Beyond Words

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

That Little Four Letter Word December 20, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:22 pm



I’ve been known to throw down a four letter word every now and then and I definitely have my go-to one. I’m pretty certain I’m not alone. Stub your toe? Let it rip. The car behind you doesn’t let you in? Verbal road rage ensues. My team throws an interception? Locker room talk at its finest.


F-bombs and potty talk notwithstanding, I’ve discovered there’s another four letter word that has me twisting and shouting: MORE. Yep, the word “more” my friends, is a certified four letter word. And it’s stressing me out.


It’s something society throws in our face. You should work more. Make more. Do more. Achieve more. Succeed more. Post more. Want more. Buy more. Exercise more.


Yes, I long to be that girl who wants to exercise more, but I also want to laugh more. Share more. Enjoy more.


Tis the season for more, but often not in a good way. This is the time of year we inevitably spend more and want more. We do more and go more. We make ourselves crazy trying to achieve more and perfect more.


More presents to buy and more packages to mail.

More parties to attend and more outfits to purchase.

More gifts to make and more cookies to bake.

More decorations to put out and lights to hang.

More internet sales and social media posts.

More time to spend on things I seem to not have time to spend on.


It kinda makes me BLUE and results in another four letter word: BUSY.


I don’t like busy. It doesn’t inspire or impress me. It makes me unsettled.


Still, I do want more.


More time to relax.

More down time.

More time to reflect.

More money to donate.

More friends to share with.

More family members nearby.


I also desire more HELP and more TIME.

I crave more pure joy and way more simple CALM.

My body tells me I need more REST.


I could also use a lot more yoga. A four letter word that centers me.

I would also like more time to READ and to WALK.


Why do the holidays create more stress and less gratitude? Wouldn’t it be nice if we instead focused not on MORE but on another four letter word: LESS?


Less stress.

Less to do lists.

Less errands.

Less expectations.

Less noise.


To accomplish this, we need to implement yet another four letter word: STOP.


Stop the crazy.

Stop the self-induced pressure.

Stop trying too hard.

Stop keeping up.

Stop the madness.


If we must have more though, how about more LOVE?

I love that idea.


How about devoting more time to PRAY?

Answered prayers, right?


Ironically LOVE and PRAY are both four letter words and if practiced consistently, just may create that calm we all crave.


So, let’s let go of the musts and shoulds of our lives, if even for just a few moments each day, and focus instead on the reason for this season of more.


We don’t need more, we need to love more.

We need to appreciate more.

And we need to slow down more.


Can I get an AMEN?






Peppermint Just For the Health of It December 16, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:10 am

Candy Cane bowl by Lisa Sieczka via Getty Images


Something about candy canes just makes me smile. I particularly love their red-and-white striped pattern as I love stripes, I love patterns, and I love me some red and white! I remember my mom hanging them on our Christmas tree and although I don’t follow her in that practice, I do have a festive vase of them sitting on my kitchen counter every Christmas. Funny thing though, I really don’t like to eat them. I just like to look at them. Maybe I should rethink this though, as peppermint like the kind found in candy canes, actually has some major health benefits.


Are you feeling stressed and anxious during the current and crazy holi-daze? Are you maybe drinking a little more alcohol than normal at Christmas parties? If you’ve said “yes” to any of this, you might also be suffering from a tension headache, commonly brought on by stress and alcohol consumption and oh so common during the holidays. Well, guess what? Peppermint can actually ease those tension headaches! Ahhhh…just breathe!




Yep, study after study show that rubbing a topical peppermint oil on your forehead and temples can reduce headache pain as well as any over-the-counter pain reliever. And it smells so good!


In addition to drinking and stressing more this time of year, you might also be eating more and perhaps even eating things you don’t normally consume. Maybe before you head out to another party or before opening that cookie jar, take a whiff of peppermint oil or even a candy cane as just smelling peppermint has been shown to curb cravings and appetites.


If you do enjoy a little feeding frenzy but then encounter a little rumblin’ in your tumblin’, no worries, as peppermint is also known to tame tummy aches. In fact, the mint can help with all types of stomach problems, including nausea, heartburn, menstrual cramps. and even irritable bowel syndrome. One Italian study found that IBS symptoms were significantly reduced among 75 percent of those who took peppermint oil capsules while an Australian study discovered that peppermint actually activates an anti-pain agent in the colon and soothes inflammatory pain in the gastrointestinal tract.


Tis also the season for colds and flu, but before reaching for cold medicine to clear up your stuffy nose, reach for peppermint instead. Although it may not always open your nasal passages, it magically tricks your mind into thinking it has. The key is menthol, which peppermint is chalk-full of and is what makes all those over-the-counter meds smell so yummy and minty.



