Friday, August 31, 2018

Fresh perspective

"If you don’t allow yourself to move past what happened, what was said, or what you felt, you will look at your present and future through that same dirty lens, and not be able to refocus your foggy judgment. You will keep on justifying, reliving, and fueling a perception that is worn out and false." ~Marc & Angel Hack Life


Cindy La Ferle

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Small steps and big dreams

"The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance, and then even the small steps and little victories along your path take on greater meaning." ~Oprah Winfrey


Doug and Coco in Friendship Woods / Cindy La Ferle

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Beautiful things

"Beautiful things comfort; they bring a real clarity and ease. We have to continue to make our own environments beautiful. It's sort of like a prayer. If you surround yourself with beautiful things, you will have a better life." ~ Angelica Huston 

Vintage housekeeping manual / Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Living in the now



“Life is not made up of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years, but of moments. You must experience each one before you can appreciate it.” 
~Sarah Ban Breathnach


Passionflower / Cindy La Ferle

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Honoring John McCain

“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide." 
John McCain,  Character Is Destiny


Cindy La Ferle

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I've spent a good part of the weekend watching news documentaries on the life of American senator John McCain. Though I didn't vote for him when he ran for president, I have always admired him. A man who rose above partisan politics, McCain embodied courage, decency, moral fortitude, intelligence, and integrity -- qualities that are desperately missing from American politics today. 

McCain kept his ego in check, doing what he thought was best for his country. Yet he didn't demand respect because he held a political office. He earned our respect because he lived respectfully and selflessly -- and treated others with respect. 

While Democrats and Republicans are stubbornly divided, making our country more polarized than ever, we can agree that McCain conducted his decades of public and military service with dignity, class, and honor. He was a rare example of a great statesman, in the true sense of the term, and he will be missed. ~Cindy La Ferle

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Party time

"The more you praise and celebrate your life, 
the more there is in life to celebrate." 
~Oprah Winfrey

Dressed for the party / Cindy La Ferle

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Pictures from an exhibition

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, 
I will answer as an artist: I am here to live out loud.” 
~Émile Zola

Our exhibit at The Box Factory for the Arts, St. Joseph. MI / Cindy La Ferle

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Two weeks ago,
I mentioned the opening of our art exhibit, "Curiouser & Curiouser: The Art of Cindy and Doug La Ferle," at The Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph, MI. 
"The Importance of Ancestors" by Cindy La Ferle

Recovering from multiple surgeries on my eyelid at the time, I was unable to help Doug set up the show or attend the opening. But I did make it out to The Box to see the show earlier this week, and I wanted to share a few photos with you in this post. (For a larger view of each photo, please click on the image.)




Doug and his buddy Dave did an amazing job setting up the exhibit, and The Box Factory staff provided beautiful graphics to enhance the pieces.  The Box Factory -- originally built as a paper box manufacturing company in 1903 -- is the perfect venue for our mixed-media artwork. The vintage brick building was converted in the 1990s to a multi-use arts facility, with much of its historic character intact.  


"Avis Mechanica" by Doug La Ferle



The exhibit runs through September 22 and includes about 30 of our favorite pieces -- including Doug's kinetic sculptures and paintings, plus my altered books and assemblages. So far, Doug's kinetic sculptures have been the biggest hit with visitors, since many of them move or light up, make noise, and invite viewer participation.


"Damn Everything but the Circus," by Cindy La Ferle
Having a joint art show has been one of our pipe dreams for several years, so we're especially grateful to The Box Factory for inviting us to exhibit and making it a reality. 


Exhibit poster by Doug La Ferle

If you're planning to visit: St. Joseph is located on the southwest coast of Lake Michigan -- a three-hour drive west of Detroit. ~Cindy La Ferle






Thursday, August 23, 2018

Good company

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” 
~Brene Brown

You're my cup of tea / Cindy La Ferle

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The natural order of things

"Everything comes to you at the right time. 
Don't push, don't rush. Be patient." 
~Lessonslearnedinlife.com

Late summer roadside beauty / Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Quirky people

"You're the strangest person I ever met," she said. 
And I said, "You, too."
And we decided we'd know each other a long time. 
~Brian Andreas


Sidewalk discoveries / Cindy La Ferle

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Shining

"When we are very clear that we want to shine -- 
and that we deserve to shine --
then we attract into our lives the kind
of relationships that help us do that."

~Marianne Williamson


The beach at LeBear, Glen Arbor, MI / Cindy La Ferle

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunday breakfast

"Make each day your masterpiece." 
~John Wooden

Cindy La Ferle

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Embracing maturity

"Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art." 
~Stanislaw Jerzy Lec


Cindy La Ferle

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Quality time with friends


“The strength of a friendship isn’t as dependent upon 
how much we like each other, but more on 
how much time we spend together developing 
our friendship in broader and deeper ways.” 

