Beyond Words

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

Home Sweet Smelling Home April 27, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:29 pm

Home sweet home. That’s where we’ve all spent the past few weeks, right? If you’re like me, you’ve cased your home top to bottom, have done a few home improvement projects, conjured up a million ideas and dreams, and maybe even wondered how you can make your house feel a little different this week. Or next. Or the next.


One way I love to “accessorize” and cozy-up my home is with candles and diffusers. (How cute is the above Illume candle I recently ordered?) To me, they are both treats and necessities. They make a home smell good and they either eliminate or mask scents you’d rather not house. We all have our favorites.


Currently, my favorite scent provider is my Young Living diffuser. I’m a big proponent of Young Living essential oils and for the past month or so, my YL diffuser has been running non-stop, filled with both Young Living Thieves and Purification oils, both of which are cleansing and purifying. I normally have the diffuser next to my bed and filled with either Lavender or Peace and Calming, but desperate times call for desperate measures so into the main living area it went.



I’m a big candle girl though, so I also always have a candle…or one or two or three…burning somewhere in my home. If buying me one, safe bets are anything vanilla, bergamot, red currant, lemon, or verbena. That being said, these are my standard go to’s:


Bath and Body Works’ White Barn “Vanilla Birch,” “Bergamot Mint,” “Warm Vanilla Sugar,” and Aromatherapy “Love”

Lollia “In Love”

Diptyque “Baies”

Bridgewater “Afternoon Retreat,” “Solitude,” and “Open Road”

Tokyo Milk “Let Them Eat Cake”

Archipelago “Luna”

Votivo “Red Currant” and “Pink Mimosa”

Trapp “Orange Vanilla”

Volcano “Capri Blue”


The latter, Capri Blue, is my daughter’s favorite and the favorite of many. Another quite popular brand is Nest, but perhaps the most iconic is Diptyque’s Baies. It’s also one of the most expensive.



The original Diptyque boutique opened in Paris in 1961 but a popular line of candles was not its owners’ intent. The small shop’s founders consisted of a fabric designer, theater set designer, and painter and their goal was to own a fun store that sold fun things “bazaar style” found and inspired by their many fun travels. Two years after opening, three hand-crafted candles were created but one of them, the rose and black current scented Baies, later earned legendary status. A status it still holds today.



In 1983, the late great and legendary designer and Chanel Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld chose Baies to burn in every store of the fashion giant and during its runway shows. The fashion world was abuzz and before you could say “burn out,” homes from Paris to Plano to Portland were ablaze with Baies. Known as much for their hard to read labels, Diptyque candles were originally only available in Paris but today you can today purchase them in boutiques from coast-to-coast and online. But beware, a six ounce candle will put you back around $70.


Yes, they are pricey but I have found that inexpensive and mass-produced candles often don’t fill a room with scent. It’s a classic case of “you get what you pay for,” so since I’m almost always burning a candle at home (and at both ends!), I opt more for medium-priced ones rather than either very expensive or very affordable.


The OCD in me also means I will only buy candles that match my home décor, meaning I will never have a blue or orange candle, as I don’t have those colors anywhere in our house. Then there’s the paraffin vs. soy vs. beeswax issue.



Paraffin vs. Soy vs. Beeswax

“Regular” candles are normally paraffin candles, which contain petroleum oil. Soy candles are natural in that they’re made from vegetable oil, or soybeans to be exact, and beeswax candles are made from a renewable all natural wax produced by honey bees. Let’s look at each.


Unlike the aforementioned beeswax, paraffin wax is non-renewable. It is a created byproduct of petroleum, coal, or oil shale. Eeeewww, right? But look at your candles right now. Many could very well be primarily paraffin. If so, know that they are not hypo-allergenic so if anyone in your home has allergies, asthma, or other chemical sensitivies, paraffin candles are probably not what you want.


Soy candles are natural and they don’t increase the CO2 level in your home. They also burn longer than paraffin candles and don’t produce any icky black soot. So, not only do they clean up easier, they are healthier for humans, pets, and the environment as a whole.


So are beeswax candles, which if of the 100 percent kind, are free of toxic chemicals. Because beeswax is denser than even soy wax, these candles burn longer than their soy counterparts and most other candles as a whole. But know that they are also way more expensive. Their light is also a bit different due to their higher melting point. Beeswax flames tend to be brighter and warmer than other candles. Lastly, beeswax is hypo-allergenic.



Something else you might want to consider and decide is what type of candle you’re looking for. Candles come in a wide variety of styles, including taper, pillar, votive, tealight, floating, and container jar. Tapers are, to me, old school formal and conjure up images of a formal dining table in perhaps Williamsburg, Virginia or Savannah, Georgia. I love them, especially when sitting atop crystal or brass with bobeches. Pillars are very common and can be used in a range of vessels. Battery-operated ones are extremely popular for outdoor use and for smoke-free indoor mood lighting. Both votives and tealights are great accents and small room choices, while jar and other container options are the kind you can find just about anywhere and in a variety of scents and motifs.



