Friends make me feel better

by Lorin Michel Saturday, December 3, 2011 11:08 PM

Today is my friend Roy’s birthday. I won’t say how old he is on the advice of counsel (that would be my husband) but I will say that we were lucky enough to see him and all of his birthday glory, and he still looks good. He’s still able to walk on his own; the hair isn’t too gray. He can chew his own food and drink his own wine, though his wife – my good friend Bobbi – did have to order it for him. We went to The Napa Tavern and since it was before 6, we were able to do a tasting. We perused the tasting menu; I decided on three cabs. Bobbi smiled at the waiter and said: “he’ll have what she’s having.” And so he did.

We all had our tasting. Roy and Bobbi had several appetizers. We weren’t hungry so we decided to chew our wine instead. It tasted good. But we talked and laughed and joked and even argued, albeit very good-naturedly. That’s the nature of friendship. It’s all about the joy.

When I was younger, I thought I should have a lot of friends. I thought that was what true happiness was about. But as I grew more mature, I realized that friendship was not about quantity; it was about quality. As friends would become too much work, I would divest myself. I adopted a platform that basically said that if someone didn’t bring me joy, I wouldn’t spend time with them. By joy, I meant feeling better for having been with them. It didn’t have to be jokes and laughter; I could be with a friend and spend the entire time in tears. But if I felt better for the experience, it mattered. I am so busy, now more than ever, and I need to have people in my life that bring me joy. I do. I have my husband, of course, and my family; I’ve rediscovered Pam. I have Diane and once again Connie, and several others. Each time I’m with these people, in person, or on the phone, or even online, I’m better for the experience.

And then there’s the birthday boy and his wife. Roy and Bobbi elevate the experience. They are our closest friends, our confidantes, the people who know the most about us and who always make us feel better for having shared time and wine. This is what friends do. And we are all the better for it.

We’re home now, dinner is done and the dishes are on the table, waiting to be carried to the kitchen. Maguire is in the bedroom, barking at nothing. Kevin has started to drift into a nap on the couch opposite of me. There’s a fire burning lazily in the fireplace, the newly erected Christmas tree stands dark in front of the slider. I’m relaxed and warm after a cold day outside in the biting wind, putting up Christmas lights, all with the help of my best friend, the husband-unit. I have a glass of wine on the table, my laptop on my lap, an episode of NCIS on the TV and now my dog has come to lay beside me after his barking episode in the bedroom. This is what a relaxing Saturday night feels like.

After spending a few hours with friends, I’m feeling good. We choose our friends, we choose to spend time together, we choose to let them into our lives. Friends make our lives better because they are our choice, and because of that, they become our family; they reflect our better natures.

Friends make us feel better for having been with them. Even more so when one of those friends is celebrating a birthday. It’s just that simple.

The meaning of October

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, October 12, 2011 10:23 PM

I’ve always been a fan of October. I love how the weather starts to change, slowly drifting toward winter. The leaves stage a last hurrah for the season, and the entire month is capped off with All Hallow’s Eve. Always a favorite for its spirit if not its costumes and the countless small children who arrive on equally countless doorsteps to proclaim their requirement for a treat, given for absolutely no reason other than the fact that they knocked on the door and wore a mask.

October is Hispanic Heritage Month, at least until the 15th, celebrating the long and important presences of Hispanic Americans in North America. Of course, October is most known these days for being breast cancer awareness month. Throughout the year, people sport pink ribbons of solidarity but during October there are also walks, runs, fund-raisers. The NFL dons pink cleats, wristbands and gloves; the quarterback towel is also pink. I always find it amazingly inspiring that these huge, hulking men are sporting pink but why shouldn’t they? They have mothers, sisters, grandmothers and aunts; wives, girlfriends, and friends. We all do.

We’ve all heard the statistics. The one that always hits closest to home because it is so relatable is that 1 in 8 women in this country will develop invasive breast cancer. If you look at all of the women in your life, you will be looking at one or more who will one day receive the diagnosis. I have a favorite client who lost her mother to breast cancer and whose older sister has successfully fought the disease twice. I’m not sure she’s 50 yet. She developed a hair care product, Cure, which they sell in order to raise money for breast cancer research. They’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars worldwide. It’s a great cause; it’s a great product. Both Maguire and I use it.

