Beyond Words

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

Springing for Easter Traditions March 26, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:40 pm

Easter Sunday is two weeks away and everywhere you look it’s all things Easter so I thought I’d share with you some fun tidbits on a few of the more popular things we think of when we think of Easter. From the Easter Bunny to Jelly Beans and more, have fun learning and sharing the stories behind each of them.



Let’s hop right to it with the beloved Easter rabbit, AKA the Easter Bunny. 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 really all about.


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.”



Susie Davis

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. Peeps are also a favorite Easter treat and are shaped like baby birds I, however, am not a Peeps fan although they are kinda cute.



As I just mentioned, Jelly Beans are one of my favorite candies and another Easter custom is also a favorite of mine: the Easter Lily. In fact, it’s in my top three favorite flowers right up there with daisies and tulips. 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?


Traditionally, 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 and are referenced several times in the Song of Solomon as well as in the Sermon on the Mount. Their religious tie-in goes even further.


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. They embody joy and life and serve as beautiful reminders that Easter is truly a time of rejoicing and celebrating.



Easter Lilies can fill a room with their sweet aroma as can some of the traditional foods we eat at Easter. Like ham. But how exactly did it get to be the meat of choice at our Easter tables? It all goes back many, many years ago when 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 takes 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.



Lastly, one of my favorite Easter legends. I’m not sure how I never knew the story until fairly recently, 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 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. The fact that this happens around the Easter season is likely pure coincidence, but who doesn’t love a little lore?



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!




Is It Your Lucky Day? March 17, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:00 am

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! We are all a wee bit Irish today and I’m guessing you are wearing green as you read this as we all honor the land of leprechauns, fabulous golf, U2, step dancing, Guinness, shamrocks, green beer, Irish coffee, and St. Patrick. But who was the saint named Patrick and why do we celebrate him in such a big way?



Forever tied to Ireland, Patrick wasn’t born on the Emerald Isle but in Britain. When he was 16 young Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders who took him to Ireland and sold him as a salve. He spent many years there herding sheep and turning to God in prayer. He escaped when he was 22 and made his way back to England where he spent 12 years in a monastery. Legend has it that he had a dream in which the people of Ireland were calling him back. The dream is said to have been the voice of God encouraging him to spread Christianity across Ireland and convert the pagans. Patrick returned to Ireland and began preaching the gospel, building churches, and converting many. Born of wealth, Patrick lived in poverty and suffered greatly until he died on March 17, 461. He is said to be buried in Down Cathedral in the County of Down in Ireland and ironically, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on the day he died, not on his birthday.




My favorite part of the St. Patrick story is that he used the shamrock as a way to teach the Holy Trinity. The simple green plant grows abundantly in Ireland so he cleverly used it to explain the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His idea was so convincing that even pagan rulers converted to Christianity and to this day the sprout is often called the Catholic rose.



The shamrock has three leaves and is considered a clover plant but what is the difference between it and the four-leaf clover? The latter is the result of a mutation in the clover plant that causes it to sprout four leaves instead of the normal three. These four-leaf wonders are very rare and is why they are considered a universal symbol of good luck.



Patrick loved incorporating other traditional rituals in his lessons for both simplicity and proof. Because fire was sacred to the Irish, Patrick superimposed a sun onto a Christian cross. Today this cross, called a Celtic cross, is one of Christianity’s most popular.



Another cross, St. Patrick’s Cross of Ireland, also makes up part of the Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom. When you look at the flag, you can see it is actually made up of three different crosses:  St. George’s red Cross of England, St. Andrew’s white Cross of Scotland, and St. Patrick’s red one. And to be clear, the UK is considered all of Great Britain – England, Scotland, and Wales – with the addition of Northern Ireland. Ireland is considered its own republic.


Funny thing is, as much as a celebration and party St. Patrick’s Day is today, from 1903-1970 it was considered a religious holiday according to Irish law, which required pubs remain closed for the day. Squeal! The law was reclassified as a national holiday in 1970, paving the way for the opening of drinking establishment doors and green beer. In the Diocese of Ireland however, it is still considered a Holy Day of Obligation, meaning Catholics are obligated to attend mass and receive the Blessed Sacrament.



Stateside, it all started as a political holiday when American Irish immigrants organized themselves and commemorated St. Patrick with annual parades and festivities to demonstrate their political and social might. Ironically, there are more Irish in the U.S. than in Ireland! There are an estimated 34 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry but the population of Ireland is only 4.2 million.


Also, in the U.S. this year, due to the fact that St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday and a Friday during Lent, many Catholic dioceses have granted dispensation from the obligation to abstain from eating meet. I for one will abstain anyway, but good to know just in case!




St. Patrick today, along with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures and his prayers can be found among all walks of life. St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and the Fifth Avenue Neo-Gothic icon ranks right up there with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. And, in case you’re wondering, St. Patrick isn’t only revered by Catholics. He is honored with a feast day in the Episcopal Church and is also venerated by the Orthodox Church.



Parades and festivals will happen in many places today, but perhaps the ones in New York, Boston, and Chicago rank highest. Surprisingly, St. Patrick’s Day is also a big event in Dallas. As with everything in Texas, it is done in a very big way in Big D! In Chicago, the Chicago River is colored green and green beer and whiskey flow abundantly throughout the city. And it’s WHISKEY, not WHISKY. Irish spell the scotch with an added “e,” while their Scottish neighbors omit the extra vowel. American-made whiskeys also add the “e.”



Lastly, the color green. It’ll be everywhere you look today and be ready to get pinched if you’re not wearing it. It’s definitely tied to St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish, but it’s also tied to jealousy. “Green with envy” is a common saying but my lads, it’s nothing to celebrate. Today and every day, let’s take a cue from St. Patrick and be giving not envious. It’s a trait that will make all eyes smile, not just those Irish ones.


