In 1998

by Lorin Michel Thursday, September 26, 2013 10:56 PM

We still had a couple of years left in the 20th century when 1998 appeared on a Thursday. It was designated the Year of the Ocean by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO. This was also the year the Winter Olympics were held in Nagano, Japan. The U.S. won 13 medals, 6 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze, and weapons inspectors were allowed to return to Baghdad, thus preventing military action by the United States and Britain.

Galileo was up there and very far away exploring Jupiter’s moons and sending information back that Europa has a liquid ocean under a thick crust of ice. Then the Clementine probe orbiting our moon found enough water in polar craters to support a human colony and rocket fueling station. In related news, Galaxy IV, a communications satellite, failed, stranding almost 90% of the world’s pagers without service. Titanic won Best Picture at the Oscars.

The Wizard of Oz was shown on network television for the last time, and Hong Kong opened a new international airport at Chek Lap Kok. France beat Brazil in the soccer world cup, 3 – 0.

There were wars and bombings and plane crashes and dictators doing dictatorial things. There were hurricanes and rockets. Matthew Shepard was beaten and killed and the 1996 Olympic bomber was officially charged.

Elmo’s World, a spin-off of Sesame Street, launched.

Justin was 7 and Maguire was 2. And on this date in 1998, a Saturday, Kevin and I officially became husband and wife. We invited friends and family to our home in Oak Park, and got married in a small ceremony followed by a big party in our back yard. My mom, dad and sister flew in from the East Coast. Kevin’s two sisters came in from Illinois. They all arrived on Thursday. On Friday we had a big family barbecue on the back patio with Kevin’s world famous ribs, a salad and potatoes of some sort. Because we didn’t have room in our house for everyone to stay, they all bunked at the local Radisson. We gave my dad the keys to our 1990 Toyota Land Cruiser, the last of its kind before they went to the big body style, and he had a great time driving everyone back and forth and around, sitting up high in that classic beast of a truck.

On Saturday, we prepared the backyard by stringing white lights in all of the trees and setting up the various pub tables. Justin spent a good part of the day scurrying about and we actually got him to take a nap in the afternoon since it was going to be a long night and he was our combined best man. Kevin took Maguire to the Westlake Pet Motel and when the bartender arrived, I finally managed to get Justin, who have previously flat refused, to put on his tux. The bartender had one and the bartender was cool. Thank dog for the bartender.

Eventually everyone changed into their respective nice duds, Kevin into a tux matching Justin; me into a short cream-colored cocktail dress covered with opalescent beads. I even had a short, behind the head veil. Kevin was expecting me to be a tux, too. That’s what I told him I’d be wearing, albeit one without a back. When I came down the stairs to my waiting husband-to-be, he was shocked, pleasantly so.

In front of our friends and family, we stood under the glow of twinkling lights and listened to Internet-ordained minister Jerry pronounce us married.

Today Kevin gave me a card: “A love story of us.” Here’s the text:

Hi.
Hello, you’re kinda cute.
You’re funny.
You’re hot.
You’re special.
You make me feel needed.
I love you.
I love you, too.
I do.
I do, too.
I’d do it again.
Me, too… over and over.

In 1998, I was blessed to marry my forever husband. I’d do it again. Over and over and over.

Celebrating 15 years of laughter and love, and living it out loud.

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live out loud

Thank you. Really. Thank you for being there always.

by Lorin Michel Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:40 AM

The premise of this blog is to navigate the abyss of life, wading through all of the horrid and depressing news in order to discover something good; to find something to celebrate every day. Some days my celebrations are intensely personal, others they border on irreverent. I often get philosophical and even when I veer into the bad or the negative, I always try to discover the positive in the end.

There is a LA based group called Soul Pancake that does something similar, though not in blog form. Wikipedia describes them as being a media company that “seeks to provide platforms to explore big think topics such as spirituality, creativity, religion, arts and philosophy.” Their tagline is “chew on life’s big questions.” Their home page states, quite eloquently and appropriately: “Our brain batter of art, culture, science, philosophy, spirituality and humor is designed to open your mind, challenge your friends, and feel damn good.”

