Monday, July 31, 2017

"Wonderful Things" exhibit at Cranbrook Science Museum

“As my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist: strange animals, statues, and gold -- everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment -- an eternity, it must have seemed to the others standing by -- I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, 'Can you see anything?' it was all I could do to get out the words, 'Yes, wonderful things.” ~Howard CarterTomb of Tutankhamen

From the "Wonderful Things" exhibit at Cranbrook Institute of Science / Cindy La Ferle

As a kid, I was totally enthralled with mummies and the history of ancient Egypt. I can recall playing for hours with a King Tut Magic Mummy toy -- a tiny plastic mummy figure with a magnet inside it. If you tapped the Magic Mummy on one end, it wouldn't "rest" in its miniature coffin. To get the restless Mummy to settle back in, you had to repeat a few magic words while tapping on the other end. (Sure, I was a little weird.) And, of course, I read anything I could find about Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamen's treasure-filled tomb. 

Cindy La Ferle
Earlier this summer, I enjoyed touring the "Wonderful Things" exhibit at the Cranbrook Institute of Science Museum in Bloomfield Hills.  

Ten years in the making, the show features more than 100 meticulously recreated items from King Tut's legendary tomb, including his golden shrines, state chariot, funerary mask, and mummy case. The collection is enhanced by additional ancient Egyptian artifacts from the Science Museum's own collection. All in all, the exhibit is beautifully done -- complete with atmospheric lighting that lends an air of mystery to each display. 
Cindy La Ferle

If you're looking for something special to do in Oakland County this summer -- especially with youngsters who are old enough to appreciate the wonders of ancient Egypt -- this show (now through September 3) is definitely worth a visit. 

For more information, please visit the Museum's website. ~CL

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Just my cup of tea

“The best you can do in life is be who you are. Some people will love you for being you. Most will love you for what you can do for them, and some won't like you at all.” ~Rita Mae Brown

Three Cats Cafe at Leon & Lulu / Cindy La Ferle

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Speaking of politics

“The habitual use of profanity is not progressive, just unimaginative.” ~Ron Brackin

Cindy La Ferle

Brenda Kinsel's fashion blog

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” ~Bill Cunningham

A page from Brenda Kinsel's Fashion Makeover: 30 Days to Diva Style / Cindy La Ferle

On my list of things that make me happy this week is Brenda Kinsel's fashion blog. A professional image consultant and author of Brenda Kinsel's Fashion Makeover, Brenda inspires women of all ages -- and especially women over 50 -- to enjoy the art of dressing every single day. 

As she explains in her blog's introduction, she "believes deeply in the hidden power of clothes to express a person's essence." She's a woman after my own heart.

Brenda's eclectic wardrobe, which is featured in her blog posts, is both creative and practical. She'll mix basics from Chico's or J.Jill with clever vintage finds and artisan jewelry. Best of all, she has a flair for storytelling, too -- her writing is warm and engaging. I follow and enjoy several "over-50" fashion bloggers (you can read my list here) and Brenda's is the first of several favorites that I'll be sharing with you between now and fall. ~CL

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Soul journeys

"There is a forest in your heart, a vast ocean in your mind, a universe in your soul. However trapped or frightened you may feel, you were born to be an explorer." ~Martha Beck

Doug on the beach / Cindy La Ferle

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The zen of not obsessing

"That thing that you are obsessing about -- no one else is obsessing about it with the same intensity as you are. People are thinking about themselves. Remember that and move through your day." ~Gretchen Hydo

Cindy La Ferle

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Growing yourself

"You can't be in growth and protection at the same time." ~Dr. Bruce Lipton

 Cindy La Ferle

After reading the above quotation on a poster in my chiropractor's office, I haven't stopped thinking about growth and change. 

Growing up in the 1950s and '60s, I was raised to appreciate loyalty and tradition -- the ease and comfort of keeping a routine, year after year. My father worked in the same industry for his entire career and always voted Republican, even when "Tricky Dick" Nixon ran for president. When my mother found a product or a brand she liked, she repurchased it every time she needed more of it. Likewise, I believed my best pals in grade school would be "forever friends," and I pledged my lifelong devotion to them. 

By the time I got to college, however, I figured out that life is always changing -- and that if you're growing, learning, and evolving along with it, your loyalties are bound to change too. And that's not such a bad thing. 

You might discover that you need a better job (or an entirely different career) than the one you chose when you were young and inexperienced. Sometimes the products you've been using for years stop producing the results you want, and it's time to try something new. Sometimes you discover that a few of your old friendships no longer fit as comfortably as they once did, or that you've lost common ground. Sometimes your boss or your national leaders disappoint you, or do something you believe is wrong, and your loyalty feels rightfully misplaced. 