A Scent for Every Room

Whatever candle you choose, you know that lighting it can bring the simplest kind of joy whether it be in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or family room. What scents you light in each however, some would suggest should vary.


According to luxury real estate brand Sotheby’s, choosing which fragrance for which room should depend on the function of that room. In the kitchen, you should avoid florals as they can interfere with food smell and instead opt for anything in the citrus family, which complement what’s cooking while neutralizing stubborn odors. In a family or living area, energizing fig or fruity choices literally lend an “air” of energizing and uplifting aromas and are especially weighty when entertaining.


Now for the bedroom and bathroom. You might want clean smelling scents like fresh linen, ocean, and even cucumber in the bathroom but in the bedroom think relax. You’ll get the most benefit out of calming and soothing whiffs near your bed, such as lavender and vanilla, which will help you unwind and sleep more soundly.


Another candle tip is how to ensure they last as long as possible. I really like three-wick candles because I feel they burn more evenly but as for all those one-wick candles out there, be sure to let the entire surface of one melt and soften before blowing it out. This will prevent the dreaded “tunnel” candle problem and overall uneven burning.


But what if you don’t like candles but still want home fragrance? There are several options to choose from.



Diffuse Don’t Refuse

If you for any reason refuse to burn candles but still want home fragrance: diffuse! You know these bottles filled with scented liquid and sprouting reeds out the top? They’re everywhere and they’re great! I have several and feel like one in my entry way provides a whiff of good stuff anytime someone enters my home. As the owner of three dogs, this is imperative!  My current favorite is Inis, which I recently discovered in Santa Fe. I also like Pottery Barn’s “Ocean,” Pier 1’s “Cuban Vanilla,” and Chesapeake Bay’s “White Citron,” which I can no longer find! Ugh! You can also count on any Jo Malone diffuser to please the senses, but at more than $100 a pop, they aren’t pleasing to the pocketbook…at least not to mine.



Another home fragrance option is wax. Say what you want but I actually really like a few of Scentsy’s melting bars. I’m obsessed with their Vanilla Suede (which is currently not being made…grrrrrrr!), as well as their Lemon Verbena, Vanilla Bean Buttercream, and Butter Pecan bars. They are affordable, simple to use, add a bit of ambiance with their lighted and decorative warmers and to me, there’s something very soothing about melting wax.


And if all of this isn’t enough, there’s a brand new trend out there: smart home automatic diffusing fragrance systems. Think high-end retail store, hotel lobby, or the likes and the fabulous scent that envelopes you as you enter. Now you can have that in your home thanks to apps and other Bluetooth timed spritzers. Through the touch of an app or other remote controlled systems that can be paired with your Alexa or Google Assistant, you can spray your home on schedule and even by specific scent for specific time of the day (i.e.: energizing florals during the day and calming herbals at night). Uh-mazing, right?


It all comes down to scent and smelling good. As I previously blogged, scent has a way of changing a mood, setting a tone, and sparking a memory. Here’s a link if you’re interested:


I hope while you’re home-bound and social distancing you are surrounded by positivity, family or loved ones, and heavenly scents.


Friends in Co-rona Places April 22, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:46 pm

So we’ve all seen quotes and memes like the one above suggesting that when the COVID Crisis is said and done, we honestly consider how and who we want to be before diving back into “normal.” We’ve missed our normalcy, right? But was our normal good? Was it healthy? Was it something we really want to return to? Was it truly normal? What is normal anyway?



On one of our daily walks, my daughter and I discussed this but she shared an interesting twist on it. What if, during all this social distancing, we’ve discovered that some of the people we socialized with when things were “normal” maybe aren’t those we want to socialize with when the pandemic passes?



Good question Kristen.


As you social distance and self-quarantine, ask yourself “who do I really miss?” “Who do I not miss at all?” “Who called me during this time of social separating and who have I not heard from at all?”


On the flip side, consider who you’ve been in touch with during the past few weeks that you maybe wouldn’t have in that normal world we’re all so longing to return to. Did you reach out to someone who just happened to be on your mind? Did you check in on a friend or family member you maybe hadn’t talked to in months? If so, that should tell you something. Those are your people. Keep them. Nurture them.


And then, flip that flip side over and reflect on who contacted you. They are also your people. Pay it forward and pay them the attention and respect they deserve. For me, one such person is someone who’s been in my life since our daughters were in preschool and from who I actually got a card in the mail. Yes, in the mail. I gotta say, it truly made my day.