They recently did a campaign that they called the science of happiness. In it, they challenged people to tell those who had meant the most to them, simply, thank you. The study was about how it made the tellers feel; not how it made the recipients feel. I suppose that’s probably fairly obvious. When someone tells you that you’ve meant the world to them, that their lives are better because you’re in it, then that makes a person feel good, worthwhile; proud. But what of the teller? I was fascinated.

It seems that sharing your feelings about your best friend, your mother, your sister or your brother, a teacher from your past, a co-worker can increase your happiness by as must as 15%.

Think about it. Someone changes your life for the better just by being in it. Telling that person can make their day, their week. But it can also make yours. We don’t tell the people in our lives what they mean to us. We say “I love you” and mean it, but we don’t say why. We don’t explain why someone has forever changed our lives. I don’t know why but I can speculate.

Telling people thank you for what they’ve meant to you is awkward and seems to indicate that something has happened; that someone is dying. People don’t get all gooey unless it’s the end and they know there isn’t much time left. It’s uncomfortable and people avoid the uncomfortable. I know I do. It’s human nature.

I wish I could have told my dad how much I appreciated him. I wish that every day but it’s too late now.

I don’t want that to happen with anyone else in my life. 

Mom: you have been my guiding light, and the one constant in my life since even before I was born. You have inspired me to always do better, do more. You’ve challenged the way I think and I thank you.

Scott: I’m proud of you and what you’ve done in the past few years. You took a bad situation and you turned your life around. That’s not easy and I understand and appreciate that. And you.

Khris: Little sister. You are the light of my life. I am so proud of you and who you’ve become, the family you’ve created. You’re my best friend, now and always.

Kevin: My heart. To borrow a quote from Maguire’s namesake movie: You complete me. I don’t know what I did before you. I don’t know what I would do without you.

Justin: My boy. I couldn’t love you more. I am so proud to be your mom.

Bobbi: I don’t know when we became the friends that we are, but I believe it was destiny. You are one of the best people I know, and I am blessed to have you in my life. I am blessed to call you friend.

Roy: One of my oldest friends in Los Angeles and I don’t mean that derogatorily. From the first moment you walked in the door at Sebastian on Variel and I was waiting in the lobby, I knew we would be friends.

Pam: My longest friend. I thought of you so often over the years when we lost touch and I am forever grateful that we found each other again. You mean the world to me.

Diane: The laughter you bring, the wit and humor you add to almost any situation, fills me with a profound sense of gratitude.

Connie: We lost touch for a while and that was my fault. I’m so glad we reconnected and I’m so thankful that we’re still friends, still have that easy camaraderie we developed back at McCann.

There are so many others that I could thank. All of my readers, all of my clients, all of the people who have changed my life through the years. Every person who has touched me, and who I have, hopefully, touched back. It’s a uniquely human phenomenon to touch each other, not just literally but emotionally, spiritually, creatively, artfully, all stacked together and served with syrup on top. It’s a Soul Pancake and I celebrate it today and all days.

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live out loud

Anyhow, Happy 50th

by Lorin Michel Thursday, September 12, 2013 10:40 PM

My late Aunt Beryl had a way with language. She was not highly educated but she was well read, devouring newspapers, magazines, books and brochures in a way that showed her hunger to know more. I could talk with her for hours and while she would often go off on a tangent about something that happened twenty years before I was even born, usually we would talk about things that happened just this week, or yesterday; sometimes just this morning. She knew who the biggest pop stars of the day are as well as who the great crooners were. She could talk easily about which films were making money and just as quickly denounce them as something she’d never want to see. Too much violence and sex and language. She didn’t need to see that on screen. Give her something like “It Happened One Night,” or her beloved “Gone With the Wind,” on her VCR, and she was happy as could be.

They just don’t make them like that anymore, she’d say. Followed quickly with her favorite way of switching to another subject.

Anyhow.

I don’t know anyone else who uses that word in quite the same way or with quite the same inflection, the same ok. Done with that. Let’s move on sort of dismissal. I have no idea why but for some reason, I could hear her voice in my head this morning, that word echoing through my memory as I checked email, caught up on the nothing that’s happening in the world, and came across a little piece talking about a fairly big birthday.