I know of others who have been diagnosed; I know of several who have died. Most have not been close to me. One, as it turns out, was.

Pam, as butterfly

When I was a freshman in high school, my family lived in Columbia, Maryland. My father had been transferred to Washington, D.C., and he and my mother chose Maryland for our home. High school is a difficult time for most, myself included. It’s even worse when you start school in a new area where you know no one. I was lonely, friendless, and not all that cool. I always seemed to float between the popular crowd and the nerds, but didn’t truly fit into either.

Sometime during the early part of that year, I became friends with Pam. She was tall, blonde, popular. She had grown up in Columbia, knew and was liked by everyone. She was a dancer, laughed easily and often and was the coolest person I had ever met. Why she thought it would be “cool” to be friends with the new kid, I have no idea, but I thanked god every day that she did. We became inseparable. We took up tennis together, we biked marathons; we worked on the school play. We stayed overnight at each other’s house, mostly hers. She was the first person I ever got drunk with. I loved her.

And then my father got transferred and we moved yet again, right after the end of my freshman year. She gave me a copy of “Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” by Judith Viorst as we vowed to stay friends, and we did, for a while. We saw each other once every year or so, we exchanged letters (this was before email), and she visited me in college. We drifted apart for a while but reconnected right before my first marriage. In fact, she came to the wedding. My first husband and I even visited her and her husband in Maryland. And then we drifted apart again. It was probably around 1990.

I thought about her for years, wondered where she was, what she was doing. I missed her so much. Once the internet proliferated, I searched for her endlessly. Nothing. I looked on Facebook. She wasn’t there. Two years ago this Christmas, I was doing one of my usual searches, and there she was. Finally! I sent her a note; she replied. We exchanged emails for a while and then branched out into phone calls. This summer, I visited her and her husband, John, at their home in Maryland. It was and is as if we’ve never been apart. The conversations are easy; the laughter quick to come. She’s still my great friend, and I miss her when we don’t talk.

I bring this up because four years ago, before we found each other again, Pam was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily it was caught early. We talked about it some today, and she said that the thing that pissed her off the most was that her nieces would now have to check “yes” on health forms when asked if anyone in their family had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I laughed. It was so Pam to think that way.

I’m so grateful that she’s back in my life. If something had happened to her before we had reconnected… well, I can’t imagine. I don’t want to. It would have been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad life.

Instead it’s a wondrous, fascinating, lovely day and life. My friend is healthy. She’s funny. She’s still tall and blonde and incredibly cool. She’s irreverent and loving and true. That’s the meaning of October this year. So I celebrate Pam. I celebrate all of the women who have fought or are fighting breast cancer. I celebrate all women. Live it out loud, ladies. I raise a glass to you.

And Pam? Phone date again? Soon? xoxo

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friendly celebrations

In which Fritini is really just Friday and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that

by Lorin Michel Friday, September 30, 2011 11:19 PM

Regular readers and those who know me are well-versed in the ritual known here in Chez Michel as Fritini. Some of you, and you know who you are, have even joined us on occasion and we have been lucky to have you. Fritini is the celebration of the end of the week, the beginning of the weekend, the chance to sit and relax with an ice-cold Grey Goose martini, straight up with a twist. For Kevin and sometimes me. Roy and Bobbi like theirs with olives. Diane and Gene like theirs with olives, too, but instead of vodka, they kick it old school with Bombay Safire. Others, like me, drink variations on these themes. I’ve switched to an ice-cold Manhattan, straight up with a twist.

Manhattans have been around for quite some time though not for nearly as long as the borough for which they’re named. Manhattan is evidently derived from the word(s) Manna-hata found in the 1609 logbook of Robert Juet, an officer on Henry Hudson’s yacht at the time. It is said to mean “island of many hills.” It certainly is an island of many buildings, many landmarks, many monuments. In 1524, it was part of an area inhabited by the Lenape Indians. Then it became part of New Amsterdam in 1625 when a Dutch fur trading settlement was established. Manhattan was officially acquired from the Lenape by Pieter Janszoon Schagen in 1626 for about $24. By all accounts it has flourished for quite some time.

