Beyond Words

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

Thanksgiving is History November 26, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:49 pm


As we gather round our tables and TVs today in celebration of the uniquely American holiday that is Thanksgiving, let’s take a minute to learn why we’re doing so and take another minute to actually be thankful, even in this most unusual and tumultuous year.



Appropriately, the very first Thanksgiving was preceded by a series of tumultuous events, starting in September of 1620 when a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England carrying 102 passengers. The group consisted of an assortment of religious separatists who were seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and were joined by others lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in a New World. You could say the Mayflower was filled with the original faithful and capitalists.



After a very treacherous 66 day trip, the Mayflower dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod and one month later crossed Massachusetts Bay where who we now call Pilgrims established a village at Plymouth.  It still was rough going though, as during that first brutal winter most of them remained on board and many got sick. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring.



The following March in 1621, surviving settlers moved ashore and were later visited by various Native Americans who taught them how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish, and avoid poisonous plants. In November, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited their Native American allies for what is now considered America’s first “Thanksgiving.”


In 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation when he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to our war of independence and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. It wasn’t until 1846, however, that Thanksgiving became a national holiday when Abraham Lincoln made it official during the height of the Civil War. His proclamation entreated all Americans to ask God to “commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of this nation.” Lincoln deemed the fourth Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day, but in 1939 Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression.



As I write the previous paragraph I can’t help but think what our former leaders would think if they could see us today. Washington would probably cringe that our Constitution is being disparaged by many and in many ways and Lincoln would think his words sadly ring as clear today as they did back then. Racial and civil strife. Heal the nation. Chills, right? And as for Roosevelt’s move, it was probably a wise one for the times, but how ironic that the holiday meant to stimulate gratitude is followed by a day when we’re cajoled to spur retail sales all our own. We’re so thankful and yet want so much.



Yes, this year is different but there is always, always something to be thankful for. So today, let’s try to count really our blessings. Count our joys instead of our woes, count our friends instead of our foes, count our courage instead of our fear, count our health instead of our wealth, and count our smiles instead of our tears.


Thanksgiving Fun Facts

Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be named the national bird instead of the bald eagle.

The tradition of the president pardoning a turkey every year started with Harry Truman.

More than 250 million turkeys are raised in the U.S. with more than 40 million gobbled up on Thanksgiving.

Male turkey gobble; females cluck.

The original Pilgrims and Native Americans probably shared rabbit, chicken, fish, goose, pigeon, squash, cabbage, beans, nuts, onions, eggs, and cheese at the first Thanksgiving, with not a green bean casserole in sight.




The Pies Have It November 25, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:20 pm

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, which means your turkey should be thawing and your pies should be baking. Both turkey and pie, particularly pumpkin, are Thanksgiving traditions and I love them both. But did you know that pie at Thanksgiving really has nothing to do with the Pilgrims or Native Americans? In fact, common belief is that the tradition was probably started by a magazine sometime in the mid-nineteenth century. Who knew?!


We all have a pie preference and according to surveys and research (and no voter fraud or mail in ballots were detected or allowed in the taking of them), the top three pies are apple, pumpkin, and pecan…in that order. I beg to differ as I’m a pumpkin pie girl through and through. Maybe you prefer pecan or apple pie after your turkey, or a host of other pies. And guess what, just like pies, which come in all flavors and styles, the one you like the best says something about your unique traits and styles. Just what do your pie choices say about you? According to the American Pie Council, Hellow Giggles, and Little Things, everything!



Pumpkin Pie

A Thanksgiving tradition and my absolute favorite year round, pumpkin pie is considered America’s second favorite after apple. Made of one of the earliest import foods that Europeans introduced the New World to, the orange squash quickly became beloved by Colonists and remains so today.


The pie is a fall tradition so those who like it best often consider fall their favorite season. Raising my hand! Those who love pumpkin pie also love sitting at home cuddled up with a cozy blanket, a fire, and maybe a good book or good friends. Yep, that’s me too. Pumpkin pie is considered simple and a classic, and so are pumpkin pie lovers. They are nostalgic and traditionalists; like to keep things chic but not fussy; are effortlessly elegant; and are most likely emotionally stable, consistent, and reliable. Pumpkin pie lovers also can’t stand drama or chaos and having a calm environment is very important to them.



Apple Pie

According to the American Pie Council, this is America’s favorite pie.  If it’s your favorite, you’re probably “As American as Apple Pie,” love tradition and security but can tend to be a tad predictable. You tend to loyally lean on the same products again and again, whether it is your dish soap or your favorite jeans, and you are a grounded, realistic person and friend. You are also compassionate, love the outdoors, and enjoy being active.



Pecan Pie

America’s third favorite, pecan pie is very sweet and so are you! Lovers of this pie tend to like the simple things in life and are seekers of love. Especially popular in the south, there are many versions of pecan pie, but all are sweet and all are beloved. If it’s your favorite pie, you’re likely thoughtful and analytical and have tons of friends. Those friends love your rationality and loyalty and often come to you for advice. Sounds like you are just like pecan pie itself: infectious!



Peach Pie

Probably my second favorite pie, peach pie has been around forever and is so versatile. You can serve one hot or cold and make it with fresh, frozen, or canned peaches. If you love peach pie, you probably also love a challenge and love for your mind to be stimulated.  You are definitely a thinker but sometimes over analyze and you are someone who learns from mistakes and trials. You also hate to fail.


Blueberry Pie

Blueberries can stain a table cloth or shirt like nobody’s business but guess what; if this is your favorite pie you couldn’t care less! A blueberry pie lover is that fun-loving, laid back, life of the party person. In fact, you’re kinda like the pie itself, which is considered by many the easiest to make, in that you are easy going and open minded and you love when others succeed. You are also smart, have excellent taste, don’t embarrass easily, and are quick to laugh at yourself. Relax and be happy: you’re a blueberry pie lover!


Cherry Pie

When I think of a cherry pie I think tart and so are you to a certain extent if this is your fave! It’s all in a good way though, in that you have attitude and confidence and you don’t let people push you around. You, like the bright red of the cherries themselves, also don’t mind standing out in a crowd and you live for a little excitement. That yearning for adventure means you’re a risk taker, are game for trying new things and taking on new hobbies, and are rarely bored with life.


Sweet Potato Pie

Often confused with its more popular cousin the pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie has also been around since Colonial times. It’s nostalgic and very southern, and so are you if it’s your top pie pick. It’s ingredients were adapted from African cuisine and it’s still a staple soul food item. It’s also usually a surprising but welcome sight at holiday gatherings and so are you!


Lemon Meringue Pie

Like the tangy center of this pie, you are bubbly and full of optimism. You are anything but “basic” and love bright colors and making the best of every situation and life in general. You could say your motto is “When life gives you lemons, make a lemon meringue pie!”


Chocolate Silk Pie

To me, this is basically a chocolate pudding pie but to those who favor it, it’s much, much more. Baked properly, a chocolate silk pie is just that: smooth. So are you. You prefer the best things in life and have great taste. Richness emotes from the pie and from you.