Anniversary 911

It seems that there’s a German car company out there that debuted a sports car 50 years ago called the 911. The car was designed by Ferdinand Porsche for the company that bears his name in 1959, as a replacement for the company’s 356 sports car and was originally going to be called a 901. But the French company Peugeot had a fit because all of their car models had a 0 in the middle. Porsche complied with their fit, changed the model number and the rest is history.

The car first sold here in the US in 1964. It was considered quite pricey for the time at $6,500. You could barely buy tires for one today for that amount of money. Today’s version carries a price tag of $83,000. In 50 years, Porsche has sold 820,000 911s.

I don’t have a 911. I had one in my garage during my first marriage, a 1983 model, but it belonged to husband number one. It was a gorgeous car and very hard to drive. Driving a car with a rear-engine means you have to learn to drive almost all over again because the weight is not what’s expected. Take a corner too fast and feel the car start to slide out from under you and you hit the gas rather than let off. If you let off, the car spins. If you hit the gas, you can regain control. It’s an interesting phenomenon. And not just a little bit scary.

I have a Porsche, a 944 Turbo. Built in 1987, it has nearly equal weight distribution between front and back. It’s extremely low to the ground, and it’s fast as hell. Drivers of 911s have long looked down on my beautiful car. The fact that it’s only 26 years old means it’s just a baby in the Porsche world. There will be no 50th birthday celebrations for my 944T and that’s OK.

Porsche has introduced a 50th anniversary model of its famed 911; it’s biggest claim to fame. It will retail in the US for $124,000.

As Aunt Beryl also used to say Oooh myyy.

Aunt Beryl wasn’t much of a car person but she would have known all about this 50th birthday, including the fact that I currently have a Porsche and that I once lived with a 911. We would have talked all about it.


Original 911

Anyhow.

Happy 50th to a stunning piece of engineering and a beautiful design of aesthetic proportion. In a world where things come and go at a sometimes alarming rate, having a car that transcends time is quite an accomplishment, one that I’m celebrating today. 

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Cups of something musical

by Lorin Michel Friday, September 6, 2013 10:58 PM

Every day, as I move between projects, I take a break to surf the ‘net a bit. It’s a way of clearing my head and readying myself for the next job. Many people who work for themselves and have no co-workers do the same. When I had an office job and co-workers in the next offices, I would get up and walk down the hallway, stop to say hi or to chat for a few minutes on my way to get a cup of coffee. Now, I surf. I chat with my online co-worker, Bobbi, and we exchange links to interesting articles, pictures and videos and then discuss. She sent me one today that was so cool, so celebratory, so the embodiment of living it out loud that I had to share.

It’s the Irish version of the song When I’m gone combined with the Cups game, a song popularized not too long ago by Anna Kendrick in the movie Pitch Perfect. The song is actually a variation on something written in the early part of the 20th century by A. P. Carter and several other members of his family, including his wife Sara. Called Will you miss me when I’m gone?, it was first performed in 1928 by the musical group founded by A.P. and known as the Carter Family. It was a song about dying. Cut to 1937 when the J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers recorded a revised version they called Miss me when I’m gone. Mainer was a fiddler from North Carolina and he added a strumming chorus that gave the song a happier feel.

Somewhere along the way, a game was created called Cups. Cups is essentially a children’s clapping game that involves tapping and hitting a plastic cup using a defined rhythm. It’s usually played in large groups with each player having a cup that’s turned upside down. Everyone taps out the same rhythm at the same time. When somebody screws up, they’re out of the game.The rhythm goes something like this: clap twice, using both hands tap the top of the cup three times, clap once, pick the cup up and move it to the right, slamming it down on a table to make a percussion motion/sound. Clap once, turn the cup over, tap to make a hollow sound. You get the idea. This goes on indefinitely.

And then somewhere further along the way, Cups became part of When I’m gone. Christian singer Rich Mullins used the cup game to accompany his song Screen Door, which was on his 1987 album Pictures in the Sky. A band named Lulu and the Lampshades may have been the first to use the game to accompany their version of When I’m gone in 2009. The song was modified by Lulu herself, also known as Luisa Gerstein. A woman named Anna Burden did a version of the Lulu version in 2011 and it was featured on Reddit where it was seen by Anna Kendrick who used aspects of it for her version in Pitch Perfect.

