Beyond Words

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

A Brush of Color March 30, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:02 pm

If you could describe the year 2020 in one color, what would it be? How ‘bout 2021? If you said anything near gray for 2020 and yellow for 2021, you are not alone and you are right on trend. Just ask the color experts at Pantone, who chose the colors “Ultimate Gray” and “Illuminating” as their official 2021 “Colors of the Year.” Granted, both are for 2021, but how perfect might their choice be? Selecting two very different and independent colors, they highlight how different elements can come together to support each other. You think 2021 is listening?


When we collectively think back to the year 2020, we will most likely think of resilience and perhaps even dullness with a splash of doom. In other words, our world was pretty gray last year. A year’s worth of quarantine has a way of ensuring we all possessed a gray state of mind. On the flipside, we all had great hopes for and were optimistic heading into 2021, which the color yellow represents through Pantone’s Illuminating. You could say colors that totally contrast were brilliantly chosen and reflect resilience and positivity in their mood and attitude.


So who are these paint aficionados and why should you care? If for no other reason, it’s fun!



For more than 20 years Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in a multitude of industries including fashion, home furnishing, industrial design, product packaging, and graphic design. It took a year as tumultuous as 2020 to convince the paint pickers to pick two colors. The process of doing so is literally a full-time job…or many jobs.


Selecting a Color of the Year requires thoughtful consideration and trend analysis by color experts at the Pantone Color Institute. These color connoisseurs comb the world looking for color influences in everything from film to art, fashion to travel destinations, and beyond. Inspiration may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures, and other items that impact color and capture worldwide attention like say social media platforms and sporting events.


In short, the Pantone Color Institute is just that, a true institute in that it teaches and it learns. In addition to selecting the annual Color of the Year, this business unit of Pantone also highlights top seasonal runway colors, forecasts global color trends, and advises companies on color for product and brand identity. It also works with global brands and partners on seasonal trend forecasts, color psychology, color consulting, and emotion of color. Who knew, right? Sounds like a pretty fun job!


But back to this year’s colors. Let’s look at gray first.



I love gray. I think of yummy gray flannel or gray clouds bringing in an energized rain storm. Both my home and my closet have lots of gray in them.  It is a timeless color and a soothing neutral. I also love Grey’s Anatomy, although that has nothing to do with the color or its spelling!



The gray selected by Pantone is what they call “mid-tone,” as opposed to a heavier hue like charcoal gray. Its message could be one of fortitude and gratitude, resilience and composure.  Gray is a stable color and aren’t all of us looking for even a smidgen of stability after the most unstable of years?



Gray is also considered practical and rock solid and encapsulates steadiness and dependability. Think of the old saying, “Life isn’t’ black and white; it’s gray.” Gray is normal; gray is good. Dependable elements in our life are often gray: firm foundations, beach pebbles or river rocks, back roads, and a host of other elements that stand the test of time. We stood the test of time in 2020 and now we’re ready to say goodbye uncertainty and hello sunshine!  Enter Illuminating.



A bright and cheerful color, the bright hue sits in sharp contrast to its fellow Color of the Year. I’m not a big yellow fan but I get the idea behind pairing it with gray this year as yellow often brings with it positivity and promise.  It conveys a message of happiness and hope as we all search for ways to grab onto energy, clarity, and a brighter day.  It is a cheerful, welcoming, and friendly shade, as evidenced by a sunflower or sliced up pineapple.



Ebullient in nature and invigorating in design, yellow is finding its way everywhere. Think aspens turning and you’ll jump on board.



Together, gray and yellow just seem to work as a design palette, especially with contemporary or modern looks such as Scandinavian or Mid-Century Modern. And surprisingly, gray is being used as the accent color with yellow being more dominant, especially in kitchens and bathrooms.


The two also work well in a place we’ve all spent lots of time in lately: the home office. Whether for school work or work from home work, our home offices are screaming for freshness and a yellow and gray combo might be just what they need. Gray stabilizes our thinking and encourages contemplation while yellow heightens awareness, enhances intuition, and increases curiosity and originality.



Funny thing happened on the way to “stay at home” orders: we learned we wanted to change and update those homes. Paint purchases increased last year and DIYers took chances as many a homeowner took to brushes and rollers to alleviate boredom, accomplish long-held honey do’s, and simply improve their 24-7 scenery. Grays were chosen for relaxation, which was much needed even as we didn’t really go anywhere, while yellows found their way onto many an accent wall.