― Shasta Nelson, Friendships Don't Just Happen

Cindy La Ferle

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Freedom of the press

“Freedom of the press, if it means anything at all, 
means the freedom to criticize and oppose." 
~George Orwell


"Journalists are not the enemy"  / Cindy La Ferle

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As a professional journalist and proud member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, I'm more than a little offended by the ongoing, vicious assault on the American press. I'm deeply worried. I can't think of anything more UN-American than a press that's controlled by the leader of its country. There are several powerful columns and editorials on this topic today in newspapers across the nation, including our own Detroit Free Press.  And here's another good one that speaks to my heart and mind in today's Boston Globe. ~Cindy La Ferle

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Feeling at home

"Your home is not a place. It's the stillness at your center 
that watches all places, and you never lose it." 
~Martha Beck


Izzie / Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Accepting help and support

"If you have the courage to admit that you’re a little scared, and have the ability to smile even as you cry, the nerve to ask for help when you need it, and the wisdom to take it when it’s offered, then you have everything you need." 
~Marc & Angel Hack Life


Cindy La Ferle

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Embracing real life

"The ego is not the best decision maker when it comes to living a quality life. The soul is. It’s the real you, the real me, and it stands ready to take over the moment we become present enough to notice it’s there. Real life is what’s happening behind the scenes, beyond the ego and the busy mind." 
~Cheryl Richardson


Empire Bluffs / Cindy La Ferle

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Giving and receiving

"When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, 
everyone feels blessed." 
~ Maya Angelou


Cindy La Ferle

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Making time for play

"Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, 
which are as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary 
because health is worth more than learning." 
~Thomas Jefferson

Cindy La Ferle

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Throwing your own party

“Stop inviting people who don't celebrate you 
to your party. It's your life -- and you have 
the right to be exclusive.” 
~Mandy Hale


Apollo's summer party hat / Cindy La Ferle

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Our new art show


“Maybe we are all cabinets of wonders.” 

― Brian SelznickThe Invention of Hugo Cabret


Poster art for The Box Factory exhibit by Douglas La Ferle




It's often said that married couples eventually start to resemble one another. While I'm not sure that's true of the two of us, Doug and I have noticed many common themes in our artwork. Anyone who visits our home studio agrees that our pieces, grouped together, look as though they were plucked from a very quirky cabinet of curiosities. 

So we're very excited about our first joint art exhibit opening this weekend at The Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph, MI.
The Problem with Conformity by Cindy La Ferle

The title of our show, "Curiouser and Curiouser," was inspired by a favorite quote from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. As longtime collectors of found objects, ephemera, and other curiosities, we both enjoy finding unique ways to use these treasures in our artwork. Whether we're crafting kinetic sculptures, altered books, or mixed-media assemblages, we like to think of our work as creative recycling. 


The show runs through September 22, and was featured in today's edition of The Herald-Palladium.    ~Cindy La Ferle



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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Acceptance and inner peace

"Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. 
Relationships are complex. 
Outcomes are uncertain. 
People are irrational." 
~Hugh Mackay, Australian scientist

Remy's hoard at Grandma's house / Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Feeling grateful

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it 
is like wrapping a present and not giving it." 
~William Arthur Ward


"Growing good thoughts" / Cindy La Ferle

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Kindred spirits

“Real friendship or love is not manufactured 
or achieved by an act of will or intention. 
Friendship is always an act of recognition.”  

~John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom


Sunrise at LeBear / Cindy La Ferle

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Saturday, August 4, 2018

ESSAY: Seeing the light again


"I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. 
I can see all obstacles in my way. 
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. 
It's going to be a bright, bright sun shiny day." 
~Johnny Nash (lyrics from "I Can See Clearly Now")

Cindy La Ferle


There's nothing like a health crisis to stop you in your tracks and force you to take a long, hard look at what matters most to you. 

As longtime readers recall, late last year I had surgery to remove a small lesion from my lower right eyelid. The cyst was biopsied -- and turned out to be basal cell skin cancer requiring additional surgeries. Due to another pressing health issue that had to be resolved first, I had to postpone the eyelid cancer project -- and wait for available surgery dates this summer. 

Which explains why I've gone missing for a while. 

No stranger to skin cancer, I've survived several bouts of it, and for years I've been religious about wearing sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. But I was totally in the dark and uniformed when it came to periocular skin cancer, which is the medical term for skin tumors around the eye. Not surprisingly, periocular skin cancer is more difficult to treat than skin tumors on other parts of the face and body.

In my case, three surgeries were needed to repair the damage -- after the first surgical biopsy.  

Awake and under the knife

My next procedure was all about removing the remaining cancerous cells in my eyelid. For this, I chose the same Mohs surgeon who's treated other skin cancers on my face in the past. 