Like the rim of a cup, it all came full circle.

In the ancient Irish language of Gaelic, which is lilting and lush, where words and lyrics roll off the tongue with their own kind of rhythm, When I’m gone (Cups) becomes Amhrán na gCupán.

The original lyrics to the song talk of leaving and wanting the one you’re closest to to come along, to share the views, to be there because otherwise they’re going to miss you when you’re gone. A sample:

I got my ticket for the long way round
The one with the prettiest of views
It's got mountains, it's got rivers
Its got sights to give you shivers
But it sure would be prettier with you

When I'm gone
When I'm gone
You're gonna miss me when I'm gone

As sung by students at an Irish language summer camp in Connemara, the idea of missing becomes a joyous celebration of cups and cups of music. Definitely something to sing and play about.

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The plane truth

by Lorin Michel Friday, September 6, 2013 12:59 AM

It seems you can recycle just about anything these days. Plastic bottles have built cathedrals; aluminum cans have created furniture and exterior surfaces. Paper, bottles, trash. It’s all being turned into things we can use again, and then when we’re done, turned into something else. It’s technology and innovation in action and a wonder to behold.

Airplanes are also being recycled, to quite amazing results. For years, when planes were too old and their airlines didn’t want them anymore they were sent to boneyards. These yards are usually in the deserts of the US, which means out west where we live. The Mojave desert and Victorville have immense fields where older or de-commissioned airplanes go to spend their later years, much like humans. Tucson has such a boneyard as well. It’s called Pinal Airpark and it’s in the Sonoran desert. As inhospitable as the desert can be to people because of the intense sun and heat, it is very kind to airplanes because the dry, hot air helps keep the crafts from corroding.

The damp air in places near water can mean a whole new life entirely, especially for abandoned airplanes that are no longer safe to fly but still sturdy enough to have a place in our lives. Some take the idea of damp air to new heights by using old airplanes as artificial reefs, submerging them into water to become homes for marine life.

Places like MotoArt, a California company that designs sleek, sexy beds, tables, chairs and sculpture has been using decommissioned airplanes for its pieces for more than 10 years. In Germany, a company called bordbar has also been using old airplanes to create both furniture and trolleys. Another German company, Skypak, also makes trolleys from airplanes. This works because airplane aluminum isn’t like the aluminum we all know and love and wrap our leftovers in. Airplane aluminum has to be made of alloys sturdy enough to fly at high altitudes in all kinds of weather conditions under all kinds of pressure. Thus it’s strong enough to support an earthbound trolley.

In Malibu, there is a mansion constructed from a Boeing 747. It’s called Wing House and its owner/designer is David Hertz who has compared using the old aircraft to how Native Americans once used an entire buffalo for sustenance. The building has a curved roof that is made from the wings of the plane.

Another building, this one in Oregon, is made from a structurally untouched 727-200 that was gutted inside but not outside. The owner, Bruce Campbell, calls it Airplane Home. Joe Axline has made a home by using an MD-80 and a DC-9.

But the one I’m most intrigued by is the Costa Verde luxury hotel in the Costa Rican rainforest that has made a suite out of a recycled 727. Maybe I like the idea of it because its clipped wings make it look like a plane emerging from the jungle and ready to fly out over the Pacific. Maybe it’s that the fuselage has two bedrooms that, even with the distinctive porthole windows and curved ceiling, make the place feel more like a bungalow than an airplane. Maybe I just think it’s really cool.

In Stockholm, the Arlanda Airport has a budget hotel called the Jumbo Stay. It’s a hostel built into a 747. Imagine: an affordable trip on a jumbo jet. Impossible these days.

But think about this: Once upon a time, people didn’t think much about airplanes in general. Until they took off.

Celebrating aircraft recycling, and thinking that I may actually like planes more on the ground than in the air. And that’s the plane truth.