Envy can cause major problems and even wars. It can make us physically ill and it wreaks havoc in relationships and yet most of us struggle with envy at one time or another and I’m as guilty as anyone. I’m sure you are too. The strain it puts on us brings out the worst in us. Living in a state of “green with envy” leads to saying mean things to others, thinking malicious things about others, and maybe even acting out negatively toward others. In a word, it’s bad and ultimately makes us feel blue.



So, how can we, in today’s “bigger and better” world, avoid that pukey shade of green with envy? One way is, when you feel envy rearing its ugly head, sit back and honestly ask yourself, “What am I jealous of?” “Who am I jealous of?” “How do I compare myself to others?” “Why do I do compare?” Also, keep in mind that those people in the gated mansions have problems and struggles just like the rest of us…they just deal with them surrounded by luxury.


At the same time, think of ways you can be like those you are jealous of. That friend who has the perfect body? She likely works out and eats right. Get off the couch, put down the ice cream, and just do it. Those material things you think you need so bad? Maybe they were earned by hard work and saving money. Still, there are some ways you just won’t have what they have, be it wealth or health, but keep in mind there are people out there praying for what you do have and what you maybe aren’t appreciating.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day and the luck of the Irish to you!



The Red Carpet That Wasn’t March 13, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:17 pm

Welcome to a recap of the Red Carpet that wasn’t. Yep. The 95th Academy Awards red carpet was actually champagne. More on that in a bit.


Truth be told I didn’t watch the Oscars, don’t know who most of the nominees were, and haven’t heard of or seen most of the movies nominated. I did see “Top Gun,” “Elvis,” “Father Stu,” and “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” the latter of which wins all of my awards as I adored it, but that’s about it unless the BTS concert movie counts, which I also “attended.”


I use to love going to the movies, but when those who pretend for a living and get paid millions for doing so decided they were smarter than me and half the country, I said buh-bye to all things Hollywood. Hollyweird. But, a girl loves a pretty dress so I’m here to peruse what I’ve seen online so this suburbia girl is putting her pretend fashion guru hat on and giving her take on best and worst dressed.  Let’s go.




My award for “Best Dressed” is shared by two: Angela Bassett in Moschino and Cara Delevingne in Elie Saab. Both ladies festooned their dresses with jewelry by Bulgari and both brought old Hollywood glam to the red…er beige carpet. I loved the bold colors, elegant draping, and the fact that model Delevingne showed Hollywood how it’s done. Sidenote: what Bassett isn’t winning any awards for was her caught-on-camera reaction to hearing Jamie Lee Curtis beat her and others for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. No one knows what she was thinking, but the clips I’ve seen are not a good look for her.



Next up for me: Cate Blanchett in Louis Vuitton. It probably didn’t hurt that instead of watching the Oscar’s, I watched Cate’s film from several years ago that I just discovered, “Where’d You Go Bernadette” and absolutely loved it! What a great movie! I also loved that for the Oscars, Cate remained her original self and chose something we could all almost see ourselves wearing in a more average Joe manner.




Emily Blunt was the picture of perfection and subtle yet stunning style in white Valentino. I absolutely adored this whole look and those earrings! They don’t show up like much in photos but as she walked, they were uh-mazing Chopard statements that added the perfect amount of glam to her otherwise polished look.





Also lovely in white were Michelle Williams, who always looks chic; Sofia Carson, who I don’t know but know she picked a winner here; and Best Actress award winner Michelle Yeoh. Let’s start with Williams. Again, she always seems to win the red carpet and last night’s choice of Chanel Couture was yet another triumph. It could almost be a wedding gown or the inspiration for one! Then there were Carson’s Cinderella-like gown by Giambattista Valli Haute Couture and that Chopard piece of art around her neck. Perfection. Last but certainly not least was Michelle Yeoh. How classy is she? Her Dior Couture feathery gown was ethereal and I love that this woman who is certainly not past her prime still chose a sheer neckline rather than going totally strapless. Class. I guess couture wins this round!




Next up the opposite of white: black. I have several winners here but no one did it better than Chloe East in her stunning Monique Lhuillier and equally stunning Fred Leighton necklace. If I could wear any of the gowns mentioned in this blog to the Oscars or to any gala, it would be Chloe’s.



I also liked Vanessa Hudgen’s minimalist vintage Chanel column gown but would have liked it just a tad longer. I guess when you are offered vintage Chanel you go with the length they bring you. Oui oui!



Deepika Padukone was equally glam and stunning in an Audrey Hepburn-esque Louis Vuitton masterpiece complete with opera gloves. And will you look at that necklace?! One giant diamond was this girl’s best friend last night. Check. Mate.



Zuri Hall also donned opera gloves and her old-school meets edgy Tarik Ediz stunner checked all the boxes. I thought her hair and makeup were picture perfect too.



I’m including Julia Louis-Dreyfus here not because I loved her Lanvin gown (I do like it though) but because it fits the black theme and because she smiled for photos! What a rarity and what a shame that more of these glamazons never look happy in their enormously expensive gowns. Thank you Julia, and thank you for bringing your son as your date.




Adding some color the camel carpet (let’s see how many ways I can describe the “champagne” carpet just for fun!) were Kerry Condon, Ruth E. Carter, and Drew Afualo who brightened things up with shades of yellow. Condon’s single strap pleated mellow yellow gown with a flowing train was both whimsical and lovely. I thought Carter’s bright yellow gown with bright pink train lining and matching shoes was festive and fun and can see why she won Best Costume Designer. Influencer (ugh how I hate to write that but I did like her gown) Afualo matched Carter somewhat in shades of yellow and I not only loved her dress but loved the bow detail. In my quick search of who designed these three lovely ladies’ lovely gowns I came up empty so my apologies to whoever designed them.



Hollywood icon Sharon Stone wasn’t on the actual telecast khaki carpet, but she did turn heads at the post-awards Vanity Fair party in this stunning yellow caped dress with floral embroidery. I loved it so much I had to include it here. Some just know how to rule a carpet.





