Beyond Words

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

The Real “Best Dressed” January 10, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:37 am



Normally today I would be writing all about the glamorous red carpet gowns at last night’s Golden Globes but I’m so done with Hollywood and all their antics that I’ve chosen to write about clothing waaaaaay more important than the millions of dollars’ worth of gowns donned last night. The line of clothing is called “Runway of Dreams” and it is amazing in so many ways.


Runway of Dreams is an organization developed by fashion designer and mom Mindy Scheier whose son was born with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. Early on Mindy realized it would be extremely challenging for Oliver to dress himself so she set out to create clothing that is both fashionable and affordable for children and teens with physical disabilities. I say genius!


I also say “I feel you,” as my daughter Kristen was born with a weak left side and sometimes struggles with zippers, buttons, and what not. When she was little, we would practice using every kind of fastener and we’d visit Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas to meet with experts and get specific tools to help her dress herself. I’m proud to say today Kristen is a college graduate and working professional and just last week applied to volunteer at Scottish Rite Hospital. Funny how life often goes full circle isn’t it?


Dressing independently is something most of us take for granted. We choose an outfit and put it on. Not so for the huge community of differently-abled people out there, all of who struggle to find clothing that is stylish and that they can put on by themselves. Getting in and out of clothing is a major challenge for them and things like putting things over their head, pulling up pants, and doing the various types of fasteners leads to frustration and dejection. And, it doesn’t end once their clothing is finally on. Think about how many times you go to the restroom or try on clothing. For the disabled, these simple tasks are anything but simple. Thanks to people like Mindy, there is now fashion for all.




Runway of Dreams lives by its mission of being “the authority on adapting mainstream clothing” and works to bring joy and pride to every person who wears the mainstream clothing with added adaptive pieces. It has partnered with various brands and retailers and works to integrate technology and design modifications into clothing. In a word, it’s genius.


Mindy didn’t and doesn’t do this alone. She created everything through the help of focus groups, on-line surveys, and of course the differently-abled themselves. She asked them their individual dressing needs and also went to schools and community centers and asked people with disabilities, their parents, and their caretakers their design ideas. From the responses she learned the three main areas of struggle were closures, adjustability, and alternative ways to wear clothes. From there, the Runway of Dreams team went to work.


Fasteners were replaced with washable MagnaReady magnets, the backs of tops were opened up so consumers could access them from the back rather than over their heads, and pant legs and sleeve lengths were made adjustable to allow the easy covering of leg braces or abnormalities. For autistic kids, tags were removed and for deaf and diabetic uses pockets for medical devices were added. By doing all of this, she is making fashion friendly and inclusive but perhaps equally important is that it is all empowering those who wear it and encouraging them to not only accept their differences, but embrace them.


By also collaborating with key fashion industry partners, ROD helps develop items that are in current lines but modified adaptively. One such line in Tommy Hilfiger, who embraced the concept wholeheartedly. Today, there is a line of children’s clothing with the Tommy Hilfiger brand that looks just like his traditional line except it incorporates ROD’s adaptive touch. The popular mainstream clothing line adjusts its clothing for special needs children by using snaps or the MagnaReady magnets instead of buttons and Velcro flies rather than zippers, to name just a few adaptations. This partnership was monumental, as it allows children with disabilities to dress just like their peers and classmates, something so important at any age. Best of all, the clothes designed for them looks just like any current lines and is no more expensive. In addition, Hilfiger uses models that are disabled to promote the clothing.




This group of consumers is bigger than one might think, comprising 20 percent of the population. It also has tremendous spending power and their voices are both passionate and strong. By making clothing that is often overlooked in the highly-competitive retail industry, a brand or store is not only proving compassionate but smart. In fact, Hilfiger’s spring collection sold out almost entirely within the first week of going on sale.


As Mindy herself notes, “While others might view Oliver’s physical challenges as limitations, I appreciate his incredible ability to embrace life and focus on what he has rather than what is missing.” It is her dream that Runway of Dreams as a whole embodies her brave boy’s message of true confidence and courage.


This, is way more inspiring and significant than any Golden Globe or Hollywood accolade.