So there you have it. What does your favorite pie say about you? Just for fun, print this out, and ask family and friends which pie is their favorite and what it says about them. Considering it’s 2020, you might have to do this on a Zoom or phone call, but have fun with it anyway!



All of this got me thinking.  What does the rest of the food at the Thanksgiving table say about us?  Let’s find out!


If the turkey is your favorite part of a Thanksgiving meal, you are probably strong, honest, and reliable.  You are also probably a traditionalist and a true friend.


Those who dive right into the stuffing (or dressing as some call it) love to laugh and are fun and lively.  They are most likely the life of a Thanksgiving Day party.


Mashed potato lovers tend to be a bit sophisticated and reserved, but if the mood strikes them, they loosen up and tend to enjoy life to the fullest.


Crazy over cranberries?  Then you are more than likely nostalgic and are the one adult who doesn’t mind sitting at the kids table.


If the green beans get you, you are hands down the health nut of the bunch…unless it’s that famous recipe with cream soup and fried onions!


So what are you?   Do your choices match the personality described?


Whatever is your liking, as we all do our shopping and plan our Thanksgiving meals, and as we cook and bake ‘til we’re turkeyed-out, let’s all focus on being thankful and what ingredients are really important in the recipe for life.


“Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work, hope, fidelity, kindness, rest, prayer,

and one well-selected solution.  Add one teaspoon of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly,

a sprinkle of play, and a heaping cup of good humor.” 

Author Unknown






A Berry Interesting Thanksgiving Tradition November 24, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:02 pm

Thanksgiving 2020 will look much different for many of us, but some things will still hold true, especially the food we eat. We may not be hosting friends and family, but we will probably still be feasting on turkey, stuffing, pies, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, and cranberries. I was never a big fan of cranberries back in the “open a can and pour out the log” days, but I’ve grown to love them. What exactly are those little red berries though and why do we generally only eat them once a year?


The small, red, and tart fruit is actually very healthy and we can thank Native Americans for the tradition, as they mixed cranberries with deer meat waaaay back in the day. They may have even shared some with the pilgrims on that first Thanksgiving Day.


History also notes that sailors used cranberries as a source of Vitamin C to prevent scurvy and more recent studies suggest cranberries promote gastrointestinal and oral health, raise the good HDL cholesterol, and may even help prevent cancer.



The very first official harvesting of cranberries was by Revolutionary War veteran Henry Hall, who planted the first commercial beds in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1816. Many of today’s cranberry bogs are in fact more than 100 years old!


Cranberries grow on low-running vines in sandy marshes and are one of only three commercially grown fruits native to North America. The other two being blueberries and Concord grapes. During harvesting, the berry marshes are flooded, special equipment is used to knock the berries off the vines, and then they float to the surface. Most of the world’s cranberries are grown on some 50,000 acres in the U.S. and Canada and are harvested in September and October. Perfect timing for fresh cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving!


Each year, Americans eat about 400 million pounds of cranberries, 20 percent of which will be consumed over Thanksgiving. The fruit can be eaten both fresh and dried, and is popular in muffins, trail mixes, cereals, salads, and of course juices.


So what do you prefer? Fresh or canned? Whole berry canned or jellied? I prefer the whole berry but if you like that blob of gelled stuff, here’s a fun way to make it festive using cookie cutters:



And just in case you don’t have enough food planned (LOL!), here are some yummy recipes that use cranberries. Use them this week or all year long!



Cranberry Brie Cups (Great for Thanksgiving morning!)

1 8 oz. tube crescent rolls dough

1 8 oz. wheel of brie (can substitute cream cheese)

½ cup whole berry cranberry sauce

Optional: chopped pecans on top


Preheat oven to 375 and grease mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out crescent dough and pinch together seams.

Cut into 24 squares and place into muffin tin slots.

Cut cheese into small pieces and place inside crescent dough.

Top with a spoonful of cranberry sauce.

Bake until crescent pastry is golden, about 15 minutes.



Festive Pineapple Cranberry Salad (My favorite!)

1 can mandarin oranges

2 pkg. raspberry flavored gelatin

1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 apple, chopped

Optional: chopped pecans

Drain oranges and pour juice into sauce pan with 3 cups cold water. Bring to boil and remove from heat. Add dry gelatin and stir 2 minutes. Stir in cranberry sauce. Pour into large bowl and add oranges and apple. Refrigerate 1 ½ hours or until slightly thickened.



Three Ingredient Cranberry Relish

(Anthony Bourdain calls this, “Delicious and truly one of the easiest recipes in the world.”)

Wash 1 large orange under warm water. Dry and coarsely chop skin, flesh, and pith. Remove seeds. Combine orange and 12 oz. fresh cranberries in food processor. Pulse until mixture appears grainy. Transfer to bowl and fold in 1 cup sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold or at room temperature.



Tangy Cranberry Meatballs (great use for any leftover cranberry sauce!)

Leftover cranberry sauce

¼ rice vinegar

2 T ketchup

2 T soy sauce

2 t Worcestershire sauce

1 t brown sugar

¼ cup water

2 lb. pkg. precooked cocktail-size meatballs


In a large saucepan combine all ingredients except meatballs, cook on medium low, and stir until smooth.

Add meatballs and cook until heated, about 10-15 minutes.



Cranberry Nut Bread (my mom’s)

2 cups fresh, whole cranberries

2 T butter

2 cups sifted flour

1 cup and 2 T sugar

1 ¾ t baking powder

1 t salt

1 egg, well beaten

1/3 cup orange juice

1 t grated orange rind

¼ cup water

Cut cranberries in half. Melt and set aside butter. Sift together dry ingredients. Combine egg, orange juice, and water. Make well in dry ingredients and add liquids. Stir in butter. Add orange rind and cranberries. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.



Cranberry Salsa Dip

1 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries, rinsed

½ cup sugar

Green onions, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

1 lime, juiced

Pinch of salt

2 8 oz. blocks cream cheese, softened

Put all ingredients except cream cheese in food processor. Pulse until ingredients are chopped coarsely. Put in airtight container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. After, spread softened cream cheese on serving plate and spread salsa over cream cheese. Serve at room temperature with crackers.



Cranberry Hot Tea

1 48 oz. can cranberry juice cocktail

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup orange juice

1 cup lemonade

1 cup pineapple juice

Cinnamon sticks

Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Serve warm with cinnamon stick garnish.



Cranberry Punch

2 bottles cranberry juice

1 ½ bottles water (using juice bottle to measure)

2 cans frozen orange juice, thawed

Juice of 3 lemons or 9 T lemon juice

1 pkg. red hot candies

Whole cloves and sugar to taste

Put all ingredients in pot and heat on low until red hots melt. Transfer to crock pot to serve and keep warm.



Cape Cod

Mix 1 part vodka with cranberry juice to taste in highball glass and fill with ice. Garnish with lime wedge.


Sea Breeze: add grapefruit juice

Bay Breeze: add pineapple juice

Cosmopolitan: add triple sec and serve in martini glass



Cranberry Kiss Cocktail

1.5 oz. cranberry vodka

2 oz. cranberry juice

1.5 oz. simple sugar

Lime wedges and mint leaves

Muddle 3 lime wedges and 8 mint leaves in a shaker. Add other ingredients and shake well with ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with floating mint leaves.