But it wasn’t until 1870, when, during a dinner hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston’s mom, that Dr. Iain Marshall gave Manhattan its official drink. Actually it gave the Manhattan Club in NYC where the banquet was hosted its official drink, if you can get past the fact that evidently Lady Churchill was in France at the time and pregnant. Marshall’s mix of Whiskey, Italian Vermouth and Angostura bitters was born. Unless you believe that a bartender named Black who tended to his flock on Broadway, near Houston Street, was the first to mix a Manhattan in 1860. Or perhaps you choose to believe that William Schmidt actually detailed a drink suspiciously like a Manhattan in 1891. In the book Shake ‘em Up! written by Elliot and P. Strong in 1930, the same drink is called a Tennessee Cocktail.

A girl could get dizzy trying to keep all of this straight. Maybe that’s the whiskey.

I prefer the Manhattan perfected in my kitchen by our resident mixologist, Master Kevin J. Michel. He uses bourbon, often Maker’s Mark, since bourbon is my favorite kind of whiskey, sweet Italian vermouth and the tiniest bit of the aforementioned Angostura bitters. He shakes it up nice and cold, strains it through crushed ice into a waiting cocktail glass and garnishes it with a perfectly curled lemon twist.

Variations on a theme include a Rob Roy made with scotch, a Cuban Manhattan made with dark rum and a Tijuana Manhattan made with tequila.

Variations on a Fritini theme include wine only, whine exclusively and just Kevin and I. That’s the kind of Fritini we’re having tonight and it’s OK. Fritini has a true celebratory nature to it; it demands more people than just the two of us. While we can celebrate alone, it’s just more fun when there are others to laugh with, to talk with, even to argue with. It’s been known to get lively around here on Fridays.

We put the music on. We sit out on the patio as long into the season as possible, until it’s simply not fun anymore because it’s too cold. We eat, we drink, we live it out loud. That’s Fritini.

Tonight is simply Friday. It’s been a long week – aren’t they all? – and we’re going to relax, be an old married couple. Maybe watch a little TV, make an easy dinner and live it out a little less loud than usual. I’m sure the neighbors will appreciate it.

Here’s to Fritinis past and future, and to Fridays punctuating the end of each week. Welcome to October!

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live out loud

Time for a Niner

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, September 28, 2011 10:44 PM

Those of you who know me know that I have several weaknesses. One is for my kid, of whom I’m so proud; one is for my vintage puppy, who makes me smile simply by existing. Another is my husband, most days. Other weaknesses include my closest friends and my wondrous family, mostly one in the same. I love to read and really love to write. I love my Patriots (even last weekend when Brady was intercepted 4 – !!!!!! – times. I digress) and Chicago and Tucson. I love pasta and just about anything made from or with a potato.

And I love wine, especially if it’s colored red.

The bigger, bolder and hairy the better. I like a red wine that is so deep and dense that it’s impossible for light to get through the liquid as it floats in a perfectly formed goblet. To swirl and sniff and sip a heavy red wine, like a Zaca Mesa Mesa Reserve Syrah from 2007 or a Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon from virtually any year is to taste what heaven must be if I believed in heaven. Instead, I choose to believe in Bacchus the Roman god of wine and mayhem, probably song as well.

Bacchus is a liberator, a god whose wine, music and dance frees his followers from self-conscious fear to breakthrough the restraints imposed upon the minions. That would be us wine drinkers. Bacchus also has a cult, a cult of souls, and I’m a happy member. Now normally I’m mostly opposed to cults, for obvious reasons. Group thought and group belief bugs me. But a cult of souls committed to wine? That might be a cult I can remain a part of since I’ve obviously already joined.