As with any color, be careful with both the yellow and the gray. A little bit of yellow goes a long way while gray, much like beige, can feel underwhelming if overused. Stick to just one or two areas, rather than floor/walls/texture/furniture combos and think of it as a way to soften more flashy tones and to create a rich environment.



When all is said and done, we all need a little gray in our life as well as a little yellow. It hasn’t been easy but gray skies are going to clear up and as Van Gogh said, “How lovely yellow is, it stands for the sun!” Chin up friends and paint away!


Springing for Easter Traditions March 20, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:45 pm

Happy first day of Spring! Today it’s officially Spring, which means Easter is just around the corner. It also means pine trees will start sprouting crosses on their tops. It’s true and it’s an Easter lore I’m learning about for the first time this year.


I’m not sure how I never knew this story, especially since I grew up in the Rocky Mountains where there are many pine trees, but it was news to me when I came upon it. And I loved it.


Apparently this time of year pine trees start their new growth. The tallest branch shoots forth and upward and forms the shape of a cross. If you look up and look around at certain pine trees you might see shoots developing making a familiar shape. The yellow shoots first form vertically followed by side buds, which eventually form branches and new growths that resemble a cross. They start slow and small, but as the days get closer to Easter, the tallest shoots branch off and form the familiar Christian symbol leading some believers to say “even trees know it’s Easter!”


The fact that this happens around the Easter season is likely pure coincidence, but who doesn’t love a wonderful legend? The crosses are more prominent and more readily seen on Loblolly Pines in the southern U.S. and on Ponderosa Pines in the west but can also be found on a variety of other pines as well.


I love this story and loved learning it just this year, and it reminded me of other Easter traditions that many either take for granted or don’t truly understanding the meanings behind them.



Take for instance the Easter Rabbit. Much like Santa Claus and Christmas, rabbits have nothing to do with the real meaning of Easter, Jesus’ resurrection, but like other Easter favorites they do represent “new life,” which is what Easter is all about.


As I mentioned above, Easter always occurs in spring and spring is when the weather gets warmer, flowers start to bloom, and animals come out of hiding after a long winter of hibernation. Lots of other animals like rabbits are born in the spring, which again brings up “new life.”



So, what about Easter eggs? Well, lots of animals like birds and lizards are born from eggs and many of them are born in the spring reminding us of new life once again. And if you think about it, Jelly Beans (one of my favorite candies) are oval-shaped just like eggs so it’s no coincidence they are an Easter basket tradition.



Jelly Beans are one of my favorite candies and another Easter custom is my favorite flower: the Easter Lily. Every year I buy myself one and even a grocery store variety is sufficient in that any lily smells divine and fills a room with its own heaven-sent scent. I can smell their fragrance just looking at the picture above. But why do we only enjoy them at Easter?


For many, the trumpet-shaped white blooms symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope, and life…the very spiritual essences of Easter. They’re mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, referenced several times in the Song of Solomon as well as in the Sermon on the Mount. Their religious tie-in goes further however.



Often called “white-robed apostles of hope,” lilies were said to be found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s agony. Tradition has it beautiful white lilies sprung up where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in His final hours. Today churches commemorate this belief by filling altars and aisles with Easter Lilies. Lilies have also played significant roles in tales concerning motherhood and purity, making them the fitting symbol of the greater meaning of Easter. They embody joy and life and serve as beautiful reminders that Easter is truly a time of rejoicing and celebrating.



Lastly, how exactly did ham get to be the meat of choice at our Easter tables? Tradition has it that hogs were slaughtered in the fall but due to lack of electric refrigeration; any meat that wasn’t eaten fresh in the cold months was cured so it would keep longer and be edible in the spring. It just so happened that, because curing take a while, the first hams were ready right around Easter. Thankfully today we have the finest of refrigeration so hams of all sorts can be found year ‘round. Still, whether honey-baked or smoked, chances are ham will be on many an Easter table.


So there you have it, all things Easter wrapped up nicely in a virtual basket of info. I hope you learned something, liked it, and have an Easter season filled with hope, love, and lots of Jelly Beans!


Sorry Not Sorry March 10, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:13 pm

In celebration of his birthday and literary genius while trying to make sense of cancel culture and its revocation of Dr. Seuss, last week I posted one of my favorite quotes of all time:




Truth be told, I’m not a huge Dr. Seuss fan but I’ve always loved that quote. Ironically, its message could not be more needed or timely. We are living in a time that has quickly become one in which some are being asked to apologize for how they were born and how God made them while others are demanding apologies for the most senseless of so-called transgressions.