All said and done, when you're serious about growing yourself and improving your life, you're going to change your mind and change direction from time to time. You can either choose to remain safe while sticking to your old patterns, or you can take the risks that positive change will ask of you. ~CL


Friday, July 21, 2017

Getting through rocky times

"No part of your experience is wasted. Everything you've experienced so far is part of what you were meant to learn." ~Martha Beck
Cindy La Ferle

The past two weeks have been a challenge for me. A couple of recurring health issues have come back to haunt me, the least of which is skin cancer that will require the talents of an ophthalmic surgeon next month. For the sake of brevity, I'll just say I've seen more doctors than I'd like to this summer.

But here's the thing. As we age -- and even when we do our very best to take care of ourselves -- stuff happens that isn't in our complete control. To meet these challenges, we're wise to draw courage from our previous experiences, seek the comfort and counsel of close friends, and know that this, too, shall pass.  ~CL

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Stand up for yourself

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." ~ Winston Churchill

Cranbrook House & Gardens / Cindy La Ferle

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The lost art of loafing

"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." - Sam Keen

Late summer sunset on Lake Michigan / Cindy La Ferle

The sad reality always hits us in mid-July: Summer is at the halfway mark. 

Taking inventory of what we've done since June, we might realize how precious little time we've spent relaxing. The first half of June, after all, explodes like a bottle rocket into thin air. Our calendars are covered top to bottom with ceremonies, picnics, graduation parties, and weddings.

Before summer packs up its beach bag and clears out for a new school term, we'd all do well to indulge in a few non-eventful pleasures. Many Europeans, for example, take the entire month of July or August as vacation time. While such a long holiday isn't possible for most Americans, I'd like to borrow a page from a favorite French author, Veronique Vienne. Joie de vivre isn't all that complicated, she reminds us, but we have to make time for it.

With that in mind, I plan to watch more sunsets, count more fireflies, take more cat caps on the patio, and spend more starry nights identifying the constellations. Instead of pulling weeds or pruning, I'm going to sit back and admire what I've planted. Guilt-free, I'll ride my bike for an entire morning without checking my watch, and later read a novel that has no redeeming social value. In other words, I'd like to experience life in real time -- and spend less time nosing around the internet. 

Most of us schedule our lives too tightly, then rely on "nostalgic flashbacks" to appreciate our happiest moments, writes Vienne in The Art of the Moment: Simple Ways to Get the Most from Life (Clarkson Potter). 

"As you embrace the here and now, don't be surprised if you suddenly feel lucky -- lucky to be blessed with a good mind, and lucky to have friends who love you for who you are," Vienne adds. "The ultimate gift of the moment is a deep sense of gratitude for simply being alive."

It's always fun to anticipate and celebrate our major milestones. But we need a break from special events, not to mention a reprieve from all those commencement speeches about beginnings and endings.  We need ordinary time. Come fall, I want to say good-bye to summer knowing that I've squeezed every last drop of its sweetness, and savored it all. ~CL

Part of this post is excerpted from a longer essay in my book, Writing Home. It was originally published in my "Life Lines" column in The Daily Tribune on July 18, 2004.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The healing power of letting go

“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”  ~Steve Maraboli
Cindy La Ferle

I can't think of anything more relaxing than heading straight for a lawn chair with a stack of new magazines or a novel. Having free time to read is one of summer's greatest pleasures.

For years I've been a fan of O, The Oprah Magazine, but the August issue that arrived in my mail earlier this week is my all-time favorite. Circling around the theme of letting go, it features several outstanding essays from writers who've managed to overcome everything from embarrassing moments to unspeakable loss -- and survived to tell their tales with compassion or laugh-aloud humor. 

As Oprah reminds us, "Life is too short to lug around fears and failures, doubts and disappointments, regrets and assumptions that hold less water than a sieve." If you've ever carried a grudge, struggled to heal a relationship, worried yourself sick, or simply ripped the back of your pants in public, you really need to read this issue. ~CL

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Inner light

"When you are lonely or in darkness, 
I wish I could show you 
the astonishing light of your own being." 
~Hafiz, a Sufi poet

Morning on the St. Joseph River / Cindy La Ferle

Sunday, July 9, 2017

When things get weird

"If it feels weird, it is weird. Trust your gut." ~Jamie Bell

Display at Leon & Lulu, Clawson / Cindy La Ferle

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Starting over, every day

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." ~Annie Dillard

"Starting from scratch" / Cindy La Ferle

It's time for me to get back to work -- so I'll be taking a break from posting for a few days. To meet a deadline for one of my favorite national magazines, I have to glue my backside to my desk chair every day for the rest of the week. (I'll fill you in on the details later on.) 

