To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” — Henri Bergson

It’s so much easier to stay rooted in the same place, whether it’s a desk chair or an old neighborhood. Or even a toxic relationship.

Once we nestle into our proverbial comfort zone, it takes work to pull ourselves up to the next level or move to a better place.

Staying in a rut has its benefits. Even when we know we deserve more, for instance, we tend to justify earning low wages while working at jobs we’ve already mastered. We tell ourselves that the economy is lousy; that we’re lucky to have any job with pathetic wages. We lower our expectations.

Likewise, instead of seeking out healthier relationships, it might feel safer to put up with neglect or abuse from friends or relatives who’ve been part of our history. Or we keep performing the same family “roles” we outgrew ages ago. (Victim? Competitor? Big brother? Benefactor? Brat?)

Change is hard, and asking for what we need takes courage. It also requires that we take risks and face what scares us. Is there a new door you’ve been waiting to open? Are you leaning your ladder against the wrong wall? –CL

— Photo: detail from “What We Remember”, a mixed-media construction by Cindy La Ferle —

It’s here!

Yes, summer was rituals, each with its natural time and place. The ritual of lemonade or ice-tea making, the ritual of wine, shoes or no shoes, and at last, swiftly following the others, with quiet dignity, the ritual of the front-porch swing.” -Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

It’s finally here — the first day of summer! One of my early summer rituals is re-reading favorite passages from Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine.  A childhood classic, the novel is a tribute to the summer of 1928 — a summer we couldn’t possibly imagine today, given that our kids rarely entertain themselves without computers and cell phones.

In particular, I enjoy the chapter describing how Grandfather Spaulding ceremoniously retrieved the front porch swing from the basement and installed it for the summer.

What are you doing to celebrate the beginning of the season?  — CL

–Summer garden photo by Cindy La Ferle–

Saluting our dads

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

Over the years I’ve been blessed to know many first-rate dads. My own was simply the best — and one of the kindest human beings ever. As if that weren’t enough, my paternal grandfather (whose garden I shared in “Grandpa’s Ferns”) loved me fiercely and was my role model of courage and durability. And best of all, I married a man who’s been a terrific father to my son.

In this Sunday’s essay on Royal Oak Patch, I share bittersweet memories of the funerals of two fathers — my own father and the father of my longtime friend, John Schultz. Please click here to read it.

If you’re lucky enough to have your dad around this Father’s Day, be sure to celebrate him. — CL

Joy ride

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. — Buddha

Visiting historic Fish Town in Leland earlier this week, I was charmed by the sight of this small fishing boat docked behind The Cove restaurant.

Even when I’m on a beach vacation, my mind occasionally wanders back to the worries and obligations waiting for me back home. But the aptly named fishing boat reminded me to stay focused on the small joys and simple pleasures that make me happy.

Coincidentally, I found this perfect passage in today’s “Daily Om” (June 8): “Our souls feel good when we go with the flow of the universe. All we have to do is to make the choice to ride its currents.”

Wherever you are, enjoy the ride! -CL

–Photo by Cindy La Ferle–


Summer unplugged?

By isolating himself at Walden Pond, Thoreau hadn’t run away from life. He’d run toward it. Why couldn’t we leave our lives of quiet, digital desperation and do the same?” — Susan Maushart, from The Winter of Our Disconnect

Once in a while, we all need to unplug. Friends who’ve been visiting this site for a while know I spend less time hanging out here in the “Home Office” once summer arrives. Escaping outdoors — sans laptop — restores my spirit and makes me feel whole again. I’m ready to start this week.

As it happens, I’m reading Susan Maushart’s The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and A Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale. It’s a compelling (and often hilarious) memoir detailing how Mausart, a journalist, and her kids made the difficult decision to live without technology for (gulp) six months. Using current research to back her premise, the author shows how limiting our use of technology, including social media, can enrich the quality of our lives and deepen what she calls “real-life” relationships. As soon as I’m finished, I plan to review the book in a column.

But I’m not totally unplugging this summer. Unlike Maushart, I don’t have the willpower to go for more than a week without checking Facebook, blogs, and e-mail. Through August, I’ll continue to post links to my newly published material; or I’ll rerun favorite (previously published) essays in keeping with the season.

Meanwhile, I’m still micro-managing my mother’s life, keeping a watchful eye on her dementia and health-care issues. Trying to find my balance in the midst of it all has been the toughest challenge I’ve faced in a long time. Whenever possible, I follow Thoreau’s sage advice to “Simplify, simplify.” Right now, things with Mom are relatively calm — and I am working to keep them that way.

When you get a chance, please fill me in on what you’re up to this summer … Will you be blogging more or less? Spending more time at the beach or in your garden? Planning a graduation party? Spending less time at the office? Please send me a cyber postcard before you unplug.  –CL

— Top photo: My Japanese garden, a favorite backyard escape. Bottom photo: A clematis arching over the gate in our backyard. All photos by Cindy La Ferle. —