A perfect illustration of this happened just a few days ago when I was chatting with a friend who mentioned that she had recently commented in a group text something she hoped one of the recipients wouldn’t scold her for. It wasn’t anything offensive or controversial but in this day and age of offending someone or making them mad, she was worried she should apologize for it. I promptly recommended she revisit that Dr. Seuss quote.


Can we just stop?

Can we please stop apologizing for everything?

I’m sorry, but it’s just all out of control.



As luck would have it, one of my favorite authors/bloggers/feel good humans, Courtney Carver, recently wrote about this very thing. Yes, we all need to apologize for our mistakes and our wrongs and not think we’re perfect or above reproach, but we need to stop apologizing for things we really don’t need to be sorry about.



Making amends is indeed healing and a truly heartfelt apology can go a long way. Be sincere about it though and never try to justify what you are sorry for. If you think you were justified, deep down you probably don’t think you need to apologize. If you don’t believe your sincerity, neither will they. As they say, making someone angry is one thing, but hurting someone is another. Always apologize for hurting someone.




It really all comes down to common sense and choices and as of today, I’m choosing to stop apologizing for:



  1. Being me. I can be a lot. And I can be a little. Huh? It’s true. I can be very opinionated and passionate but I can also be very private and need my alone time. I’m done apologizing for any of it. I am who I am and if I’m too much or too little for someone, they’re either not my people or quite possibly “those who don’t matter.”



  1. Being sensitive, emotional, and moody. I’ve learned that being sensitive is a strength and shows you have a big heart and besides, who isn’t moody?!
  2. Saying no. No is a complete sentence and say it unapologetically without going on and on. If something offered doesn’t make you want to say “hell yeah,” think about saying “no way.” I’m no longer saying yes to FOMO or the disease to please and I’m no longer saying “ok” or even “let me think about it” to any invitation I know I don’t want. I embrace my free time and am not going to apologize for saying no to something that steals it away from me. Think of it this way: when you say no to things that don’t excite you, you leave room in your life for the things that do.


  1. Giving and going too much. I know my comfort level of activity and I know what I can and cannot give or offer. Over-committing and the often resulting dysfunction stress me out and reduce my abilities and energy, which leads me to…
  2. Setting boundaries. These little boogers are essential for everyone. For me, they increase my passion, my stability, and my peace of mind. Know your limits. Dare to set your boundaries and don’t apologize for them.



  1. Thinking differently. Oh boy. This is a big one right now. Not a lot of gray out there but it’s not okay to feel like you have to apologize for what you believe or for not agreeing with someone. It’s also not okay for them to humiliate you for having a difference of opinion. Leave them with theirs and unapologetically walk away with yours. Travel the high road. Remember, if you are easily offended you are easily manipulated and besides, if everyone looks different but thinks the same it’s conformity, not diversity. Don’t apologize for thinking differently or disagreeing with even those you love.
  2. Changing your mind. Maybe at the time I signed up for something it sounded good, but things change…both inside and outside. It’s important to keep learning and keep growing and doing so often requires changing your mind. Be okay with that.



  1. Not responding. In today’s high-tech age, it can feel like a text, voice mail, or email requires an instant response but maybe we’re not up for an answer right away. Maybe you’re swamped with other things at the time. Maybe you need to think about your response. Maybe you just don’t want to. Stop saying “I’m so sorry for not getting right back to you” and instead thank them for their patience.
  2. Putting my mental and physical health first. Yep, not sorry here. At all.
  3. Keeping up with the Joneses. My house is not the biggest or fanciest, my posts aren’t always glam shots of me or fabulous destinations, my life is not perfect, and my body is far from picture perfect but I’m done apologizing for all of it. I’m good.



And while you’re at it, don’t be one of those forever offended types and expect apologies from everyone else. If someone hurt you but never said sorry, move on and offer forgiveness rather than harbor resentment, revenge, and ultimately bitterness.




The constant worry and stress over the perceived need to apology is both exhausting and has a way of quietly telling ourselves we’ve failed and we’re not good enough. It’s time to stop, so for the next week, pay attention to how many times you tell someone (or even think) “I’m sorry” or apologize for something.  Then think about how many of those apologies were really needed and merited. And again, of course if you did do or say something hurtful or harmful, apologize and own it, but stop apologizing for simply being you and not being something or someone else. Stop beating yourself up. There’s nothing to feel sorry about that for.