Also adding a color punch were nominated Makeup Artist Linda Eisenhamerova and Producer Victoria Alonso whose hot pink what looks like a satin gown I would wear and whose cobalt blue beauty with a sheer cape was perfect for the occasion and perfect for her. I also swooned over Eisenhamerova’s gold pumps and matching clutch. Nicely done ladies.




Subtle trains on otherwise subtle dresses also caught my eye, including Jessica Chastain’s silver sequins Gucci with black-embellished plunging neckline and black velvet lined train and Hong Chau’s oh-so-pretty-in-pink sleeveless Prada column with a fun feathery black train. I also surprisingly loved Chastain’s matchy-matchy necklace and thought her hair and makeup were flawless.




Speaking of glitter, and if you know me you know I love the stuff, I feel obliged to include Sigourney Weaver here in her gold Givenchy. I thought it was fun yet age-appropriate (can I still say that these days?).




Okay…now for the men. They were, for the most part, either very classic (which I love) or very “push the envelope” (which I don’t) so I’m going with just three: Samuel L. Jackson in Georgio Armani, Austin Butler in Saint Laurent, and Michael B. Jordan in Louis Vuitton.



Couples didn’t seem to be as big a thing this year but I always love what Willow Bay choses and she and spouse Bob Igor were once again smart and stylish. And talk about real smart and real stylish; Penn and NYU graduate Willow is yes, a former model, but also a former television journalist, editor, and author who in 2017 became dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Igor definitely out-kicked his coverage on this one.


I will say I didn’t looove Jamie Lee Curtis’ dress…something about the corseted tubing in the middle. Thinking I would have loved it way more without that embellishment but I did love how it played off her aging gracefully hair.


And now for the “What Were You Thinking?” awards. I can’t really pick a “worst dressed” but these are all in contention.



No words here. Too long. Too low cut. Too much. Sorry Zuhair Murad; on someone else maybe. On petite Eva Longoria. Not so much.



Yawn. For a beautiful woman whose husband is president and CEO of one of the world’s largest luxury brand conglomerates, Salma Hayek’s taste and choice of fashion forever baffles me. Including orangey-red, sequined, tasseled Gucci. Of all the choices she must have had she went with this. Hmmm…



I get it. The concept was maybe good but the execution was not. Again, just too much. I’m no designer but I’m thinking maybe get rid of the black fabric draping below Elizabeth Banks’ waist and just go with a white lower half, black bodice, and black train. Just a thought. Thought her hair and makeup were good though. Very Sharon Stone-ish.



No idea who Florence Pugh is but I’ve seen this pic everywhere today. Again, I get it; you’re young and wanting to do something different for the Oscars. Black biker shorts with seemingly endless Valentino white draping maybe pushed it too far though. It seems to have worked publicity-wise but that’s not always a good thing.




I’m all for sparkly, but this Louis Vuitton Kate Hudson said yes to was a no even for me. She said yes to this dress??? I don’t even know where to start. The sleeves? The fabric? The fit? The all of the above?




Pretty Kimberly Williams was not so pretty in this ‘80s prom-like pink voluminous gown. Giving some grace here as the dress that the pink cape covered was okay…except for the feathers that lined the hem…so maybe there’s hope. She’s such a pretty girl.



Very disappointed in Halle Berry in this Tamara Ralph choice as she’s often one of my faves. Maybe I’d like it more without the obnoxiously high slit. Maybe I’d like it more if she went tasteful not trendy. Less is more but I would have liked to have seen more elegance and less “look at me, look at me.” Not a fan of her hair either.



Don’t know who Jessie Buckley is but no. Just no.



And now for the question everyone seemed to be asking, “what happened to the red carpet?” Your eyes weren’t playing tricks on you; the carpet all of the above strolled down was not red, it was champagne. Yep, for the first time since 1961 the famous red carpet was anything but and it was also covered this year. The sienna-colored tent and neutral carpet were said to be chosen to convey “watching the sunset on a white-sand beach at the golden hour with a glass of champagne in hand, evoking calm and peacefulness” according to one of the event’s creative consultants.


You can’t make this stuff up. Only in Hollywood. Now back to reality.












I’ll Be Back March 5, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:14 pm

We all know, or should know, proper etiquette regarding napkins at a table. In brief, they are either folder under the knife and spoon to the left of a plate or creatively folded on top of the plate. Once seated, you are to immediately take the napkin and place it on your lap and it should stay on your lap for the entire meal. When done eating or if you need to get up during the meal, you’re to neatly fold it and place it either on the empty plate or next to it. So that’s etiquette, but have you heard the biblical folded napkin story?



According to Hebrew tradition during the time of Christ’s life and death, a folded napkin had everything to do with a master and a servant. Every Jewish servant boy knew that when he set a table for the master, he made sure it was exactly the way the master wanted it. Nothing new here, right? Yes, the table was properly set and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, for the master to finish the meal. The servant would not dare touch the table until the master was done. Here’s where the napkin comes into play.


If the master was done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers and mouth, and then wad up the napkin and throw it on the table. This was the servant’s sign to clear the table as a wadded up napkin signified “I’m done.” If, however, the master got up from the table and laid a folded up napkin beside his plate, it mean “I’m coming back” and the servant was not to touch the setting.


I’m coming back.


Hmmmm…any guess how this is biblically related now?



Think about it. The Gospel tells us that the clothes Jesus was wearing at death were thrown aside but a cloth was neatly placed over His head. When Simon Peter entered the tomb, he noticed the wrapping lying about but that the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and laying neatly on the side.


I’m coming back.


Powerful, right? The power and meaning of a meal in Jesus’ life is equally significant.




Okay, so it probably wasn’t a meal that included a yummy cinnamon roll, but it did entail feeding a hungry soul. All along.



What immediately comes to mind is likely the Last Supper, but it started way prior. The Passover meal was historically important as Israelites shared a meal to remember both the bitterness of their slavery and the sweetness of their liberation. From the very beginning, it could be said that Jesus’ own life and ministry was food and/or meal-centered. At birth He proved food for a hungry world and is the Bread of Life. His ministry often involved meals or food, including His first miracle in which He turned water in wine at Cana and many of His preaching and teaching involved bread and fish. In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaims as part of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are those who hunger for justice for they will be filled.” What’s glorious about Jesus’ meals is that everyone was invited.



