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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Friday, March 27, 2009

Photos of the places where my mind will drift

If you want to know what makes my heart ache, this about sums it up.

I have my own versions of some of these photos, and videos from some of the same locations. Every time I visit Cornwall, I have a deeper desire to stay. And every time I leave, I feel as though I've left myself behind. Invariably I try to bring bits and pieces of England home with me -- photos, food, sand, pebbles, wood, music, clothes, toys, friends.

But it's impossible to surround yourself with something you love so much without actually being there. Seeing these particular selections through someone else's lens, though, adds indescribable richness and depth to the etches, tones and hues of my own recollections of the place.

These pictures remind me that the villages and towans and beaches where the other part of me lives really do exist. The clock ticks here, and time passes there. Hayle exists beyond my imagination. These photos are someone else's proof of it. And the place is as beautiful to them as it is to me.

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