Beyond Words

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

Color Me Happy August 31, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:42 pm

people are crayons


Tomorrow school officially starts for me, as my little three-year-olds begin their year in my preschool class. “Carla’s Crayons” are in for a year of fun and learning, growing and doing. Why the Crayons? Because I love to color! My class has always been the “box of crayons” and our class book is “The Crayon Box That Talked” by Shane DeRolf, but little did I know a bunch of preschoolers were on trend!


Apparently coloring is the new “it” thing…for grown-ups!


coloring page


Check your social media sites and visit a local book store. Both will be full of coloring pages posts and coloring books. But I’m not talking Dora the Explorer or Frozen, I’m talking about very detailed and intricately designed coloring books for adults.


There are coloring books featuring animals, flowers, Hindu and Buddhist symbols, and pretty much anything you might want. I still prefer coloring Barbie, dogs, Winnie the Pooh, and princess books, but am pretty sure I could color just about anything.




So, why coloring and why now? The reason for its boost in popularity among adults is a mystery, but the benefits of doing so are scientific. Expert after expert raves about the positive effects of the fun and colorful activity normally associated with children, and are keen on the fact that coloring uses both the holistic and tactical sides of our brains.


Coloring slows people down. In today’s “hurry up, hurry up” world, sitting down with a coloring book slows your heart rate and reduces stress by lowering the activity of the amygdala, the part of our brains that controls emotions affected by stress.


Sitting down with a color sheet also relaxes you and quiets your mind. It takes us back to our childhoods and simpler times filled with more playing and less stress.


learn from crayons


The other parts of the brain that coloring incorporates are those that stimulate creativity, logic, and motor skills. While coloring, we use our imaginations and even though we use someone else’s design, the end result is our own, personal and unique work of art. You get to choose what to color where, and in the end, you feel artistic and a sense of accomplishment all thanks to a little box of colorful crayons.


The childhood pastime also not only helps little ones focus, but grown-ups too. While coloring, especially a very detailed piece, your brain is completely engaged in your work. Unlike other tasks like surfing the web or even knitting, it’s very difficult to multi-task while coloring.


Finally, it works on our tendency to want instant gratification. We are so accustomed to Googling everything and instantly responding, that we’ve lost our ability to wait for something to happen. You can’t hurry coloring and you can’t hurry art. It’s a win-win.




As I write this, sitting in my desk drawer is a big box of crayons, the one that has a sharpener on the back. That box of 64 crayons was always my dream as a school-aged girl. Much like Cocoa Krispies and store-bought Play-Do, I couldn’t wait to buy one as an adult. Not far from that box of crayons and in the closet is the Halloween costume I wear each year in my class. Yep, you guessed it, I’m a giant crayon. I guess you could say my fascination with crayons goes way back even though I am not artistic. At all.


I also love Sharpies, which could very well be considered the crayons of grown-ups. I’ve always said that if I win the lottery I will write with nothing but Sharpies!


draw without an eraser


So popular are adult-targeted coloring books right now, they are on many a bestsellers list in both France and England. There are also coloring clubs being formed across the U.S., leading some to consider them today’s quilting bees for group therapy and socialization. All things coloring are also of course everywhere on the internet, ranging from print-at-home pages to Facebook pages boasting nearly 4,000 members.


So, the next time you’re feeling stressed or unfocused, don’t reach for a cocktail or a smart phone, reach for a box of crayons and get coloring! Who’s with me?





Teachers Matter August 24, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:04 pm

XTeach me


Happy First Day of School!


Although my girl is off being a grown up, I love seeing everyone’s photos of their kids headed to their first day of school. It got me thinking about an activity called “History that Matters” from a training training I attended that asked:

  • Name the 10th president of the United States
  • Name the last three Heisman Trophy winners.
  • Name your best friend in high school.
  • Name last year’s World Series champions.
  • Name the vice president in 1974.
  • Name three gold medal winners from the most recent Olympics.
  • Name last year’s Oscar winner for best actor.
  • Name a teacher who touched your life.


What does this tell you? As we head off to school today, let’s help kids remember that the teachers they have will matter much more to them in the years to come than any athlete or actor.