Perhaps it should come as no surprise that traits that enable us to live a moral life are listed as “Fruits of the Holy Spirit” (Gal 5:19-22). I’m not talking apples and oranges, I’m talking Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.  These seeds are planted in us to help us maintain good habits and virtues and are the opposite of what are called the “Bitter Fruits.” Yeah, they make us bitter and even worse, as they consist of traits such as immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, and carousing.


As we sit down for meals this Lent and as we anticipate Easter, let’s imagine for a minute a table full of those we’ve wronged, not forgiven, judged, or even deceived. Not very appetizing, is it? Yet, that’s the type of table Jesus, the Master of all masters set so even if we don’t actually do it, set that table in your mind and envision it. Then, let’s all be grateful for the food on our plates and for even the napkins on our lap. No masters or servants needed to know and believe “I’m coming back.”




The King of all Cakes and Tuesdays February 21, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:51 pm

Happy Fat Tuesday everyone! Are you wearing purple, gold, and green; donning beads and boas; marching in or watching a parade; and eating King Cake?  If you’re in or from Louisiana probably so, as today is a very festive day, especially in New Orleans. But all partying aside, both Mardi Gras and New Orleans are religious in origin and historically blessed, respectively. Today it’s all Mardi Gras and King Cake but tomorrow we’ll visit NOLA, a city that has so much more to offer than its “Big Sleazy” reputation. Let’s go!



Fat Out Special

Mardi Gras is really just today and despite its party reputation, it has a religious origin. Also known as Fat Tuesday, it is always the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Many people (me included) confuse Mardi Gras with Carnival, which is the celebratory season that stretches from Epiphany to Fat Tuesday. Rewind here a bit. The Christian Feast of the Epiphany is also the 12th day of Christmas and marks the day when the Three Wise Men/Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus. For those in places like New Orleans, it also marks the official end of the Christmas season and the beginning of Carnival season.


The French come into heavy play here as “mardi” means Tuesday in French and “gras” means fat. Many believe the first documented Mardi Gras celebration in America was in March of 1699 when French explorers traveled to America and docked near what is now New Orleans. They named their docking location “Point du Mardi Gras” and as other French immigrants arrived, Mardi Gras celebrations became increasingly popular. Until, that is, the Spanish took control of the Crescent City in 1762 and outlawed Mardi Gras celebrations. But, when Louisiana became a state in 1812, Mardi Gras celebrations returned and really never left. In fact, since what many consider the first NOLA Mardi Gras parade in 1827, there’s been a parade in the city every year since. Pending perhaps a pesky pandemic. Parades are back in full force this year though!


Mardi Gras and accompanying Carnival are celebrated all over the world, including well-known festivities in Brazil and Venice but rest assured New Orleans ranks right up there. Fat Tuesday may be all about indulging in everything festive, fun, and frivolous but there’s a reason for that too. It’s the day before Ash Wednesday, which is when Lent starts. Traditionally Lent is a period of 40 days of fasting and giving up bad and questionable habits as well as focusing on doing good. Today’s the day to get it all out of your system for the next 40 days!


Take the Cake

A big part of Mardi Gras is the famous King Cake, which, behind maybe birthday and wedding cakes, is considered the king of all cakes. So what is it with those colorful confections and is there really a baby inside each one? The answer is traditionally yes, and they too have a religious significance. Remember, all this Carnival and Mardi Gras celebration relates back to Epiphany, when the Three Kings traveled to see the newly born baby Jesus. This, my friends, is why the dessert is called a “King Cake” and why there’s a tiny baby hidden inside each one.


Francophiles will also be glad to hear that the beloved King Cake is said to have been brought to America from France in the 1870s and are traditionally oval-shaped, which some say represents the unity of faiths while others say represents a king’s crown. Cakes in New Orleans are decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold…the same colors you’ll find those famous beads in. The colors represent, in order, justice, faith, and power.


Funny thing is, many a King Cake is not actually a cake. Some are more bread-like while others resemble a pastry. Whatever they’re made of, they are always colorful and festive. The standard Louisiana version is a brioche-like dough swirled with cinnamon and cream cheese then braided and baked in a circle or oval shape and finished with icing and sprinkles. In France, a “galette des rois” or “cake of kings,” is more of a puffed pastry with a sweet almond filling and garnished with “jewels” like sprinkles and icing. Those in Spain and Latin America enjoy orange-flavored bread wreaths topped with dried fruit, which they call “roscas de reyes” or “cakes of kings.”


Okay, but what about that baby. As I said, it traditionally symbolizes Jesus although some cakes will have money or a trinket inside. Whoever finds one in their slice is crowned “king for the day” and vows to provide the next king cake and host the next party…whoever hosts a Mardi Gras party buys or makes the King Cake for it. It’s also considered good luck to find it and this “you’re next” tradition ensures celebrations continue in true New Orleans style.


Speaking of New Orleans style, it’s customary to also spend today cooking and indulging in traditional Cajun and Creole dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and etoufee. Do you know the differences? Do you know the history? You will tomorrow!


So there you have it and now you know all about Mardi Gras and King Cake. Tomorrow as we start Lent, we’ll visit New Orleans. At least on this blog. Rendez-vous alors!



Forever The Boss February 17, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:03 pm

After six decades and 46 years between his first concert and his most recent show, my husband Smitty says he has officially retired from Bruce Springsteen concerts. Last night’s show in Austin was amazing, despite the fact that our insultingly expensive tickets were seats in the second highest row, so he says he’s going out satisfied and that it’s been a good run. Personally, I think he’s sounding a bit Tom Bradyish, but a good run it’s been indeed.


Why The Boss? It’s hard to put into words but I’ll do my best here.