Flowers from Deb / Cindy La Ferle
Mohs micrographic surgery is an outpatient procedure during which the surgeon removes thin layers of cancerous tissue and examines them in a lab (on site) while the patient waits for the result. This process is repeated until the margins of the tissue are clear. The surgery typically takes several hours, or up to a full day, depending on how many layers of tissue must be removed. In my case, the surgeon only needed to remove two layers, taking four hours to complete.

Fearful as I was, I was lucky to have had an established relationship with a respected Mohs surgeon. Who wouldn't be nervous about any type of surgery near the eye? Even on the eyelid, Mohs surgery is done under local anesthesia -- so you're fully awake and aware of what's going on during the entire procedure. In short, you end up having long conversations with your Mohs surgeon, and you'd better trust his skill.

Once my eyelid tissue was in the clear, the surgical wound needed to be closed and repaired for optimal cosmetic and functional results. 

Reinventing the eyelid

The following day, Doug drove me to a surgical facility, where an ophthalmic plastic surgeon reconstructed my lower right eyelid. Luckily, this procedure was done under general anesthesia.

Since nearly one third of my eyelid had to be removed during the Mohs procedure, the ophthalmic surgeon had to rebuild the lower lid with tissue from my upper eyelid. Afterward, he opted to sew my eyelid shut -- for two weeks -- to allow for optimal healing of the grafted tissue inside the lid. I was also put under several restrictions -- no bending, lifting, or strenuous activity.
Flowers from Matilda / Cindy La Ferle

Those two weeks of navigating my life with my right eye sewn shut were among the weirdest, and most difficult, I've ever spent. 

The pain and bruising weren't as bad as I'd expected. But I found it nearly impossible to read for any length of time. My emails and texts were peppered with errors, since I had trouble seeing what I'd just typed. I couldn't accurately focus my camera or edit photos. My depth perception was off, so I tripped on carpets and sidewalks. I broke a glass in the bathroom. 

On the rare occasions when I left the house, I wore sunglasses or a patch over the right side of my prescription glasses. I wanted to avoid explaining to others why my right eye was sewn shut; I was tired of rehashing the whole ordeal. I preferred to say, "I just had some surgery on my eye," and leave it at that.

I struggled -- throughout these stressful weeks of surgery and healing -- to keep my spirits up and my anxiety down. 

They say you discover your real friends during a crisis -- and I believe this is true. It helped tremendously to have the ongoing care of my sweet husband, plus the support of dear friends and neighbors who sent cards and flowers, brought me soup and meals, and emailed or texted daily to check on me.

With one eye shut

So what do you do for two weeks when your eyesight is suddenly compromised and you're not even allowed to bend down to do some gardening? 

When I wasn't napping out of boredom, I tried new recipes and reorganized my underwear drawer. I channel-surfed to find news stations I don't typically watch, aiming to broaden my perspective on current politics (which only added to my depression). Finally, I found some relief and comfort watching Gilmore Girls reruns.

During those two weeks, I also thought long and hard about how much time women waste worrying about eye bags and wrinkles. When your eyesight is compromised in any way, you'd give just about anything to have a clear view of the world again. You stop caring about superficial things like eyeshadow or mascara. You promise yourself that you'll never, ever take for granted the gift of good vision.

When the day of my third surgery finally rolled around, I was more than ready for the next step. Going under anesthesia again, I wasn't nearly as worried about how my eye would look after reconstruction as I was eager to have it re-opened in time to celebrate my birthday this weekend.  

Appreciating the view

All said and done, the reconstruction was successful -- and aside from the expected swelling and vivid purple bruising, the newly repaired eyelid appears to be fairly normal even after the second day of its re-opening. It will take take a few more weeks to complete the healing process, and later, my ophthalmic surgeon will reevaluate his work and decide if we need to make any adjustments. Meanwhile, I remain under surgical restrictions, resting quietly.

As both of my surgeons agreed, surgery in the eye area can be both physically and emotionally exhausting. 

Prior to my surgeries, I did an online search for more info about eyelid cancer treatment. That search led me to an informative post by a young military mom who was also diagnosed with basal cell cancer on her lower eyelid. Had I not found Susan's* reassuring two-part blog post on the topic, I would have been twice as frightened by everything I was about to face.

Once I got past my initial fear of the procedures, I marveled at the miracle of modern plastic surgery -- and the privilege of having access to the best physicians available. Throughout my life, I've been grateful to have a team of skilled, compassionate doctors.

Years ago, shortly after I completed physical therapy for my second hip replacement surgery, I adopted a "theme song" that spoke to me about getting through a painfully difficult time and finding joy again.  The song was "I Can See Clearly Now," by Johnny Nash, and I've been singing it again all weekend. ~Cindy La Ferle

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*"Susan blogs at Organized31.com where she inspires busy people to live a simpler, more creative life that makes a positive impact.