Friday, June 29, 2018

The wisdom of our founding fathers

"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, 
our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, 
they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." 
~John Adams


Patriotic illumination / Cindy La Ferle

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Thursday, June 28, 2018

The exhilarating freedom of NO

"If you don't want to do it
and you don't have to do it,
DON'T DO IT."
~Martha Beck

Cindy La Ferle


How often do you say "yes" when you'd rather say "no" -- whether the activity you're invited to attend isn't in your realm of interest, or you're simply too pooped to participate? How many times have you been coaxed into taking on a new project when you're already overbooked? How often do you find yourself following a worn-out, fruitless routine -- like posting on social media -- only because you think it's expected of you? 

A recovering people-pleaser, I still struggle with this issue.

People-pleasers hate to disappoint others and spend too much time trying to earn Brownie points. You'd think that we would have outgrown this overriding need for approval by adulthood, but there you have it. 

It should go without saying that there are many non-negotiable events and obligations that require us to be responsible adults, even when we'd rather be napping. We have to show up at work, drive our kids or parents to doctor appointments, put dinner on the table, go to the dentist, pay bills on time, nurture relationships with our spouses or partners, maintain our homes and property, and meet deadlines. 

And, yes, sometimes we should push ourselves to step outside our comfort zones when we're nudged to do so. In the past, I've dragged myself to events that I wasn't initially enthused about, yet I ended up enjoying myself way more than I'd imagined. 

Cheryl Richardson, who often writes about the importance of self-care, reminds us that we are responsible for protecting our own time and energy. We have a right to spend our time the way we want -- and with whom we want to spend it. And we needn't over-explain why.

Richardson has a wonderful phrase to remember when we're feeling pressured or overwhelmed: "If it's not an absolute yes, it's a no." 

As Richardson reminds us, doing things solely for the sake of pleasing others or "being nice" only leads to exhaustion or resentment later on. It also helps to remember that the people who respect us don't want us to say "yes" unless we really want to. 

Be kind to yourself and have a wonderful weekend! ~Cindy La Ferle





Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Surfing through challenges

"You can't stop the waves but you can learn to surf."
~Jon Kabat-Zinn


Silver Beach, St. Joseph / Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Humility and imperfection

“People who claim that they're evil 
are usually no worse than the rest of us. 
It's people who claim that they're good, 
or in some way better than the rest of us, 
that you have to be wary of.” 

~Gregory MaguireWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West


Cindy La Ferle

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Feeling at home

"Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible -- the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family." 
~Virginia Satir


Cindy La Ferle 

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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Reading the Sunday papers


“To look at the newspaper is to raise a seashell to one's ear and to be overwhelmed by the roar of humanity.” 
~Alain de Botton


Izzie reading the paper with her dad / Cindy La Ferle

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Wise advice for hostile times

"We must each treat others 
with the respect we desire for ourselves." 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Running off at the mouth is impressive only if you're a fountain" / Cindy La Ferle


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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Standing out

'When I was young, I used to wish I could fit in. 
I'm glad I didn't get my wish." 
~Steve Maraboli

Cindy La Ferle


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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Ordinary days

"The variety of an ordinary life 
is infinite and precious." 
~Steering by Starlight, Martha Beck


Gifts from my garden / Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Essay: Antiques Roadshow at Meadow Brook

"Our most treasured family heirlooms 
are our sweet family memories. 
The past is never dead; it is not even past." 
~William Faulkner

Lining up for the Antiques Roadshow event at Meadow Brook Hall, Rochester Hills / Cindy La Ferle

It really doesn't matter how much cash they're worth -- because my family heirlooms will always have priceless sentimental value to me. That said, when Doug and I were offered an opportunity to participate in the Antiques Roadshow event at Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester Hills last week, we jumped at the chance. 

As longtime fans of the popular PBS show, we were excited to learn how it's organized, produced, and filmed.  This was Antiques Roadshow's first visit to Rochester and its fourth time filming in Michigan. Produced in association with Detroit Public Television, the event will be segmented into three hour-long episodes that will air on PBS in 2019.