Humble Pie November 23, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:15 pm


Humility. It is defined as freedom from pride or arrogance and the quality or state of being humble. It should be a quality we all strive to achieve and even master, but trying to do so can be well, rather humbling. I’ve seen it firsthand personally quite a bit recently.


I saw it over the weekend as my college football team beat up on their cross-state rival in a powerful fashion and in a way they have done so historically year after year. I was so happy and felt so proud. We are better than them. It felt good to say that (even though “we” is really just the team) but in the back of my prideful head I heard myself forever telling my daughter that if there’s anything mom hates, it’s “phony, sneaky, and braggy.” I was indeed braggy that day. Stay proud and happy, but stay somewhat humble and respectful. Okay, maybe the next day but on that day, humility was not my thought process.


I’ve also witnessed a president who worked tirelessly albeit haughtily to help this country, which he loves so much, get better and be better. Ultimately however, his perceived lack of humility may have been his ultimate downfall despite many successes on behalf of all Americans. It’s also undoubtedly left him humble. We shall see how it all unfolds, but whatever the case, one can’t help but be humbled when facing what he is.


I saw my friend post the above meme and thought to myself, “now that’s humbling.” Yes, we’ve all been challenged and frustrated, but maybe we’ve also grown and learned. Let’s not take any of it for granted.



Humility is not something today’s society pushes. We are an extremely self-absorbed and self-centered people that expect the world and feel entitled to everything and anything. Just yesterday I was talking to my daughter about how amazed (and to be honest, dismayed) I am at how many “Happy Birthday” posts I see friends giving to friends online but the photos chosen for those posts are mostly ones of themselves…certainly their best shots and poses regardless of how the actual birthday boy or girl looks. Why? Are we that impressed with ourselves? Are we narcissistic? Are we so very starved for validation and compliments?


Every two minutes we take more pictures today than all of humanity did before the year 1900. Scroll through any social media and you’ll see post after post of those you follow full of shot after shot of themselves. No message; no purpose; just “look how pretty and awesome I am.” Many of those pictures are often actually even looking into a mirror.



In doing my prayer and meditation yesterday and “attending” mass online, I learned that God does indeed want us to look in the mirror but not to flatter ourselves but to see Him. You see, God will recognize us as we strive to recognize Him. But what does He look like? Look in the mirror as God is in all of us. From there we’re instructed to look around and at others, recognize Him in them, and treat everyone accordingly. I know! Tough call sometimes right?!  As we look at others, are we judging and criticizing them? Do we consider ourselves better and smarter than them? Do we instead recognize the one thing they do good rather than all the things they do that we don’t like and will He ultimately look at us in our final hours and say “I don’t recognize you” or “Hey there. Good job!”



In another reading I learned that St. Paul specifically warns Timothy about signs that, for lack of better words, are not good. They are biblical and can be divided into four groups: the exaltation of self, the rejection of authority, the rejection of moral standards, and a vicious and unloving citizenship. I don’t think I need to go any further for you to realize that all four accurately and alarmingly describe the times we’re living in today.


Pride? Check.

Rebellion? Check.

Immorality and decadence? Check check.

Intolerance and unwillingness to reconcile? Check check.


It’s unarguable that a general self-centeredness and increasing level of narcissism has invaded our culture and there is zero doubt there is a prevailing rejection and lack of respect for authority permeating and increasing in society, whether it be for law enforcement, teachers, parents, and the basic rule of law. And let’s not forget for one minute that the devil is often called “the lawless one.”


Then there’s the rejection of moral standards. Again, I can quickly move on from this one without many arguing that our country’s values and ethics are declining.  The last one rings true today as well, as we have indeed become a society of anonymous insults and thoughtless acts and violence is now considered free speech, “peaceful” and a “right” or privilege.


This ain’t good people. Could humility really be the answer?



Maybe so. But I’m not talking the humility so often considered as being quiet and shy, non-competitive, or lacking self-confidence. I’m talking the humility that rejoices in one’s success but not at the expense of others and believes in oneself but ultimately believes in a higher power. Work hard and compete, yes, but keep your accomplishments in check and don’t confuse confidence with arrogance. Be strong but also strong enough to lift up others.


If you think you are always right and always want to get your way; you’re not humble.

If you rarely apologize and always try to “school” and “educate” others; you’re not humble.

If you don’t listen and long for esteem and praise, you’re not humble.

If you’re always making excuses for yourself and justifying your behavior, you’re not humble.

If you hide your true self and hang on to envy, you’re not humble.

If you refuse to carry out menial tasks and are extremely materialistic, you’re not humble.


Surprising some of those, right? So where do we start?


For all of this we need look no further than Jesus. In addition to all of the above, He chose to ride a donkey into Jerusalem; the lowest of the low in the animal world at the time and used by ordinary people to do their very ordinary work. He also chose to be born in a stable among animals; not in a castle among kings and royalty. He worked as a carpenter alongside His humble and obedient dad, hung out the prostitutes and tax collectors in hopes of redeeming them, and died on a cross. You don’t get much more humble than that sports fans.


And speaking of sports fans, this one’s looking in the mirror today and being grateful her team won but also looking around and knowing that even though my team was better than theirs that one day, I’m no better than them. As we celebrate Thanksgiving and eat pecan and pumpkin pie later this week, let’s be sure to also have some humble pie because when we’re humble, we all win.





Just Say No November 18, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:57 pm


Today I’m taking a break; a break from everything that has been taking up my time. Although it probably seems like we’ve all been “taking a break” since around March, in many ways our lives have been engulfed. We hear we need to mask up but that masks really don’t work. We are told to social distance but are learning just how much damage isolation and loneliness are causing in society. We’re told that American elections and free and fair, but this year’s was anything but. What to do, what to do?


Stop. Just stop.



Thank you Courtney Carver. The “Be More with Less” guru is spot on and I’m taking her word for it today. I changed my mind on an outdoor activity, I’m tuning out, and I’m letting go. I’m stopping.


Stop pushing

Stop complaining

Stop controlling

Stop overextending yourself

Stop compromising

Stop saying yes when you want to say no

Stop proving yourself

Stop making excuses

Stop doubting yourself

Stop overthinking

Stop wishing

Stop worrying


All wise words from Carver, to which I’m adding:

Stop apologizing

Stop defending

Stop doubting

Stop criticizing

Stop snacking

Stop expecting

Stop longing


It’s hard though, right? It’s officially the holiday season and pressure is building. Pressure to create the perfect holidays in the midst of a pandemic and in the absence of many family members, and pressure to accept and adapt. It ain’t happening people. Not much will be the same this year and things are sure to only get worse before they get better.



My yoga instructor posted that pic recently and I loved it. Her caption was “Become aware of the stories you are telling yourself. Would you speak that way to a dear friend?” Brilliant.