For Smitty, it all started 46 years ago when he saw Bruce for the first time at Buffalo’s Kleinhan’s Music Hall in 1977. During last week’s Dallas show we attended on February 2, he reminded our daughter and me of it being the exact date of his first show. This, from the guy who runs to HEB to get roses and a card the morning of our anniversary, but I digress. Since that first show, he was sold and has seen him 40+ times. Multiple cities. Multiple tours. If he hasn’t seen it. It’s been by choice.


For me it came a little later in life. I remember first hearing about Bruce when my high school friend’s older sister had “The River” and I loved “Hungry Heart.” At the time I also loved Fleetwood Mac, Supertramp, Boston, and a host of other ‘70s singers and Bruce was just another artist I liked. It wasn’t until many years later and marrying Smitty that my eyes were opened to the beauty of Bruce.




A couple of fun facts:

Smitty proposed by asking me to put on his Walkman headphones and cued up Bruce’s “I Wanna Marry You” song.


We walked out of our wedding to Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love” at the groom’s request because Bruce sang it on tour that year.


Yeah, he’s pretty devoted. And I love it.


Funny thing is, we love Bruce for different reasons. Smitty loves his hard rocking ways and I love the words he says. His lyrics had me from “Together Wendy…” I’m actually randomly including some of my faves in this blog including these:


Blow away the dreams that tear you apart

Blow away the dreams that break your heart

Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted

“The Promise Land”



Neither of us are fans of Bruce’s politics nor of the fact that he sold his entire music catalog for $500 million back in 2021. And, don’t even get me started about his shows being sold through Ticketmaster and Live Nation. The “man of the people” is doing his people no favors by offering tickets starting at maybe $200. Again though, I digress and could go on and on about the latter alone.



I met Bruce during his “Tunnel of Love” tour when I was working publicity and promotions at our local arena. I shook his hand (literally shaking inside) and got the cover of Smitty’s “Born to Run” personally autographed to him.


I actually kinda “called it” between him and now wife Patty Scialfa after seeing them exit a van backstage pretty chumming and while singing “Out in the Streets.” Sure enough, weeks later they were photographed on a balcony in Rome and the truth came out. I’m not a fan of her voice but like them together and feel like they’re true soul mates, like that their kids are good kids and have stayed out of the limelight, and like that first wife Julianna graciously chose to live a quiet life. Give the album “Tunnel of Love” another listen and you’ll get a feel for what was going on. It’s a great album and one of my favorites, but not a particularly happy one. Surprisingly, Bruce considers “Tougher Than the Rest” his best love song.




Speaking of kids, our daughter Kristen loves Bruce too. She went with us to his Dallas show and this couldn’t make us happier. Maybe it all started when I was pregnant and we saw Bruce in Dallas. In utero she was bopping to “Badlands!” Another show we all saw together was in New York City and we were lucky enough to meet Little Stevie backstage. It was the highlight of her first trip to NYC. Not the Empire State Building or Twin Towers. Not Central Park of 5th Avenue shopping. Nope. Bruce live in concert. Go figure. #raisedright.




That’s my story but I can’t speak for the millions of other fans. Thankfully Springsteen fans don’t have some cheesy name; they just love The Boss, follow The Boss, and don’t hesitate to tell anyone and everyone that his moniker rings true in that his shows are hands-down the best live concerts out there. They are raucous and retrospective, you’re up and you’re down, and chills and goosebumps are guaranteed. Think about it: three-to-four hours of rock with no opener and no break. You leave his shows exhausted. At 73-years-old he runs circles around all the young guns out there. He is the master showman. He is, the boss.


Remember all the movies, Terry we’d go see

Trying to learn to walk like the heroes

We thought we had to be

Well after all this time

To find we’re just like all the rest

Stranded in the park

And forced to confess to

Hiding on the backstreets



The big and expected hits are of course a blast live but IMHO, “Out in the Streets” is a surprising live show stand out as is “She’s the One.” The sax on “Jungleland” is rock’s best sax solo and every sax player should learn it and know it and “Backstreets?” He officially says it 28 times if you’re counting. BTW: in case you don’t know, Bruce’s normal sax player of the past few years is Clarence Clemmons’ nephew, Jake. It’s all in the family.




I’ll end here by saying Smitty and I love listing and going over our “Top 10” Bruce songs. Many are agreed upon but others are not. He loves “Kitty’s Back,” but it doesn’t make my Top 10. My number 1 Bruce song? “Growin’ Up.” I’ve seen him sing it live once and chill up every time it comes on. Off his first album, “Greetings from Asbury Park” that was released 50 years ago, it really all goes back to his lyrics for me and the passion in his imperfect voice. The song is about being a bit lost, standing up when told to sit down, and then finding a “nice little place in the stars.” That’s kinda been my life. I’m older and wiser but after growin up I’m still born to run and am learning from my glory days.




A Saint of a Day February 14, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:00 am

Gray Malin Photography

Happy Valentine’s Day! Tis the day when couples celebrate love, family members celebrate each other, and restaurants celebrate the fact that reservations are full and special menus are offered. Celebrated annually on February 14, Valentine’s Day is all about love but shouldn’t its message of love stick around all year? Long after the roses have died, the cards have been tossed or saved, and candies have been eaten, the love behind them should not similarly disappear. That’s how St. Valentine would have wanted it and that’s how he lived. Yes, there was a real man really named Valentine and maybe it’s time to learn about him and why we even have a Valentine’s Day. 



So who was this Valentine guy anyway? The Catholic Church recognizes several saints named Valentine or Valentinus, but the most popular belief is that Valentine was a third century priest in third century Rome. (Call me crazy but it’s my personal opinion that it’s quite fitting that the Saint of Love comes from Italy!) During that time, Claudius II was emperor and at some point decided that single men made better soldiers than those who were married. He outlawed marriage for young men in hopes of building a stronger military but Valentine strongly believed people should get married and thought the decree was unfair so he continued to secretly marry young couples. When Claudius found out about this, he sentenced Valentine to prison.