Here’s to all teachers and students.













Some Interesting Things About The Bible You May Not Know August 23, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:00 pm



Last night I went to a girls only Game Night. We played several games, chatted, drank wine and green tea, ate, and generally caught up on life and laughs. While playing a trivia game, we were all shocked to find out the answer was “The Bible.” The question? “What is the most shoplifted book?” Being that the topic was “Irony” maybe the answer wasn’t so surprising, but in a way it still was.


Most of the time “The Bible” is the answer to questions such as “What book has most influenced your life?” NOT what’s been shoplifted!


The Holy Bible is a very unique book. Whether you read it or not, you’ve heard about it and can probably even quote it. Have you ever said “Just turn the other cheek?” You just quoted the Bible!


Those words, and all the words that make up the Bible, weren’t penned overnight. They were scribed over a period of some 1500 years by what is believed to be more than 40 generations and 40 authors. Those authors weren’t necessarily scholars or royalty either. Yes, there were poets and kings among them, but many a fisherman, shepherd, and peasant are amongst the inspired scripture authors.


As a Catholic, I grew up in a home where a large gold-edged, red leather-bound Bible sat boxed on a coffee table in our living room. It’s almost like it was meant to be adored not read.


Fast forward many years and I find myself in a Bible study and have been in one for going on 20+ years. Some of the members remain the same, some are new. I love that about it though. It’s the perfect combination of old wisdom and new blood.


As a writer, I like to look at the Bible as not just God’s word, but some of the prettiest and most fruitful words ever written. I receive an email every day from a blog called “Our Daily Bread” and really resonated with one of its posts that compared the Bible to love letters, saying “We all cherish letters from those we love and those who love us. That’s why there is so much encouragement in the fact that our heavenly Father has given us a letter called the Bible.”


I love that. The Bible is a love letter from God.



My Bible3


I also love my personal Bible. As you can see in the photo above, it is tabbed, highlighted, and marked up. It’s also totally falling apart. I’ve researched companies that can rebind it, but that’s proven to be a search for a miracle. No luck yet.


I remember talking about its tattered state in a Bible study some years ago and one of the members said, “Carla, that is the Bible your daughter will someday have and she will cherish its torn pages forever.” Chills.


Bible falling apart



Different Bible for Different Folks?

What’s interesting, is that as read and referred to as it is, Catholics and Protestants use two different versions. Protestant Bibles have 66 books while a Catholic one has 73. Although they share the same New Testament, the Old Testament in a Catholic Bible includes seven books not found in a Protestant version.


The reasons vary but in a nutshell, the final list was approved by Pope Damasus I in 382 AD and formally adopted by Rome. But, in the 16th Century Martin Luther threw seven of the books out. Interestingly, Luther also wanted to get rid of several New Testament books, including James and Revelation, but he eventually accepted today’s 27 books.


Over time, scripture has been authored and handed down and as time went on, the Catholic Church compiled books to form a Canon, an authoritative set of Sacred Scripture. When they did, they included the seven “deuterocanonical books” of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, Maccabees I and II, and Esther, which can’t be found in a Protestant Bible. Interestingly enough, these books were also written in Greek rather than Hebrew, which is another reason Protestants decided they shouldn’t be included.


Rather than become cynical or skeptical about the differences though, it’s important to keep in mind that God never actually handed down a book and said “Here it is, in its entirety.” Instead, accept the differences and live the word of both.


“Preach the gospel, and when necessary, use words.”

St. Francis of Assisi


I’ve always loved St. Francis, his “Peace Prayer,” his love of animals, and I love that quote of his. Francis, in all his wisdom, is basically telling us to walk the walk not just talk the talk. We are to live the gospel through our actions, not just read it and repeat it. I think we all struggle with that. I know I do. I am by no means a Bible expert or perfect Christian. I don’t know scripture by heart and much of the Old Testament can still confuse me. Still, it’s something I strive to learn more about and learn better.


It’s been said that reading the Bible but not living it out or acting on it is like looking in the mirror and not fixing what’s wrong. If you see your hair is sticking up, you brush it. If you see something in your teeth, you brush them. In the same way, it’s a good idea to brush up on what God’s word tells us and instructs us to do and not do.