It’s time to tend to your own personal garden and plant seeds of hope not doubt; flowers not weeds…in your minds and in your hearts. It’s time to think about what’s important to you, not what others think should be important. Carver is big on boundaries and reminds us that we still get to decide where our attention goes despite the world yelling at us to “watch this,” “think this,” scroll through all of this,” and “feel this.” Stop. Stop caving and start caring less about what other people think of you. Take care of self.


Today, in the middle of the week and on a day I’d normally have scheduled, I’m taking care of self. It’s what I need as an introvert. In fact, just this past week I learned that introverts are actually energized by solitude and are recharged from the inside out, from ideas, and from feelings. Author Adam McHugh takes it a bit further by saying introverts, much like geysers, find power from underneath and often hidden places. Today my friends, I’m Old Faithful!



Maybe the universe is screaming at you too to slow down, stop, and say no. Remind yourself that “enough” is a decision, not an amount. Have you had enough? Then instead of striving to more done, strive to have less to do. Take the time and ask yourself why you’re so focused on staying busy. What are you trying to prove and who are you trying to prove it to? As Carver writes, when proving becomes the point of doing, it’s often not worth doing at all. So, instead of proving you’re amazing, just be amazing. Instead of proving you’re right, live right. Instead of proving your life, just live.


Another thing I’m trying to let go of is anger. I’ve been feeling a lot of that lately and come to find out that as we grow older, anger often shows up. Truth be told, today’s headlines are enough to make even the most optimistic a bit angry, but even in the tamest of times, it’s common as we age. Psychology tells us that we get our wounds early in life but when we’re young, our energy and dreams are still growing and within reach. Anger and bitterness emerge later when the full brunt of wounds, hurts, and life’s perceived unfairness hit us hard. We may be more mature, but we may also be more full of disappointment and resentment at “what could have and should have been.” Say no and let it go. Become more mellow and gracious in spirit. We are coming upon what we call THANKSgiving after all. What are you thankful for?



During the current election, Joe Biden warned us that we were about to go into a “dark winter,” but before winter approaches, I’m saying “no” to his darkness and reveling in fall; my favorite season. And just like trees shed their leaves, I too am shedding. I may not be shedding leaves and branches, but rather despair and control, busyness and compromising. As the trees let go of their leaves, I will try to let go of the past and hope for relief, renewal, and rejuvenation to grow and blossom. And maybe a miracle or two.



What I’ve Learned November 9, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:52 pm

They say life’s biggest challenges offer some of its biggest lessons. The past week has been challenging but lessons have been learned. Here is what I’ve learned during it all and some personal observations:


(Blogger’s note: Yes, I’m aware there are still lawsuits being filed, but I’m going here with how I feel today and what is current. I guess you never know, but here’s what I do know.)



Losing sucks.


Feeling God let you and millions of believers down sucks even more but since secularism and a world free of values and morals is the devil’s goal, I’ll continue to believe and trust. I’m unabashedly dismayed right now but again, division, dysfunction, mistrust, and confusion are the devil’s trademarks and he is alive and celebrating in America right now.


Everything we were warned about regarding mail in ballots came to fruition and they worked like a charm for supporters of them. They were created and implemented hastily and their process and infrastructure were faulty and overwhelmed. If this is something American voters want to see in every election, it needs to be seriously revisited.


We’ve all learned why Biden didn’t worry much about campaigning.


Life goes on.


Despite your best efforts and love for country and freedom, you can be your own worst enemy. Trump was his own worst enemy and it lead to his ultimate failure.


Humility is hard but necessary.


Hate is a powerful thing…more powerful then I knew or wanted to admit. It pretty much single-handedly influenced and affected the election and with it the future and direction of our country…a country thriving pre-COVID.


The proud “silent majority” was somewhat silenced…by a majority of sources including the voters…but it appears they are by no means dismantled and steadfastly loyal as ever.


The make-up of the two parties has dramatically shifted and reversed. Democrats are now the party of the rich and powerful and Republicans are the party of the middle class and non-elites.


Riots will stop. They already have. 


Polling is dead.


Three time’s a charm.


What I haven’t learned or figured out, and quite frankly find ironic, is that the people and party that spewed hate for four years are now calling for healing, unity, and decency. Do we do so only when things go our way or should we have all been practicing these qualities for the past four years as well?


I’ve learned and find it counterproductive that, with the exception of a few, the election’s happy campers are posting the most vile and anything but unifying posts.  Practice what you preach.


Funny how so many posts from the “winners” were more about who lost then who won and I really haven’t seen that many “my candidate won” proclamations save for a select few. Makes me wonder how many actually like the candidate they voted for. Props to those bold and proud enough to own their votes.


Not sure if I’m more sad Trump lost or the fact that Joe Biden will actually be president and a socialist is one heartbeat away from succeeding him.


COVID is still here and now Biden can fix it like he promised. I look forward to it almost magically and quickly getting under control if not disappearing, as a weak and ruined economy is no longer the agenda and credit for a vaccine that’s already in the works will be considered crowning achievements.


Life was good for most of us pre-COVID.  The economy was booming, jobs were created, taxes were lowered, unemployment was down, for the first time since Eisenhower we were not engaged in a foreign war, gas prices were way down, home ownership was up, our borders were safe, deregulation and reciprocal trade were in full force, small businesses flourished, interest rates were low, crime in most places was down, and school shootings all but disappeared. I’m saddened to learn that none of it mattered for millions of Americans.


On that note, I’ve learned there is essentially nothing President Trump could do or implement to please his haters because they would rather see him fail then give him credit for anything and also because he needlessly name called, over tweeted, and was “nasty.” 


More than half of America prefers “polished” career politicians over business style leaders and free-thinkers who offer a breath of fresh air, albeit a brash one. Careful what you ask for.


Eloquence with lies and smooth talk is preferred over brutal honesty, which is considered too hurtful and uncouth.


What goes around comes around. Republicans are today feeling exactly how Democrats felt four years ago.


We need to get back to teaching kids how to think, not what to think.


I’ve learned that we don’t have to…and probably never will…agree on everything and that’s normal and okay. If everyone thinks the same, that’s conformity not diversity.


Hiding and not revealing all or even too much was more powerful and convincing then vocally and physically throwing yourself out there.


You learn nothing if you are right all the time. What’s popular isn’t always right and what’s right isn’t always popular. Let’s all keep learning.


Mental frailty or any signs of it is no longer deemed an impediment to higher office.


Our daughter is strong and much more politically savvy then I knew. She read books, did her research, followed the issues, and strayed away from her generation’s “free” stuff and if it feels good do it mantras. I could not be more proud of her.


Churches, pastors, priests, and other religious leaders now have their hands full trying to convince their flocks that good triumphs over evil and that prayers are answered. I’m listening…


At the same time, I will remind myself that despair and doubt are not of God and soundly reject, renounce, and rebuke it.


Everything happens for a reason.


Privileges shouldn’t be of more value then principles and shouldn’t be considered rights. I’ve learned there’s a difference. 


The American political system is forever changed and broken. Money talks and hate wins, as it did in 2016 and again this year. Four years ago people didn’t vote or voted against someone they didn’t care for and many more did the same this year.