While imprisoned, Valentine was relentlessly asked to renounce his actions and his faith but he refused. Sent to another prison, Valentine is said to have written little messages to family and friends to let them know he was well and that he loved them. He was also befriended by a guard whose daughter was blind. Valentine would preach to and pray with the guard, who had asked Valentine to heal his daughter’s sight. It is said that just days before his execution, Valentine prayed over the girl, touched her eyes, and she regained her eyesight. Word traveled fast, and upon hearing about the miracle, many turned to Christianity. Claudius was not amused or impressed and quickly condemned Valentine to death. The night before his execution, Valentine wrote to the young girl and signed it, “From your Valentine.” The phrase became popular among lovers even back then and today is still used on cards everywhere. Stoned and beheaded on February 14, 269, Valentine was buried near Rome and a Basilica was erected in his honor.


Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentines didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known Valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture.  Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a Valentine note to Catherine of Valois. The original love note is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.


The tradition spread, and by the middle of the 18th century it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the early 1900s, printed cards began to replace written letters thanks to improvements in printing technology. 


Americans, however, are thought to have began exchanging hand-made Valentines in the early 1700s and in the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Not only was she the “Mother of Valentines,” but perhaps the first ever scrapbooker!


According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind only to Christmas and just ahead of Mother’s Day. I personally love the fact that a Catholic tradition and Catholic saint quietly but symbolically are behind a holiday celebrated by all walks of lives and beliefs and even better, one having to do with love. I love it. 



Valentine’s Days of some sort are celebrated worldwide. In Japan, chocolate is considered even more sacred and “valentine-ish” than in the U.S. while in Denmark flowers are given to loved ones on the holiday. In both Italy and Germany it’s strictly an adult and “lovers only” holiday while Mexico officially calls it the “Day of Love and Friendship.” St. Valentine is considered the Patron Saint of Spring in Slovenia but perhaps the holiday is celebrated in the most grandest of ways in France. In Paris, known as the “City of Love,” couples used to attach locks on the Pont des Arts Bridge and throw keys into the River Seine on Valentine’s Day but the practice was halted due to the weight of the locks and their potential damage to the historic bridge.  The French village of St. Valentin is decked in flowers on Valentine’s Day and is a popular destination for weddings, vow renewals, and engagements. How lovely would that be?!



St. Valentine is the Patron Saint of love, young people, and happy marriages, which makes me happy being that I was married on February 15. Considering the fact that Valentine saw to it that couples were united in marriage, it makes perfect sense that the holiday of love is named after him. He would have loved it!


Valentine’s favorite words were “Love one another as I have loved you” and I’m thinking they’re pretty good words for all of us to live by. On Valentine’s Day and every day.


A Bird’s Eye View January 17, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:47 pm

Original art courtesy Mollie Holton

Sometimes the weirdest things happen and coincidence comes into play in the darndest ways. I was in the middle of researching this blog on birds when my husband texted me a video of a bird retrieving a little piece of food that was elaborately locked in, what seemed like, an impenetrable container. But the bird easily opens each lever and bolt and eats the food. Moral of the story? Birds are smart! So much for “bird brains!”



They are also very symbolic. You’ve probably heard the belief that “Cardinals appear where angels are near” and what better symbol of anything anywhere than the proud American Bald Eagle? I learned from that from mythology to art to poetry to literature to religion, birds have always been a part of our world, every single continent has birds, and every civilization encounters them. What other group of animals has such a widespread devotion that watching them is a popular hobby? Think about it, countless songs are about birds and countless stories are dedicated to them.



My mamma loves birds. Growing up we had several yellow canaries that were so beautiful and sang divinely. She also always has a hummingbird feeder and several bird houses. My husband recently became a novice bird watcher. He’s bought a bird feeder, has a bird identification book, and sits outside watching and naming them. He’s become quite the “eagle eye!”




This kinda all started for me when last week, one of my favorite bloggers, authors, and happiness expert, Gretchen Rubin, informed her readers that the bluebird is a symbol for happiness, and when you think about it, it makes perfect sense.


What comes to mind when you think of the color blue? The endless sky and calming oceans, right? Blue is often connected to serenity, calmness, and gentleness. All of those things make us happy so how fitting that the bluebird is connected to joy and optimism. Bluebirds are also considered the quintessential songbird and their cheerful singing just adds even more joy and happiness to their brilliant blue plumage and pedigree. What’s equally interesting is that the bluebird as we know it is found only in North America.



Then there is that famous cardinal. Considered to represent a loved one who has passed, when you see one it said to mean that loved one is visiting you. Kinda magical; kinda creepy. It’s what I call the “daddy cardinal” that this pertains to, as the males are the pretty red ones. Not fair, right? This is also the case with peacocks. Those beautiful fanned out tails? They belong only to male peacocks. Interestingly, peacocks don’t really sing; they let out a wail that sounds like a cat’s meow.



On that note…have you ever had a bird that incessantly bangs up against a window? If it’s a cardinal (and maybe other types), it’s probably a male as they fiercely defend their breeding territory and when they see their reflection on a glass surface, they will spend hours fighting the imaginary intruder. This is taking “take someone under your wing” to a whole new level! We’ve experienced this in a previous house and it’s maddening. I’ve never learned how you can avoid this either.



If I had to choose, I’d say my favorite bird is a sandpiper. Found on beaches and usually in groups, I love how the little birds walk so quickly along the sand and can watch them all day long. They are very busy birds and collect food as they move along the water and sand, where they prefer to be. They don’t fly very high and not only are they adorable, I discovered they are a symbol for problem-solving and achieving goals. I’m all in!



