Beyond Words

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

Resolutions Start with YOU! December 31, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:18 pm

Champagne button


It’s New Year’s Eve and you know what that means. Champagne, noise makers, and legendary par-tays. I don’t have any of those plans (okay, maybe the champagne part) as I’ll be a nervous wreck watching my Sooners in this afternoon’s Orange Bowl, but I will be with all of you in spirit as you ring in the new year with toasts and verses of Auld Lang Syne.


Then, it will hit you. Like a train, and I’m not talking hangovers.


Time for those blasted New Year’s Resolutions.




Lose weight. Eat healthier. Be more positive. Save more money. Be nicer. Exercise.


We’ve all heard them and we’ve all tried them, sometimes with stunning success and sometimes with epic fails.


It’s time to start anew though, and according to professional coaches and bloggers Marc and Angel Chernoff, the best way to do so is to start each morning off the right way.


Beautiful day


According to their “Hack Life” website, the happiest and healthiest people have effective morning rituals that improve their lives and renew their purpose. Sounds like a good New Year’s Resolution to me. Let’s get started!


Morning to do


Every morning in 2016 I will try my hardest to:

  • Wake up with a sense of gratitude. The more grateful a person is, the less likely they will be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or even neurotic. Every morning think about how fortunate you are. Count your blessings. Every morning.


  • Begin anew. Good or bad, yesterday is over. Start each new day refreshed and ready to do something different or better.


positive thought


  • Use self-inquiry to affirm a purposeful start to the day. Say what? Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin were both famous for waking up each day and essentially asking themselves, “what good shall I do today?” That’s what we’re talking about here. Come up with your own mantra. Just make sure it’s genuine and encouraging.


  • Read something positive. The Chernoffs say happy, healthy people often read scripture, inspirational books, article, or quotes; or some form of self-improvement literature. They call it “creating your own sunshine” and I plan to do just that! Every morning I try to read “Jesus Calling” and I have a daily calendar of scripture and quotes in my bathroom that I read as I brush my teeth. Being the book lover that I am, I’m ahead of the game on this one and have stocked up on new inspirational daily devotionals that I hope to do, including:


“Savor. Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are”

by Shauna Niequist (this one also includes recipes!)

“A Year with Mary. Daily Meditations on the Mother of God” by Paul Thigpen

“Positive Quotes for Every Day” by Patricia Lorenz

“Daily Dose of Bible Knowledge” (read the bible in one year!)

I also want to start my Prayer Journal.



  • Follow an effective morning routine. These apparently are critically important as they help you focus and build momentum for your day. Rushing is never good or healthy, but exercising and smelling the coffee is. Savor your java, reduce the number of decisions you make each morning, and slow down!


  • Eat a wholesome breakfast. Okay. Guilty here. I rarely do this and if I do, that healthy breakfast is a hard-boiled egg and a banana…on the run…after I’ve had my coffee…as I’m headed out the door or onto the computer. Bad, I know. I’ll try harder. I promise.


  • Move on gracefully to what’s important. The word that initially caught my eye in that sentence is “gracefully” because it’s such a pretty word but, the real meat of the sentence is “what’s important.” Focus on the right things right off the bat and the rest of your day may just fall into place. Panic and focus on progress rather than process and your day may start unraveling before you’ve even had time to think about it. Again, slow down.


So there you have it: how to start your mornings in 2016 the right way. But, what if you get off track? What if those mornings start becoming just like the crazy mornings of 2015 and it’s only February? Well, we all want to be happy so here are some things “Hack Life” and others suggest you can do and choices you can make that are sure to improve how you feel and impact how you think:


This year


  • Keep growing. Learn something new. Go somewhere new. Do something differently. Take risks. Look at challenging situations as opportunities for growth, not pockets of struggles. Every year one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to learn something new. I’ve taken Italian classes, cooking classes, ice skating classes, and have learned to cross-stitch and golf. I’m not a big risk taker, but just this year I went zip-lining and jumped into freezing Barton Springs Pool for Austin’s annual Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day. What will I do this year?!


  • Filter the noise in your life. Don’t just listen to the loudest voices. Listen to the truest ones. Get rid of the Negative Nancy’s in your life and surround yourself with uplifting and supportive people not toxic and critical ones.