If you’re feeling aches and pains or if you’re exercising more to work off those candies and cookies you’ve been eating, you may be a little sore. Peppermint can help here to, as it has a cooling effect when topically applied for muscle ache, stiffness, and even nerve pain.


Another health benefit of peppermint is that it boosts concentration and has memory-enhancing properties. This is good news to all you students out there studying for finals and for anyone finalizing year-end budgets, reports, or simple “naughty or nice” lists. Peppermint scent can actually give someone a mental perk, resulting in greater alertness, increased motivation, and enhanced performance. So powerful is peppermint’s punch, that some schools have been known to out peppermint candy during test periods!



I pretty much swear by my Young Living peppermint oil and use it often. I massage it into inflamed or sore areas and joints to ease inflammation, arthritis symptoms, and tendonitis. I also rub it on my forehead, temples, sinuses, and neck for headache relief, respiratory issues, and general stiffness. If I’m feeling particularly stiff or achy, I might use another essential oil made specifically for injuries, but I always top it with peppermint because it smells so good! Its scent is also I regularly diffuse it.


Peppermint oil also boasts a high concentration of natural pesticides that help repel some insects, including pesky mosquitos. If you do get bit by something, rub some peppermint oil on the bite area to relieve itching.


Candy cane cocktail

Finally, let’s not forget about the plant’s cooking qualities and culinary uses. Fresh or dried peppermint, as well as peppermint extract, are common in herbal teas, ice cream, candy, jams and jellies, and many an alcoholic drink. A Moscow Mule or Mojito without mint? Nyet! You could say this is peppermint’s “in” season, as you find it in everything from peppermint Kisses to peppermint bark to peppermint room candles. Peppermint as an ingredient doesn’t’ stop in the kitchen though. It’s a main ingredient in many a chewing gum, toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, and soap.


So why peppermint? No one really knows, other than it’s a natural plant full of natural benefits. Scientifically, peppermint is actually a hybrid mint, meaning it’s a cross between watermint and spearmint. It contains way more menthol than spearmint and enjoys widespread cultivation worldwide. Even in my mom’s flower beds in Santa Fe.


To this day I will pick a leaf off a peppermint plant and eat it, reminding me of doing so as a child. My mom always grew mint in our yard and would use it in her sun tea.


It’s actually easy to grow and will grow almost anywhere. It develops best moist places with part-sun to shade and a good supply of water. Being that it’s a hybrid, it’s typically sterile and doesn’t produce seeds. It grows “like a weed” though by spreading its branches, meaning each new plant grows from a fragment of the parent plant.


Candy canes without quote

But back to the candy cane. Did you know the flavor of peppermint is similar to hyssop, which is also a member of the mint family and was used in biblical times for purification? The shape of the candy cane also religious undertones, as it was intentionally shaped to symbolize a shepherd’s crook, the very shepherds who were among those who witnessed the birth of Jesus and a reminder that like the Good Shepherd parable, Jesus protects us like His little lambs. The red and white colors of a candy cane are said to represent purity and love. And finally, what do you get when you turn a candy cane upside down? The letter J. Whose name starts with J? Jesus!


So there you have it. Candy Canes represent Christmas and they could very well have the healing qualities of peppermint. What’s not to love, right? Now where did I hide that peppermint bark?










A Tree At Last December 10, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:29 pm


So many of you already have your Christmas trees up, but if you’re like me and you’re just getting to it, consider yourself a late bloomer! We got our tree today and now it’s time to light it up.


A few years ago I decided to not put any ornaments on our tree. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas ornaments and have boxes full of them. Childhood ones. Many I’ve gotten travelling. Some were gifts. Others I just saw and had to have. But, once our nest was empty and I was the sole tree decorator, it was just too much to handle. Hanging all those ornaments and finding room for them on the tree didn’t bring me joy anymore, it just stressed me out. And then there was the laborious task of taking them off, wrapping them up, and boxing them. Squeal! So, momma made the executive decision that from here on out, our tree would just have lights. Lots of them. Tons of them. Maybe for some people, too many of them. But, I found that sitting in a room with nothing but the tree lights on is quite soothing and simply beautiful.



Putting those lights on said tree is another story. There are so many methods and strategies. In the past I went the route of going “round and round and round” with strings of lights but I’ve learned to instead work vertically. If you mentally divide the tree into triangle shaped sections and hang the lights up and down, it’s a bit easier and the result is stunning. Start at the bottom of the tree and be sure to push some of the lights into the inner tree to create depth. Voila!