Gray Malin

I also have an affinity for flamingos and I’m not entirely sure why other than I love their bright pink color, stately stature, and the fact that if I’m seeing them, I’m most likely at a tropical destination; especially considering that I’m not a zoo person. In true “ugly duckling” fashion though, their pink color, which they don’t sport at birth, takes years to appear. For this reason, flamingos symbolize potential as well as balance, fun, and flamboyancy. All make perfect sense, right? They have forever inspired the hearts and minds of artists, photographers, and writers and are found in tropical and subtropical regions on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. They have intense courtship and parenting rituals and are often found in large flocks. So uncomfortable with solitude and small groupings are they that zoos often hang mirrors in their areas to give the impression of a large flock.



So, what is it about birds that we love so much? Not only are so many of them God’s glorious colorful creations, as the above photo shows, but maybe it’s also the fact that they can fly, symbolizing freedom, imagination, and possibility. Or maybe we just love their occasional fragility and enchanting singing? As I wrote earlier, birds have been significantly relevant throughout the ages. Ravens were very significant in Norse mythology and the crane is seen as a symbol of happiness and eternal youth in Japanese culture. We’ve all seen those elegant paper cranes, but did you know paper and non-paper ones are often given as gifts to newlywed or elderly couples as it’s believed they will bring good luck to recipients. Two other areas where birds are extremely significant are with Native Americans and in scripture.



Tim Hightower

When you buy something made by a Native American, there’s a good chance a bird will be somewhere on or in it. They are highly revered by tribes and pueblos and many are connected with weather. Others represent power and confidence. The giant mystical Thunderbird has a legend all its own and according to myth, the Painted Bunting was given its beautiful colors by the Great Spirit.



Speaking of spirit, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove.


“And the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven saying ‘You are My beloved Son and in You I am well-pleased.” Luke 3:22


Birds appear throughout the Bible and in various forms and function, starting with Genesis where “every winged bird according to its kind” were created. To this day, a dove is almost a universal symbol of peace and hope and it all started in that same first book of the Bible. A dove also signaled to Noah that it was safe to leave the arch and eagles way back then symbolized hope and strength.


 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31


In fact, “God feeds all the birds every day and not one millionaire could do so for even one day.”



You’ve heard the saying “Birds of a feather flock together” and it’s true! Birds symbolize community, family, parenthood, and even romance as they tend to form strong bonds with their mates. We’ve all seen a famous V-shaped group of birds all flying in perfect unity and formation. Think of a bird nest too. So fragile yet so important. It’s no surprise we call being comfortable in our homes “nesting.” No one loves nesting more than me and I love to feather my nest!



There is literally no shortage of stories and legends regarding birds. Dreaming about a bird is seen as a message from your subconscious or as a sign of what you desire most. Then there’s the beloved yet mythical Phoenix that emboldens us to overcome a seemingly insurmountable setback. This born again bird may date back as far back as ancient Egypt. And idioms? I’ve incorporated several in this blog, but what about “as the crow flies,” “early bird,” “night owl,” and even the old “chicken crossed the road” joke?




So, the next time someone calls you a “bird brain,” thank them and remind them that by “killing two birds with one stone” you were able to do two things instead of just one and that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” reminds you that what you already have is more valuable than forever longing for something more. By doing all of this, you will have a “bird’s eye view” of life and may just sour like an eagle.



Fun Fact About Birds

Birds are animals with feathers.

All birds have feathers.

Birds are the only animals that have feathers.

All birds hatch eggs.

Birds don’t have teeth.

All birds have two wings and two legs.

Birds have hallow bones, which helps them fly.

Not all birds can fly, including ostriches and penguins.

There are more than 9,000 kinds of birds.

The largest bird is the ostrich.

The smallest bird is the hummingbird, which can fly backwards.

Scientists a long time ago built airplanes by studying how birds fly.



Bird Symbolism and Association

Cranes: peace, blessings, good luck

Eagles: courage, rebirth, power

Owls: insight, wisdom, death

Swans: romance, purity

Sparrows: productivity, diligence, creativity

Peacocks: serenity, luxury, vanity

Nightingale: anticipation, love, secrets

Hummingbirds: joy, love, healing

Falcons: longevity, victory, nobility

Crows: intelligence, curiosity, adaption

Cardinals: faith, balance, romance

Bluebird: joy, honesty, harmony


Post-Holiday Decor January 11, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:32 pm

Traditional Home

As we watched the college football National Championship a few nights back (yikes TCU!), my hubby and I both commented on how clean, calm, and uncluttered our rooms felt after packing up all the Christmas décor. Yes, we love it all but it does seem a bit tranquil once they’re gone. Right? Maybe, maybe not as apparently not everyone thinks so.


This surprised me as I read “The Cozyminimalist’s” recent blog where in it, author Myquillyn Smith included a section asking readers “Miss Your Christmas Tree?” Surprisingly many people say their house feels a bit blah and empty after taking down trees, decorations, and all things Santa and nativities. I found this so interesting and loved her interesting advice.


If your house feels a bit blah after taking your Christmas tree down, you’re not alone writes Smith. In fact, it might feel sad, empty, and lifeless. But there are things you can do to replace it in some way. Let’s start with sad as your home in general is suddenly void of sparkle and light. Think about it, all those twinkly lights and sparkly ornaments added a sense of joy, light, coziness, warmth, and even a bit of charm and fairy-tale. You can’t replace them all but you can see the light.



Most of us don’t realize how important lighting is in a room. I for one do not like overhead lighting and instead prefer lamps. The affect good lighting has on us and in a room when done right is both cozy and classy but when you remove it like you do with a Christmas tree, that warmth suddenly disappears. Easy fix here. Add more lamps in your room and turn off those overhead lights. Include reading lights, sconces, and maybe even some remote-control candles. Fireplaces also add light and warmth.


That space where your tree was probably feels a bit empty now too as the scale of it filled the room and added a sense of balance. No worries. All you have to do is add a large-scale item or two!



Jim Dine artist/Bunny Williams Interior Design

In general, scale is a great way to add interest to any room and large items, risky as they may be if incorrectly used and incorporated, add presence to a room and their own substantial style. In most rooms that once hosted a Christmas tree, the largest item in them is a sofa or maybe some sort of entertainment center or shelving. Keep them but add something else. Probably nothing as substantially-sized as a Christmas tree, but think large rug, piece of art, chair, or mirror. Less is more however, in that using less décor but large décor makes a room striking rather than cluttered.