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A little in love with Southern Cal

by Lorin Michel Monday, August 19, 2013 11:56 PM

When I was young, I dreamed of living in the West. I had never been here but I knew that I had been born on the wrong coast. I knew that someday I would live here. I don’t know what made me realize that; I don’t remember ever actively thinking about it. It simply was a fact of my someday life.

I didn’t visit the state until my junior year of college when my roommate and closest friend participated in an exchange program that the University of New Hampshire had with San Diego State University. She was here during the spring semester, and for spring break I came out to visit. I flew into Los Angeles and took a bus to San Diego where she picked me up. We spent the week touring the area and even made a trip back up to LA to see some friends who were at UCLA. We had deep dish pizza in Westwood, we went to a local bar that was playing live music. I think we crashed on the friend’s apartment floor.

I remember thinking that you couldn’t see the sun in Los Angeles because of the smog. I remember thinking that the sky was constantly blotted out and a lovely shade of brown. I remember being completely and pleasantly wrong. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the Pacific Ocean sparkled. A cool breeze tickled the air and at night, it was lovely enough for a light sweater.

Palm trees swayed. People on roller skates and skateboards cruised up and down sidewalks. Everyone was in shorts and casual and enjoying life like I’d never experienced. They were happy drenched in sunshine and tanning lotion, with sand stuck between their toes, always in sunglasses with the top down.

When I graduated I moved West and started my true life in San Diego. I only lasted there a year. I didn’t particularly like San Diego because I had no money, no friends and couldn’t seem to get a job. But it never occurred to me to go back East. It was as if it wasn’t an option. I was supposed to be here and here I would stay.

I made it to Los Angeles in 1986 and I’ve been here ever since. The sky is still blue, even when it’s the dirge of summer and a brown layer of smog lies in the Valley. The sun shines most days. The water still sparkles; the palm trees still sway. Sunglasses are a necessary wardrobe item, always.

But there is more to this part of the state than just the superficial. There is more than the weather, or the music, or the wine. In this part of Southern California there is opportunity, for work, for play, for wine tasting, for dining, for exercising, for meeting people, for living.

In this sundrenched paradise there are the same issues that every city faces. There is poverty and crime and unhappiness. But there is also hope. There are friends, there is love.

I love this place and always will. It has been my home for the longest part of my life. I am happy here. I am celebrating.

I am living it out loud. 

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live out loud

Paw prints in the mud

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, August 7, 2013 10:31 PM

We walk Cooper twice a day. In the morning, it’s usually sometime between 7 and 8:30. The particular route that we take is along a fairly major road that is lined with trees and vegetation on both sides. It’s about 1.2 miles so the dog gets his exercise as do we. If we go late, which sometimes happens on Sundays because we sleep in, the air is warmer and the sidewalks are a touch hotter. The ground is also drier. This is a big deal because when we walk at our usual time, it’s not long after the sprinklers have run. The landscaping crew has them on a timer, probably for sometime before the sun comes up. It keeps the trees thick and lush, the wild flowers blooming. It keeps the street lovely.

It makes the ground muddy.

Muddy ground makes for a very muddy puppy. A puppy who seems to revel in it, who happily prances up into the ground cover before gleefully sliding down, packing nice wet mud into his pads, coating the fur that peaks out from his paws. Then he pads on down the sidewalk leaving Cooper-size prints in his wake.

Cooper was here.

Oh, I try to keep him out of the mud. I must yell out of the mud! at least four times per walk before I finally give up. Actually before I finally realize that the mud doesn’t bother him at all; just me. Only because I know when we get home, we’ll have to clean his feet before he’s allowed in the house. He’s not very good at wiping his feet.

Many a morning has resulted in muddy paw prints on the hardwood floors leading to muddy prints on the carpet in the bedroom followed by me, with a wet and soapy cloth, scrubbing said carpet.

This is why there will be no carpet in the new house. Tile is much easier to clean.

