Saturday, October 21, 2017

Being truly original

"I hope someday you will see that this is all life wants: For you to be your own kind of beautiful, and not the kind that makes you forget who you are." ~Brian Andreas, Storypeople

This boo-tiful pumpkin from the Royal Oak Farmer's Market is embellished with fresh veggies. It was a Halloween gift from my friend Matilda. (Photo by Cindy La Ferle)  

Friday, October 20, 2017

Making meaningful connections

"In all areas of life, successful people are the ones who make the effort. They ask for what they want, they initiate plans, they dream up the ideas. They don't just sit and wait for other people to call or make things happen. The world opens up to you when you extend the invitation."  ~Louise Hay

Three Cats Cafe at Leon & Lulu, Clawson / Cindy La Ferle

Yesterday was a near-perfect autumn day, thanks in part to an impromptu lunch date with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. 

I first met Karen several years ago when she worked for one of my doctors. Now that she's retired, we keep in touch via email and meet for lunch occasionally. One of the things I admire most about Karen is her gift for reaching out to others and initiating friendship. 

In fact, I credit her for making sure we've stayed in touch -- and especially for not giving up on me when I've been ill, out of town, or otherwise unable to get together. She's the sort of person who checks in to see how you're feeling, or drops a note when she enjoys something you've written or posted. Not surprisingly, Karen has an active social life and a long list of interesting friends. The more I get to know her, the more I discover how much we have in common, including our political views, favorite vacation spots, and the fact that we're not on Facebook.

According to several friendship experts I've interviewed, lack of regular communication (including failure to initiate social plans) is most often cited as the reason why so many friendships drift apart. 

All too often, I'm guilty of saying, "Let's get together soon" -- but later neglect to act on it. Seeing Karen yesterday reminded me of how important it is, no matter how busy we are, to make time for the relationships we value and hope to keep. ~CL

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Local color

“It was a beautiful bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it.” ~Diana GabaldonOutlander

Autumn color show in Clawson / Cindy La Ferle

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The rare beauty of humility

“To quote an old proverb, an empty cart rattles loudly. In other words, always remember that the one who lacks substance boasts loudest.” ~ Alan Brennert 

Greenfield Village, Dearborn / Cindy La Ferle

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dancing your own steps

"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can." ~Neil Gaiman

Cindy La Ferle

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Adopting shelter pets

"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself."– Josh Billings 

My best friend, Coco / Cindy La Ferle

Three years ago today, I made a wise, life-changing decision:  I adopted a rescue dog. I realize that anyone who has ever opened their home to a shelter pet believes that his or her particular story is heartwarming and unique, so I hope you'll bear with me while I share mine.

I'd been carrying a heart-load of grief when I first spotted Coco, a shy shepherd mix, at a local animal shelter. My mother had died exactly one month earlier, after a long, sad battle with heart disease and vascular dementia. Aside from the fact that I'm a longtime supporter of animals, I was possessed by the notion that adopting a dog in need would help ease my loss while filling the extra time that had suddenly opened up on my care-giving calendar.

Coco and Doug at work / Cindy La Ferle

First, I had to convince Doug that we absolutely had to welcome a large dog into our two-cat household. Then I had to convince the folks at the animal shelter that we were capable of managing a needful canine that hadn’t yet reached maturity. I discovered, after filling out a four-page application, that rescue-pet adoption is just as competitive as any Ivy League university admissions process. 

But I refused to take “no” for an answer -- from my husband or the animal shelter. 

I was moved from the start by Coco’s harrowing back story. Scheduled for euthanasia at a shelter in rural Ohio, she and several other stray dogs had been rescued by a volunteer pilot and flown to our community in suburban Detroit. Still shaken by her turbulent flight when I first met her, she was underweight and smelled as if she’d recently crossed paths with an angry skunk. 

Coco on squirrel patrol in St. Joseph

But it wasn’t until we got her home that I realized she needed us as much as we needed her. After several trips to the veterinarian’s office, we learned that Coco’s immune system was seriously compromised, and that she would require a special diet for the rest of her life. Coco needed a caregiver.

Several months and several more medical bills later, Coco's health began to stabilize. Today, exactly three years later, her black and auburn coat sports an elegant sheen, and her ears perk up at the first mention of the phrase, “Let’s go for a walk.” It’s not uncommon for strangers to stop and admire her beauty, or even to inquire about her breed. (I learned, after having her DNA tested at our vet's office, that Coco is half German shepherd, part husky, and part "sporting dog of unknown origin.") I refer to her as a "sheptriever."

Coco / Cindy La Ferle

Unlike our cats, both of whom have perfected the art of lounging, Coco inspires us to get out of our desk chairs and get moving. Best of all, this sweet dog has coaxed me, one step at a time, out of the dense fog of grief that had nearly numbed my heart by the time my mother died. I’m convinced that dogs -- especially shelter dogs -- are receptive to human emotion. Though we tell ourselves that we're rescuing these animals, we're really healing the tender, wounded places in our own hearts.  

Not long after we adopted Coco, a friend reminded me that dog ownership "ties you down" and limits opportunities to travel. Having worked as a national travel magazine editor in the past, I understood exactly what she meant. These days, Doug and I don't even think about leaving town without researching our pet-care options.

Even so, nothing matches the thrill of walking Coco under a full moon on a clear autumn night, or watching her lean out the car window on a warm summer afternoon, ears flying, en route to a local park. And I can’t think of a five-star hotel amenity that tops the pleasure of working in my garden at home while Coco keeps watch on the lawn.

I'm eternally grateful for this lovely dog, who made her "forever home" in my heart the moment we met. She has taught me to savor the present moment, always reminding me that where I am right now is the absolute best place to be. ~CL

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Growing better as we age

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” ~Robert Frost

In case you haven't seen it yet, Prevention magazine's October "Love Your Age" issue is a winner. The special edition includes more than 40 pages of pro-aging content, including a piece about four inspiring female athletes in their eighties, plus an in-depth report on the science and scams of anti-wrinkle products. In particular, I was fascinated by the results of 
Prevention's extensive national survey on various aging topics. Here are just a few highlights from the survey:

*Despite the stereotype of the "crabby old woman," many of us get happier and less stressed as we age:

"Nearly half of the women in their 40s and 50s and one-third of women ages 60 and older reported being happier now than they were 20 years ago," Prevention reported. "In fact, as people age, their physiological response to stressful situations starts to diminish."

*Appearance matters less to mature women -- and not as many women are opting for anti-aging cosmetic procedures:

"Only one in 10 respondents said she'd had an anti-aging procedure or cosmetic surgery, and only 11% plan to do so in the future," Prevention found.

*Maintaining good health was the top priority of the women surveyed:

"Health outranked marriage, children, money, and weight in terms of importance," Prevention reported. "Boomers are leading the demand for fresher, less processed food." For many of us, healthy diets and fitness classes are regular routines, which could add a few more years to our lives. 

*As we age, friendship is important to us, but we now value quality over quantity, preferring supportive relationships over superficial ones:

According to the survey, most boomers said they now choose their inner circle more carefully, and spend more time building reciprocal friendships. "I cleaned house of the occasional friends who did nothing to support me emotionally when my mom broke her pelvis and needed constant care," recalled survey respondent Jackie Morel of New York City. "I have fewer friends now but closer ties overall."