For all its condemnation, social media has proved an excellent and vital method of communicating if you can make it past all the politics and pointing of fingers. I’ve loved all the “good news” stories, tips and thoughts. I’ve been able to keep in touch with friends and family on so many levels and actually found out that friends we met years ago in Costa Rica are pregnant after many failed attempts. We haven’t seen them since our trip, but we have kept in touch via Facebook all these years, as has another couple we met on the same trip, and to share in their joy from so far away was pure joy. In one little post, Texas, Virginia, and New York all came together and thanked God for answered prayers. Say what you will about Facebook, but it does have its benefits.


How about you? Are there any “friends” out there who for more than a month now you haven’t heard from or reached out to? Sure, we can’t reach out to everyone we know and love, so how about those who you haven’t even thought of. Does simply saying their name(s) out loud reveal anything to you? Is it time to let a friendship go or is it time to pony up and make a call or send a text? Your call.



For me, this #stayhome stint has strengthened and united a group of women I worked with in TV news years ago. Our group text is busy all day every day and I feel so connected and in touch with how each of them are being affected by and getting through the current crisis. We share good news, bad news, and a toast or two and being that we share such a long and wonderful history, the fact that we now share our COVID struggles and solutions even though our life paths are all so different, is one of a handful of stay home silver linings.


They are just one group I “socialize” with on Zoom and Houseparty, which seem to be where the parties are these days.  Somehow they make the impersonal personal as it’s great to see each other’s face and not just hear voices or read words. I for one am very grateful for my virtual happy hour friends!


          Tricia Robinson

My work friends are also at the top of the “I miss them so much” list. We are all working remote and I love seeing any of their posts or getting a simple text from one of them. I miss those ladies so very much. I also miss my little three-year-olds from my class and their families. Thankfully, I do get to “see” them on our class site, but not getting daily hugs and hearing stories only little ones can tell are things not even the internet can duplicate.


Then there are those wonderful women (and men!) who have texted me, messaged me, and even called me. The calls stand out, as I’m not a big phone talker but when was the last time the majority of us actually talked on the phone?!  We all own phones. Pick them up and call someone.



It is said we have three kinds of friendships: pleasant, useful, and virtuous. The first two often end up fleeting but the third one is what true and good friends really are. Don’t take my word for it; take Aristotle’s as he’s who came up with the whole idea.


The Greek philosopher put a great deal of importance on friendship and considered it not only vital on the path to a good life but a valuable possession as well. According to him, the three types are friendships based on utility, pleasure or delight, and virtue.


The first type is the most common of the three and consists of all those people you associate with for mutual usefulness. You might not be besties with your hair stylist or mechanic, but you both provide a usefulness to each other that is satisfactory. This is also usually the case with coworkers and classmates.


“Friends” who use people for their own gain and live by a “what’s in it for me” mentality also fall into this first group. These are those who flatter you while manipulating the situation to get something like social status or recognition out of it. In conversations, they say a lot “me” and “I” and rarely ask you how you are or anything about your life. Although you can’t really consider them true friends, you probably have plenty of them in your life. And that’s okay. Know it, be aware of their motives, and as they say, keep your friends close and these types of enemies closer. Eyes wide open friends.



Next up are those you are friends with the for the sake of pleasure which, is important to note, was more than just sexual to Aristotle. While physical pleasure can be grouped here, it also includes pure delight in someone like say that really funny but unreliable pal, a fellow gym rat, or a drinking buddy. Most in this group only want to have a good time. Getting deep is not their goal. Friends in this category might also be teammates and fellow book clubbers. You may not share your deepest and darkest secrets with them, but you have common interests and enjoy their company. This is the level of friendship commonly found in childhood and especially those teen years. If being friends with someone brings you pleasure but not a whole lot else, place that buddy firmly in this category.



Last comes the most solid of friendships. These bonds have stood the test of time and neither distance nor time separates you. These are the friends you can’t imagine life without. They cheer your successes and provide a shoulder to cry on during hurt times. They are authentic and honest and conversations with them are deep comfort zones in which to “dump.” You share everything with them and hide nothing. They know your life isn’t perfect and you know theirs isn’t either. You trust them with your secrets and you trust their advice. You respect them and their beliefs, know they won’t turn on you, and sharing and making memories is cherished on both sides. You encourage, nurture, support, and celebrate them and they do the same for you. In a word, you fully and truly appreciate these pals for who they are and they genuinely like you. These are your bridesmaids and those you travel with. Sadly, these friendships are the rarest of the three. If you have five of these you are considered lucky. More than five? Considered yourself blessed.


That being said, who stands where in your life? Take this time to discover who’s offered to help you, laugh with you, cry with you, or pray for you. Who have you reached out to or heard from? Do you miss those fun times friends or really haven’t thought of them? Make a list and consider who’s who. Then, all those who you miss and treasure? Give them a call or at the very least, shoot them a text. Better yet; face time someone. You might just make their quarantined day.