Getting the right lights is also important. I previously preferred all white little twinkly lights, but am coming around to multi-colored ones too. Growing up we always had those old-school colorful bulbs and I can just picture how beautiful our tree was with them and tons of icicles. I don’t do icicles anymore but I still treasure the memories of them.


So for lights, keep in mind that incandescent bulbs cost less than LED ones and have a warmer glow but LED bulbs use less energy, last longer, and come in both warm and cool glows. You pick! It’s best to use all the same brand of lights if your goal is a tree filled with a similar glow and bet on 100 per lights per foot of tree height.



When it comes to plugging those puppies in, always think “safety first.” Use only properly-wired extension cords and keep all lights away from any flammable objects, including gifts and tree skirts. I’m obsessed with a three plug-in kit I bought a few years back that allows me to simply push a button on the remote and turn on three separate outlets. There are also foot-powered cords that make turning on Christmas lights easy.




For us, it’s always been a real tree. Both my husband and I grew up with real trees and have kept that tradition for the 30+ years of our marriage. There are pundits for both. Surprisingly, opting for the real deal isn’t as environmentally harmful as one might think. In fact, producing an artificial tree takes almost 10 times the energy as growing a live one. And did you know trees in a tree farm are trimmed once-a-year so their branches make the triangle shape we all love? It takes about eight years in a farm or forest for a tree to be ready for our Christmastime homes. If you do go the real tree route, be sure to recycle or compost it properly.


Holding all your ornaments and strings of lights is a tough job for a tree branch. Spruce trees are full-bodied and strong and their branches seem to hold even the heftiest of ornaments while Fir trees are often more expensive than other evergreens but they generally hold their needles the longest.



So why do we put up Christmas trees anyway?


The evergreen fir tree has traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals (pagan and Christian) for thousands of years. Pagans used branches to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as it made them think of the spring to come. In Germany, the first Christmas Trees were decorated with edible things like gingerbread and apples. In Victorian times, trees were decorated with candles to represent stars. In many parts of Europe, candles are still used to decorate Christmas trees. The first trees were often topped with a figure of the Baby Jesus but over time angels or stars became the norm and still remain so today.


Many also believe the custom began many moons ago when St. Boniface, who was a priest form England, traveled to Germany to convert the pagans. He found some success but many still worshiped what they considered a sacred oak. He is said to have come across a group of pagans about to sacrifice a young boy while worshipping an oak tree. In anger, St. Boniface cut down the oak tree and, to his amazement; a young fir tree sprang up from the roots. They became followers, decorated the tree with candles and St. Boniface showed them that unlike the oak that lost its leaves every year, the evergreen’s leaves remained year round. This, he said, is much like the life Jesus offers us: never ending and always there.


As to why we puts lights on our trees may go back to none other than Thomas Edison, who put some of his new electric light bulbs around his office. In 1890 the Edison Company published a brochure offering lighting services for Christmas. These electric tree lights grew in popularity when President Grover Cleveland decorated the White House tree with lights in 1895.


So there you have it: Christmas trees 101 in a nutshell. How lovely are their branches.





The Kardashian Mystery Solved December 4, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:51 pm



Spend a weekend with a female between the ages of say, 10 to 30, and you’re likely to catch at least one episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” If it’s just one, consider yourself lucky. This was me over the weekend as I spent it with my 24-year-old daughter who is a long-time Kardashian fan. Yes I’ve tried and tried to convince her of all the reasons to not like them; all to no avail. Fellow Kardashian haters, I tried.


So, I decided to change hats and see them through her eyes. It was eye opening.


I realized that yes, she loves their fashion and their fame, but what she really loves is how close a family they are. I asked her this and she totally agreed.



Think about it as a girl. You have fortune and fame, but most importantly you have four best friends who have your back on everything. Everything. Each one has a ginormous house that they all just flutter between; open doors and open kitchens to boot. They sit around in those beautiful Mackenzie-Childs bedecked kitchens with those perfectly arranged cookies in a jar, eating delivered or chef-prepared salads, and visit. Just visit. Think bedroom or dorm room in the real world. That’s what they do. Sometimes they laugh, sometimes they cry, sometimes they argue, and sometimes they bond. What girl doesn’t want that?


Then there’s their mom, Kris, the brains behind the botox. Full disclosure, Kristen often calls me Kris or “momager” because she says as much as I hate to admit it, she would be in what we like to pretend is our “celebrity squad” and that deep down I do like her. Plus, her real name is Kristen. Okay, I’ll play.