Do Not Be Afraid


Did You Know?

Like me, some of us find the Bible hard to comprehend. Others know it inside and out. Whatever side you fall on, or even if you’re somewhere in between, here are some fun facts about the Bible to get you going:


It is the best- selling book of all time, having sold upwards of 10 million copies in more than 2000 languages and dialects.

  • The word “Bible” comes from the Greek word “Biblia,” which means “books.”
  • If read out loud, the Bible would take approximately 70 hours to finish.
  • The first three words in the Bible are “In the beginning.”
  • The last word in the Bible is “Amen,” which means “it is so.”
  • The first five books of the Bible were written by Moses and are called the Pentateuch.
  • The shortest Bible verse is John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”
  • The word “God” appears more than 3,300 times in the Bible.
  • The word “Christian” appears three times.
  • Sheep are the most mentioned animals in the Bible and the only domesticated animal never mentioned is the cat. (Dog lovers everywhere rejoice!)
  • The Apostle Paul wrote 14 books of the New Testament; more than half of it.
  • The word “testament” means “contract”
  • The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek.


Perhaps the most interesting tidbit about the Bible is this: The longest book in the Bible is the Book of Psalms. Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible, while Psalm 119 is the longest. Between them naturally sits Psalm 118, which is amazingly the center of the Bible! In fact, there are 594 chapters before Psalms and 594 after Psalms. When you add up those two numbers of chapters you get 1188. What is the one verse that’s considered the center of the Bible? Psalm 118:8, which reads, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”


Coincidence? I don’t think so! As the Bible itself says in Luke 18:27,“Things that are impossible with men are possible with God.” Am pretty sure He knew what He was doing on this one. Maybe we should just trust Him.



Trophy Kids August 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:44 pm



Did you hear about the pro football player who took away his sons’ trophies? Pittsburgh Steeler James Harrison’s actions went viral when he tweeted, “I came home to find that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy.”


Bada-boom, bada bing!


But, he didn’t end there, but went on to say, “I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe they are entitled to something just because they tried their best cause sometimes your best is not enough.”


All of this touched a nerve across the country at a time when kids coast-to-coast are starting a new school year. Some praised Harrison for his actions, others questioned them. I’m somewhere in between. I believe everyone should be applauded for simply working hard but I also think kids today are praised and rewarded too much.


I’m not alone.


A study conducted by The National Academy of Sciences earlier this year found that children who are overly praised and told they are special are more likely to become narcissists. Webster defines narcissist as a person who is overly self-involved and is often vain and selfish. They think they are better than others. We’re raising a generation of self-centered and arrogant narcissists?




I can


So, constantly praising our little ones can result in little monsters? Hash tag not surprised. It shouldn’t come as a shock that overvaluing our kids’ practices and behaviors may in fact raise their levels of narcissism rather than their self-esteem.


Oh, there they are. The dreaded two words: self-esteem. Do we push it or de we allow it to evolve? Does someone with high self-esteem succeed or does someone who succeeds benefit from the resulting self-esteem? It’s more confusing than the proverbial chicken and egg.


If you ask researchers, giving your kids encouragement and “parental warmth” is much more beneficial than praise and telling them they are special.


All parents have the goal of raising self-confident, successful, and self-sufficient children and one way we try to do so is by offering words of praise to acknowledge their accomplishments. This was long believed as a way of fostering confidence and ultimately achievement, but now we’re learning it may not always be the case.


We also hope to raise leaders. But as Jim Rohn said, “All great leaders keep working on themselves until they become effective.” Rohn encourages aspiring leaders to:

Learn to be strong, not rude

Learn to be kind, not weak

Learn to be bold, not a bully

Learn to be humble, not timid

Be proud but not arrogant

And deal with realities and deal in the truth.


Good stuff, right? When’s a good time to start that leader-in-waiting training? Today!