Feet First April 9, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:14 pm

As I went through my morning routines today that include prayer, stretching, and then emails and social media (in that order!) I couldn’t help but see the irony of what I read and saw. I read all about Jesus washing the feet of His disciples, stretched into a forward fold and touched my feet, and then read many a post about being in desperate need of a pedicure. Hmmmm…


I’m right there with you nail biters as my feet are not in their best visual shape, but I’m pretty sure what we all need right now way more than “pick color” is “chose Jesus.”



Can you even imagine Jesus washing your feet? The closest I’ve come is during a retreat many years ago during which priests washed the feet of all retreat attendees. I wasn’t aware it was going to occur, so when it did I was in total awe. All these years later I still remember it and it still moves me.



Today on Holy Thursday we celebrate the washing of feet as well as the Last Supper. Not only do we learn that Jesus humbled Himself, bent down, and washed feet, we also learn about the Eucharist during the Last Supper. So, not only do we get the gift of water, but of the blessed water and wine as well. If this isn’t a “give us this day our daily bread” moment I don’t know what is. “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving” and the institution of it is celebrated and re-enacted during every Catholic mass. I for one am very thankful for being called to it.



I’m also thankful for and think back to all those glorious massages I’ve gotten and how amazing it feels when a masseuse rubs my feet. Feet are formidable. They give you stability and balance, grip and strength as you walk and run, and they serve as your body’s shock absorbers. One quarter of all the bones in a human body are in the feet and each foot has more than 7,000 nerve endings; 26 bones; 33 joints; and more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments. If your feet ache or are out of alignment, you can bet your whole body will be too.


I’m also grateful for the many pedicures I’ve gotten in the past as I’ve always considered them such a luxury. Who would really choose to work on feet? I know many people who say “I don’t do feet” and swear they’d take care of me in my dying days but would never do my feet or my toes. I’m having to do just that as of late. My daughter is having a toe/toe nail issue and I’ve had to be Dr. Carla in cleaning and wrapping it. It looks like she’s going to the nail, it bleeds every now and then, and I gotta say it’s not my favorite thing to do.  But, if Jesus could do feet, so can I and so can all of us. In fact, St. Ambrose tells us that “where Adam stumbled, Jesus decided to wash.” We all need to reach out to others and reach to those places of degradation and shame.



Today’s washing of the feet isn’t the only time we hear of the concept of tending to feet.  Mere days ago and six days before Passover, we learned that Jesus went to Bethany and visited the home of Lazarus, who He had raised from the dead. There, Mary of Bethany took a liter of expensive and precious perfumed oil and anointed His feet with it. She was criticized by Judas the Iscariot, who famously betrayed Jesus, who shamefully questioned Mary on why she would waste it rather than sell it.



My feet have been on my mind quite a bit lately, as I’ve been walking way more than I did mere months ago. Every day I go out and walk the neighborhood, focusing on our dogs, our “homebound” adult daughter walking beside me, and sunny days. Maybe I should also focus on my actual feet and rather than care that the polish on my toes is long gone, be grateful for them and pray for all those pedicure businesses that are currently closed.



So on this day of foot washing and blessed meal sharing, let’s all try to focus on being grateful, humble, and true cleansing. Feed each other love, smell the fragrance of perfumed oil that heaven spreads, wash away our egos, and walk with joy on feet we are so blessed to have.




Generational Gaps April 7, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:11 pm


We are now three-plus weeks into our social distancing and #stayhome regarding coronavirus. When the crisis first hit the states, it was reported that the elderly and health-compromised were most at risk to catch the disease but that hasn’t necessarily been the case. Yes, seniors have been hit and hit hard, but so have many of younger generations.


The past few weeks Spring Breakers were spotted on beaches and a large group of local college-aged students returned from a Spring Break trip to Mexico and many are now testing positive for COVID-19. Those blasted Millennials, right? Wrong.


That age group, come to find out, is not officially “Millennials.” I’m as guilty as anyone in automatically considering anyone between 20 and their mid-30s to be Millennials, but defining generations is quite the science and there’s perhaps no place better to refer than Pew Research.


Pew defines generations based on the following birth years:


You might see some of those years vary a year or two depending on where you look or who you ask, but these are generally agreed upon eras. But what does it matter and where do we go from here? And where’s the “Greatest Generation” and why the letters?



It all started with Generation X, which came after the Baby Boomers, called that because they were born during a spike or “boom” of baby births after WWII and new-found post-war prosperity. Hello soldiers returning triumphantly home!


But what to call the next group? With no distinct qualifier like the war or a run of births, X marked the spot of who came next. They were named Gen X because it was thought the “X” described their lack of identity. After that it was the end of the alphabet in order with Millennials originally dubbed Generation Y. The name “Millennial” is said to have come from Neil Howe and William Strauss who coined the term in 1989 when the turn of the millennium was coming. Gen Z is next, but has yet to define what that Z actually stands for.