Our voting system is completely corrupt and so easily changed on a whim and for an agenda. This should worry all of us.


Election and voting integrity should be non-partisan.


If you have the media on your side they will look the other way and hide anything. Even the most false and destructive ideas will be justified by the MSM and the most obvious and glaring will be ignored.


There are way too many political and party pundits posing as journalists. Clarity needs to be established between opinion hosts and shows and news programs.


Breaking news is broken and the media and journalism are forever tainted and have much work to do to gain back trust and credibility.


Thankfully there won’t be any more 24-7 90 percent negative news screaming at us. It will all be utopia and we will now be living in that perfect world free of riots, systematic racism, cages, Russian collusion, climate change, meanness, national independence, etc. Nothing negative will be reported. Their blatant bias has been validated and they are now invigorated. They’ll spin everything as unified, but my hunch is it will be anything but.


If you not only have the MSM behind you but also big tech, you can convince people of anything and keep them from hearing anything you don’t want them to. 


Law and order and our proud military are not priorities for more than half of America.


Hate trumps logic and the economy. Stupid.


I’ve learned that I don’t know what disturbs and baffles me more, the fact that a majority and “winning” number of “woke” American voters voted for the most liberal senator to be next in line for president or the fact that she was chosen and now celebrated for her sex and color by those who say neither should matter.


People actually feel that Kamala Harris is a more qualified VP candidate then Mike Pence. That’s all you need to know to sense what’s wrong with this country.


I might have a case of Biden Derangement Syndrome. For sure a case of KDS.  But, I won’t riot and I won’t moan for four years. I’ll try not to name call and I’ll let go of my bitterness. 


You can spend $100 million of your own money in key swing states you don’t live in and still lose them.


Feelings matter more than facts and freedom.


Transparency is an option not a given.


Anger, bitterness, resentment, hate, jealousy, and greed at all costs won out but let’s all hope for them to be replaced by peace, compassion, patience, understanding, and true tolerance from both sides.


Free speech and free markets are not the free stuff more than half of America wants.


I think we’ve all learned that who you’re not allowed to criticize or question is who controls you.


I was shocked to learn that Oregon became the first state to decriminalize heroin and cocaine.


I’ve learned that many of the people I know and considered “smart” I now look at a bit differently. I don’t necessarily not like them but I have so many questions for them and would love to hear their rationale…a rationale that doesn’t start with “But Trump is so nasty.”  


Many voted how they did based solely on hate, which we all agree is petty and small, but we also know you reap what you sow.


Many others voted on a woman’s right to kill her own baby so I look forward to baby showers now being called fetus or cell showers, the death of a pregnant mother not being considered a double homicide, the end of harvesting organs from aborted human lives since they’re not considered humans with human rights, a single cell or organism found on Mars or elsewhere not considered “life” since they’re not considered so here, and ultimately deciding which is greater: the right to choose or the right to live and be born.


I’ve learned that despite trying so hard not to believe that socialism is alive and well in the U.S., it is and it scares the living hell out of my dear friends from Venezuela and Nicaragua.


Name calling is never good. (And save the “but Trump did it more than anyone” justification…I agree.) Both sides did it and I learned that even “friends” of mine stooped to call me and others hateful, hurtful, and false names and labels. Attack those I support all you want, but when you attack me and my character; you’re out. 


I’ve learned that just over 50 million U.S. citizens see no purpose for religion in their lives and many who do, didn’t vote their religion.


All lives don’t matter equally.


Hopefully America’s four branches of government will remain equally divided, which was how our forefathers wanted it. We should all want checks and balances.


You can’t argue with good, loyal, and successful kids; they validate our efforts and our legacies.


We have successfully raised a generation of if you don’t get what you want, you whine long and loud enough until you get your way, and if need be, destroy and destruct.


I’ve learned that what’s best for me is to unfollow and unfriend.  Not because I’m a sore loser but because I’m eliminating from my feeds and my life anything that doesn’t feed my soul. If you’re a name caller or non-stop campaigner on either side, buh-bye.  Move on and give it a rest.


What is morally wrong is politically correct and patriotism is frowned upon and called arrogant and naïve.


Good doesn’t always win and prayers aren’t always answered.


Knowing you voted your beliefs, morals, conscience, and values is enough to get you through each day.


The Blue Wave never happened and Trump’s base is strong.


I’ve learned what it feels like to be ashamed of and embarrassed for America and not proud to be an American. It’s not a good feeling.


You can sleep your way to the top.


Jill Biden’s selfish goal of being FLOTUS has been realized and how long until the country’s first lady is back on every magazine cover?


It’s time to hug oil and gas workers, farmers, and factory workers as they now worry about their jobs.


I remain blessed and grateful.


You’ve got it now Dems. Let’s see what you got.


This should be fun.


Living Your Dream? October 28, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:05 pm

You could say it all started with our family’s little white poodle Pepita…affectionately called Peppy. I used to hug on her constantly and would take her with me to hide behind a large potted plant of my mom’s whenever I was in trouble. Or sad. Or mad. Or just moody. Peppy was my pet but she was also my ride or die. Then came Fula and Sabrina, Boots and Sundance. All my life I have always had a dog so, in answer to the above question, my natural instinct was to want to be a veterinarian.



That all came to a literal screeching halt when my beloved black poodle Sabrina Renee (don’t all dogs have middle names?!) was hit by a car in front of our house and the vet couldn’t save her. I realized right then and there that I could never be that person who couldn’t save someone’s four-legged family member.



In a more “pie in the sky” sense, I also dreamed of being either Laurie Partridge or Chris Evert. I loved to sing and I loved tennis but in reality, those dreams were most definitely more dream-like than life-like. Then there was Nancy Drew; oh how I loved her and her books and had visions of catching sleuths and discovering hidden gems. Ironically and in a very round-about way, my eventual career allowed me to do just that!



It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered that career and my true calling. I was a college freshman and met with an advisor because I hadn’t declared a major and was somewhat floundering academically. She asked what my interests were and I said Political Science, History, and English but that I wasn’t interested in teaching. She thought it over like a good advisor does and then suggested I consider Journalism because it kinda combines all three. Bingo! I had my answer and I had my career.



After agreeing on a major we then had to decide on a school. She researched universities with good Journalism schools and through nothing but what I like to call a “God wink,” I decided on the University of Oklahoma. I didn’t know a soul in Oklahoma and had never been there but I loved football and in what felt like overnight, my parents were driving me to Norman. From day one it was the perfect place for me and I will be forever grateful to OU for not only shaping my career but changing my life. Looking back, I wish so bad I could remember that advisor’s name to thank her for helping me climb those stairs to success in a way I would have never dreamed of. Even in my childhood dreams.



But what if I that little child in me would have gone on to become a vet? Or stuck with tennis or singing? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been the next Laurie Partridge or Chris Evert, but maybe I would have saved many a family pet’s life. It’s probably best that becoming a vet was squelched cuz turns out I am not a math and science kind of girl. I’m a word girl and would have probably been lost in a small animal vet curriculum.