I realize that having a dog means having paw prints in the mud on a fairly regular basis. We had them with Maguire, too. I remember one particular morning after we first moved into this house when he was out in the backyard, probably with his morning cookie. When he didn’t come back to the backdoor and let out his customary I’m ready to come in announcement bark, I called to him. He came flying around the corner, ears trailing behind him, bounding toward me with such gleeful abandon I couldn’t do anything but laugh. Even at the trail of mud and muddy water flying off of his front paws and legs. He had decided to dig in a corner of the yard, after the sprinklers had run. The dirt got progressively muddier as water from the ground filled the hole. He couldn’t have been more pleased with himself. I quickly closed the door to leave him out there.

Kevin got a bucket of warm water and put Maguire’s front paws/legs into it so he could scrub him clean before allowing him into the house. The look of joy was quickly replaced with a look of how can you do this to me?

A friend of mine posted a pic of her yellow lab mix on Facebook the other day. The dog’s name is Olivia and she was standing at the back door, paws up on a table, happy as could be, ready to come in. Covered in mud. I laughed and commented how adorable.

Paw prints in the mud and muddy paw prints in the house are all part of the joy of dog ownership, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Yes, there’s a hassle factor, but the incredible happiness on Cooper’s face as he slips and slides his way up and down the hills on Hawthorne is worth it.

And he’s leaving a little something of himself behind.

At least until the next time the sprinklers run.

Age of reinvention

by Lorin Michel Monday, August 5, 2013 12:00 AM

The other night, Return to Lonesome Dove was on AMC. I had never seen it and didn’t see it this time. I was a fan of the original mini-series, as well as the book by Larry McMurtry. The original series starred Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones; the sequel starred Jon Voight. The little bit I saw, perhaps the last half hour, was fairly decent and Jon Voight was a worthy replacement for Tommy Lee Jones in the role of the Captain. It got me to thinking about reinvention and how we all have the opportunity to change ourselves if we have the desire and the strength.

I’ve never been a fan of Jon Voight’s. In his early career, when he did Midnight Cowboy and The Champ, he was a pretty boy. Of course, he also did Coming Home. Still, his career waned for quite some time, but as he grew older, he took on more interesting roles and reinvented himself as a supporting actor with an edge. He was great as FDR in Pearl Harbor (probably one of the few decent things about that film), in the first Mission: Impossible and most recently in Ray Donovan on Showtime. I appreciate his ability to change and to be more than relevant as he gets older (he’s 74). He’s interesting.

One of our favorite character actresses was the late Kathryn Joosten who played the beloved Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing. She didn’t even start acting until she was 42, in community theatre in Illinois. At the age of 59, she landed the role as President Bartlet’s personal secretary. Her career, one that would actually be quite extensive, including winning two Emmy Awards for her role as Karen McCluskey on Desperate Housewives, was entirely in the second phase of her life.

Julia Child didn’t publish her first cookbook until she was well into her 40s. Laura Ingalls Wilder, the famed pioneer woman who wrote the Little House on the Prairie books, didn’t publish the first one until she was 65. Her daughter Rose helped to edit and shape the stories that became, and are still, bestsellers. Frank McCourt didn’t publish his first book, Angela’s Ashes, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, until he was 66.

Grandma Moses, the American folk painter known for her vibrant rural landscapes, spent most of her life doing embroidery. She didn’t start painting until she was 76, when near crippling arthritis made it impossible to hold a needle and thread. Painter Alfred Wallis began painting after his wife’s death, when he was 67. A deep-sea fisherman by trade, he painted seascapes from memory in a style that became known as naïve art where perspective is ignored and scale is based on importance rather than actuality.

Other people who reinvented themselves later in life, regardless of age, include Irene Pennington who took over Pennington Oil when she was 97 years old and turned the company’s $600 million in assets into some real money; and Melchora Aquino.

In 1896, Melchora Aquino had already raised her six children and was content to sing in her local church. But when the Philippine Revolution broke out, she became the “Mother of the Revolution.” She was jailed, deported and exiled but she prevailed. She was 84.

The list is nearly endless of people who looked at their lives, their situations, and decided to do something completely different. Sometimes it’s forced, but that’s not necessarily bad. It’s the universe’s way of saying you need to do something else because something else is going to be better.