Each generation serves as a reference to around 20 years and the historic events, attitudes, and what was popular during those times. Let’s take a look at each and escape the COVID-19 news if even just for a bit.






Pew Research and most experts consider anyone born before 1927 to be in what is called the “Greatest Generation,” those we owe so much respect and gratitude toward and the parents of “Baby Boomers.” They grew up, came of age during, and fought in WWII as well as the Great Depression. The Cold War and the start of the Civil Rights Movement are also ingrained in their lives. This group of patriots were proud to plant their roots in the U.S. and set high standards of education for their children. Today, this elderly and simple generation lives by a “waste not want not attitude,” love conformity and traditional values, and value having financial security and not depending on others for assistance. They are great team players, understand and respect sacrifice, and are loyal to the end. These American heroes grew up very simple and don’t appreciate or understand today’s “throw away” society and lack of being thrifty and respectful.




This group, born between 1928-1945, was also raised during WWII and the Great Depression and have many of the same traits as their elders in the Greatest Generation. In all honesty, I had never heard of this group and still somewhat lumped all together with the Greatest Generation. In any case, they are similarly characterized by a strong work ethic and highly regard discipline, the upholding of values, gratitude, and life’s simplicities rather than extravagances.




Hello ME! I’m a certified Boomer, born between 1945 and 1964. Today’s “Empty Nesters,” Baby Boomers have seen it all through some monumental events including the Cold and Vietnam Wars; the assassinations of JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King; the Moon Landing, Woodstock and endless protests and sit-ins of the hippie movement; the Civil Rights and Women’s Movements, and Watergate and resignation of President Nixon. No wonder they are often free-spirited and social-cause oriented! The term “workaholic” came about thanks to Baby Boomers, who are hard workers but also individualistic, love to experiment, and never say never.


Baby Boomers grew up as television was coming to be and living rooms everywhere welcomed the new technology. They are still the largest consumers of TV, as well as radio, magazines, and newspaper. I personally can attest to this as I’m a consumer of all four. Just as the internet, cell phones, Wi-Fi, and social media have revolutionized younger generations, televisions did the same for Baby Boomers. For Boomers, technology is more about convenience and keeping in touch with friends and family then a necessity. Many still have landlines but use smart phones proficiently.




This is the generation for which the term “slackers” was coined. Born between 1965-1979, they were also dubbed “latchkey” kids and the MTV generation. Nevertheless, they are the first generation to be at ease with technology and spend more time on Facebook per week than any other group. Gen X also has more single parent families and more divorces than any other generation. It should come as no surprise therefore, that they are independent, reject rules, mistrust institutions, and are on a constant quest for emotional security. They are also very informal and today’s more casual work environments and flexible work schedules are somewhat thanks to them. Gen X is also balancing quite a bit, including growing their careers, raising a family, and taking care of aging parents. Monumental and historic events that will be attached to them for generations to come include computers, grunge/hip hop, MTV, AIDS, the Challenger explosion, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Reaganomics.




“Ask a Millennial” to the above question, right? Those poor Millennials; so made fun of and blamed. Born between 1980 and 1994, Millennials are a distinct age group in more ways than just their distinct name. They’ve given us Paleo and gluten free diets, designer dogs and reality TV, avocado toast and endless toasts of rose all day. What’s not to make fun of, right? In all honesty though, it’s not totally their fault.


Millennials were raised by parents who helicoptered them, sheltered them, and/or constantly built them up. These are the “trophies for everyone” kids who today want constant communication and positive reinforcement from their bosses and strive to be close to their peers. Often called entitled, Millennials are indeed impatient, achievement oriented, and have short attention spans, but they are also optimistic, entrepreneurial, and financially savvy.



Perhaps through a combination of those helicopter parents and a “listen and learn” attitude toward Gen X’ers, Millennials are better educated than any previous generation and Millennial women are more likely to work outside of the home than prior generations, with 72 percent being employed. They are also more likely to be “boomerang kids” who return home and live with their parents. Many struggle with student debt, which is keeping some from getting married, buying a home, and starting families.


This “work to live rather than live to work” group entered the work force in the middle of an economic recession and is often referred to as the “slow start” work force even though they did so in a particularly challenging job market. They were probably the first generation to perfect the art of multi-tasking as they listened to music while studying and text and converse every day all day.


Very adept and the first to order heavily online, Millennials are extremely brand loyal and have little or no patience for inefficient products or poor service. They love their Apples and they love their Lulus. Millennials most likely have multiple social media accounts, get their music now from Spotify rather than their once beloved CD players, regularly binge on Netflix, and only have a mobile device. Landlines are ancient history to them and all subsequent generations.


When you think of Millennials, think Oklahoma City bombing, the rise of the internet and cell phones, the O.J. Simpson trial and death of Princess Diana, Columbine shootings, terrorism, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s important to note that although the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred in 2011, most Millennials were old enough to comprehend the historical significance of the attacks while most Gen Z’ers have little or no memory of the event.