As fate would have it, I did end up teaching, albeit preschool at our former church, and it was something I loved. I also worked in both the sports and music industries as a reporter and publicist, with the former being the most fun and energizing job I ever had. As for Nancy Drew, well, I didn’t uncover any great mysteries but maybe reading all those books of hers inspired me to write.



When it all comes down to it, you have to believe in yourself and yet be able to pivot when necessary. Don’t get caught up in other people’s demands or approval of where you want to go and who you want to be. Instead, take Ayn Rand’s advice and tell yourself, “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”



You just never know how life will unfold, right? Work hard and hustle. Follow your heart but also have a Plan B. And maybe even a Plan C. Go with your gut but go with your strengths too. And it goes without saying that you’ll probably also have to take risks but always make wise decisions. As Stephen Covey said, “I am not a product of my circumstances. I’m a product of my decisions.”  Build those dreams people, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.



What about you? What was your childhood dream job? Did you achieve it? Did you end up doing something completely different? Why? Have you made sure to gain both knowledge and wisdom? Are you making a living…and making a life? Please share!





90 Years Strong October 26, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:46 pm

Today the beautiful woman above, my mom, turns 90. A huge milestone by any measure and one that merits huge celebrations. Sadly, I’m unable to mark the big day with her and our family because of COVID.


It makes me sad and it makes me mad.



For her 75th birthday my two sisters and I treated her to a weekend at a resort. She was so happy as captured in the above photo and we were hoping to do the same this year. We also thought about buying her a nice new comfy chair, but if you know my mom, you know she said “I don’t need a new chair…my old one is fine.” So, instead of giving her the gift of a massage or a chair, we are all in our separate homes celebrating the woman who made and molded our family. And to make matters worse, I just got word it’s snowing. Snowing in Santa Fe for my mom’s 90th birthday. What I wouldn’t give…


More sad. More mad.


If anyone deserves to be pampered, it’s my mom. Raised an only child by her loving but strict grandparents while her mom served a local family as a live-in nanny and house cleaner, she managed to always hold her head high and aim for the stars. She reached that pinnacle when she met and married my dad, a Navy veteran who served for many years in state and federal government positions. She was the quintessential Harriett to his Ozzy. She was the pretty one next to his handsome 6’1” frame. So pretty and so stylish. I like to say I got my sense of style from her as well as my obsession with perfume. Regardless of our family’s financial situation at any given time, mom always had perfume and I have wonderful memories of her getting ready to go out and spraying it on. I’ve kept the tradition and passed it down to our daughter.



Mom’s dream life took a nightmarish turn though when my dad suffered a heart attack when I was very young. Like the proud and hardworking man he was however, he rallied and rebounded.  Many years later however he succumbed to colon cancer. September of my senior year of college. Cancer killed him and it essentially killed my mom.



She was devastated. This was a woman who yes, eventually went to work as a public school librarian, but who gave everything to her marriage and was lost without it. My first clue was their checks, which had the name “Mr. and Mrs.” rather than both first names. My parents were old school and relearning life was difficult for my mom.





She finally came around somewhat, volunteering at various places in Santa Fe and travelling some, but she was never really the same. She loves her three girls, her grandkids, and her great grandson, but the deaths of two grandkids have taken their toll on her. Yet today at 90 years young, she is for the most part healthy, albeit frail and often sad. She’s alone but in a weird way prefers that. As we commemorate her birthday, my sisters and I are in the middle of the difficult task of deciding just how long she can continue to live alone. Her life-long nightmare has been to be put in “one of those homes,” so we have to both respect that while choosing what’s ultimately best for her. I don’t envy anyone who has been through this. It is truly heartbreaking and I cannot even fathom the thought of selling her home…my childhood home.


But today we celebrate her and all she’s given us. I firmly believe my mom’s constant prayers saved me from many a disaster and am so very grateful to her for them and for passing along her strong and fervent Catholic faith to me. She wasn’t the perfect mom yet expected perfection from us, which I was far from. She did her best and I’d like to say an impressive job considering she had no true motherly role model. And even though she wasn’t great at instilling self confidence in me, somehow I’ve always known she wants the very best for me. She almost single-handedly saw to it that my dad agreed to pay for out-of-state college tuition…how they did so is still a mystery to me…and for that I am also forever grateful. She also loves my daughter more than life itself, even though she’s never quite figured out how to be a “grandma” and stop being the “mom.”



She’s a tough one, for sure. She’s often negative yet forever faithful; humble but tough to please. She can be critical and stubborn yet would do anything for her family.



Ironically, yesterday’s entry in my “Mornings with Jesus” daily devotional touched on the subject of taking care of aging parents. It reminded readers that in His last hours on the cross, Jesus himself entrusted His mom to John. Can you imagine?! No pressure, right? It then went on to say that taking care of aging parents is hard but it’s also a blessing and that in doing so, we can count on Jesus’ strength to get us through it.



It’s my sister and brother-in-law as well as my niece and nephew-in-law who need that strength right now as they are the family that lives near mom. Being the “tag you’re it cuz you’re the closest” main caretakers of an aging parent isn’t something anyone envies, but I do kinda envy them today since they get to be with her. I hope they take lots of photos and I hope she’s happy. Funny thing: when asked what she wants for dinner tonight…anything, name it…she chose enchiladas. Stacked. Like they should be.



My mom is the only living parent my husband and I have. I’m grateful for her every day and especially today. It’s been one heckuva year, a year that’s ruined so much including being with my mom today, but it’s also another year I get to celebrate her life. A 90-year life filled with promise and pain, but also hope and love. Here’s hoping for many more to come. Happy Birthday mom! Ninety never looked so good!




Heart and Soul October 11, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:24 pm


I took one day this past week and did some major soul care. I made banana bread. I did my online yoga class. I quietly read my book. I got a massage and a facial. I did so not because I’m entitled or a princess…I’m so not…but because my body needed it. My mind needed it. My spirit needed it. My soul needed it.


Do you ever think of what your soul needs? We spend countless hours working on our bodies and improving our minds, but what about our souls? Don’t they also need tending to?


But what exactly is your soul, you might ask. It’s defined in many ways, depending on where you look. Sadly, if you google “soul” today the first thing that comes up is an upcoming Disney film. That should tell you enough!



You could say your soul is the “driver” of your body. Some think of it as simply a big invisible piece of us that’s vital yet vague. It’s “officially” defined as the spiritual source in humans; our moral and emotional nature; the principle of human life, feeling, thought, and action; and a distinct entity separate from the body. In short, it’s the spiritual part of us as opposed to the physical part. Common synonyms are conscience, personality, and spirit.


The bible tells us that we consist of body, soul, and spirit and that our material bodies are evident but our souls and spirits are less distinguishable. Believer and non-believers alike probably can agree on this and most believers believe that God is the spiritual guide of our souls. So then how in the world do we care for an ambiguous yet essential part of us that is our soul and avoid joining the ranks of countless lost souls?



We dig deep. Dig to see what’s really inside of us. One of my local priests, who I consider a rock star, recently reminded us that what we put inside ourselves is who and what we become. He suggested we start putting in more love, more goodness, and more God. Fill yourself with God!  Feast on “what’s good for the soul” and fast from everything out there that is eating away at our soul care.