Author Mark Walton wrote a book about this very thing. It’s called Boundless Potential: Transform your brain, unleash your talents, reinvent your work in midlife and beyond. In it he writes that neuroscience has recently concluded that adults are literally hardwired for lifelong reinvention through the “emergence of extraordinary new, creative and intellectual powers.” Rather than people lowering their aspirations as they get into the 50s and beyond, they are actually inventing profitable new careers and businesses and embracing artistic endeavors they had previously only dreamed about.

In his book, Walton writes of brain plasticity or the brain’s ability to keep growing and changing at every stage of life. As examples he gives Dr. Sherwin “Shep” Nuland, a nearly burned-out physician who reinvented himself as a brilliant writer in his 60s. Gil Garcetti, after losing his job as the Los Angles district attorney in his late 50s, transformed into one of America's leading photographers. Soon after Marion Rosen's physical therapy practice collapsed in her mid-50s, she created a unique method of bodywork treatments that is now practiced and taught around the world.

My best friend Bobbi reinvented herself as a psycho-therapist in the last years, going to school in her 30s and 40s, interning and getting licensed just last year. It’s tough to do but ultimately she will be in a better place, one where she is doing something she truly loves. Where she’s living it out loud.

It’s why we’re doing what we’re doing, too. Granted, the universe didn’t tell us to do it; it was our choice. But it was time. We’re in our 50s now. If we’re going to make something else happen, we need to take charge, make something happen. We need to reinvent ourselves because of our age, rather than in spite of it. Age doesn’t need to be a hindrance, something you suffer through on your way to the inevitable. It’s something to embrace because with age comes the wisdom needed to change, the patience required to see it through, and the creativity to make it happen. Something to celebrate indeed.

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Service light on

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, July 24, 2013 12:46 AM

It is Tuesday and that means only one thing: time for the Range Rover to spend some time in the shop. We’ve had the new Rover for over a year. We bought it last June. It needs its oil changed every 7500 miles. We are just shy of that number. Scary how little we drive in a year and that includes a trip to Tucson, one up to Paso Robles, several to Santa Ynez, one to Santa Barbara, at least two to San Bernardino and back. But it also can sit in the garage nearly all week and only go to Thousand Oaks or to Woodland Hills in a seven day period.

I’ve been watching the odometer for a month or so, wondering when we’d get to the magic number. As of this morning, we were about 3 miles shy. We also have a couple of other issues that we need them to check, mostly, we hope, minor issues that won’t cost a fortune. Plus it’s due for some kind of regularly scheduled maintenance, the kind of thing they program into new cars these days so the service department can get more money out of you. Look no further than the fact there is almost always something they find that’s wrong and absolutely must, must, must be fixed because if it’s not fixed, you’ll soon be driving down the road and the tires will fall off and the satellite will stop working and the windows will implode and the engine will die and we don’t want that to happen so it can be fixed for the low low price of $1859.

In the shop is one of those phrases that I find fascinating. It’s so generic, applying to virtually everything. You can go in the shop at the corner to buy trinkets, or you can go in the shop in the garage to get some work done on the new piece of furniture you’re building. Going in the shop can mean going to work. Or, as in our case, it can mean that the car is in for service. In for service is actually more accurate since what Silver Star Land Rover of Thousand Oaks is doing to our big red beast is providing a service for which they will charge. They will service the engine with an oil change and perhaps some other necessities. They will service the radio/satellite panel which contains a keypad for dialing through Bluetooth. Two of the keys are broken. They will service the in-console refrigerator that doesn’t seem to be working. I suspect it’s a fuse. They will service the exterior with a much needed car wash, or in this case, SUV wash.

In the shop has always seemed to imply that there’s something horribly, horribly wrong. “I have to take my car into the shop tomorrow.” “Oh, I’m sorry. What’s wrong?”

So today, I’ve decided to think of the car being in the shop as something very good, extremely positive. Celebratory even. Because when it comes out of the shop, hopefully later on today unless they need to order a part, it will have fresh oil. All of its other fluids will have been topped off, its mechanical parts checked, its interior vacuumed and its exterior scrubbed and shined. It should look and drive like new.

My big red machine that gets driven less than 7500 miles each year and gets 21 miles to the gallon, has an amazing sound system and is comfortable in all of its bigness, will be living it out loud.