One of our new favorite reds is just about anything by a Paso Robles winery called Niner, and especially anything from 2007. They have a kick-butt Cabernet Franc, Syrah and a decent Cab. They make a wine called Fog Dog, and another phenomenal red and our new favorite: Twisted Spur. This blend from what is essentially the Central Coast region of California is grown on a patch of land called Bootjack Ranch on the side of the Salinas River. It’s 125 acres of hearty red grapes like Syrah, Merlot, Barbera, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Twisted Spur is an exquisite blend of Merlot (59%), Cab Franc (27%), Syrah (12%) and Petite Syrah (2%), all blended and twisted together to form an absolutely exquisite wine. The spur, I suspect, is just a nice Western twist. Pun intended.

Tonight we popped a bottle to have with a lovely plate of pasta. Penne with a light cream sauce of parmesan, a touch of blue cheese, and sautéed mushrooms, onions, a little ham in olive oil and Marsala. I had a tough day, fighting with one of my projects with the project winning for a good part of the time. Then I went to a meeting for about three and a half hours. When I came back, my project decided to cooperate and the evening got better. The wine was the crown.

As I was writing this, Kevin said: “What’s the blend of the Spur?” I had literally just pulled up the website. He took a sip and smiled. “How do we continue to do that?” he asked. “Do what?” “Always be on the same page all the time.”

It’s called synergy, and like this fine wine, it gives our lives and our evenings flavor. 

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live out loud

In ten years

by Lorin Michel Sunday, September 11, 2011 8:21 PM

In ten years, Kevin and I have raised Justin from a young child through the ravages of high school to be a college junior. We have helped Maguire reach vintage puppy status. We have grown our businesses and buried parents – my father, his mother – and grandparents. We have welcomed a new nephew, Caden, and watched – albeit long distance – as our niece and my goddaughter Shawn has grown from a toddler of two to a young lady of twelve. We have seen our oldest nephew marry and Kevin’s older siblings retire. In ten years, we have visited Napa Valley and Santa Ynez, our families in Chicago and New England; we have fallen in love with Tucson. We have rediscovered old friends, welcoming them back into our lives with joy; we have embraced existing friendships, becoming even closer than we thought possible. It is good.

We have created Fritini. We bought a motorcycle, then another and a third until we finally got it right. We have big Thanksgiving get-togethers, some years bigger than others, but everyone is invited, especially those who live far from family, or would simply rather be with friends. It’s a celebration we cherish every year.

We have said goodbye to Hogan and Rusty and Max and KJ and so many others. We have welcomed Lucky and Tommy and Pixel and Libby. We have joined animal rescue groups and supported other causes dear to our hearts. We have loved and lost, felt hopelessness and joy; we have lived.

In the next ten years, we will say goodbye to loved ones, we will grow ever closer to those most dear, we will try to be nicer, better, stronger, funnier. We will embrace challenges and change when we need to change because to remain stagnant is to wither. And we will not wither.

We will enjoy good wine and great friends. We will love.

Ten years ago, there was collective fear and sadness, a profound sense of loss. I didn’t expect this September 11th anniversary to affect me as it has but I find myself transported into the past even as I look with hope into the future. Ten years ago, we were paralyzed. Ten years from now, we’ll be in a yet a different place emotionally, physically.

With luck, we’ll be stronger. We’ll have more humor and less angst. We’ll have wonderful times together with good food because there are great recipes to try. Maybe we’ll be making wine. Wouldn’t that be something? With more luck, I’ll have written more books. I will have further developed my craft, my art. I will have helped others to do the same.

On this day, a day that until today, I thought wouldn’t bring me to my knees yet again, I celebrate my husband, my son, my dog, my family, my friends, my clients, my dreams and desires, my hopes, my successes, my failures. My good life.

Live life on purpose. Utilize full potential. Take responsibility for life. Live in the question. How can I do this better? How can I help change the world? How can I make a difference by making some noise?

Because “if you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”  



Attitude is everything

by Lorin Michel Monday, August 29, 2011 10:08 PM

The beginning of the week can bring the dread. If you work a regular Monday thru Friday, or the equivalent, the night before going back to work, a pall can descend. But it doesn’t have to. Starting the week with a positive attitude can help create a good week. Honest.