Millennials are now or will soon be (depending on who you ask) the largest living adult generation, overtaking Baby Boomers. But it’s not because so many are being born or giving birth, it’s due in part because immigration has been boosting their numbers, particularly a growing number of Hispanic and Asian immigrants. This has resulted in Millennials being more ethnically and racially diverse than older generations and are more culturally and racially tolerant. Just don’t disagree with them!





These are the children of Gen X and they are under a lot of pressure to succeed. They’ve almost always had a mobile phone either of their own or playing on their parents and like Millennials, have no idea what a land line or dial phone is. They truly care about the state of things, want to make a positive difference in the world, and long to be taken seriously.  And funny enough, many of the things Millennials consider preferences are things Gen Z expects. They see Millennials struggle with debt and their Gen X parent’s financial struggles and are a bit more fiscally conservative.


Gen Z is the real deal when talking digital-ites and gamers and are totally dependent on technology. Sirium/XM radio came to be during their years of growing up and they consider their mobile devices extensions of themselves and prefer Facetiming over even texting. They love their Instagram filters, Vine, Twitter, and Tik-Tok is the current rage with them and Millennials alike. They demand instant gratification, live by “next, next, next,” and care deeply about what’s trending. They have always been online and “connected” so it’s no surprise that they are independent and sometimes lack community-oriented social skills and the idea of being a team player. They prefer self-direction and small bits of information comparable to a tweet or a post and have an uncanny ability to process information at lightning speed. They are also very creative but have little concern for privacy, leading them to be “open books.”


Historically, they will always be tied to 9/11, smart phones, social media, the Great Recession, Hurricane Katrina, and Donald Trump will be the first president most Gen Z’ers know as they turn 18. They will also most likely have to solve escalating and divisive environmental, social, and economic problems.




All of this leads us to “snowflakes.” Although not a true generation like the ones mentioned above, snowflakes are generally thought to be those born after the Millennium and became adults in the 2010s. The name comes from the fact that no two snowflakes are alike and the fact that their parents raised them as unique and special. Today the word has taken on a more negative tone as snowflakes are often branded as entitled, whiney, overly-sensitive, self-obsessed, fragile, easily offended, and unable to deal with adversity or opposing opinions. The word has become so commonly used and popular that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in January 2018 and suffice it to say, being called a “snowflake” is anything complimentary or something to aspire to being.



I don’t know what all this means at this time or on this day; whatever day it might be. I also don’t know if it even matters right now when all that matters is staying home and staying safe. I guess it’s just something I found interesting and I hope you did too. If nothing else, it’s diverted some attention away from COVID-19, which is creating a generation all its own.





United We Band April 2, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:00 pm

    Fearless Girl on Wall Street AP/Kevin Hagen

You know it’s really starting to hit when two of the first social media posts you read in the morning are those posted by friends normally faith-filled and little rays of positive sunshine. The first one prompted me to call her after reading not one but two items about grief. I had to check in and make sure she is okay. The second one dealt with dressing in “real” clothes and doing her hair today and how just applying her hair spray made her tear up as it triggered thoughts and memories of actually getting ready for a day filled with work, friends, and just going out.


Day fill-in-the-blank, right? For me, I’ve been staying home and basically self-isolating since March 20. That was the first day of my Spring Break but as I heard COVID-19 threats growing, I went to the grocery store, stocked up, and prepared to hunker down. A couple’s dinner party had already been cancelled as had a market days outing with two friends. My husband got sent home from a pro golf tournament and our daughter had multiple weddings and sales meetings moved or cancelled. It all so quickly imploded on us and at what felt like record pace. I had made no plans for Spring Break and was so looking forward to a week at home doing absolutely nothing or whatever I wanted. Careful what you ask for, right?


Do you know why it’s called COVID-19 and referred to as “Corona Virus?” Well, it refers to a family of viruses that can cause everything from the common cold to SARS and MERS. “COVID-19” stands for coronavirus disease 2019 as it first appeared in 2019 in Wuhan, China. The “corona” part comes from the crownlike spikes on the viruses’ surface, depicted as red protrusions off a circle in photographs we see. “Corona” means “crown” in Spanish.


Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday we were watching in disbelief and horror as Wuhan, China was in lock down, the city’s streets were eerily empty, and makeshift hospitals were being built? And what about that cruise ship stuck in Japan? Then, in what seemed like overnight, Italy was ground zero for the virus and, even though so much of what we own and buy is “Made in China,” Italy being under siege seemed to sound the “could it come here” alarms.  My coworker’s granddaughter was studying abroad in Italy and I remember her family debating whether she should come home. Thank God she did. Fast forward to today and here we are; doing the very same things. Locking down. Erecting hospitals. Stocking up on toilet paper. It’s frightening and it’s a shock to our systems.