We, however, may be a little quieter depending on the final bill. 

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live out loud

Pointing in the right direction

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, July 2, 2013 12:11 AM

Continuing off of yesterday’s post, I decided to do a little exploring regarding direction. Knowing that so many people who were looking at the house were consulting their phones to check for north, south, east and west, I consulted my own phone and low and behold, in the utilities app, along with a fairly great calculator, there’s a compass. It fills the screen and moves freely and easily, always pointing to true north. It got me to thinking.

Compasses were most likely invented by the Chinese during the Han Dynasty, sometime between the 2nd century BC and 1st century AD. It is believed that they were first created for the purpose of navigating a spiritual life or for developing a feng shui environment, a harmonious living space. Prior to the compass, people found their ultimate destinations by sighting landmarks, a practice that included looking to the night sky. Some people still use this method. The early Vikings may have used a crystal to determine the sun’s direction and elevation especially on cloudy days. Then, sometime around the year 1050, the Chinese discovered that a lodestone, a naturally magnetized ore made of iron, would spin if it was suspended and end up pointing in the same direction undoubtedly because of the magnetic poles, which no one knew about at the time. Many of these early compasses were used to search for gems as well as to discover the best sites to build homes. It was the Song Dynasty during this 11th century who decided to use lodestone for navigation. By the year 1300, the first variations of what we now use as a compass were created.

In 1269, Petrus Peregrinus of Maricourt described both a floating compass used for stargazing and a dry compass for astronomical purposes. In the Mediterranean, compasses were used with magnetized pointers that floated in a bowl of water. That, coupled with the development of charts, allowed for more seafaring during what had traditionally been the “off season” between October and April, usually because of cloudier days and stormier seas.

The face of early compasses depicted a rose, similar to what was also used on maps and charts. Thirty-two points were and are around a circular face, separated by equal amounts of space, with N, E, S, and W being the primary focus. Four intercardinal directions (NE, SE, SW, NW) and then 16 secondary intercardinal directions (like NE by N) were/are shown. These points were originally drawn to indicate wind direction so that sailors could harness the power of nature to travel the sees. There were 8 major winds, 8 half winds and 16 quarter winds. The earliest compass roses showed the eight major winds, with a single letter above the line where the name of the wind would appear.

By the time Christopher Columbus sailed the open seas, a fleur de lys showed a T for tramontana, the name of the north wind, marking north, and an L with a cross, for levante, marking east, showing the direction of the Holy Land.  

There are dry compasses that use a pivoting needle on a pin inside a glass box; a bearing compass which can be a surveyor’s compass, a prismatic compass and an orienteering compass; and a liquid compass, the precursor to the modern compass. There are thumb compasses, gyrocompasses, solid-state compasses (also known as GPS), qibla compasses, and trough compasses. In addition to navigation, they continue to be used for mining, for astronomy, for prayer and for building orientation.

Which brings me back to yesterday’s vastu shastra. It’s fascinating to use the four acknowledged points of north, south, east and west and everything in between to decide if we’re pointing in the right direction. But what is the right direction? Is it something decided by religion or ancient rule? Is it based on which way we want the sun to enter and leave our lives each day? Is it more than that?

Direction is what we seek to find inside as well as outside. I am constantly doing course corrections in my life. If something isn’t working for me, I make a change. It can be difficult to do because it’s easier to not change, to not go down a new path. It’s easier to say, well, I know this way and another way could be worse. And it could be. I know people who think that way. But if another way is worse, another course correction can happen just as easily. I like to know where I’m going so that I’ll know it when I get there. That’s doesn’t always happen. Life has a way of changing my direction just when I think I’ve figured out how best to navigate. It’s OK. Ultimately, I appreciate it.

I change. Because change means I’m experiencing new sights and sounds, new opportunities and possibilities. I change because I know eventually I’ll be pointing in the right direction, a direction that is perfect for my life, my love, my health, my career. I’ll just keep consulting my inner compass to find my true north, to find were my sun rises and sets. That’s the direction that allows me to find something to celebrate every day. It’s why I always live it out loud.

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live out loud

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