Tonight the son shines

by Lorin Michel Monday, December 23, 2013 12:06 AM

I’m going to gloat. This past Friday, after four and a half years of college, Justin graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Theatrical Production with a concentration in Lighting Design and Electrics. What a long strange trip it’s been. On one hand, and I know it seems like a cliché, it seems just yesterday that he was a little boy, riding in a car seat and just 35 pounds. Going to Disneyland, staying for the parade and Fantasmic and having him fall asleep. Kevin and I shared the responsibility of carrying him. It was like wearing a virtual heater in the summer.

There was camp and basketball and the time I found him and his girl friend in the back seat of my BMW, kissing. They were eight. I hardly knew what to do. I wasn’t prepared for this to happen at eight. I was prepared for 14. There were the family vacations to educational and fun places, and then just fun places. Starting high school, learning to play trombone – badly – and joining the jazz band only to quit because he couldn’t read music no matter how many private lessons we took him to.

There were soccer tryouts and an earned spot on the team. There were girlfriends and friends, and trouble in high school and getting in trouble for stealing hood ornaments off of parked cars and pushing over trees in one of the local parks. There were emotional issues and fights where he hated us and we weren’t too fond of him. There was therapy and there was enlightenment. And then came theatre. Theatre was his salvation. Once he discovered the fun and wonder and joy and heartache and creativity of what it means to be in theatre his whole life changed.

He started out building sets. On many an afternoon, he would call Kevin to ask for advice and sometimes help in building a particular set piece. Kevin would pack up tools and off he’d go to the high school.

Theatre introduced Justin to the possibility of making new worlds; to literature. He devoured it all, inhaled it, embraced it and came to personify it.

In 2009, he started his college career in Tucson at the University of Arizona. After two and a half years, he found a school that better fit his concentration of lighting and electricity, and settled into State University New York at Fredonia where he truly excelled. He was on the dean’s list. He designed several shows. He found a small theatre on Long island where he has worked for these three years.

Now he’s done and starts his next life. The first part of that next life begins in a month or so when he starts as a lighting tech on the Norwegian Sun, a cruise ship with Norwegian Cruise Lines. It’s a whole new world that stretches before. New people, new places, new shows. What a time of life.

Justin and Cooper tonight, watching football

Tonight we celebrated his graduation. We gave him the new iPad Air and he’s thrilled. We’re thrilled for him, and so excited to see him go off into the world to make his way, to discover more fun and different and creative things in theatre, in his life. He’s going to shine, I’m sure of it.

Tonight I’m celebrating my son and his new life, 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

In difference

by Lorin Michel Thursday, June 27, 2013 12:48 AM

I am always struck by our vast differences. In this country alone there are some 332 million people, living in cities, towns and rural areas; along the coasts, in the mountains, on the plains, in the desert. On islands, on parcels not far from Russia. These areas are all completely different from one another. The Pacific coast is different than the Atlantic. The Florida coast is different than Cape Cod than Maine, and then there’s the Gulf Coast. The land is different, the water is different. On the Pacific, the coast in San Diego is different than the coast of Big Sur than the coast of the Pacific northwest. The temperatures vary. It can be 90º here and 60º in San Francisco. It can be 95º in Miami and 58º in Kennebunk Port.

In the middle of the country, the steel belt is different than the farming belt is different than the plains is different than the mountains. The desert is different in New Mexico and Arizona and Nevada.

And inside every one of these enclaves are different people. They have different skin colors, hair cuts, religions, politics. There are differences in how we dress, how we think, whether we like dogs or cats or turtles or fish. There are differences in the music we listen to, the food we like, the places we travel, our heritage, our age, our taste in movies, if we like wine. Do we prefer coffee or tea? Sparkling water or flat? Red or white?

Inside every person is the same, in terms of how we’re designed. The hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone and all that jazz. We all have the same organs. A heart to keep us running, a brain to keep us thinking, muscles to keep us moving. We have eyes to see, ears to hear, noses to smell. We have mouths to talk, to taste, to eat; to kiss. We have hands to touch, to grasp, to type, to write, to paint, to create, to play.

We have desire; we have will.

Only the outside appears different and yet it isn’t, not really. We all have two arms, two legs, ten fingers and ten toes. Finger nails and toe nails. A head, sometimes with hair. Skin. We wear clothing of some sort, shoes maybe. Hats, jackets. We are human beings and there really isn’t much that’s different about any of us.

Some are old, some are young; some are female, some are male. We are one or the other, but even as a male or a female we still have all of the same parts. Only the reproductive organs are different.

And yet, for all of our sameness we are, actually, completely different. We have unique personalities and thoughts and dreams and jobs and possibilities. We want and we need. We think differently, we have different desires. What makes us different may be the soul. At least that’s what some people think it might be.

I’m not sure what it is but as same as we are I also realize we are completely different. We live in difference, we exist in difference, we are in difference. That’s what makes us, as a species, so incredible.

To have indifference to something is to not care. But in difference, there is cause for celebration. Finding joy in what makes us different is what makes us human. I find joy in that daily. I celebrate the fact that we all think differently, want different things, need different things; that we all live differently; that we love differently.

Perhaps I’m naïve, but as I look at those around me, at my husband, my friends, my family, and I see that we are all human beings and thus the same, I also see that we are completely different. I love that. I love that we are different in our sameness. I love that we are merely human.

It’s the kind of in difference I can get behind. 

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live out loud

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