Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Believing, even when it's hard to

“As long as you have life and breath, believe. Believe for those who cannot. Believe even if you have stopped believing....To keep your heart beating, believe. Never give up, never despair, let no mystery confound you into the conclusion that mystery cannot be yours.” ~Mark Helprin, A Soldier of the Great War


Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Starting an adventure

“Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.” 
~Raymond Lindquist


"Setting sail" / Cindy La Ferle

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Everyday pleasures

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”  ~Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

Tulips from Karen / Cindy La Ferle

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Special note: My January 5 column ("Traveling Light") was picked up by the editors of Boomer Cafe this week. The popular site features a wide range of stories -- including travel, retirement, and health tips -- targeted to baby boomers. If you missed my column on January 5, you can read it here.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

WEEKEND COLUMN: The life-changing challenge of decluttering

“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don't.” ~Joshua Becker 

Cindy La Ferle

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As the cliche goes, the start of a new year is the perfect time to clear out the dark corners of our drawers and closets. Time to divvy up our buried treasure. Time to let go of it all. Or at least some of it.  

If your home is anything like mine, your attic and basement are jam-packed with record albums, family photo albums, boxes of cards and letters, baby clothes, and larger heirlooms of dubious value. And even if you don’t entertain as often now, it’s likely that your cupboards are crammed with several sets of dinnerware -- including one that hasn’t seen a dining room table since Christmas of 1995.

So, where will all this stuff go when you finally decide it’s time to unload it?  According to most lifestyle experts, your kids don't want it.

When less is more

Millennials refuse to be tied down by the things they own, or at least that’s what my thirty-something son, his wife, and their friends keep telling me.

These kids prefer urban condos, apartments, or lofts with barely enough extra closet space for their winter coats. They’re not sentimentally attached to their childhood finger-paintings or Thomas the Tank Engine collectibles, not to mention Grandma’s tarnished sterling silver flatware. Capturing their experiences on digital cameras, they’d rather travel the country unencumbered by keepsakes. Experience matters more than stuff.

“Our physical and digital spaces are expressions of our identity,” explained one of my son’s friends. “If a piece of my parents’ furniture doesn’t fit with my own style, I don’t want it in my home. I’d rather take a smaller item that has sentimental value and special meaning to me.”

As a late bloomer in my early sixties, I’m just beginning to grasp the concept of non-attachment.

When my mother died four years ago, she left me, her only child, with the daunting task of redistributing a houseful of beloved family heirlooms. My mother had been emotionally attached to nearly every piece of furniture and china she owned -- and she'd hoped I'd be a respectful steward of her treasures. Deciding which items to save, donate to charity, or sell in an estate sale was a heartbreaking challenge, given that my husband and I were also trying to downsize. Our home was already stuffed with my parents’ earlier castoffs, and our basement resembled a thrift store. 

The dilemma was the source of many sleepless nights.

It’s only stuff

At the time, Marie Kondo had just published The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which later helped me navigate the process of sorting through Mom’s belongings. Not surprisingly, Kondo is also a millennial with a take-no-souvenirs attitude about hoarding.

“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it,” she noted in her book. In another tip, she suggested that we name the reasons why we’re struggling to let go of a particular heirloom or item. There are only two possible answers, she wrote: “An attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”

Though I’m still trying to streamline my household, I’m not ready to dispose of heirlooms that are rich with memories. 

Yes, I ended up keeping the tall grandfather clock that chimed through countless holiday dinners with my folks. I've kept the cherrywood tea box that my mother purchased from a gift shop in Williamsburg -- a small, portable item that still evokes memories of my mother and a place she loved to visit. And I’ve kept some of my son's old toys and Christmas ornaments, which he (sort of) agreed to take ... later, but not now.

I remind my son that, someday, when he reaches middle age, he just might appreciate owning a few tangible reminders of his childhood and the folks who loved him. By then, I hope, he and his wife will have an attic large enough to store them. ~Cindy La Ferle

Friday, January 11, 2019

Self-respect

"Don't rely on others for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can't love and respect yourself, no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are -- the good and the bad -- and make changes as you see fit." ~Stacey Charter 


"Beach Walk" / Cindy La Ferle

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Doing as you please

“Sometimes you have to put your own needs first, even if that doesn't please others. You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm." ~Shannon Oldson 

Izzie  / Cindy La Ferle

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The difficult path

"The path of least resistance is often the path of least reward. You need to do hard things. There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." ~Marc and Angel Chernoff


Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Changing the lens

"If you don't allow yourself to move past what happened, what was said, what was felt, you will look at your present and future through that same dirty lens and nothing will be able to refocus your foggy judgment." ~Marc and Angel Chernoff


"Vintage perspective" / Cindy La Ferle

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Monday, January 7, 2019

Reinvent yourself

“Don’t ever feel like your best days are behind you. Reinvention is the purest form of hope. Make today your best yet.” —Phil Wohl

Cindy La Ferle

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Saturday, January 5, 2019

WEEKEND COLUMN -- Traveling Light: 9 things I need to ditch in the new year

"One who would travel happily must travel light." 
~Antoine St. Exupery

On Lake Michigan / Cindy La Ferle

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By the time we reach midlife, most of us have accumulated way too much stuff. Whether we tend to over-pack our suitcases when we travel or cram our closets at home with unworn clothing, most of us need to weed out or pare down.

It occurs to me lately that I’m also dragging around a heavy backpack of pet peeves and outdated ideas, all of which are as useless as the winter jacket I once packed for a late spring trip to Florida. And so, in lieu of making New Year’s resolutions this year, I’m taking inventory of the metaphorical baggage I need to dump at the curb before I start the next adventure. 


What I'm getting rid of


1. Anxiety. If there’s something to fret about – a news story, a health issue, or a stubborn blemish on my cheek – I’m inclined to obsess over it, then blow it out of proportion. Worrying robs my serenity and produces nothing but stomach acid. Out it goes. 


2. The patronizing term, “age-appropriate.”
It’s heading straight to the dumpster along with the question: Am I too old for this? For instance, I’m never too old to wear what strikes my fancy, whether it’s black nail polish or red cowboy boots. Even if I do look silly in public, I’ll be having too much fun to worry about the opinions of less-adventurous critics. 


3. The need to be right all the time. Experience proves that whenever I have the guts to say “I don’t know” or “I made a mistake,” I get an opportunity to learn something new and to improve myself. I've always admired folks who are classy enough to apologize when they've missed the mark -- and we all miss the mark sometimes. I plan to follow their example too. 


4. Guilt and regret. I'm guilty of hurting people unintentionally, and I regret some things I've said and done in the past. (See # 3.) But flogging myself won't repair or recover anything I've lost. I need to accept the lesson and move on. 

5. Lame excuses that begin with the words: I don't have time. I don't have time to research the new project I want to start? I don't have time to clean my desk or the interior of my car? I don't have time to call an old friend? Maybe it's time to rethink what's taking up so much of my time -- because there's always time to do anything I really want to do. The sooner I commit to my new goals, the sooner I can make positive changes.


6. People who talk too much about themselves. Since it's almost impossible to avoid them, this year I'm going to make an effort to be a better conversationalist myself. Enough said.


7. People-pleasing and over-giving.
I need to stop catering to those who continually expect more than they are willing to give. And I need to stop being a doormat for judgy people who make me feel flawed or inferior when I don't conform to their cultural, religious, or political views. I realize, as Cheryl Richardson warns in The Art of Extreme Self Care, that there will be consequences. When I heal my "disease to please" (and stop kowtowing), some people might be shocked or disappointed. So be it. True friends will respect my new boundaries. 


8. Political angst. I'm no longer allowing our nation's ongoing political turmoil to rent so much valuable real estate in my head. It's stressful, ugly, embarrassing, and messy -- and it's spoiling my view of the neighborhood. I'm evicting it. 


9. Age-old grudges. For those of us blessed with good recall, grudges can be the hardest to let go. In fact, grudges become roadblocks that thwart our peace of mind and get in our own way. Forgiving others for hurting or disappointing me doesn’t mean I’ll tolerate the same abuse in the future (See #7). It simply means I’ve cleared a path for traveling light -- and made room in my heart for healthier, happier relationships on the road ahead. ~Cindy La Ferle 



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Friday, January 4, 2019

Self-improvement

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ~Ernest Hemingway


Cindy La Ferle

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Getting motivated

"If you keep doing what you've been doing, 
you'll keep getting what you've been getting." 
~Steve Harvey 

Remy / Cindy La Ferle

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New year, new direction

“The reinvention of daily life means marching off the edge of our maps.” —Bob Black


Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Starting over

"The beginning is the 
most important part of the work." 
~Plato

Cindy La Ferle

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