Charlie Fern's Ink

Do what you say. Say it in color.

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Name: Charlie Fern
Location: San Diego-Austin-Washington-London

Charlie Fern is a former White House speechwriter who runs a full-scale communications consulting, PR and speechwriting firm. Ms. Fern is also an adjunct professor who teaches public relations at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A handful of items that money can't buy

Money can't buy the live music of life. A hummy Easter morning in my home: laughter, music, glasses clinking, tea kettle boiling. Or the sounds of life's firsts: My 4-year-old son's small, expressive, sing-song voice, which narrated an uncensored and steady stream of conscious thoughts as he puttered around the house searching for (and finding by himself) the brightly colored Easter eggs "hidden" in conspicuous places for him the night before.

Money can't buy the million butterflies released the moment of your first kiss: A once-in-a-lifetime rush of adolescent love that only you and one other person on earth will rightly remember. Money can't buy the sometimes bittersweet feeling that comes years later, when you realize you married the right person.
Money can't buy that deep, comfortable, peaceful sleep-state that settles in just moments before the alarm goes off. Nor can it buy the smell of my grandmother's powder room on a spring day: A combination of old stucco walls, wood floors, faded powders and potions, salt air, earth, and flowering peach trees; a scent that changes slightly when the breeze shifts and stirs the curtains... and summons a different flight of memories.

Money can't buy streams of consciousness, waves of emotion, or torrents of sensory experiences that we swim in right now; the taste, touch, sound, smell, and sight of life unfolding. Money can't buy the feelings, epiphanies, or memories of our firsts and lasts. Money can't buy the things that have the most potent energy, the most sacred meaning or the most precious value, like daydreams and passion and spontaneous laughter and surprise this music clip I stumbled across (thanks to the band Collective Soul), by Susan Boyles of England who reminds us that money also can't buy the amazing talents we're born with, like the voice of an angel.

Perhaps most importantly, money can't buy back the time that you didn't spend properly in the first place. So just stop for a minute once in a while. Forget the viewfinder. Focus on life, exclusively. Watch it unfold with your own two eyes. Breathe life in. Bathe in it, bask in it, revel in it.

I'll try to do the same.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One more in the name of love: I've got 3 little words for you on Saturday

This one's for you, Mr. Mitchem. Good luck with your lovely experiment.

I was talking about marriage with some friends the other day. About the ups and downs, and how miserable the downs are. It's remarkable how fast, and how easily, things can go wrong in a relationship, or a household.

Stop paying attention for just an instant, and things start to unwind. It's usually when you're busy looking the other direction, or tending to your own concerns, that your house falls apart. And there's a mighty fine line between feeling good and grounded... and feeling isolated and alone. I feel tired and defeated when my house isn't in order. I get steamrolled when my relationships are on shaky ground.

When I lose that connection to the person I count on the most, I turn to my friends -- a supportive community of peers who will acknowledge the hard work and sacrifices I've made to uphold my end of the commitment. I say, "I've worked hard, damnit." And they say, "We know. You're a good sport. We love you."

Isn't it true, though? When times are tough, people seek the safety and reassurance of community, whether it's friends, or coworkers, or social networks like Twitter.

It is so easy to lose faith in someone you believe in. So easy to question someone's integrity or doubt their motivations, especially when there's a commitment involved. It's good to have friends then. It's good to have community. But there's nothing greater than those remarkable times when life, or relationships, stop careening towards a brick wall and turn, instead, for the better. When someone shows a sign of hope and gives you a reason to believe again.

When you commit to something -- when you put your faith in a person, or a cause, or an organization, regardless of how angry or disillusioned you might be, you want to keep that commitment.

You can lie to me, but you can't lie to yourself: even when you're halfway out the door, there's a part of you that's still inside the place looking around for a sign of hope. I don't care how successful you are, or how tough you are, or how important you feel. You want a reason to believe. You want a reason to stick around. We all do.

So here's a little secret to success for you: It's easier to maintain a house along the way. Putting your life back together after it's fallen apart is a lot of work. Either way it's worth it, because I know I'm at my best and most confident when my house is in order. When my relationships are strong.

Make it easy on yourself. Invest in your most important relationships. Be there for the people who count on you, even if it's inconvenient. Pay it forward every once in a while and pay attention to the results. You'll make someone happy. You'll strengthen a relationship. And you'll feel good, too. You've got to drop a seed of hope along the way. It doesn't take a lot of effort to drop a seed, and it makes a difference.

On Saturday, I'm asking you to drop a seed of hope.

My Twitter accomplice from Smash Communications, Jim Mitchem, wrote a moving blog entry about love this week.

Jim asked us to use the bull-horn of social media to say "I love you" on Saturday, April 4, to everyone in our virtual worlds.
They're real people, you know. Three little words, with no name at the beginning or end. Say, "I love you" to the universe. Drop a seed. What do you have to lose?

On Saturday, I'm going to say "I love you". I might even say it more than once. Won't you join me?

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Howard bless you, Mrs. Hughes


This is one of the funniest ladies I've seen in a very long time. Don't watch this if you have anything in your mouth. You might blow it out your nose when you laugh. Share with anyone who needs a lift.

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