I know I’ve always tried to have a good attitude, to look on the proverbial bright side of life. I believe it helps to create a good atmosphere as I go forward into the world, even if the world is only just the next few days. I try to smile. If something goes wrong, I try not to immediately get angry but to look at the situation and figure out how I can make it better. Sometimes I’m actually successful. If there’s no coffee to grind in the morning because we haven’t been to CostCo, I don’t get frustrated. I either pull out one of my Starbucks gift cards (thanks, Pam) or I break into the e-coffee, an emergency stash we keep in the pantry. I know I’ll have coffee; it may just take a little longer than usual. I may even get a muffin if I go to Starbucks. See? Having a positive attitude feeds me, in more ways than one.

And it’s not just me. According to a study by the American Psychosomatic Society, women who are optimistic about life live longer and are generally healthier. The findings came from a clinical trial of more than 97,000 healthy women ages 50 to 74. Of those, optimistic women had a 14 percent lower risk of death from any cause after eight years as compared to those who were more pessimistic.

Harvard University even has a how-to-be-happy course, one of the school’s most popular classes where the first lesson is to embrace failures and frustrations. Psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar explains it like this: “When you give yourself permission to be human, you are more likely to open yourself up to positive emotions.”

Not to be left out, Carnegie Mellon researchers have discovered that positive people come down with fewer cold and flus, even after being exposed to the virus. Happy people are also less likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes and pain from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

And happiness researcher Martin Seligman who started a positive psychology master’s program at the University of Pittsburgh believes that a positive outlook and attitude come from inside. He’s even been so kind as to identify some steps that can help increase happiness. Things like setting realist goals: enjoying your work, what you like to do outside of work and the people you love. Check. Gratitude. Thanking someone can make you feel better. Check. Focusing on the good. Seligman suggests writing down three things each day that went well. Sort of check.

I don’t do three things but I do one and I write it down here. I embrace that one thing and live it out loud, shout it through my keyboard and celebrate something good, something fun, something funny, something beautiful. When I started, I wondered if I could find something every day. I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that it’s not difficult at all.

Because attitude is everything.

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live out loud

Bacchus calling

by Lorin Michel Thursday, August 25, 2011 10:33 PM

It’s Thursday which means date night which means wine tasting which means fun. We look forward to it every week. The day flashes like a beacon in an otherwise long week, beckoning us forward. It starts on Monday when we both look at each other and ask: “Is it Thursday yet?” And while Thursday isn’t the actual end of the week, it is the symbolic end. We made it through four very long days. One more to go. And that one seems like a walk in park in comparison. We’re happy.

The origin of Thursdays as the last day of the week is probably related to college, or maybe not. I tend to think that Thursdays are simply an excuse. People go out together because they can, and they don’t have to use their actual weekend nights of Friday or Saturday on acquaintances. I know Thursdays were big when I was in school and then again when I was single. It was time to party.

Now it’s time to celebrate the week with my husband, a celebration that almost always includes wine. It’s like Bacchus himself is looking down on us.

Bacchus, the Roman god equivalent of the Greek god Dionysus, is the god of wine. He is the liberator, the one whose grape juice, music and dance free all followers from self-conscious fear. Like his Greek counterpart, his origins are uncertain, but what is fairly certain is that the Romans adopted his mindset from Greece. Supposedly he invented wine and spread the art of tending grapes, and can choose to drive a man mad. No word on whether he also drives women mad. As Dionysus, he wandered the world, encouraging the worship of the grape and thus the fruit of rebirth, especially as related to vines. As Bacchus he did much the same. Regardless of what he was called, he was and is always about wine and enjoyment.

We like him.

Tonight we go to our favorite spot where bad 80s music will drift through the speakers nestled in the corners of the room. It might be Hall and Oats or Simple Minds. I won’t know for sure because we won’t quite be able to hear it over the noise of those sipping, talking, laughing, engaging in wine-tasting, and ultimately it won’t matter. It’s ambience.