Each new assignment -- and every blank page -- makes me feel like a beginner all over again. I've been a freelance writer for many publications since 1984, but in recent years I've focused mainly on my newspaper columns. This year, I've decided to dive back into national magazines again. Either way, I still have to discipline myself to keep a regular schedule, especially when I'm thrown off by a long holiday weekend. 

And this was one of the busiest Fourth of July holiday weekends I've enjoyed in a long time. Doug and I celebrated a friend's birthday over dinner at a new restaurant in Detroit; had an impromptu dinner with Nate, Andrea, and Doug's mom; toured Cranbrook Gardens and the King Tut exhibit at the Cranbrook Science Museum (photos to come); shopped the holiday sale at Leon & Lulu in Clawson; and rode our bikes in the glorious sunshine. 

But here I am, procrastinating again .... I hope you're rested up after the long holiday and that you find yourself refreshed for the summer days ahead. See you in a few. ~CL


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independence Day

Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves” ~Abraham Lincoln

Fourth of July at Greenfield Village, Dearborn / Cindy La Ferle

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why I'm feeling more polarized than patriotic this weekend

"Still, when I think of the road
we're traveling on,
I wonder what went wrong.
I can't help it, I wonder what went wrong."

~Paul Simon, from "American Tune"

Faded Glory / Cindy La Ferle

So, it's the Fourth of July weekend and I'm not feeling particularly festive or patriotic. To borrow a line from the Paul Simon tune that's been replaying in my head all weekend, "I'm just weary to my bones." 

I'm weary of the direction in which this stressed-out country is lurching. 

I'm weary of the animosity fueled by the current administration -- and weary of waiting for someone in power to make a dignified attempt to help unite us, to bridge the growing divide between finger-pointing Democrats and self-righteous Republicans. 

I'm weary of the toxic storm-cloud of mistrust that now hovers over so many of my social relationships. The only way we seem to get along, I've noticed, is by avoiding the topic of politics altogether. This worked well during the first raw weeks after the 2016 election.   But how long can we keep pretending there isn't a big, fat elephant in the room? And even if we try to tip-toe around it, how superficial is that? The way I see it, if I don't feel free enough or comfortable enough to discuss deeply important, life-altering issues with certain friends, well, something is lacking in those relationships. 
Red Run fireworks / Cindy La Ferle

Yet I know there are many things to love about this country. 

I still honor the dreams and ideals my relatives brought here from northern Europe. Like all the other immigrants I've met, my folks viewed America as a land of tremendous opportunity. In particular, my rural Scottish grandparents wanted my dad, my uncle, and me to earn our college degrees. They encouraged us to work hard and to extend hospitality to others. My grandmother often reminded me how lucky I was to live here -- and how much she appreciated the basic advantages that most Americans took for granted.

Even as a kid, I cherished our nation's First Amendment rights, and I marveled at how hard we fought to earn our freedom of speech in Colonial America. More than anything, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to express my own viewpoints and share my experiences -- always with the hope that my work would resonate with others or benefit them in some way. I'm proud to have been a card-carrying member of the local and national press for three decades, despite the fact that our president now refers to my fellow journalists as "the enemy of the people."   

Up until this year, I've never felt as if my First Amendment rights were threatened on any level, large or small. 

This spring, however, during a press tour of local businesses, I purchased a T-shirt stamped with an anti-Trump message. The sentiment was light and humorous -- and nowhere near as crude or vulgar as the insults Trump himself hurls at anyone who disagrees with him. Yet it clearly pinched a political nerve when I pulled it out of my bag and showed it to a fellow passenger who asked what I'd purchased when we re-boarded the bus. 
Red Run fireworks / Cindy La Ferle

"You'd better be careful with that shirt. It's disrespectful," the woman scolded me, her eyes narrowing. "Watch where you wear it, because most people don't agree with you." 

So much for celebrating freedom of expression -- even on a silly graphic T-shirt. Since then, I haven't had the guts to wear that shirt in public. As one of my best friends half-jokingly reminded me when I shared the episode with her, this is a fine example of how censorship begins. 

So there you have it. I wish I weren't so disillusioned, embarrassed, appalled, stressed-out, wounded, and disgusted by American politics today. I want to feel proud to be an American again. 

Meanwhile, I'll keep studying the issues and questioning the leadership in power -- and I'll keep hoping for a brighter, more civilized future. I'll continue to give thanks for the opportunities I've had from the moment of my birth. Because that's what good Americans do. Regardless, my loyalty and respect have to be earned. I will not be bullied, tweeted, insulted, provoked, duped, or shamed into patriotic submission. Bring on the fireworks. ~CL