Just today he reminded us that feelings are okay, but not at the risk of losing our souls. I for one am fasting from much of the negative and all of the propaganda out there that is anything but “soul food” for me. Everyone’s feelings are so amplified right now and “I’m offended” has become a mainstream mantra. I’m putting it out there that your feelings aren’t going to convince me of anything different or maybe I already agree with you so seeing the same stuff over and over again is exhausting. None of it is worth losing my soul over. Deceit and hypocrisy are in fact prevalent poisons to the soul and my soul is walking away.




It’s not an easy thing to do, and I’ll be first in line to admit when I venture back into those dark places. Unfortunately, many of us continue to sell our souls by cashing out and logging in. We buy more stuff, which should mean we are happier than ever before, but that’s not always the case. We seek fame and fortune but I’m always reminded of my friend’s observation of the fashion industry when she said, “They’re rich and famous but have lost their souls.” That was years ago but to this day I remember it and now I look at the eyes of all those super models and often see vacancy.


And, as documentary “The Social Media” shows us, even though we think of ourselves as the customers of social media, we are not. We are the products, being bought and sold to advertisers and online accounts that promise solutions and more and more information that will fulfill our lives and has resulted in countless unfulfilled lives full of often needless stuff and misleading data. It’s also resulted in empty hearts and souls.


When you dig deep, what do you see? Spiritual mentor Susie Davis addresses that point in one of her fabulous podcasts when she asks, “What is the condition of your soul?” Good question, right? What does your soul look like? Is it empathetic? Is it rested? Is it lost? Is it bitter?



It can at first feel overwhelming and confusing, but let’s consider for a minute the soles of our feet. Those feet get us places, have a million nerve endings, take the brunt of our weight, and their soles tell so much about our overall health and well-being. Same with the souls of our bodies. When you’re happy, they’re happy and when they’re happy you’re happy. When you hurt, they hurt and when they hurt you hurt.



Indeed. We have bodies, but we are souls. Davis suggests thinking of our bodies as our souls’ address and just like any address, both the outside and what is inside needs attention and upkeep.



I also like that she describes the Holy Spirit as the “decorator” of our soul and I’m pretty sure we all want a welcoming and comfortable household for our guests so they feel truly at home, right? Again, even non-believers should agree that our souls and the homes they and we reside in should be welcoming and benevolent. Can I get an Amen?



But there’s so much out there drowning us that we often feel like it’s a sink or swim world. We are being tossed around in waves of worry and a sea of hopelessness; struggling to keep our heads above water and grasping for anchors and floats. Time to think of God as the anchor of our soul and know that the further away our rope strays, the sooner we will feel that inner tug and return to our anchor. He will help us float safely ashore and give peace to our souls.


So yes, your body is the house of your soul and your soul is the home of God and today more than perhaps ever before we want to feel safe and protected at home, right? We are craving comfort, healing, and hope. God wants that same feeling inside our souls and longs for us to make them beautiful, so we need to “decorate” these “homes” with all the right things. I decorated the other day with baking, yoga, reading, and self-care. Tomorrow it might be taking a walk, calling a friend, or simply resting.



We often forget how beneficial rest is. As children we fight having to take a nap but as adults we long for them. Naps are good for the soul. A recent study found that people who nap once or twice a week-even for just 20 minutes-had a lower risk of heart attack and stroke compared with those who didn’t nap.


If you can’t nap, perhaps just rest. Really rest. Many of us think that just because we are doing nothing we are resting. Not true. And sleep does not always equal rest. If I had a dime for every time I tell my husband I didn’t wake up rested I’d be a millionaire. Rest is so much more than sleep; it’s detoxing and refueling our spirits and our souls. Even Jesus said, “Go away and rest,” and God rested on the seventh day; not for His purpose as He never needs rest, but to set an example for us that rest isn’t for the weak; it’s for the strong.


Rest is good for our souls, as is prayer, often thought of as the “home-life” of the soul. The more we pray and the more we rest, the healthier our souls are and the healthier we feel.



And yet, we rarely take the time to slow down and rest.  We tend to believe busy is good and are always one email or text away and then wonder why our minds, bodies, and souls are over-pressured and anxious. Even the most extroverts of extroverts crave solitude but, as will all of us, sometimes have trouble finding it. We will never find peace and quiet if we’re always available and function with a “to do list” check mindset. Instead, how about making a “to don’t list?” Fill it with ways to reduce the pressure and quiet the noise. It’s what our souls are craving. They are telling us to slow down and we need to listen to them.


Thomas Merton describes solitude as not only rest, but the mentally nourishing ability to be attentive to the present moment. This is tough for the planner in me, but all signs point to its benefits. When we are in solitude, Merton notes, we are able to fully taste something as simple as water and feel the weight and warmth of a blanket. This is good for your body and good for your soul.



I’ll wrap with Davis’ four components of a soul to help get you on the soul care right track:


  • Your mind: where you think and reason. Are you being rational? Are you thinking for yourself? Do you often overthink and feel overwhelmed or are you at peace with where you are?


  • Your will: the piece that helps you do things like marathons and diets. Where is your will? Is it gentle? Humble? Stubborn?


  • Your emotions and feelings: what triggers you and what inspires you. Are you grateful? Anxious? Too sensitive? Not sensitive enough?


  • Your personality: where you learn who you are and how to relate better with others and handle things. Are you using your personality in a healthy way?


She also states that in order to have a healthy soul we need good self-leadership, which requires you to:


  • Know yourself. Know your tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses. Know what makes you feel good, i.e. feeds your soul, and what doesn’t.


  • Love yourself. It’s hard, if not impossible, to lead someone you don’t like.


  • Lead yourself. In order to get to a place of wholeness, you need to think for yourself and don’t let other voices persuade or lead you.


So maybe today, or tomorrow, or at least sometime during the coming week, take time to make a personal house call and feed your soul. It’ll do your body good.



Salt On the Wound October 7, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:11 pm

I poured salt on a wound yesterday. Literally. I have a small wound on the tip of one of my fingers and didn’t even consider it as I started to fill a salt shaker. OUCHIE!  It burned and stung so bad that the idiom immediately came to mind. But why is it not only a play on words but true? Why does salt hurt a wound? It got me thinking and I’m here to tell you.



I’ve always been more of a salt person than a sweets person. Give me chips and dips over cakes and pies any day. Salty, savory is my MO but I still want to know why putting salt on a wound hurts yet we are often told to gargle with salt water to heal mouth aches and pains and bathe in Epsom salt to treat wounds and infections.


The reason pouring salt on a wound hurts, I researched and learned, is because when tissue is damaged, pain receptors become sensitized and as the salt dissolves, it causes the fluid surrounding the cut to become hypertonic. Putting salt on a wound basically stimulates pain-sensing neurons in much the same way a hot pepper does. Been there done that too.


But science be damned! Onto more fun and interesting stuff!