New Year, New You January 2, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:55 am



Earlier today I did my annual “Polar Bear Plunge” in Austin’s Barton Springs Pool. Every New Year’s Day, hundreds of Austinites jump into the downtown spring-fed treasure that boasts a constant water temperature of 68 degrees. The “Plunge” is a way of washing off last year’s woes and starting the new year refreshed and rejuvenated. Today’s 72 degree weather made the jump a little easier than those of previous years with temperatures in the 30s and 40s accompanied by drizzle, but the water still felt freezing and it was still refreshing.


I’m ready 2017. Bring it!


Today is when many of us start anew and start our New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve blogged about them before and won’t bore you with great ones I’ve concocted or how to’s again this year. Instead, I’m sharing just a few ideas others have enlightened me with and that I’m hoping enlighten you as well.




If you’ve followed me for a while or know me, you probably remember I love Gretchen Rubin and her “Happiness Project” books. Once again Ms. Rubin nails it as she suggests we each choose one word as a 2017 mantra. A single word or short phrase Rubin notes, is easier to remember all year and easier to put into action than some long, thought out dissertation of goals and plans. She has chosen “Repurpose” as her 2017 focus word, as she hopes to make more of what she already has. I love it! Other years she has selected “Upgrade” and “Lighten Up,” and encourages all of us to choose something we can truly pour ourselves into. Here are some suggestions:














Less (as in negativity, procrastination, etc.)

More (as in exercise, prayer, etc.)




What will you choose for your 2017 one-word theme?






Another successful woman who inspires me is Rachel Zoe, who recently blogged in her Zoe Report on “What Successful Women Do in January.” Here are just three of the things that struck a chord with me:


Identify Big Picture Goals. It’s good to have goals but sometimes we overwhelm ourselves with having too many of them. Zoe recommends focusing on what you feel most in need of change. Don’t think small though, as these are big ticket items. Be specific with them, prioritize them, and make sure at least one of them is something that terrifies you. What? Why? Because, if you accomplish just that one thing during the year, think about how proud you will be.


Evaluate What Didn’t Work Last Year. This one makes perfect sense. Start this year by evaluating what didn’t work for you last year. Easy-peasy, right? But, after doing so, resolve to fix it and work to change it. Little things matter too. If you hate your job, work on finding a new one and at the same time, if the flowers in your flower beds drive you crazy, choose different ones. Everything is worth evaluating.


Picture One Person You Want to Prove Yourself To. It can be hard to motivate yourself day after day. Some days you just don’t have the “umph” required for a triumph. When you’re feeling this way, picture in your mind that one person you feel doesn’t believe in you or respect you. Then, go out and prove them wrong!





Something else I ran across that I liked is the idea of putting a small note into a jar (or basket, or box, or anything you want) stating something good that happened that day. On New Year’s Eve 2017, read them all and maybe, just maybe, you will realize it was a pretty good year after all!





On a more “heavy” note, is the idea of mapping…mind mapping. That’s what former Google career coach and job strategist Jenny Blake promotes. A “mind map” she says, is basically a visual diagram of your interests and goals.


Start by writing the year in the center of a piece of paper. From there, draw spokes for different themes that are important to you. These could be “business,” “personal,” “health,” “fun,” or whatever you want. Then, from those draw more spokes and write down what you want to accomplish in each area or what you might want to try out or experiment with in them.


Doing this will help you figure out the next project, hobby, or even career change that will make the new year happier and more successful Blake promises. The goal, she says, is to break out of linear thinking and instead “go broad, go big, and go sideways.” I’m on board!





Every year I also vow to grow spiritually so I really liked something I ran across called “Catholic New Year’s Resolutions.” These ways of improving my faith include:


One virtue I’d like to grown in

One sin I’d like to eliminate

One book of scripture I’d like to read through

One spiritual book I’d like to read

One prayer I’d like to learn

One way to improve my sacrament life

One saint I’d like to get to know better

If you’d like a free printable of these goals, go to




Finally, I end with something I read that I LOVED. I hope you love it too as it is some of the smartest advice I’ve heard in a long time. Plus, doing it not only benefits you, but others as well.


Lately I’ve been replacing my “I’m sorry’s” with “thank you’s,” like instead of saying “I’m sorry I’m late,” I’ll say “thanks for waiting for me.” Instead of saying “sorry I’m underdressed today” I’ll say “thank you for loving me just the way I am.” Doing this has not only shifted the way I think and feel about myself but it’s also improved my relationships with others who now get to receive my gratitude instead of my negativity.


What a concept! Happy New Year everyone and thanks for reading. I appreciate you more than you know!