Destination addiction

  • Don’t dwell so much on your “perfect” future that you forget to live today. Find ways to be satisfied rather than constantly striving for bigger, better, and more. Realize that “having it all” is not possible.


  • Work on being “wealthy” in your marriage, with family time, and with good friendships rather than just in your bank account.


  • Don’t hold grudges. They do no good and only hold you back.


  • Develop healthy habits and stick with them. What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.




  • Start choosing differently for your well-being. Take care of yourself. Little things can make a big difference and it’s time to start tweaking where you are. Think and care about others but don’t focus on being a people pleaser.


  • Start being more productive than just busy. Don’t confuse motion with progress.




  • Dedicate time to meaningful activities and find a passion. What you do every day matters but why you do it matters even more. Do what you love, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.


  • Master the art of handling rejection. You will get it so become resilient at it.


  • Run toward something rather than away from it. The best way to move away from something negative is to move toward something positive.


Boundries equal respect


  • Learn how to say “no” and mean it. Set your boundaries and respect them. If you do, others will too.


  • Be genuinely happy for others. Envy makes us blind to the goodness of God and results in sorrow. Get rid of it in your life.


  • Give without expectations. Not everyone has the same heart as you so don’t expect others to do for you what you do for them. This will only lead to constant disappointment. Give more but expect less. Plant the seeds and be happy with what blooms.


  • Let grace have the last word. You don’t need to win every argument or always be right.


  • Show your loved ones what they mean to you. Don’t just utter words; live by them.


  • Replace “I have to” with “I get to.” So many activities we complain about are things others wish they had the chance to do and what we take for granted others are praying for. Realize this.


  • Let frustrations go and focus only on what you can control. Everything else is not worth your time or energy.


Turn the page


  • Turn the pages that need to be turned. This isn’t always easy but may be vital to your happiness.


  • Measure progress everyday…no matter how small. Each day may hold a proud moment that you didn’t but need to pay attention to.


  • Embrace uncertainty. Don’t let not knowing how it’ll end up keep you from beginning.


Fill your life

It’s time for a new beginning with the new year beckoning. Embrace it, take it on, and be the person you’ve always wanted to be. I’ll be rooting for you!



Angels Among Us December 20, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:21 pm



Do you believe in angels? Are there angels among us?


I recently read that the word “angel” comes from the Greek word for gospel, euangelion. “Eu” means good and “angelion” means tiding or message. An angel then, is a messenger. Since their roots are in the gospel, they are truly God’s messengers.


I’ve never been someone who’s infatuated or interested in angels, but I have known them to be in action and I count on them to guard and guide friends and family. In my mind, they are unseen protectors and dependable companions in the storms of life.


Angels protected my sister and her family when they were T-boned last week the day before they were leaving to drive to Austin to see my niece’s new baby.


When Kristen’s car got stuck in flood waters last spring, Angels were there to get her out safely.


And if anyone can convince me that my guardian angel hasn’t walked beside me through my whole life, a life of good choices and bad ones, I’d like to hear your arguments.




Angels We Have Heard on High

Christmas is a sort of angelic “high season.” Every nativity scene includes one and you see them everywhere. In churches, cars, and caroling you sing about them. I have a collection of them that I put out each Christmas and they played pivotal roles in the Christmas story. In short, you can’t escape angels during this time of the year even if you try!


An angel told Mary she was with child. Interestingly enough, this angel was probably a little scary to poor, young Mary. Not the message she was thinking she’d hear but she nonetheless saw the Godliness in the angel and its message and said “yes” to God.


Angels also announced Jesus’ birth, telling the world:


Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest.”

Luke 2 8:14



Angels were created good by God and serve Him as His messengers to humankind. Catholics believe there are nine choirs of angels: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominations, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels, and angels and we tend to favor the three Archangels, Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael who are the only angels named in scripture. There are also our guardian angels.



“He will shield you with His wings. They will shelter you for He orders the angels to protect you wherever you go.”

Psalm 91:11


I love Guardian Angels, those heavenly created spirits whose job it is to help those they have been assigned by interceding for us, guiding us, and protecting us from harm. I’m forever asking God to “put your angels around” someone I love. It’s almost like I can physically see an angel protecting Kristen’s car as she drives or a doctor’s hands as he operates. It’s both powerful and soothing.