So putting salt on a wound does actually make matters worse, but the saying is also an idiom for making a difficult situation even worse. The idiom “pour salt on the wound” dates back to the mid-1800s when salt was used as a further punishment on wounds previously caused by flogging.  (An idiom, for all you fellow wordsmiths out there, is a group of words that have a meaning that often isn’t literal. Think “costs an arm and a leg” or “stabbed in the back.” ) But, should we take all of this with a grain of salt? Hah! Another one! Another salt idiom!


To take something with “a grain of salt” means to view something with skepticism or to take something lightly, especially advice. For example, “anything free should be taken with a grain of salt as nothing is really free.” Tell that to some politicians!


Someone who knew all about salt was Jesus. He told His disciples “You are the salt of the earth.” Back then, salt’s primary use was that of preservative while today we think of it more as something that brings flavor and zest to food. Doesn’t Jesus do both? He preserves us yet enhances us just as salt preserves and enhances something other than itself. Amazingly, even today’s definition of “salt of the earth” refers to an individual or group considered the best or most noble in society, much like those very disciples.


And, if you look closely at Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” painting, you’ll notice that Judas Iscariot has knocked the salt cellar over with his elbow. Thanks to the traitor of all traitors, spilled salt became associated with treachery, lies, and bad luck. Because of this, if you do spill salt, it’s believed that tossing a pinch over your shoulder blinds the devil and removes bad luck.


Speaking of dinner tables, did you know that proper etiquette dictates that anytime you are asked to “pass the salt” you should always pass the pepper with the salt?



And although salt is often a frowned upon diet supplement, it does have its benefits. Gargling with salt water is often recommended to alleviate sore throats and mouth ulcers and Epsom salt is commonly used in baths as a way to draw out infection and soften skin. Caution should be taken however, and doctors should be consulted.


One area all doctors agree on is that eating too much salt, properly and formally known as sodium chloride, is not good for you. Less is certainly best as diets high in sodium increase blood pressure levels. Uncontrolled high blood pressure, as we all know, puts you at a higher risk for stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure.


Salt does have its diet benefits though. It helps maintain the body’s balance of fluids and too little salt can lead to weight gain, chronic kidney disease, and increased blood pressure and heart rate. Sounds like we need the perfect balance of sodium intake and yet Americans consume 50 percent more salt than is recommended daily. Just yesterday I was playing tennis and sweated profusely. As I was starting my yoga class later that evening, the toes on my left foot were cramping up. I realized I had sweated out so many bodily fluids and that I was a bit dehydrated. I drink water all day every day, but at that point I realized I hadn’t drank enough. Maybe if I had eaten a bag of chips before tennis I’d have been okay? LOL.



If there’s anything related to salt that can be considered satisfying, it’s saltwater. Yes, exercise does a body so much good and sometimes a good cry is exactly what we need, but try your hardest to feel stressed and anxious as you listen to waves crash against the shore…whether in person or a recording of. Even better, take a dip in salt water as seawater is rich in minerals like magnesium, zinc, iron, and potassium, which are anti-inflammatory and thought to help heal and protect the skin.


There’s perhaps nowhere better to take a saltwater dip than the Dead Sea. Not only is the famed mid-east body of water earth’s lowest elevation on land, it is nearly 10 times as salty as an ocean and is very dense, which makes swimming in it more akin to floating than actual swimming. The Sea’s salinity is around 35 percent and is much higher than that of oceans, which average just under 4 percent salinity. Comparably, Utah’s Great Salt Lake is much more like oceans than what we think of lakes and can go as high as nearly 30 percent salinity. Sadly, the salinity of the Dead Sea makes for a very harsh environment for living things like plants and fish, which is how it got its name. Salt Lake is also considered devoid of fish but does have some algae.


If you can’t swim in sea salt, maybe just drink some. Saltwater flushes are often used to cleanse the colon, treat chronic constipation, and help detox your body. As always, consult your doctor first.



And speaking of sea salt, is it the one we should be eating and adding to our food? It used to be easy picking a salt. Drive to the grocery store, pick up a blue oval container with a picture of a girl holding an umbrella on it, and be on your way. Today like seemingly everything, it’s much more complicated. Salt now comes in a variety of textures and flavors and what to use when is sometimes a hotly debated topic.


Chef Joe Anthony keeps it somewhat simple when he says to use pink salt to cure, kosher salt during cooking, and sea salt to complete and finish a dish. Let’s take a look at these and other kitchen salts.



Table Salt

This is probably the salt you think of when someone says salt. It has usually been stripped of all minerals except sodium and chloride and consists of fine, evenly shaped crystals, which make it denser than other salts. You can usually tell it’s table salt just by how fine it is. This salt is typically mined from salt deposits underground and is best for keeping out on the table for last-minute meal seasoning. It’s also good for salting pasta or seasoning soups.


You will find “iodized” versions of this salt, which was first sold in the U.S. in 1924 in an effort to reduce goiter, a health issue that was plaguing some parts of the country. If you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet of food like fish and veggies that contain iodine, you should be good to go.


Kosher Salt

Kosher salt is also iodine-free, is less refined than table salt, and is often considered the most versatile. Every pantry should have it at the ready as it’s the best salt to use when salting pasta water to bring to a boil. It’s great for seasoning before, during, and after cooking and its large flakes are especially good for seasoning meat before cooking. Because it doesn’t have iodine, it dissolves easily and is the perfect t salt for pinching.


Sea Salt

Of all the salts, this one undergoes the least processing and is often considered the best everyday use salt. Flakes are collected from evaporated seawater and are unevenly shaped and coarse. Sea salt is typically more expensive but you can use less of it. It’s best for finishing.


Pink Himalayan Salt

Many consider this the purest, most nutritious and “complete” salts as it is rich in minerals and some believe that adding it to your diet may help repair mineral deficiencies. Himalayan salt contains iodine, magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium-the five minerals the U.S. population is said to be most deficient of. It is sold as fine or coarse grains, with fine-grained most recommended. The pink part?  Not only is it kinda pretty, the hue indicates the salt is dense in minerals. The salt is also thought to aid external detoxification in bathing situations and all those salt lamps you see? They’re pink Himalayan…if they’re authentic…and are said to neutralize the air and rid it of pollutants. I have one and I try to remember to turn it on every day.


Maldon Salt

My dear friend Karen, who worked at a popular and reputable kitchen store, gave me some of this a few years back and said it’s the best salt around. I’d never heard of it but took her word for it and I gotta say, she was right.


Maldon Sea Salt Flakes is not a type of salt, it’s actually a brand named after a town an hour’s drive from London on the River Blackwater in southeast England, where salt has been harvested for thousands of years. If you’re a chef or just love to cook, you’ve heard of Maldon salt. It is considered less bitter and less salty than other salts and its pyramid-shaped flakes are famous not only their full-flavor but for the visual and textural affect they give to dishes like grilled steaks. The best way to use Maldon salt is as a finishing salt. Sprinkle it on scrambled eggs, veggies, grilled meat, and the likes right before serving.



So that’s the skinny on all things salt and salty. To celebrate, I think I’ll go have a skinny margarita…frozen no salt. Go figure. But that’s a whole other blog.