We are facing tough times and guess what, real grief is real right now. We are all grieving our former lives, our jobs, our freedoms. Some are grieving grueling schedules and deaths. Suddenly things we took for granted are luxuries. Things we didn’t perhaps love doing are now longed for. For me, that means grocery shopping. Anyone who knows me knows I hate going to the grocery store but what I wouldn’t give right now to go to my neighborhood HEB to buy whatever I need or want. And yes, that would very likely include toilet paper.



I miss my former life. Running errands. Going to church and book club. Going out to eat and shopping. Getting my hair and nails done. Going to yoga and seeing my yoga squad. I miss work. I miss my little three-year-olds and their wonder and joy. I miss their parents who help keep me young and motivated. I miss my coworkers. So very much. I miss being able to do all of this and not worrying one bit about germs on my hands or touching my face.


Instead, I’m home. But yes, safe at home not stuck at home. And I’m grateful my daughter and husband are here with me. Funny thing is, it’s not the “quality family time” you read about. The three of us yes, spend some time together binging Netflix and eating, but for the most part we are individually living our lives. We’re just doing so all under one roof.


For me that’s meant cooking everything from new dinner ideas to homemade dog treats, watching endless news reports (I know, but once a newsie always a newsie) and TV shows. Binging hasn’t been as enjoyable as I thought it would be however, because so much of what people watch is either disturbing or dark. Thankfully my daughter recently discovered “Grey’s Anatomy” and it’s now on almost 24-7. And although I’m discovering it with her, the whole hospital/doctors/nurses theme is a bit too timely and realistic. In between, I’ve also done some touch up painting in the house I’ve been wanting to do and we have been walking a ton. Needless to say our three dogs aren’t complaining about the current situation!  I’ve also been spending a lot of time in quiet prayer and am so grateful to do yoga online with an instructor I love but whose studio is far from my home. Nicki: you have been a Godsend!


What I haven’t been doing a lot of and it’s kinda shocking to me, is reading. I love to read and have stacks of books just waiting to open up. But, for some reason I can’t even focus on the book I’m in the middle of even though I love it (“Bridge of Sighs” for anyone asking) and I’m not sure why. I think I’m just distracted and disjointed.


On the whole I’m trying to stay positive as I stay home, but I worry. Every day. I worry about my 89-year-old mom who is home alone back in my hometown and whether my husband and daughter are washing their hands. I worry every time I open the mail or retrieve a delivered package. I wonder if it’s better to just eat home-cooked meals or support local restaurants and order to-go meals from them. I worry about our country that, even in the midst of what many are calling a “war,” cannot seem to put aside our differences and work together as one. I also worry how and when we are ever going to get out of this. If you listen to the experts, it’s going to be a long haul. And that worries me.



          Evelyn Henson

Welcome to the new normal, right? Much like we had to get use to changes at airports after 9/11, we will need to get use to who knows what. That causes anxiety. And it makes me anxious.


So, one book I have been reading is Max Lucado’s “Anxious for Nothing.”  In it he describes a feeling of not being able to relax and feeling like the other shoe is yet to drop. Anxiety, he says is a “meteor shower” of what-ifs, trepidation, suspicion, and apprehension. Check, check, check, check. Then there is fear, which sees a true threat. Anxiety, on the other hand, imagines one. Our lives right now, right? In fact, the very word “anxious” is a hybrid of “angst,” which is a sense of unease.


The U.S. is good at worrying and is the most anxious nation in the world. Lucado half jokingly writes that if worry were an Olympic event, we’d be gold medalists. Oddly enough, there so much worry out there that even the Olympics have been postponed. But what causes anxiety? Change and challenge for starters. Hmmmm…pretty much two things enveloping our lives and our world right now.



Oh good grief. Grief is what many of us are also experiencing on many levels. And that’s okay. We are all living with a daily dose of it and in epic proportions. David Kessler, the world’s foremost expert on grief, discussed the topic with the Harvard Business Review and says that although much of what we’re feeling is temporary, it’s all real and it involves things we are not used to dealing with. On top of that, we are experiencing collective grief; something else we are not accustomed to. Finally, we are also feeling “anticipatory grief,” which is the worrisome feeling we get about what the future holds. Enter anxiety.


I’m anxious and worried about our health care workers and health care industry. I’m also worried about people losing their jobs, shops and restaurants closing their doors, airlines, and the economy as a whole. Just when we were doing the best we ever had economy-wise in this country with record job levels in every category, we are hit with a pandemic and unprecedented unemployment numbers. Will we ever bounce back fully and completely? I’m concerned about those in domestic abuse situations and pray they find a way and a safe place to go while being told to “stay home.”


I worry about parents who are home with their kids. I cannot imagine trying to work from home, log on to connect with each child’s teachers several times a day, make dinner, clean the house, check in with elderly parents, and everything in between. Just remember, kids are watching and how they feel during this time will stay with them for many years. Work to make them feel secure and safe while you are homeschooling and house cleaning. These kids will be the ones who tell their kids and grandkids their own version of “I had to walk for miles in snow to get to school.” Make it one of resilience.