Believe and Be Yourself


For starters, avoid the tendency to want to make your kids “feel good” and instead encourage them to “do good.” Compliment them but praise their behaviors not just their brains. We want them to “be nice” as much as we want them to “be smart.” Approval is good, but constant approval isn’t and effort should be admired as much as outcome. Think about asking your child “are you proud of yourself?” when they accomplish something rather than immediately saying “I’m so proud of you!” Self-compliments and self-worth are your goals, not self-indulgence.


I’ll never forget watching “CBS Sunday Morning” recently and listened as one of the Rockefeller daughters said, “Everyone, rich or poor, has something bad that happens to them in their childhood but I’ve come to figure out that it’s not net worth that matters, but self-worth.”


In addition to the risk of raising a narcissist, praise happy parents are creating “praise junkies:’” kids who grow up in need of someone else’s acceptance and praise rather than their own. Excessive praise can also keep children from feeling bad; which makes it harder for them to learn how to feel good. It can also lead to them tuning out your constant compliments because they hear them so often. Finally, they may ultimately be unable to recognize their own unique strengths and weaknesses.




Finally, we are raising overly competitive and ultimately mean kids. As Dan Zadra says, we focus too much on winning and not enough on living, “The best example you can leave your kids is an example of how to lie a full and meaningful life.”


So what’s the answer? How can we bring up today’s youth in a way that allows them to succeed but still remain humble? I didn’t grow up with a lot of self-esteem so I was bound and determined my daughter would. Still, I didn’t want her cocky. Just confident. So, since day one I enforced the “Believe in Yourself” mantra to Kristen and I’m pretty sure I succeeded in that goal. Sometimes to a fault, but that’s another story.



Feet on the ground XSuccessful children


Be responsible. Be accountable. Also very important. Those two column-writing sisters seem to agree and so do experts, who strongly suggest the presence of clear and consistently-enforced rules and limits. The clearer the rules, they say, the higher the self-esteem. Think about it, if a child has the run of the house, he has nothing to feel proud about or really never has to learn what’s expected of him and meet those expectations. Self-esteem is not the cause of delinquent behavior, it’s the consequence and it is more likely the result of an achievement, not the cause of one.


“My father used to ask my brother and, ‘What did you fail at today?’ He encouraged failure. When a parent gives you permission to do that, you learn to take risks and try new things. Real failure is not trying.”

Sara Blakely, Spanx Found and Owner


When I read that quote in Good Housekeeping magazine I both fell out of my chair and fell in love with it. Using failure as a motivator and validator. What a concept!


In addition to Blakely, many a “failure” has gone on to do great things. It’s believed Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was four-years-old and that Beethoven’s music teacher said, “As a composer, he is hopeless.” Thomas Edison’s teacher told him he was stupid and Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Walt Disney was fired for lack of creativity while many other “creatives” are high school drop-outs, including Billy Joel and Daniel Radcliffe.


Failing doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you try harder. Kids with that kind of resilience are the kids we want to raised, not those who feel they are the smartest and the best at anything and everything. If you’re going down the praise crazy path, take a turn and start letting your kids know that there will always be someone smarter, prettier, and richer than them. Someone will always drive a better car and get better grades then them and you as a parent need to realize that other children will do better than yours and be okay with that.


“If you’re the smartest person in the room, find a different room.”

Michael Dell



In the end, self-esteem is strengthened when we overcome a challenge or tackle a difficult situation. Teach your children to tolerate frustration, not avoid it, and to view adversities as challenges to overcome. It is said that adversity reveals and shapes one’s character and that without it; you suffer in ways you wouldn’t even think of.


“You will never be the person you can be if pressure, tension, and discipline are taken out of your life.”

James G. Bilkey


I’ll end with some advice Bill Gates gave to high schoolers. He warned them that today’s feel-good, politically correct teaching has created a generation of kids with no concept of reality, rights without responsibilities, and how this is setting them up for failure in the real world. Here are just a few of the ones I liked best:


  • Life is not fair. Get used to it!
  • The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.
  • Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not.


Although they probably wouldn’t be the best of friends in high school unless it was the “Breakfast Club,” I’m fairly certain James Harrison would totally agree with Mr. Gates. He may be a rich professional athlete, but it’s interesting to note that he was a Kent State University walk-on who was not drafted professionally. He went on to play football in Europe and was later cut by the Baltimore Ravens before becoming a force with the Steelers. Yeah, I guess you could say he’s earned his trophies and the right to raise his kids to do the same.