Bart Finney's portrait / La Ferle
Each Roadshow ticket holder was invited to bring two items for appraisal -- portable items that we could easily haul around the grounds of the Meadow Brook estate. Doug and I chose items from four categories: a small Persian rug, a 1920s Japanese ceramic bowl, an oil portrait of my maternal grandmother, and a colorful woodblock print of a garden. 

The weather was picture-postcard perfect and the event was incredibly well-organized. We'd been warned to expect lots of waiting, but found instead that most of the appraisal lines moved quickly and efficiently. It also helped to use the divide-and-conquer approach: Doug headed off with the rug and my grandmother's portrait while I stood in other lines for the ceramic bowl and the woodblock print.


Appraising the rug / Cindy La Ferle

I was a bit surprised to find that the first three items had less value than we'd guessed. My gorgeous Japanese bowl was worth only $45, for instance, and Doug was told that there's not much of a market for family oil portraits. The rug wasn't in perfect condition, so its estimated value didn't blow us away.

But I discovered that the woodblock print is a highly collectible piece by a well-known artist who'd spent time in an artists' colony in Brown County, Indiana -- just an hour south of my maternal grandparents' home in Indianapolis. 
And it's steeped in nostalgia. 

I have sweet memories of gazing at this print in the guest room of my grandparents' home, where I stayed during my childhood visits every summer. I recall drifting off to sleep while my parents and grandparents chatted in the living room or outside on the porch. It was the first piece of art I ever wanted -- and the first item I asked my mother to save for me from my grandparents' estate.   


Getting ready for my pop-up interview with print appraiser Nigel Freeman /  Photo by Doug La Ferle






Print appraiser Nigel Freeman (from Swann Auction Galleries in New York) asked if I'd like to meet Roadshow's executive producer Marsha Bemko to discuss the possibility of being filmed with my piece in a pop-up interview for an episode. I didn't hesitate -- and I hope it makes the final cut. 

At the request of the Antiques Roadshow production team, I'm not at liberty to reveal the estimated value of my woodblock print before the episode runs -- so you'll have to watch for it on PBS next year.  ~Cindy La Ferle
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Monday, June 18, 2018

Tact and courtesy

"Don't flatter yourselves into thinking that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. On the contrary, the nearer you come into a relationship with someone, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become." 
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


Coco and Remy / Photo by Nate La Ferle

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day


"He didn't tell me how to live;
he lived, and let me watch him do it."
~Clarence Budington Kelland

Cindy La Ferle




Saturday, June 16, 2018

Outdoor living

"I am summer, come to lure you away 
from your computer. 
Come dance on my fresh grass, 
dig your toes in my beaches." 
~Oriana Green

Summer on Lake Huzzy at the Schultz cottage / Cindy La Ferle

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

A clear view

"Be curious, not judgmental." 
~Walt Whitman

Izzie keeping watch / Cindy La Ferle

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Being present

"If we pay attention, 
there are limitless opportunities 
to be present and attentive, 
or to make a difference in someone's day.
More often, it's what we neglect to say and the 
things we don't do that keep a relationship from thriving." 

~Viola James Bearden

Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Variety and diversity

"The lamps are different, 
but the light is the same." 
~Rumi

Window display in Sonoma / Cindy La Ferle

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Rising early

“I want every day to be a fresh start 
on expanding what is possible.” 
~Oprah Winfrey


Coco at sunrise in St. Joseph / Cindy La Ferle


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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Artful living

When I say be creative,
I don't mean you should all go
and become great painters 
and poets.
I simply mean
let your life
be a painting,
let your life be a poem.

~Osho

Cindy La Ferle

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Essay: The healing power of gardening


"Everything that slows us down and 
forces patience, everything that sets us back 
into the slow circles of nature, is a help. 
Gardening is an instrument of grace." 
~May Sarton

 Cindy La Ferle


Watering the shade garden this morning, I remembered an old essay I wrote that explains what gardening means to me. The following excerpt first appeared in Country Gardens and was reprinted in Reader's Digest. It's also included in my essay collection, Writing Home.