The above image is one I remember from my childhood. We all had one hanging in our bedrooms and each night we would say “The Guardian Angel Prayer.”


Guardian angel prayers



Whether you believe in angels or not, author Joan Wester Anderson of the bestselling book “Where Angels Walk,” which my mom gave me years ago, writes that “there is overwhelming evidence heavenly beings are very much with us combating evil, bringing news, warning of danger, and consoling us in our suffering.” I prefer to consider these “beings” angels, and I’m pretty sure they walk beside me.




Take the Time December 16, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:58 am


“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.”




Wise words from Mr. Theophrastus and right in line with an email I received today. The internet “life lesson” was from a business I frequent. I loved it and thought I’d share it with you and elaborate on its message.


Lesson of Time

When a bird is alive, it eats ants but when the bird is dead, ants eat it.

One tree makes a million match sticks but only one match stick is needed to burn a million trees.

Time and circumstances can change at any given moment.

Don’t devalue or hurt anyone in life.

You may be powerful today, but remember, time is more powerful than you.

Be good and do good!


For some reason this really hit home today. Maybe it’s because we are smack dab in the middle of the holidays haze and time is something none of us seem to have enough of. Even as I write this, I feel rushed and I don’t like that. Breathe Carla, and write. Simply write.



“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

Jackson Brown, Jr.



Time was on my mind over the past few days, as my husband and I travelled to Buffalo, NY to visit his mom who is in an assisted living home. We had a great time seeing his brother and sister-in-law as well as several childhood friends of his, but “enjoy” is not the word that comes to mind regarding his mom.


She is where she wanted to be, but my heart tells me it’s not what she’d hoped it would be. As Smitty himself said, the place is full of the “forgotten people.” Lined up wheelchair to wheelchair and most with blank looks on their faces, these moms and dads wait for the next activity, meal, and visitor. Yes, the facility itself is top-of-the-line and offers everything from a hair salon to art classes, but like many people I know, the outside looks pretty but inside it’s full of pain and loneliness. It broke my heart. I wish I could fix it, but I can’t. Time has passed these people by and my only hope is their memories are full of joy and love.


It made me think of my dear friend Ann who just recently lost her mom. It made me think of my own mom and the time I have left with her. Time to love her and be patient with her.


Love now


Maybe it’s time we slow down.

Maybe it’s time we truly appreciate those who love us.

Maybe it’s time to stop looking for the “pretty” and start looking for the “devoted.”

Maybe we should stop trying to hard to please everyone and instead do the things that please those we love.

Maybe it’s time to eat less and exercise more.

Maybe it’s time to unplug and detach.

Maybe it’s time to stop worrying and start appreciating.

Maybe it’s time to criticize less and laugh more.

Maybe it’s time to take less selfies and enjoy more of what’s out there.


A favorite author of mine is “The Happiness Project’s” Gretchen Rubin who also wrote one of my favorite quotes:


XDays are long


Scary true, right? Don’t years fly by but some days just drag on and on? It seems like just yesterday I was visiting cute shops with my mother-in-law and today she cannot walk. At the same time, I have accomplished so much today and there’s still hours to go!


So get out there and burn your favorite candle, buy nice sheets, and use the good china. Treat your family like guests and your guests like family. Be nice and be there for them. Be a giver and be a helper. Today. You never know how many tomorrows you’ll have to do so.


Christmas Lessons from a Blockhead December 6, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:56 pm

CBrown tree1


One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at least once. I adore the simple story of a simple boy wanting to bring simplicity back into Christmas. Yep, that’s really what the legend is all about. Sure it includes Snoopy’s silly dancing, fun piano riffs, a Christmas pageant, and what is undoubtedly one of the holiday’s most enduring symbols: the infamous Charlie Brown Christmas tree; but ultimately the script reminds us what the real gift of Christmas is.


In the tale, Charlie Brown is bummed because all his buddies…Lucy, Sally, even Snoopy…seem more concerned with presents and money than what Christmas is really about. Commercialism has run amok and it’s taken the Christmas spirit out of one Mr. Brown. When Lucy suggests he direct the Christmas play, Charlie Brown agrees and all seems to be going well until it’s time for him and Linus to pick out a tree. There’s peer pressure from the cast to choose a shiny aluminum one, but Charlie Brown chooses a small, sickly tree that he innocently believes only needs some tender loving care. Others laugh at it and at him, but the laughter stops when Linus gives a speech of all speeches in which he quotes Luke 2:8-14.