We’ll taste wine from Dashe Cellars; we’ll talk to some friends. The proprietors of the fine establishment where we frequent on Thursday nights – The Wineyard –  will stop by and we’ll talk about wine and kids in college, about the goodness of life and this lovely Thursday night. There will be no drunken debauchery but I still think that Bacchus or Dionysus or whichever god you prefer will be proud.

It’s Thursday and we’re celebrating the near end of the week; we're celebrating Bacchus. We’re relaxing and enjoying and readying ourselves for the joy that will come. We’ll talk, we’ll sip, we’ll text Justin. We’ll live it out loud.

Happy Thursday. Celebrate something.

Bonus shot: Maguire in front of his fan

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live out loud

And I am want to howl at the moon

by Lorin Michel Saturday, August 20, 2011 12:13 AM

Musings on a Fritini:

It is the last night Justin will be with us, at least here in the OP. We’ll see him in Tucson in less than two weeks but this is home, this is where he should be. We’ll miss him when he drives off tomorrow.

We’re welcoming friends tonight. “Aunt Roy and Uncle Bobbi” will be coming to see the kid, to hear what he’s been up to, to listen to his plans. And Diane will join us, finally. We’ve been trying to get together for weeks; tonight works. Gene is still in Europe, in Germany. Tomorrow he flies home and we’ll see him soon.

Maguire is being his usual self. Wandering about, waiting for food and squirrels; is there a difference? He’ll go in and out and in and out and in and out and again, all night long as he begs for food, mooches for food, becomes excessively adorable, becomes Maguire.

The night is quiet, filled with just our laughter and the crickets.

I talked to my mom today and she was better, not great. But the last few days have been difficult for her. The surgery on her back has left the equivalent of a box of heavy bricks and she has not been happy. I try to talk to her every day; we  didn’t connect yesterday because she was miserable and my sister, Saint Khristan, who has been bearing the brunt of this recovery, said: “Don’t call.” Today mom was OK. Justin called her and was able to chat for a few minutes as well.

It’s Friday and another week has come to an end. We worked, we talked with clients, we did our best to contribute to the world as we know it.

I washed the car.

The guy at Accurate Automotive, Gil, finally figured out what was wrong with Justin’s air conditioner.

I miss my friend, Pam.

I love and admire my sister.

I wish my mother was a better patient, but at least she knows she’s not very good and will hopefully try to do better, if for no one else than my sister.

The moon glows and I am forever in awe of the universe.

Animals howl at the moon to communicate, to send a message, to say that “I am here, I am now. I am.”  It means there’s no need to worry, no need for concern. I’ve got this and we’re OK. Howling can be a sign of happiness. People sing at the top of their voices when they’re feeling good; why can’t a dog or a wolf do the same?

We are here, we are now. We are feeling good about what’s happening around us. We are howling at the moon. I can’t think of a better thing to celebrate on this Friday night.  

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live out loud


by Lorin Michel Saturday, August 13, 2011 12:20 AM

Anyone with a regular work week has a special place in their heart for Friday. Even though I work for myself and work out of the house, which essentially means that I work all the time, I still love Friday. I love what it symbolizes. A productive week, a busy week, a week full of phone calls and emails and sending ideas back and forth between clients is coming to an end. The afternoon gets quiet. The phone stops ringing, the quantity of emails diminishes, the work world begins to dissolve and everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief.

It’s over.

Fridays have been around since the Romans named the seven-days of the week between the 1st and 3rd centuries. It was named after the planet Venus. Perhaps that’s why most romance languages have derivatives that reflect the goddess more than the planet. In Latin, Friday is dies Veneris, in Italian venerdi, viernes (Spanish), and vendredi (French). The Irish call it An Aoine and in Scots Gaelic, it is Di-Haoine. The word itself comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the day of the Anglo-Saxon goddess Frige, a no-nonsense goddess who simply wanted to live life.