So first the hair. I’ve loved Kris Jenner’s signature short hairstyle for many years. I had it once, gave in to peer pressure and let it grow out, but I may go back to it soon. I also like her fashion and décor style 80 percent of the time and her obsession with Mackenzie-Child’s “Courtly Check” matches mine. I share her love of black-and-white everything as well as large framed old-school Barbie photos and framed family photos. She’s also an admitted control freak, as am I. This became crystal clear in a recent episode when Kris moved her aging mom from San Diego to a condo near her and wanted all the decorations to be how she wanted them. That would be me. On two fronts. I would love to be able to move my mom near me in a safe and monitored fabulous place when needed but I would also want to do it up how I want it.


Then there’s the Bruce Jenner ordeal. Who didn’t feel at least a little bit sorry for Kris? So you’ve been married to this man for many years and somewhere along the line you find out he isn’t seeing another woman, he wants to be a woman! And it all plays out on national TV. Yes, I know, they’ve chosen this life but let’s be real, that was rough.


Speaking of men, do they really keep up with those Kardashians? Not at all. It’s a world run by a momager and her five daughters. This is yet another tidbit not lost on young woman watching. I detest the fact that it all started with Kim’s sex video but props to Kris for brilliantly spinning the family situation in a way any Washington D.C. politician would envy. Today they are a multi-million dollar corporate brand of woman. An estrogen empire. Yes, I get the whole “but they have no real talents,” but is it not even a wee bit impressive that a group of six women with no talents have somehow duped us all into buying what they’re selling? That, my friends, is girl power.



Consider this, the show is currently celebrating 10 years of production. TEN YEARS! And each Kardashian gets paid hundreds of thousands just for showing up at various appearances, whether it be opening a club or debuting a product. And perhaps most amazing is the fact that they make mega bucks just for posting something on Instagram. Kim receives half-a-million dollars for every sponsored post and the rest of the gang gets anywhere from $150,000 to $400,000. Bananas!


It didn’t take long for young Kylie to say adios school and hello solo success. At just 20-years-old, they youngest of the clan topped Forbes’ youngest high-earning celebrity list with a net worth of $50 million, thanks most in part to her popular Kylie Lipkits. Truth be told, I tried some of Kristen’s and they’re good. Real good.


But, the Kardashians aren’t just rich, from most reports, they are nice. Yes they can be trashy (note to Kim: you’re a mom…please stop with the nudies) and filthy-mouthed (just stop!), but you rarely hear of any mean girl or substance abuse behavior.


Men need not apply in the Kardashian world though. Rob, the sole brother, is somewhere off camera figuring out his life with Blac Chyna; Scott, Kourtney’s baby daddy, is battling addictions and the fact that he’s the only white male amongst the group; Khloe’s ex Lamar Odem was last seen in a Nevada brothel in a near OD state; and Bruce, well we all know what happened to him. That leaves Kim’s hubby Kanye West who seems to always have issues of his own but who also stays clear of the film crew. Maybe he’s the smartest one of the male bunch.



But, I can’t write a Kardashian blog without mentioning what really annoys me about them: the level of fakeness they present to the world of young and even mature girls. Yes, their family dynamic is real, but nothing else about them is. Each one of them has the looks, so why can’t they just be happy with what God has given them? So much of them is fake: their extension-heavy hair, their tightened and tanned skin, their ridiculously plumped-up lips, their over-sculpted bodies, and even their lashes. They’ve had implants in everything from their cheeks to well, their trademark “cheeks.” It’s all so unreal and unattainable for the average Josephine. When you have an army of glam squads, personal trainers, and surgeons on command, of course you’re going to look good. The rest of us, not so much. It’s anything but reality and I wish they would put the brakes on some of it.


Young Kylie is probably the worst, with Khloe coming in a close second. I do admire Khloe for her workout ethic, but c’mon, do we really believe her “new bod” is all due to getting on a treadmill and going to a Pilates class? As for Kylie, nothing on her is real. She is a shell of her former face and it’s sad. To be so young and so unhappy with how you look is just tragic. It’s also not a good image or message to give to young fans, or even 24-year-old fans. Now that she’s unwed and pregnant, maybe maturity will come by way of motherhood and she will find her real soul.


More likely is her baby will be welcomed with open arms into the ever-growing family, ensuring years more of Kardashian spawns. It’s all about the family, and in this season of wishing we were all near family and of opening our homes to family members, how bad can that be? Maybe it’s really not their fame that we envy, but their family. They definitely have family in check. Still, I can’t promise I’ll be keeping up with those Kardashians but I’m pretty sure millions of others will.