Mind Your Own Biscuits August 18, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:15 am

 Offended by

Enough. Just enough. Enough of the political correctness police and every one being offended by everything. I swear this country has turned into a nation of wimps and “my way only” whiners. I thought I’d seen and heard it all…until today.


That’s when I was browsing social media and came across reports that the Prisoner of War flag is suddenly being considered offensive by some because it, according to a column by Rick Perlstein in Newsweek magazine, “distracts the American public from atrocities waged by U.S. troops against people overseas.” People who were trying to kill Americans Mr. Perlstein! I’m not sure what the last war was that Perlstein fought in, but as presidential candidate Ben Carson recently so eloquently said, “There are no politically correct wars.” Amen Mr. Carson, amen.


The other item I ran across that made me scream out loud was on the very “offensive” recruitment video produced for and by Alpha Phi sorority at the University of Alabama. The video, which also features a Bama football player, has been deleted from cyberspace for all time because it “lacks diversity and objectifies women.” Oh dear. Call the troopers people, this is a bad one.


Really? Can you say grow up people; grow a pair?


All of this later had me singing to Kacey Musgraves’ delectable song, “Biscuits.” Here are the lyrics. I think we can all learn something from them.

Taking down your neighbor won’t take you any higher
I burned my own damn finger pokin’ someone else’s fire
I’ve never gotten taller makin’ someone else feel small
If you ain’t got nothin’ nice to say don’t say nothin’ at all


Just hoe your own row and raise your own babies
Smoke your own smoke and grow your own daisies
Mend your own fences and own your own crazy
Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy
Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy


Nobody’s perfect, we’ve all lost and we’ve all lied
Most of us have cheated, the rest of us have tried
The holiest of holies even slip from time to time
We’ve all got dirty laundry hangin’ on the line


So hoe your own row and raise your own babies
Smoke your own smoke and grow your own daisies
Mend your own fences and own your own crazy
Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy
Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy


Pourin’ salt in my sugar won’t make yours any sweeter
Pissin’ in my yard ain’t gonna make yours any greener
And I wouldn’t know about the rocks in your shoes
So I’ll just do me and honey you can just do you


So hoe your own row and raise your own babies
Smoke your own smoke and grow your own daisies
Mend your own fences and own your own crazy
Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy
Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy




Nobody’s perfect.

You do you and I’ll do me.

Hoe your own row.

Own your own crazies.


Awesome, right?


But rather than live by these simple rules, Americans instead are fighting the fight against everything from flags to team names. It’s almost like people are looking for the next trendy something to be offended by. Oh, but unborn human baby body parts and the religious rights of Christian bakery owners? Yeah, they don’t count.


Ub. Surd.



Amazingly and actually totally contradictorily, while we’ve become a nation of intolerants, we at the very same time are preaching that we should tolerate everything and everyone. You can’t have it both ways people. You just can’t.


Right and wrong


Let’s go back to the POW flag controversy.


The commonly flown black and white flag was conceived by Mary Hoff in 1971. Hoff’s husband, Navy pilot Lt. Cmdr. Michael Hoff, was deemed Missing in Action in January of 1970. Hoff called Annin Flagmakers of New Jersey and talked about creating a flag to represent all POWS and MIAs. The task was assigned to World War II vet Newton F. Heisley who modeled the flag’s silhouette after his son who is a Marine. Today the flag is the only non-national flag that any federal government anywhere in the world has mandated to be flown regularly.


Pretty offensive, right? I’m appalled.






Okay, I get some of it. The Dixie flag? I can see how it might be offensive to some, but to the point where we can’t watch “Dukes of Hazard” on TV or have confederate hero statues in public places? Cray-cray.


Instead of arguing and fighting about what’s offensive and what’s not, I’d love to see America once again become a nation of victors, not victims. Winners, not whiners. What’s happened to us? Maybe it’s time we all take a deep breath and mind our own biscuits. Maybe, just maybe, life will then be gravy.