We call it Fritini, This derivative of the word for Friday comes from a combination of the fri meaning fried because the week has been busy and crazy and full, shaken with the tini of the infamous martini. We deemed it Fritini several years ago and each Friday night we gather friends here at the OP compound to have cocktails of the Grey Goose martini straight up variety. Some like olives, others prefer a twist. They’re all ice cold and served in a martini glass with a curvy midnight blue stem, a glass created by Roy, Bobbi, Kevin and I many years ago. It’s somehow fitting that each Fritini we pour our martinis into these glasses. They bond us; the day bonds us.

In some cultures Friday is considered unlucky. It is supposedly unlucky to start a sailing voyage on a Friday, though the Scottish Gaelic culture disagrees. There is also the infamous Friday the 13th, also bad luck. But we’ve had several Fritinis on a 13th day of the month and not once has it brought us bad luck; in fact, quite the contrary. Fritini the 13th means smooth pouring, select eating and a wondrous pairing of delectable friends.

And so it is Friday. I celebrate the end of the week, the end of the day, the beginning of Fritini and the truth of friends. Without Fridays, we would survive. Without friends, we would not. It really is that simple.

Live it out loud, my friends. Celebrate Friday, celebrate Fritini, celebrate life. We are here for a purpose, each and every one of us. Sometimes we don’t know what that is but we have a feeling, an inkling, and we just need to dedicate ourselves to finding out what we are meant to do, who we are meant to be with, how we are meant to live.

I have an inkling of what I’m meant to do. And I know that the man I’m with completes me. And I live my life each and every day as I choose. I choose to celebrate, I choose to love, I choose to sigh with relief, I choose to explore all of the possibilities. That’s what living it out loud means. It’s what Friday personifies.

On this Friday, celebrate something.

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live out loud

Butterflies on Friday

by Lorin Michel Saturday, August 6, 2011 12:01 AM

I don’t see them often enough but today, around mid-day, they seemed to be populating the air with color. Even in the yellow glare of the sun, the yellow, orange and red butterflies were glorious, fiery and beautiful, chasing each other effortlessly. They flew just above our heads and just below the trees, like self-propelled flowers.

There must have been at least twenty of them, all individuals and yet all together, a convention of wings that made no sound but filled the air with grace. Nathaniel Hawthorne once said that “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight on you.” What a lovely metaphor, and one that works for happiness as well as for life in general. I spend my days chasing work, chasing and often missing deadlines, pursuing my career and many days I am moderately successful. I find, though, that if I simply stop the mad dash toward a possibility that is often just beyond my reach, the possibility comes closer. I can nearly touch it.

Watching the butterflies today, I found myself awash in peace. I don’t know that there are too many creatures on earth that can elicit such a feeling. An immediate calm arrives with each flutter of their wings.

One stopped to rest on a flower and I stopped, too, just for a minute. It sat very still, its wings barely twitching in the breeze. I wondered what it was thinking, if it thinks. I wondered what it was feeling, if it feels. I wondered if it was enjoying the fact that it was Friday and the temperature was a near perfect 81º. I wondered but I didn’t ask. I thought that might be intruding. Not to mention the fact that it was, you know, a butterfly and even in Wonderland, butterflies don’t talk.

There are six different types of butterflies in the United States. The Hesperiidae, also known as skippers, are small and brown, almost moth-like. There are 3500 different kinds in the world. Lycaenidae have gossamer-wings. There are 4740 types worldwide. Nymphalidae are the largest types and commonly known as brush-footed. They include the famed Monarch identified by their orange wings, checkerspots, crescents and more. 6000 different types live in various places around the globe. The Papilionidae family, of which there are 600, have tails on their wings. Pieridae butterflies are white, yellow and orange, and they’re extremely popular. Last come the Riodinidae. 1250 world-wide and they only live in very warm climates. Not sure we qualify. We’re warm just not very warm.

I have no idea what family my butterfly was in. It didn’t seem important. What mattered was that this creature was sharing the day with us, alighting near us, telling us to slow down and enjoy the day.

We took a long lunch and did just that.

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun; And find your shoulder to light on; To bring you luck, happiness and riches; Today, tomorrow and beyond. From an Irish blessing.

Happy Friday, happy weekend, to all.

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