Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The art of humility

"The empty vessel makes the loudest sound." ~William Shakespeare

Cindy La Ferle

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Standing up against hate

"We are only as strong as we are united; 
as weak as we are divided." 
~J.K. Rowling

Blooming in unison / Cindy La Ferle

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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Creating moments of pleasure

“Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”  ~Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart


Dinner party / Cindy La Ferle

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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Warming trends

"Spring will come and so will happiness. Hold on. Life will get warmer." ~Anita Krizzan


Cindy La Ferle

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Funny Friday: The truth about bad driving

“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.” ~Dave Barry


Cindy La Ferle

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Fresh starts

"Do not give your time to the things that drain you, the thoughts that bring you down, or the people who break your heart. Make room for good things to begin." ~M.H. Clark, Fight On


Beginnings / Cindy La Ferle

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Weekend column: Overcoming depression, finding the light


“I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.” ~Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions

When spring comes / Cindy La Ferle

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Sometimes you don’t realize you’ve been drowning until the moment you’re pulled to safety, gulping fresh air again. Like others who’ve battled depression, I didn't fully comprehend how dark I felt while muddling through it. 

I knew, of course, that something was off. I wasn't myself. 

And like many others who suffer long bouts of the blues, I tried to pretend everything was fine. I was ashamed of feeling so awful. My parents raised me to be strong during a crisis -- to count my blessings and refrain from complaining. Never wanting to burden my family or friends, I often hid my pain. But the more I tried to downplay my sadness, the more isolated I felt. 

The terrible sense of drowning began several months after my mother's death -- though I really started losing her seven years before she died. Vascular dementia had changed her personality in frightening ways, making her angry, paranoid, and unhappy. The close relationship we'd once enjoyed began to unravel during those last seven years, slowly breaking my heart as her disease progressed. By the time Mom died, she was a woman I no longer recognized, and I was depleted by the ongoing stress of her care management. 

Numbing out

Months afterward, I was still struggling to come to terms with my loss. At first I was numb, and then I guilted myself into believing I hadn't done enough for my mother when she was alive. Having written several newspaper articles on the topic of stress and caregiving, I should have known better.

Regardless, my outlook plummeted. I began losing interest in the people, things, and creative activities I once enjoyed – even my writing projects. I drifted zombie-like through those days, making beds, cooking meals, spending time with my husband, and sorting through my mother's belongings -- all the while feeling as if my own life were an out-of-body experience. 
Depression remains a taboo topic. Not many people know how to deal with those who suffer from it.
I pushed myself to socialize then, but all I really wanted to do was hide under a blanket with a book. 

If I learned nothing else at the time, I learned the depth -- and, sometimes, the limits -- of my relationships. Friends and colleagues in my social circles, especially those who knew me superficially, were surprised when I admitted that I was depressed or going through a rough time. “You always seem just fine!” they’d say, then offer little else in the way of comfort or advice. I also discovered that depression remains a taboo topic, and not many people know how to deal with those who suffer from it.  

Others took it personally when I declined invitations to lunch, dinner parties, or shopping trips. It's not that I didn't have a team of caring friends; I just didn't have a single one who could read my troubled mind. 

All said and done, I had nobody but myself to blame for the fact that I didn't know how to ask for the emotional support I deeply needed then. 

Making time for me 

Though I was unaware at the time, I was also suffering from physical health problems -- including a chronic autoimmune disease. (As my doctor later put it, no wonder I wasn't feeling so well.) While taking care of my mother, I’d chalked off my scary symptoms to stress, grief, and insomnia. In reality, I was so busy taking Mom to her many medical appointments, that I neglected to schedule my own check-ups. Adding to my own health worries, a basal cell skin cancer on my lower eyelid was waiting for some serious surgical intervention. 
Committing to weeks of grief therapy was only the start of my emotional healing.
After selling my mother's home, I finally returned to my family doctor for a long-overdue diagnosis – which I now manage with medication and monitoring. Meanwhile, I adopted a beautiful rescue dog, half-German Shepherd, who warmed my numb heart and coaxed my husband and me outside for daily walks. 

Most important of all, I was advised to seek out a grief therapist to help me sort out the feelings that had led to my depression. 

Committing to weeks of therapy was only the start of my emotional healing. I had a long list of unresolved issues to work through, from nagging guilt and resentment to unspeakable grief over the deaths of my parents and other family members. I needed to own all of those feelings, rather than stuff them away like unwanted heirlooms in the back of a drawer. 