Grandpa's Ferns

My grandfather was the proverbial Scottish curmudgeon, born and bred on a farm in the Orkney Islands. In his last years, his hearty soul hardened a little more; he often barked at the postman and guzzled whiskey from a bottle he insisted on hiding behind the dining room curtains. 

But Grandpa had a soft spot or two. One was for me, and the other was for his garden, a veritable jungle of ferns, which, with a battalion of lilies-of-the-valley, hugged the side of his garage. 
                   
No other gardener in his west Detroit neighborhood could lay claim to such a crop. Green, tall, and primordial, the ferns had been growing in his backyard for decades. Too modest to call himself a gardener, my grandfather thought of himself simply as caretaker of his ferns. Like Grandpa, a wounded WWI veteran, the plants were survivors. I'll always associate ferns or ``fairrrns,'' as he pronounced them, with that durable old Scot and the restorative process of grief we experienced together.

I was nine years old when his wife, my favorite grandmother, ``passed on,'' as Grandpa reluctantly explained to those who called for her on the phone. Her death broke our hearts that July, during one of the most humid summers I remember.  

Grandpa couldn't put his sorrow into words. He'd spend hours in his easy chair, staring out at the living room in stony silence, listening for the echoes of a voice he'd never hear again. But, young as I was, I knew the moment he began to retrieve his old spirit: I heard him thump out of his recliner, then hobble out to the screened-in porch and into the yard, where his neglected ferns waited.

The whoosh of the garden hose pierced the heavy stillness of the evening. And there my grandfather stood, as he had stood every summer since he had retired, watering his mighty kingdom of ferns. Slipping through the screen door, I ran barefooted across the lawn and joined him.

I inhaled the scent of the fern bouquet, a fragrance like moss in the woods after a warm rain. ``That's what the word 'green' would smell like, if it had a smell,'' I told Grandpa. He nodded in understanding, then retreated to another memory.                           

"Nature has the power to console us when words cannot."        
                     
For what seemed like hours, Grandpa and I stood in silence, arm in arm, taking turns with the hose and watching the ferns bow and sway under the water's spray. I know we both were thinking of my grandmother and how much we missed her, though neither of us could speak her name aloud. It was then I discovered the secret known to all gardeners: Nature has the mysterious power to console us when words cannot. 

Not long before my grandfather sold his house and moved into an apartment, my mother had the foresight to ask him for a few of his ferns. Treasuring them like heirloom silver, my parents and I planted and nurtured the ferns, and carefully took a few with us every time we moved. Over the years we watched them unfurl between rocks and next to porch steps. And we gave them to friends who appreciated them.             

Ever since I married and left my parents' home, years ago, my own little family and I have owned three houses. At each one, I've left behind the green legacy of my grandfather's ferns. 

If it's possible to  inherit an affinity for gardening and an appreciation of the natural world, then these were my gifts from my grandfather. I never mastered his business skills, and if he were alive today, I doubt he'd understand my poetry. But I think he'd approve of the hours I spend with my hands in the soil, sorting out life's complications with pruning shears and a hand trowel.

Each summer, as the ferns in my yard multiply and flourish, I often slip away to my garden to spend an evening deep in quiet ritual. Waving the garden hose over the delicate fronds, I marvel at how well they've endured so much change and the passing of so many years. And I always think of Grandpa.

~Cindy La Ferle, 1994
  
This excerpt is reprinted from my essay collection, Writing Home. Please click here more information about the book.   

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Hopes and dreams

“You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. 
I hope someday you'll join us. And the world will live as one.” 
~John Lennon


Always have hope / Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Putting it on pause

“Something precious is lost if we rush headlong 
into the details of life without pausing for a moment 
to pay homage to the mystery of life 
and the gift of another day.”  
~Kent Nerburn 

Bay Harbor Resort, Petoskey / Cindy La Ferle

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Good talk

“Great minds discuss ideas. 
Average minds discuss events. 
Small minds discuss people." 

~Eleanor Roosevelt

Cindy La Ferle

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Saturday, June 2, 2018

A new pup in the family

"The person who said 'You can't buy happiness' 
must have forgotten about puppies." 
~Gene Hill

The adorable Remy, our new grand-puppy / Cindy La Ferle

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