For days on end I go to bed anxious and drained but then wake up each day and try to stay positive and productive. It’s a vicious cycle of uncertainty and optimism. For a week or so I worried I will “get it” or that a family member does. Coughing? Oh no! Sneezing? Yikes! But wait, thankfully all of that is just seasonal allergies, which unfortunately are in full bloom where I live. My main worry is the whole scary situation as a whole.



         Photo credit: jbro47

I for one have faith in the team that is leading us in this fight and I feel for President Trump and all those on his team. Do they ever rest? Aren’t they exhausted? They truly have the weight of the world on their shoulders and the last thing they need is continued finger pointing, division, and hate. The fact that some trinkets and items are manufactured in China as cost-cutting measures is maybe okay, but the fact that 95 percent of our antibiotics and many other medications are, is not. We must protect our borders, bring manufacturing back home, and be less dependent on other countries. These issues have been discussed for years now but deemed unacceptable by some. Back in January a travel ban to and from China was enacted and a Coronavirus Task Force was formed but mere weeks later impeachment pens were ceremoniously handed out and a State of the Union speech in which we were warned about the threatening virus was ripped in half on national TV. Let it go people. No one deserves this and no country on earth or miracle worker could have perfectly prepared for this type of event so instead of filling our new void with your criticisms and bitterness, how ‘bout filling it with kindness and prayer. Do us all a favor and stop casting the first stone, won’t you?



So what might our new normal look like? Video and virtual chatting like the above? I’ve actually been doing exactly that and have downloaded Zoom, which I’d never heard of mere weeks ago, and have taken part in group chats and a yoga class. I’m hoping this will not be the case months from now though. We are all so dependent on all things online that I’m concerned one of our new normals is going to be a complete change in the way we not just communicate but do commerce as a country. One of my thoughts is that brick and mortar stores, which even before coronavirus were feeling an economic pinch, will lose even more customers to online buying and I particularly fret for small businesses that have had to close up shop. Big corporations and companies are also a concern, as they employ hundreds of thousands who support those small businesses. Television ads now tout “free shipping” and “contact free delivery” and every online site is offering free shipping and deep discounts. But, with Amazon reporting COVID-19 exposure at warehouses, do we really feel safe? Is our new normal wiping down and spraying every piece of mail, package, and bag of stuff we get?  Maybe, hopefully maybe not.



Photo courtesy: Be More With Less

So what can we do? First and foremost stay home, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face. It can’t be said enough: STAY HOME PEOPLE! I don’t care how bored you are or how tempting that neighborhood park looks. The rules do apply to you, regardless of how healthy or invincible you feel.


Kessler also recommends acknowledging the common stages of grief. First there’s anger: “I’m angry I have to stay home.” Then there’s bargaining: “Okay so if I social distance for two weeks I’m okay and can then go out?” This is usually followed by sadness, “I have no idea when this will ever end and people are dying.” Lastly, there’s acceptance and that’s where we all need to focus on arriving at. We must accept that we need to stay home, avoid contact with anyone we can’t avoid, work virtually, keep a safe distance when and if we MUST leave the house, and wash our hands.



Also remind yourself what you can and can’t control. You can’t control what is happening in New York or New Orleans or what your neighbors are doing, but you can control what you do and don’t do. As Kessler says, we are taking the right precautions and this is the time to overprotect and not overreact.


We are living in historic times and this event will forever be linked to this year and this generation. You and I will one day tell others where we were when it happened and how we handled it. It’s frightening but it can also be the most remarkable act of solidarity we may ever witness and the year the world came to its senses.



If there is any silver lining in any of this, it’s that we have discovered who the real heroes are among us and who are truly essential: health care workers, truckers, grocery store staffs, teachers, delivery drivers, sanitation workers, warehouse workers, our military, scientists, bankers, farmers, utility workers, and a host of others. We are also grateful for the many companies and businesses that have so quickly retrofitted to make ventilators, masks, and other much-needed items. This includes all those sewing circles making masks and volunteers stocking food pantries. We’ve also come to the realization that all those things all all those people we thought were so important, aren’t. Funny how actors, musicians, and professional athletes don’t make the cut.



When it’s all over, we need to remember to go out to eat and shop local. Vacation in the U.S. and buy American. All those stores that delivered to your doorstep will need you to step inside their doors. Until then, take these weeks and possibly months to pray for blessings upon those working overtime on curing everything having to do with COVID-19 and count your blessings. We might not know what the future holds, but we know who holds it.


Stay safe my friends and while we stay at home, let’s pray at home. Pray for healing, strength, wisdom, guidance, and solidarity. We are in this together and we will get through this. Together. But separated.