Finding the way back up 

The therapist gave me the permission I needed to put myself first for a while -- which felt odd after so many years of managing Mom's care and trying to please others who had impossibly high expectations of me. I learned that I had a right to express my darkest feelings -- and that I wasn't obligated to make other people feel entertained or happy all the time, or apologize if I wasn’t able to give more than I had. 

"Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy," writes sociologist and author Brene Brown. "Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light." 

As each month passed, I began to feel more like myself -- my stronger, more resilient self. 

Today, I stay on top of my medical care, knowing that I can’t be a good wife, mother, or friend if I’m not taking care of my own health too. I no longer strive for perfection in everything I do -- or believe that I’ve failed if I have a less-than-productive day. I try to let go of all the things I cannot change or reasonably improve. As often as possible, I nurture meaningful relationships with people who make me feel safe enough to ask for what I need, and forgive me when I fall short of what they expect of me. Most of all, I seek to find peace and grace in the years I have left. 

I share this post in the hope that my words will speak to the heart of someone else who's struggling -- and who will recognize the message of hope, healing, and possibility in them. ~Cindy La Ferle  

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Great expectations

“Expecting people to read your mind hardly ever gets you what you desire.” ~Sue Patton Thoele, The Courage to Be Yourself


Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, Empire, MI / Cindy La Ferle

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The truth about secrecy

“There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.”  ~Joseph Pulitzer


    Sleight of hand / Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Trusty companions

“The strength of our 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


  Rainy day footwear / Cindy La Ferle

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Beauty in variety

“Life wants you to touch, taste and see the grandeur of the world's unfathomable variety.” ~Bryant McGill


Spinning yarn at Greenfield Village / Cindy La Ferle

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Saturday, April 13, 2019

What goes around

"We teach people how to treat us. If you treat people well, they usually respond in kind. If you keep abusing a relationship, don't expect a bouquet of flowers in return." ~Dr. Phil McGraw

Cindy La Ferle

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Friday, April 12, 2019

Funny Friday: Twitter

  • "On Twitter, we get excited if someone follows us. In real life, we get really scared and run away." ~Anonymous via @mozusa

Cindy La Ferle


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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Taking the initiative

“If we keep saying something is important to us but then do nothing about it, we will ultimately lose both our trust in ourselves and our sense of integrity, not to mention that we’ll never get to our preferred future.”― Shasta Nelson


Sunset on Lake Michigan / Cindy La Ferle

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Cancelling the bad vibes

"Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power." ~Shirley MacLaine


Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

New possibilities

"Choose to live your life today not as a bystander—not as a prisoner to the old environments and beliefs that sometimes keep you stuck. But to instead live as an active participant, engaged in the new possibilities in front of you." ~Marc & Angel Hack Life

Tulips in Grand Haven/ Cindy La Ferle

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Monday, April 8, 2019

Decency

"Aspire to decency. Practice civility toward one another. Admire and emulate ethical behavior wherever you find it." ~Ted Koppel


Cindy La Ferle

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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Admitting our mistakes

"We're often afraid of looking at our shadow because we want to avoid the shame or embarrassment that comes with admitting our mistakes."~Marianne Williamson


Shadow self / Cindy La Ferle

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Friday, April 5, 2019

Funny Friday: Foot humor

"You know you're old when someone compliments your alligator shoes, and you're barefoot." ~Phyllis Diller

Cindy La Ferle

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Transparency

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” 
~William O. Douglas


"Full disclosure is easy when you have nothing to hide"  / Cindy La Ferle

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

When things need to change

"Stepping onto a brand new path is difficult, 
but not more difficult than remaining in a situation 
that no longer fits, or no longer exists." 
~Marc and Angel Chernoff

Cindy La Ferle

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Spring break essay in Metro Parent

"We need to take a break and decompress so we can be at our best at work—and at home. Maybe we should ask if the life we’re working so hard to create is fun to live?  ~Tina Hallis

Metro Parent magazine, April 2019

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Few people need a spring vacation more than moms with young kids. In the April issue of Metro Parent, I share a memory of my visit to Captiva Island, where Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote her classic seaside meditation, Gift from the Sea -- a book that has resonated with meaning throughout the various caregiving stages of my life. You can read the essay online here, or pick up the print edition of the magazine -- it's free -- on local newsstands.


Monday, April 1, 2019

April Fool's Day!

"Let us be thankful for the fools. 
But for them, the rest of us would not succeed." 
~Mark Twain


"Lost soles" collection in Glen Arbor / Cindy La Ferle

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