The joy of meeting a friend

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, July 27, 2011 10:55 PM

Here’s what I believe: Friendship isn’t a big thing. It’s a million little things.

Like the majority of the world, I’m on Facebook. You may even be reading this on Facebook. I started out with a regular page, and then when I started my blog, I eventually created a liveitoutloud.celebratesomething Facebook page. It’s a great way to connect with people. It’s also a great way to reconnect with people. I’ve found some people I went to high school with, people I haven’t had any contact with in 30 years. I found my long lost friend, Pam, who I missed so much for so long, and it’s like we’ve been together all of this time. There’s no awkwardness, only joy. We talk easily though not often enough.

I also found my friend Connie.

Connie and I met when I first moved to LA and worked at McCann-Erickson advertising. Somehow we became friends; I don’t remember how. We were friends for a long time and then we drifted apart. Part of it I know was because I started spending much of my free time with Kevin. I think it’s hard sometimes for friends when suddenly one is in a relationship.  Suddenly someone who once had all kinds of time is suddenly focusing that time elsewhere. So we drifted.

But then along came Facebook. I searched, and there she was. Tonight we met for a drink and it was great. Fun. No awkwardness. Like friendship should be.

There’s something special about old friends, and that’s not a reference to age. There’s comfort in knowing each other from another time and then reconnecting. It’s like you’re part of a secret club. The secret friends-who-used-to-be-friends club, people that knew each other during times of good and strife, who have memories from years past and who have a history allowing them to reconnect quickly, to re-establish the incredible comfort that comes with friendship.

Robert Louis Stevenson, the great Scottish writer, once said, prophetically: “A friend is a gift you gift yourself.” It’s the gift of conversation, laughter, tears, joy, memories, disagreements, and more, often shared over a glass of wine. It’s a million things that add up to one big thing: Friendship. I am blessed to have incredible friends, women who have been in my life for a long time, women who will continue to be in my life for a long, long time. Pam, Connie, Bobbi, Diane. Of course my sister Khris, and my oldest friend, my mom. Again, no reference to age but rather to longevity, time served together.

Having friends is the glue that holds life together. I believe my life is sticking very well. And I'm living it out loud with each one of them.

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What dreams are made of

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, July 20, 2011 8:40 PM

The question comes up quite a bit between my friends and I. What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question as old as time, I suspect; one we’ve all heard since we were children. It started with adults asking how old we were and what were our names, and the minute those same adults suspected we had grown enough to answer a more thought-provoking question, they asked it: What do you want to be when you grow up?

We were conditioned to think we could be anything and most especially President, boys and girls alike. And as we grew older we decided we knew exactly what we would be. A teacher, an astronaut, a meter maid. I wrote a paper in 8th grade about becoming a photographer. I don’t believe I had ever taken a picture before in my life but it seemed like a very cool thing to be, a photographer. I would travel the world, go on safari, photograph giraffes and lions on the Serengeti; I would photograph the Eiffel tower and the Coliseum and Half Dome, only mine would be better than Ansel Adams. I outgrew that fairly quickly and then decided that I was born to be on stage before transitioning, effortlessly, to film. Or maybe I’d be a rock star. Never mind that I couldn’t sing. It was the dream of it all that mattered, the possibility.

In college, I temporarily lost focus and my dreams clouded. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I started out as an art major and I was, at best, mediocre. I also didn’t have the passion for it. I had always excelled in English and in writing and I found myself leaning in the direction of Shakespeare and Faulkner, of Eudora Welty and Maya Angelou and Mark Twain, of DH Lawrence and Henry James. My major shifted to English, with a concentration in Creative Writing. I had no idea what I would do with such a degree when I graduated from college but like the great heroine of the quintessential Civil War-era, Southern novel Gone with the Wind famously posed: I would simply think about that tomorrow.

But what happens when tomorrow comes and then the next day?

Each one of us has dreams, some we’ve acted on, some we haven’t. I know I still do. I dream of writing a beautiful novel, of spending my days creating a reality that exists only in my head and transferring it perfectly, exquisitely to paper (metaphorically and literally). I dream and I refuse to stop.

I know so many people who are doing things to change their lives, to change the world. I’m writing several books for the man who started an important and non-profit health organization. His name is Bob Knutzen and he started the Pituitary Network Association to help spread the word about the incredible prevalence of pituitary disease. He’s passionate about it.

A woman I worked with years ago at Sebastian, Adrianna Reo, was laid off after 19 years and took a good portion of her severance to start The Reo Bakpak Company to provide homeless kids with good, strong, and even cool backpacks so that they feel more empowered when they go to school.

There’s a dog rescue in Washington State called Second Chance Dogs, a group of women who have dedicated their time and energy to rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing abandoned, abused, and neglected dogs.

My friend Bobbi is a perfect example of someone who understands the importance of dreams and not just because she’s a therapist. She never went to college, but in her 30s, decided that she was going to become a psychologist. She went through an undergrad program, and then got her master’s degree, and then had to complete 3000 hours of interning in order to take the test to become licensed. She did all of this while also working full time as a graphic designer. She’s also started, with other therapists, a group called The Conversation Group. I don’t think she realizes how inspirational she is.

Or her husband Roy, a fine artist who made a living for years as a creative director and an art director. Now in his 60s, he’s returning to his first love: art. And creating with a passion I’ve rarely witnessed.

There’s a man named Charlie Annenberg, a vet (I believe) who founded a non-profit organization, with his golden retriever Lucky, to provide therapy dogs to soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s called Dog Bless You.

And my buddy Tucker, a therapy dog who, along with his mom Dr. Wendi Hirsch, works to help kids fighting the debilitating effects of cancer and its treatment to feel a little bit better because of a snuggle and a kiss from a beautiful blonde, furry boy.

I have a client who is committed to raising funds for cancer research through one of her products, Cure. Her mother died of breast cancer; her sister has successfully beaten it back twice.  And my friend Pam in Maryland, whose salon, Mason and Friends, participates in Cuts for Cancer each year, a local fund-raising event. She’s a cancer survivor, too, and a former dancer. One day, perhaps, she’ll dance again if for no other reason than because she can, and because she dreams.

My husband ditched his corporate career some ten or so years ago to go into web development, web design and Internet marketing. He also builds furniture and dreams of making wine.

Even while doing all of these things, each of these people – and so many, many more – myself included, continues to dream of what we’ll accomplish, what we can do, how we can change the world, what we will be when we grow up. That’s why today, I’m celebrating all the dreamers, because they are the biggest believers in the possible.

As the great writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez once wrote: “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old; they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

What is your dream? What is it made of?  I would be willing to bet that it’s made of hope.

 

 

16 years

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, March 22, 2011 9:57 PM

It’s March 22. Sixteen years ago tonight, which was a Wednesday, my future husband and I met for a drink at Yankee Doodle at 6 pm. Just a drink. Dinner was too much of a commitment.

I think I got home around 12:30. We left Yankee Doodle - a pool hall and kind of sleazy - immediately, and went to a place called Monty’s on Topanga and Ventura in Woodland Hills. They have a great piano bar and they serve hors ‘d oeuvres. The piano player that night was cheesy and wonderful. He played “Macarthur Park” and we sang along. Yes, we’re just that weird. We hardly knew each other but we knew the words to that ridiculous song.

Three years later we got married. I celebrate that daily.

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