post it all on Facebook.


It got me thinking about celebrity worship.  The “Bling Ring” members were so obsessed with the famous and infamous, as well as entitlement and labels, that they stopped at nothing to be achieve their desired and demented status.   Who are these people so many worship?  As I wrote about in my blog regarding trust, movie stars rank right up there with pastors and surgeons many an American’s mind.  But, who are these people?  I researched a bit and found that, while some are lucky to be earning a living based on their aptitudes, others boast close-to-genius level IQ’s!  They all “pretend”  for a living but they have real stories behind them.


As a reference point:  a whopping 95 percent of IQ scores fall between 70 and 130 while 50 percent range between 90 and 110, which is considered average/normal.  A score of 110-119 is considered “superior intelligence,” 120-129 constitutes “very superior intelligence,” 130-139 is considered “gifted,” and 140 or higher is considered “genius.”  Kinda makes you wonder about all those “gifted” kids in school today, right?!


Bearing in mind these numbers,   I found it fascinating to learn the following about some of pop culture’s biggest, or should I say, truly “brightest” stars:


Sharon Stone has a reported IQ of 154 and started college when she was just 16.


The late Jayne Mansfield was best known as a 1960’s sex symbol, but she had a reported IQ of 149.


Pop star Kesha reportedly scored a 1500 on her SATs (which is near perfect) and has an IQ of over 140.


Oscar winner Natalie Portman finished high school with a 4.0, has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard, and is fluent in five languages.


Supermodel Cindy Crawford was high school valedictorian and earned a full scholarship to study engineering at Northwestern University.  She ultimately left college to pursue modeling.


Actress Jodie Foster has an IQ of 132 and a bachelor’s degree from Yale.


“Thelma and Louise” actress Geena Davis has an IQ of 140, is fluent in Swedish, and is accomplished on four instruments.


Colombian singer Shakira has an IQ of 140, is fluent in four languages, has perfect pitch, and was invited to speak at Oxford University, joining the previous ranks of of U.S. presidents, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama and Albert Einstein.


“Wild and crazy” Steve Martin isn’t so crazy after all.  The actor/comedian has a 142 IQ and majored in Philosophy at Cal State.  He is also an accomplished musician.


Despite not finishing high school, Director Quentin Tarantino boasts a 160 IQ.


Actor James Woods earned a perfect ACT score and a full scholarship to MIT.  His IQ is reportedly 180.


Others with notable IQ scores:

Actress Nicole Kidman – 132

Actor and Politician Arnold Schwarzenegger – 135

Singer Madonna – 140

Baseball legend Reggie Jackson – 160




Smart person


I found it equally fascinating to discover the following on some of today’s most politically-active stars who many listen to and accept the views of based solely on the fact that they are rich and famous:


High graduates with no higher level studies:  Barbra Streisand, Martin Sheen, Sean Penn, Ed Asner, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Mike Farrell.


College drop-outs:  Jessica Lange (mid-freshman year), Alec Baldwin (due to scandal), George Clooney, Michael Moore (first year), Bruce Springsteen (community college), and Janeane Garofelo.


High school drop-outs:  Whoopi Goldberg, Cher


Giving credit where credit is due:  Susan Sarandon earned a drama degree from Catholic University (ironic?) of America


What does all this mean?  Other than the fact that Sharon Stone has beauty and brains and that Quentin Tarantino may be weird but is weirdly talented, I’m not sure.   All I know is that many a famous idol is of average intelligence, much like you and me. The fact that they have above average riches shouldn’t make them any more desirable or credible.  Maybe it all comes down to those famous words by Sandra Carey:  “Never mistake knowledge for wisdom.  One helps you make a living, the other helps you make a life.”





Interesting Sidebar

While doing research for this blog, I learned that 90 years ago one of the world’s most celebrated signs was born:  the legendary “Hollywood” sign.  Originally an ad for the Hollywoodland housing development, it became forever famous in 1949 when it lost its last four letters.  The rest, as they say, is history…Hollywood history.