Present Season

Your ultimate goal with all this is to bring life back into the room you’re feeling is suddenly void of it. Christmas trees are essentially life and big green plants (even fake ones), so why not consider adding a live tree or large plant with a substantial and unique planter to the room? Most designers and home experts agree that almost every room in a house needs some type of greens, whether it’s plants or vased flowers, as they literally bring life into a room.


Something else I like to do once the Christmas decorations are packed away is rearrange things. Move that sofa and rug, rearrange seating areas, and even reconsider coffee table groupings and mantel décor. Doing so makes a room and a house feel new and what better time to do so than at the start of a new year? Have fun with it and keep in mind you can switch things again for spring cleaning. Until then, see you next year Old Tanenbaum.







All It’s Cracked Up to Be January 2, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:39 pm

Awwww…a brand-new year. Always a time to look back and look forward as we wrap up another holiday season both literally and figuratively. Whether you’re still celebrating or are moving on, you’re probably also thinking ahead to the new year now upon us and perhaps even all those New Year’s Resolutions you might have made. I prefer calling them “intentions,” as I always have right and good intentions to make them happen. One of my annual New Year’s resolutions is to learn something new and I’ve been pretty successful following through. Last year I boogie-boarded for the first time. I also choose a word for the year. For 2022, my word was “pause,” which worked so well for me I might even keep it around this year.



Speaking of words, have you seen the above pic making its way around social media and the internet? Did you see your four words? Mine are Connect, Strength, Change, and Lessons. Love them all but as a creature of habit, the third one might be the most challenging. Here’s hoping the second and fourth ones will help me through it all!


If I’m being real, I really don’t like change. I like routine and plans. But, when necessary, I have and can adapt. I recently just had to actually…in a big way. My family had Christmas travel plans and we were so excited to spend Christmas in Hilton Head, SC. But, two days before our trip we were checking the weather and it looked really cold and really not fun…especially for a beach locale and for my husband the golfer. So….he called an audible and we changed everything in a matter of hours: our flight and that of our daughter, our hotel, dinner reservations, rental car, tee times, visits with friends…the works. Yes, it freaked me out but lists are my friends so once I had a “change” list; I was on. Truth be told, it was secretly kinda exciting!



The trip will be one that I’ll remember forever…for multiple reasons. I’ll remember how spontaneous we were in changing everything to sunny Scottsdale, AZ and the fun we had the first few days we were there. I’ll remember visiting our daughter’s old stomping grounds from living there after graduating from college and I’ll remember our wonderful casita room. I unfortunately, will also remember getting hit with an upper respiratory infection and finding my health deserted me in the desert. The fun and excitement  didn’t end there. Long story made short: we got stuck in the Southwest Airlines flight cancellation debacle of 2022 and had to drive home. Thankfully we already had a rental car, had friends to stay the night with halfway through the drive, and our daughter’s flight made it back to her home safely. I was never so happy to be in my own bed, albeit sick for five more days. Yep, memorable indeed.



Courtesy Gretchen Rubin

Last year was full of memorable people, places, and things and as we reflect on our experiences over the past 12 months I read about a great little idea. Author and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin asked her followers and readers “what would you put in your time capsule for 2022?” and of course it got be thinking. If I’m anything I’m a thinker and a very sentimental one. My time capsule might be pretty big!


Rubin suggested things like photos, travel souvenirs, and maybe a letter to your future self. What you put it all in is of your choosing and creativity. Or, you could even have a time capsule that’s only in your head or perhaps just a list of what you’d put in it. As with anything, have fun with it!



Another idea is to have a year of reflections instead of resolutions. Take time this week and month to reflect on your life: how it’s going, what’s great, what could be better, and whether you’re the person you believe you should or can be. Then, look ahead and hammer out ideas on how to make improvements or to simply be grateful. Ask yourself what you wish you’d have done more or less of, what made you proud last year, what values do you want to uphold or increase, and maybe even what your hopes are for 2023. You don’t have to go crazy or solve all the planet’s problems; just start small but meaningful and see where it goes from there.




That’s the problem. We all try to do too much as a new year arrives. Resolutions like “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “I need to exercise every day” might be more attainable if reworded to “I want to eat healthier” and “I hope to exercise 30 minutes at least 3-4 times a week.” Make them achievable. Make them attainable.


And don’t try to fix everything. In fact, sometimes the broken is where healing is found.



The Japanese have a beautiful concept called “Kintsugi.” It’s a form of ceramics that, when a vase or bowl or cup is broken, artists gather up the pieces and glue them back together using glue mixed with gold dust. In this way, they don’t hide the cracks they actually honor and own them, even accentuate them, knowing cracks are often where the light gets in.


I read about this in Matthew Kelly’s book “Life Is Messy” and found it so powerful. Kelly reminds us that our imperfections are what make us perfectly ourselves and that even when something is broken, it can indeed be beautiful again. It may not be exactly the same as before, but it can still be good. This includes people and it includes you.



In this way, the Japanese don’t pretend the vase was never broken and they don’t pretend they’re not broken. They accept that life is indeed messy and know that when we pretend to be someone other than who we are, our true self hides in fear and shame. We may appear shiny and new on the outside, but on the inside we are cracked and broken.



Kintsugi also teaches us that we can be other’s healers and glue each other back together using the gold dust that is love, connection, empathy, patience, forgiveness, acceptance, generosity, community, and kindness. Believing that something that has been broken can’t be beautiful inhibits us not only of joy, but of hope. Believing brokenness can be put back together is both liberating and healthy and just might be the perfect way to start out the new year. Whatever was broken last year can very well be healed and glued back together this year. Maybe my word this year will be “glue.” Maybe it will be “heal.” And maybe it will just be “pause” again as I work to heal, glue, love, and learn.


Happy 2023 everyone!