“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Then Linus turns to his pal and says, “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”




End scene. Amen. Hallelujah.


It was 50 years ago this year that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was first seen on American televisions. No one knew at the time that it would become a classic and you probably didn’t know that many thought its quoting of the bible should maybe be rethought. Some even went so far as to ask creator Charles Schulz to omit any and all scripture. Thankfully Schulz refused to do so. I can’t help but wonder if that would happen today…not with Schulz, but with today’s television producers and writers. Sadly, I don’t think we have to worry about that today as any network program wouldn’t include bible verses to begin with for fear of offending viewers.


The chorus of sweet-voiced children sings, “Christmastime is here,” but it took Charlie Brown, Linus, and a droopy tree to remind everyone that unlike a shimmering aluminum tree, Christmas is not about tinsel and glitter. It’s about a King born in a barn in front of animals. You don’t get any more simple than that. Jesus could have been born anywhere, but He chose to be born in front of the lowly. If there was a tree in the manger, I’m guessing it was more like Charlie Brown’s than any color-coordinated or perfectly adorned tree.









The Name Game December 5, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:50 pm



What’s in a name? Apparently the TV hit show “Empire” and all those Instagram filters. It may sound crazy but it’s the facts according to BabyCenter, a pregnancy and parenting online resource that recently released what it calls the top baby names of 2015.


Yes, Jackson was the number one name for boys for the third year in a row and Sophia topped all girls names for the sixth consecutive year, but parents also opted for Dre from “Empire” and Lux from Instagram.




If you are not on Instagram, the online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service, you probably aren’t familiar with the photo above. It’s a screen shot of all the filters Instagram provides that you can use on your posted pics. These filters it seems, are not only changing our photos but our choices in children’s names as well. Lux was up 75 percent, Ludwig jumped 42 percent, and Valencia and Juno both rose around 30 percent. Never in a million years…


TV shows have long been been popular places for picking names. Remember all the Farrahs and Crystals back in the ‘70s or the Tiffanys and Britneys in more recent decades? Last year “Claire” from “House of Cards” and “Piper” from “Orange is the New Black” were all the rage, but in 2015 we turned channels and our attention to “Empire,” with Dre seeing a whopping 77 percent increase in popularity, followed by Hakeem and Lyon.


Another popular trend this year is the use of “royal” names, and I’m not talking Catherine and William. I’m talking Royalty (up 90 percent), Duchess (up 75 percent), and Reign (up 54 percent.) Call me silly but that’s a lot of pressure to carry in a name!


Working in a preschool for more than 10 years has allowed me to see baby naming trends first hand. Emily and Rachel, Tyler and Luke, and Erin and Aaron are all very common and have been for years. So are surname/non-gender specific names like Campbell, Riley, Carson, and Reagan. These names are so popular in fact, that often times I get my class list and don’t know whether someone is a boy or a girl! I do see one-of-a-kind names, which is always fun, as well as traditional giants like Matthew and Madeline. As different as names are, so are their spellings. Madeleine and Madeline. Jackson and Jaxon. Reagan and Regan. Pronunciation varies too. MadeLINE and MadeLYNN. RAYgen and REEgen. It’s all in a day’s work for me.


The Name Jesus


One name parents in English-speaking countries rarely if ever name their sons is Jesus. But, it is a fairly familiar name in Spanish-speaking cultures. Many a “Heh-seuss” can be found in schools and work places across Mexico and other Latin countries. Interesting, right? Another fascinating tidbit about the name “Jesus” is that it’s the Greek form of Joshua, which means “the Lord saves.” I never knew this. Even with the lack of boys named Jesus walking the hallways in America, other biblical names are always in vogue. Sarah. Matthew. Rebecca. Luke.  Even Christian. Can I get an Amen?! Hmmm…Amen, how would that be for a name?


Okay, without further ado, here then are the most popular baby names of 2015 in order of popularity:


























Did yours make the list?